These easy, no bake pumpkin cheesecake bars are a great make-ahead dessert to serve for Thanksgiving or any fall occasion. Combining a light, velvety pumpkin cheesecake filling with a golden, buttery graham cracker crust, they’re as delicious as they are effortless!
Thank you Karo® Syrup for sponsoring this post. Celebrate sweet moments together with Karo®!
As fall rolls around each year, it tends to bring with it two things: a) pumpkin spice everything, and b) busier schedules. So what do you do when you’re short on time but need the perfect fall dessert for Halloween/Thanksgiving/a back-to-school event/that last minute holiday party you decided to throw? You make this: a quick and easy, no bake pumpkin cheesecake bar recipe.
Why You’ll Love These!
- Taste -Light, creamy cheesecake with a cozy pumpkin spice flavor, combined with warm notes of cinnamon and graham cracker. They have the perfect flavor balance between tangy and sweet thanks to Karo® Syrup - a sweetener that you can always rely on for its quality and consistency in just about any dessert!
- Simplicity - These take about 20 minutes of active time to whip up. There’s no baking involved, which means no coordinating oven time with other recipes or dealing with messy water baths. It’s a perfect dessert alternative to pumpkin pie or a baked cheesecake!
- Convenience - This was designed to be a make-ahead recipe, so you can get dessert prepped a day (or two!) in advance, when time is on your side.
Ingredients for Easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
The ingredients you’ll need for these bars are similar to what you’d use for a classic pumpkin cheesecake recipe, with one important swap. Rather than using eggs to help the cheesecake set, this no bake pumpkin dessert uses whipped cream and a small amount of gelatin - similar to the technique I use in my kiwi lime pie.
Here’s a look at the full ingredient list:
Notes and substitutions:
- You can buy graham cracker crumbs or make your own with whole graham crackers. I find this easiest to do with a food processor using the steel blade attachment. I think gingersnap or speculoos cookies would taste awesome here too!
- I like to keep things simple and use salted butter in my graham cracker crusts. If you want to use unsalted butter, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt.
- Light corn syrup plays double duty in this recipe; Karo® Syrup is my go-to! A small amount in the crust helps everything stick together and contributes the perfect amount of chew. It also adds just the right amount of sweetness to the pumpkin spice cheesecake filling - without distracting from the flavor - and helps maintain a creamy, silky texture.
- While some no bake cheesecake recipes use frozen whipped topping, this recipe uses pure heavy cream. To make sure it whips properly - which is crucial for the cheesecake to set - the cream should be COLD.
- It’s important to use only full-fat, brick-style cream cheese, since we’re relying on it to add structure to these bars. Make sure you let it soften to room temperature!
- Whether you’re making pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, or pumpkin cheesecake, one rule remains the same: use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. I almost always use canned pumpkin puree, but if you want to use fresh puree, make sure it’s smooth, and strain it if it seems loose or watery.
- Confectioner’s sugar (or powdered sugar) also helps add sweetness and structure to these cheesecake bars. I would not recommend substituting granulated sugar.
- If you have pumpkin pie spice and want to use it, you can use 4 teaspoons in place of the individual spices in the cheesecake filling.
How to Make No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Graham Cracker Crust:
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Mix the Karo® Syrup into the melted butter. Add this to the graham cracker mixture and stir it in until the crumbs are evenly moistened; it should have the texture of wet sand.
Line an 8” square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, making sure there’s some overhang on the sides that you can use to lift the bars out of the pan later. Transfer the crust mixture to the pan and press it down firmly to cover the entire bottom surface - a flat spatula is helpful here.
Place the pan in the freezer and let the crust chill while prepping the filling.
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:
Add the heavy cream to a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip it until stiff peaks form - the cream should hold its shape when the beaters are lifted from the bowl. Place this in the refrigerator while you prep the remaining filling ingredients.
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 ½ tablespoons of water in a small bowl, swirling the bowl around gently if needed to make sure it all gets moistened. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Then, microwave the mixture for 10-15 seconds, or just long enough for the gelatin to dissolve. Set aside to cool briefly.
In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until its smooth and creamy. Add the pumpkin puree, confectioner’s sugar, Karo® syrup, vanilla extract, spices, and salt, and beat everything together until smooth. While mixing, slowly pour in the gelatin- make sure it gets fully incorporated.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture - the goal is to retain as much of the air that’s been whipped into the cream as possible.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to spread it out over the graham cracker crust in a smooth, even layer. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight (at least 8 hours).
Use the parchment or foil overhang to carefully remove the bars from the pan before slicing.
I highly recommend serving these pumpkin cheesecake bars with homemade whipped cream! Its light, fluffy texture balances out the slightly denser, creamy filling perfectly. You can add the whipped cream just before serving, or use stabilized whipped cream if you want to garnish the bars ahead of time.
Use full-fat cream cheese, make sure you whip the cream to stiff peaks and carefully fold it into the filling, and don’t skip the gelatin. It’s also important to refrigerate your bars thoroughly before serving.
Store your bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 5 days. They’re best served straight from the fridge!
Yes! Just use gluten-free graham crackers (or other similar cookies) in the crust, and make the recipe as indicated.
More Fall Dessert Recipes
Whatever the occasion may be, these desserts have all of the fall flavors you could ask for!
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
You'll love how easy it is to make these no bake pumpkin cheesecake bars - minimal prep, no oven required, and great to make a day or two in advance. These have a light, creamy cheesecake filling, buttery graham cracker crust, and plenty of that iconic pumpkin spice flavor!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Chill Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 12 bars 1x
- Category: dessert bars
- Method: no bake
- Cuisine: American
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 ½ cups (173 grams) graham cracker crumbs
- 3 packed tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Karo® Syrup
- 5 tablespoons (71 grams) salted butter, melted
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- 1 cup (234 grams) heavy cream, cold
- 1 ½ teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1 ½ tablespoons water
- 16 ounces (454 grams) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (227 grams) pumpkin puree
- 1 cup (113 grams) confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ cup (81 grams) Karo® Syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch of salt
- whipped cream
- graham cracker cookie crumbs
Graham Cracker Crust
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
- Mix the Karo® Syrup into the melted butter. Add to the graham cracker mixture and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened, resembling the texture of wet sand.
- Line an 8” square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, making sure there’s some overhang on the sides that you can use to lift the bars out of the pan later. Transfer the crust mixture to the pan, using a flat spatula to press it down firmly so that it covers the entire bottom surface in a thin, even layer.
- Place the pan in the freezer and let the crust chill while prepping the filling.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- Add the heavy cream to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip until stiff peaks form - the cream should hold its shape when the beaters are lifted from the bowl. Place in the refrigerator while you prep the remaining filling ingredients.
- Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl, swirling the bowl around gently if needed to make sure it all gets moistened. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Then, microwave the mixture for 10-15 seconds, or just long enough for the gelatin to dissolve. Set aside to cool briefly.
- In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the pumpkin puree, confectioner’s sugar, Karo® syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, beating everything together until smooth. While mixing, slowly pour in the gelatin; make sure it gets fully incorporated.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture, being careful not to press the air out of it in the process.
- Transfer filling to the prepared pan, using an offset spatula to spread it out over the graham cracker crust in a smooth, even layer. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours).
- Use parchment or foil overhang to carefully remove bars from the pan before slicing. Slice with a sharp knife, wiping knife clean between each cut. Top bars with whipped cream and a sprinkle of graham cracker cookie crumbs just before serving.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Graham cracker crumbs can be substituted with gingerbread or speculoos cookie crumbs. If you choose to buy whole cookies, the easiest way to crush them into crumbs is with a food processor.
- Use gluten-free cookies to make this recipe gluten-free.
- To use unsalted butter in the crust, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt.
- Individual spices in the filling can be replaced with 4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (total) if preferred.
Storing and Shelf Life
- Bars can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- I don't recommend making this in a 9" square pan, as the crust will likely be too thin.
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