Birds eye view: orange mini pumpkin and a swirled pumpkin cheesecake bar on a wood and marble cutting board on top of an orange dish cloth.
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Amazing! Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

My daughter brought these gluten-free pumpkin spice cheesecake bars to school today. Her gluten-eating friends’ responses included begging her for seconds, announcing “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!”, and asking for the recipe.

You will love this recipe! It’s all things pumpkin meet classic cheesecake. Without the dreaded cheesecake water bath.

These bars with a buttery graham cracker crust are the perfect easy fall dessert you can make the second we hit pumpkin season.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars also make a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table. Or cut them into bite-sized pieces to add to a gluten-free fall dessert charcuterie board. These bars can be made a few days in advance, freeing up valuable time and kitchen space on Thanksgiving.

Birds eye view: 3 pumpkin cheesecake bites on white candy papers, on a wood and marble cutting board also holding a small pumpkin.
For a beautiful addition to a fall dessert charcuterie board, cut these bars into bite-sized pieces.

The inspiration for these gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake bars came from The Novice Chef, with a few adjustments, primarily (but not exclusively) to make them celiac-safe.

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For my best tips on celebrating a gluten-free Thanksgiving, whether as a guest or as the host, read this post on How to Simplify Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving and download the free Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Planner.

Text: "Simplify your Thanksgiving" with arrow pointing to cover of the planner with the following text: gluten-free Thanksgiving planner: logo with blue-green cloud and text: Go Gluten Freely, four orange pumpkins along the bottom of the page. On the left title: Gluten-Free Planner. Bullets: to do lists leading up to Thanksgiving, cooking schedule, menu & shopping planner, complete gluten-free menu, recipe links, printable menu to display. Aqua button with white text: "Get my planner!"

Equipment

  • Hand Mixer (or stand mixer): I find a hand mixer is plenty robust for the quick mixing in this recipe, and it’s not worth lugging out the stand mixer, unless I am already using it for another recipe.
  • 9×13 Baking Dish
  • Parchment Paper: Lining the baking dish with parchment paper makes it easy to lift the entire baked pie/cake out of the dish and neatly cut it into bars. Plus, cleanup is a breeze!
  • Blender or Food Processor to grind graham crackers into crumbs. Optionally place graham crackers in a Ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. I use the dry blender attachment on my Blendec blender.

Ingredients

Don’t be intimidated by what seems at first glance to be a lengthy ingredient list. Several of the items in the pumpkin batter repeat in the cheesecake batter. And most of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Crust:

Birds eye view: blender with graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.
  • Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crumbs (finely crushed/ground): I use Kinnikinnick S’moreable Graham Crackers 8 oz box, which makes approximately 2 cups of finely ground graham crackers, the perfect amount for the crust. You could use any brand of gluten-free graham crackers or gluten-free gingersnaps. Note, Tate’s gluten-free Ginger Zinger Cookies are a wonderful seasonal cookie, but they contain candied ginger pieces that are not ideal in this recipe.
  • Butter

Pumpkin Batter:

Birds eye view: cup of cream, glass bowl of sugar, two brown eggs, bowl of orange pumpkin puree, measuring spoon with dark vanilla and a tiny square white bowl with four different spices.
  • Canned Pumpkin: 100% pure pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie mix
  • Heavy Cream
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Spices: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. These individual spices are low risk for gluten cross-contamination, but you can choose a brand that is labeled gluten-free, such as Badia, for more reassurance. To learn more about gluten in spices, visit the Celiac Guide to Gluten-Free Spices and Seasonings.

Cheesecake Batter:

Birds eye view: Philadelphia cream cheese, measuring spoon of vanilla, measuring cup of sugar, one brown egg.
  • Cream Cheese: I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Soften the cream cheese block on the counter for 30 minutes, so it blends easily into a creamy batter. If not, the cheesecake batter will be lumpy.
  • Egg
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

Step-By-Step Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350℉. Use parchment paper to line a 9×13 baking dish. Press the parchment paper into the corners of the baking dish. Later, you can pull the whole recipe out of the baking dish simply by lifting the parchment paper. This makes cutting the bars and cleanup a breeze.

Birds eye view: white parchment paper pressed into a rectangle glass baking dish.

Melt the butter in the microwave, in 30 seconds increments, stirring between intervals. Slice the butter before microwaving to speed up the process. It should only take about two 30-second intervals to melt the butter.

Combine the melted butter and gluten-free graham cracker crumbs in a medium bowl. The mixture will have the fabulous aroma of seasonal butter cookies and the texture of cookie dough.

With a spatula, press the crumb mixture into the parchment-lined 9×13 baking dish.

Combine all pumpkin batter ingredients in a large bowl. I use a hand mixer for ease and efficiency, but you can optionally use a stand mixer or whisk. Mix ingredients on medium speed until smooth, the consistency of pumpkin pie filling. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed, so the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Pour the pumpkin batter into the baking dish on top of the crust, and use a spatula to spread the batter to the edges.

Combine all cheesecake batter ingredients in a medium bowl. Make sure the cream cheese has had 30 minutes to soften at room temperature, so it blends smoothly into the batter. Use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to mix ingredients until smooth and creamy, the consistency of classic cheesecake batter or frosting.

Randomly spoon the cheesecake batter into the baking dish on top of the pumpkin layer. You can’t mess this up! This step and the next one are great for involving kids in the kitchen!

Create a marbled look by gently swirling a knife through the cheesecake batter, combining it with the pumpkin batter. Continue swirling until you are happy with the swirled appearance. Keep in mind, this dessert will be presented as smaller bars, not in the baking dish.

Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes. The dish is fully cooked when it is firm in the center when you jiggle the pan. You can also test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.

You can hide the toothpick hole when you cut the bars later. Speaking of hiding things… unlike a traditional cheesecake, cracks in these bars (they’ll be minor, if at all) are no big deal. No one will notice, between the pumpkin-cheesecake swirls and strategically cut bars. The pickiest of bakers can also use a dollop of whipped cream.

Cool the dish at room temperature for one hour. Refrigerate for at least two hours. 

Right now is when you’ll be glad you added a layer of parchment paper! Firmly grab the edges of the parchment paper to gently lift the baked pie/cake out of the baking dish.

Birds eye view: swirled pumpkin cheesecake being lifted out of a baking dish by two hands holding the parchment paper lining.

Use a pizza cutter or knife to slice into 12 bars and serve. Quickly wipe the knife clean between cuts.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Top with homemade maple whipped cream or ice cream for a decadent fall dessert that everyone will love!

For a breakfast version of these fall flavors, try this recipe for cream cheese swirl pumpkin bread, if you can tolerate gluten-free oat flour.

Make Ahead and Storage

Birds eye view: orange mini pumpkin and a swirled pumpkin cheesecake bar on a wood and marble cutting board on top of an orange dish cloth.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to one month.

If making this recipe just a couple of days ahead, I recommend storing it in the fridge, uncut. Then, quickly slice the bars prior to serving.

Tip! If freezing already cut bars, flash freeze them on a baking sheet for about an hour. Then they can be stacked with parchment paper between each bar, wrapped in plastic, and sealed in an airtight container.

More Fall Dessert Recipes:

For more ideas and recipes for gluten-free living, sign up below for the Go Gluten Freely newsletter!

Now, let’s bake! Enjoy!

Birds eye view: orange mini pumpkin and a swirled pumpkin cheesecake bar on a wood and marble cutting board on top of an orange dish cloth.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Easy-to-make, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are the perfect combination of pumpkin pie and cheesecake, swirled together in a buttery, gluten-free, graham-cracker crust.
5 from 7 votes
Rate this Recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Rest & Chill Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings

Equipment

  • Blender or Food Processor to grind graham crackers (optionally place in a Ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin)
  • Hand Mixer (or Stand Mixer)
  • 9×13 Baking Dish
  • parchment paper

Ingredients
  

Crust:

  • 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, finely ground (I use Kinnikinnick S'moreable Graham Crackers 8 oz box to make 2 cups)
  • ½ cup butter

Pumpkin Batter:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • tsp ground cloves

Cheesecake Batter:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (soften on the counter for 30 minutes)
  • 1 egg
  • cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Use parchment paper to line a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Melt butter in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time. Combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in a medium bowl. With a spatula, press the crumb mixture into the parchment-lined 9×13 baking dish.
  • Combine all pumpkin batter ingredients in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to mix ingredients on medium speed until smooth. Pour into the baking dish on top of the crust, and use a spatula to spread the batter to the edges.
  • Combine all cheesecake batter ingredients in a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to mix ingredients until smooth. Randomly spoon the cheesecake batter into the baking dish on top of the pumpkin layer.
  • Create a marbled look by gently swirling a knife through the cheesecake batter, combining it with the pumpkin batter.
  • Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes. Cool at room temperature for one hour. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  • Firmly grab the edges of the parchment paper to gently lift the baked pie/cake out of the baking dish. Slice into 12 bars and serve.

Notes

Food Safety: Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. If not consumed within two hours, return to the refrigerator. Do not eat if left out longer than two hours.
Keyword gluten-free, gluten-free fall desserts, gluten-free holiday desserts, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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