Let’s be honest: no matter how great of a cook you are, nor how gracious a host, Thanksgiving gets stressful when you’re the chosen one who’s preparing the feast. Everyone is counting on you for a delicious day; it is the biggest food-centric event of the year, after all. You spend days planning and prepping, trying to calculate the perfect schedule of when to take one dish out of the oven and put another in, trying to figure out what you can make ahead of time and just how long it will last in the fridge. No matter how you slice it, Thanksgiving isn’t easy.
However, this Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake is easy. It’s made in the slow cooker so you can reserve your oven space for the other dishes you need to cook, and you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a few days before serving. It requires less than 10 ingredients, and even those of us who can never make a cheesecake without it being dry or cracked in the end can whip this up without a worry. Thanks to the slow cooker steaming method, the final cheesecake is so rich, moist, and creamy that you’ll want to make it year-round.
One of my favorite things about this cheesecake is the gingersnap crumb crust. I’ve never been a big fan of gingersnaps because I like my cookies to be soft and chewy, but when they’re crushed into crumbs and mixed up with melted butter and a bit of sugar to make a cheesecake crust, they pull at all of my fall-flavored heartstrings. I press them up the sides of the pan so I can get as much gingersnap crust per pie as possible.
By the way, you might be able to tell in the above picture that I’m using a slightly smaller than normal springform pan here. An 8 or 9″ springform pan won’t fit inside of a slow cooker, so I use a 6″ springform pan, which fits perfectly. As a result, the cheesecake is smaller, but if your family generally prefers a couple of different desserts to sample (like mine does) or if you have a smaller-scale Thanskgiving, then it’s perfect.
You might be wondering, “But why even bother using a pan instead of baking the cheesecake right in the bowl of the slow cooker?” Well, the biggest benefit of using the slow cooker is the fact that it can easily, evenly, and slowly steam the cheesecake as it cooks, keeping it ultra-moist and creamy.
The steam comes from an inch of water that rests in the slow cooker below the springform pan. In order to keep the pan elevated, I make a spiral-shaped rack out of aluminum foil to place underneath. It’s simple and effective, even if the foil coil isn’t the most beautiful creation. (At least no one will see it, but they will see the beautiful pumpkin cheesecake when all’s said and done!)
The Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake tastes best when refrigerated overnight (like most cheesecakes) so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time. If you’re on a time-crunch, though, that’s okay too! As little as an hour in the fridge is enough to chill and set it. Whatever is easiest for you with that busy Thanskgiving preparation schedule.
Try it out for yourself, serve it with some whipped cream and caramel sauce, and don’t forget to take a picture! Tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off your tasty fall dessert! I can’t wait to see how deliciously yours turns out.
- 1 cup gingersnap crumbs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
- Whipped cream, to top
- Caramel sauce, to top
- Grease a 6″ springform pan and place on top of two sheets of heavy duty foil. Fold and wrap the foil up to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Pour water into the slow cooker, about 1″ deep. Tear off about 4 feet of aluminum foil. Fold in half. Take the doubled-over 2′-long sections and roll them, longways, to create a long, thick foil rope. Shape the foil rope into a spiral, or coil-shape. This will serve as the rack to keep your springform pan just above the water. Make sure the water does not go above the coil.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, melted butter,and sugar. Mix well. Press the saturated crumbs into the bottom of the springform pan to create an even crust, pressing the crumbs about 1″ up the sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl, together the cream cheese, brown sugar, and pumpkin puree. Then, beat in the eggs and pumpkin spice until just combined. Pour the mixture into the springform pan.
- Place the pan on top of the foil coil, making sure that the pan does not touch the edges of the slow cooker or the water. Cover the top of the slow cooker with paper towels, and then put the lid on over top.
- Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours. Don’t remove the lid. Turn off the slow cooker and let the cheesecake sit in the covered slow cooker for an hour.
- Remove the cheesecake from the slow cooker and take off the foil from the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature. Run a knife along the outside of the cheesecake to separate the edges from the pan. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill at least an hour or overnight.
- Remove the rim from the springform pan and slice the cheesecake. Top with whipped cream and serve with warm caramel sauce.