The standard side-of-the-can pumpkin pie was never quite the thing for me. In an effort to sell myself on the concept in previous years, I’ve used dulce de leche rather than granulated sugar or sweetened condensed milk. I’ve made a tart, also featuring caramel in the filling. I’ve even skipped the pumpkin pie entirely.

This year, I wanted a happy medium — something that channeled the spirit of pumpkin pie but in a form that was much more appealing to my tastes. I also wanted something simple to assemble and designed for making ahead. I couldn’t be more thrilled with my resulting No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake.

Yes, the classic pie gets the cheesecake treatment in this light, creamy and not-too-sweet dessert designed for Thanksgiving or any fall meal. The filling is a fluffy blend of cream cheese, whipped cream, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin puree, perked up with just the right amount of lemon juice and spices (cinnamon, cardamom and ginger). My big breakthrough came when I decided to microwave the canned pumpkin puree. It made a huge difference in concentrating the flavor and achieving the right texture for incorporating the pumpkin into the cream cheese mixture. Don’t skip it! Other than that step, this is a no-cook treat, meaning you can free up valuable oven space and time.

Recipe notes: The cheesecake is best made at least a day in advance for the ideal texture. It can then be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Part of what helps take the pressure off with this recipe is the use of a store-bought graham cracker crust. I’m in favor of this handy, tasty shortcut, but if you prefer to make your own crust, follow these guidelines from cookbook author Jessie Sheehan. A general rule is that a 9-inch pie calls for about 7 ounces (200 grams or 1 1/2 cups) of crumbs ground in a food processor or finely crushed in a zip-top plastic bag with a rolling pin; 4 to 8 tablespoons (55 to 115 grams) of melted butter, and sugar to taste, 2 to 4 tablespoons. You’ll know you have the right ratio when you can squeeze a bit of the mixture between your fingers and it holds its shape. You can place the formed crust in the freezer to set or bake it at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until fragrant and set. Cool the crust completely before adding the filling.

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Ingredients

  • One (15-ounce/425-gram) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) unsifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • One 9-inch (6 ounces/170 grams) or 10-inch (9 ounces/255 grams) prepared graham cracker crust
  • Candy pumpkins, for decorating (optional)

Step 1

Spread the pumpkin puree in a wide, shallow, microwave-safe dish, such as a pie plate, and microwave on HIGH for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring two or three times, until it has dried out, darkened in color and taken on a nutty, toasty aroma. (You can cover with wax paper or a towel if you’re concerned about splattering.) Let cool completely, placing in the refrigerator to speed up the process, if desired.


Step 2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with balloon-whisk attachment or using a large bowl and a handheld mixer, beat the heavy cream on high speed, just until stiff peaks form. (Pull off the whisk attachment or the beaters out and see how the cream looks in the bowl and on the beaters. If it flops over, it needs more time; if it holds a peak, you’re set.) Transfer the whipped cream to a smaller bowl or container; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Step 3

Place the cream cheese in the same mixer bowl (no need to wipe it out); use the mixer’s paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and starting on low speed and then gradually increasing to medium, beat until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger; beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the cooled pumpkin, beating on medium until evenly distributed. Scrape the bowl one more time and give it a few stirs with a flexible spatula to ensure there is no cream cheese stuck to the sides or bottom.


Step 4

Using a flexible spatula, gently fold in half of the whipped cream. Lift the cream cheese mixture from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the whipped cream, rotating the bowl as you work and trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much. This folding step will help lighten the cheese mixture. Then, fold in the remaining whipped cream. This is your filling.


Step 5

Using an offset spatula or spoon, spread the filling evenly over the prepared graham cracker crust. Refrigerate, ideally overnight, to cool and firm up. The pie can be cut and served directly from the refrigerator. Decorate with the candy pumpkins, if using, before slicing.

Nutrition Information

Per serving, based on 10

Calories: 369; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 13 g; Cholesterol: 70 mg; Sodium: 257 mg; Carbohydrates: 30 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 20 g; Protein: 4 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


From Voraciously staff writer Becky Krystal.

Tested by Becky Krystal; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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