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Recipe Rescue: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Autumn means pumpkin-flavored everything and cheesecake is no exception! Sure, the pumpkin adds a bit of nutrition, but traditional recipes typically include a combination of full-fat cream cheese, heavy cream and/or sour cream -- plus sugar, eggs, and a buttery graham cracker crust. Try our rescued Upside Down Pumpkin Cheesecake for a fall treat that creamy, fluffy, and nutritious! (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable PDF version of the recipe!)

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Pumpkin Cheesecake:
  • Crust:
    • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 stick melted butter
  • Filling:
    • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
    • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Changes Made:

    • Crust: Substituted crushed gingersnap cookies for graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon and reduced to 1/2 cup crumbs. Reduced butter to 1 tablespoon. Used as a crumbly topping rather than a crust - you still get the flavor, plus topping adds texture and visual appeal. Reducing the overall amount of "crust" helps cut down on fat, sugar, and calories.
      • Filling:
        • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened: Used 2 packages instead of 3; substituted 8 ounces of reduced-fat cream cheese (neufchatel) and 8 ounces of fat-free cream cheese.
        • 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
        • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk: Cut out extra yolk
        • 1/4 cup sour cream: Eliminated
        • 1 1/2 cups sugar: Reduced to 3/4 cup. In most recipes, you can cut the sugar in half without affecting the texture.
        • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice: Increased to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) to bring out sweet flavor.
        • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour: Eliminated
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract: Increased to 2 teaspoons to bring out sweet flavor.
        • 1 teaspoon lemon juice: Add to bring out sweet flavor

        Nutrition Facts Face-Off!

        1 slice of pumpkin cheesecake (1/8 recipe)

        Image removed.


        Upside-Down Pumpkin Cheesecake (Printable PDF Version)

        Serves 8


        • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
        • 8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
        • ¾ cup granulated sugar
        • 15 ounce can pureed 100% pumpkin
        • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
        • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
        • 3 large eggs
        • 1 tablespoon melted butter
        • ½ cup gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 8-9 cookies, crushed)


        1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" pie plate or prepare with nonstick spray.
        2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
        3. Add pumpkin, vanilla, lemon juice, and pumpkin pie spice to bowl and mix until just combined.
        4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until each one is incorporated before adding the next egg.
        5. Pour cheesecake mixture into the prepared pie plate.
        6. To make topping, combine melted butter and gingersnap cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until well-combined. Sprinkle evenly over top of cheesecake.
        7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until almost set.* Allow to cool, then cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

        Recipe Tips:

        • The cheesecake is almost set when the center jiggles very slightly and the edges are slightly browned.
        • To prevent the top of the cake from cracking, avoid overmixing the batter and avoid opening the oven during baking time.
        • If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, substitute 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger, and ¼ teaspoon of ground allspice or cloves.
        • If you prefer, substitute graham cracker crumbs for gingersnap cookie crumbs.
        • Cut cheesecake into smaller slices if desired.


        Nutrition Facts (1/8 cheesecake): Calories 270, Total Fat 10g (Saturated 6g), Cholesterol 100mg, Sodium 400mg, Total Carbohydrate 32g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Protein 11g, Vitamin A 150% DV, Vitamin C 2% DV, Calcium 20% DV, Iron 6% DV

        Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.