If you’re looking for a delicious fall or Thanksgiving dessert, look no further than this gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake! Not only is it gluten-free, but it’s also dairy-free and vegan.
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A few people in my extended family love cheesecake at special occasions and family holiday dinners. I don’t blame them one bit – it’s delicious!
But living with food intolerances can take your favorite food and make it feel completely off-limits. That’s why after years of looking longingly at the cheesecake my sister’s family loves bringing to every Thanksgiving gathering, I’m making one of my own.
This year, I’ve been working on my recipe for a dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake with a gluten-free crust. I can’t wait to dig into it at the holiday table, but in the meantime I haven’t minded making a few to get the recipe just right.
In this post, I’ll share my delicious dairy and gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake recipe and walk you through all the steps to make it. This will be a favorite at any Thanksgiving dessert table, and even your family members who do eat gluten or dairy will love it!
Read on: Get more fall recipes with these 25 gluten-free dairy-free fall recipes
What is pumpkin cheesecake made of?
A traditional cheesecake is made with a graham cracker crust or other crust that usually contains gluten. The filling is usually made with cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon. A traditional plain cheesecake filling is generally going to be gluten-free.
A pumpkin cheesecake will have most of the same ingredients as a plain cheesecake, but with the addition of pumpkin puree, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices, and maybe some brown sugar in place of white sugar for some added richness.
Is pumpkin cheesecake gluten-free?
In most pumpkin cheesecake cheesecake recipes, the crust is often made using graham cracker crumbs which usually contain gluten. This would make the crust of the cheesecake not safe for a gluten-free diet, but the filling would be safe to eat.
Read on: Is cheesecake gluten-free?
How to make pumpkin cheesecake gluten-free
To make a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake, you’ll want to swap out the gluten ingredients in the crust for gluten-free alternatives. You can make a gluten-free graham cracker crust if you’d like for this recipe.
Or you can opt to make a nut and date-based gluten-free cheesecake crust for this recipe. Both are delicious and it’s up to you which you will use for this recipe.
Note that if you are following a vegan diet and choose to make a graham cracker crust, you’ll want to be sure the graham crackers and sugar you use are also vegan.
Read on: Are graham crackers gluten-free?
How to make pumpkin cheesecake dairy-free and vegan
To make a pumpkin cheesecake dairy-free and vegan, you’ll replace a traditional or classic cheesecake filling recipe with a dairy-free alternative.
The filling I make for dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake is made with soaked cashews, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
The best part of this recipe is that you can make it up entirely in your food processor or blender to get a super smooth texture like a classic pumpkin cheesecake recipe.
How to make pumpkin cheesecake step-by-step
Let’s talk through how to make this pumpkin cheesecake step-by-step. Even though it looks like there are quite a few ingredients and steps, it really comes together very quickly and easily.
This is the same method I use for my gluten-free cheesecake recipe.
Make the gluten-free graham cracker crust
Process the graham crackers in a food processor
In a food processor, blend up the graham crackers into a mealy texture. You’ll want about 1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs.
Combine the graham cracker crust ingredients in a bowl
Pour the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted vegan butter in a bowl. Mix together with a spoon or rubber spatula until combined. You’re looking for a sandy and coarse texture.
Transfer the graham cracker mixture
Transfer the graham cracker crust mixture to an 8-inch springform pan.
Press the graham cracker crust into the pan
Using the back of a measuring cup or your fingers, press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. You want the crust to fit tightly against the bottom and sides of the pan.
Pre-bake the crust
To pre-bake for a baked dessert, bake the crust at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes. Set aside until the filling is ready.
Prepare the dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake filling
Soak the cashews
This requires some forethought the day before you want to make your cheesecake.
Four hours (or more!) before you plan to make the cheesecake, add the raw cashews to a bowl and cover them in water. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight to let them soften. It’s best to let them sit overnight so they create a smooth filling.
Add the ingredients to your blender or food processor
Drain the soaking cashews from their liquid. Add the soaked cashews, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the food processor or blender.
Blend the dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake filling
Blend on high until smooth, about 5 minutes. This may take a few minutes to get the smooth consistency you’re looking for for the cheesecake.
Transfer the filling to the springform pan
Transfer the pumpkin cheesecake filling to the prepared gluten-free cheesecake crust in the springform pan. Spread into an even layer with a spatula.
Freeze the dairy and gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake
Transfer the pumpkin cheesecake to the freezer for at least 4 hours to solidify and set.
Remove from the freezer
About 10 to 20 minutes before serving, remove the cheesecake from the freezer and sit out at room temperature. This will make cutting and slicing easier.
Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan
Release the springform from the cheesecake and set on a serving dish of your choice.
Add toppings to your gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake
Add any toppings you like, such as coconut whipped cream, candied nuts, or graham cracker crumbs, or a cinnamon sugar drizzle.
Slice and enjoy
Cut the cheesecake into 8 slices and serve to your guests and yourself! Enjoy this delicious fall dessert for any special fall get-together or Thanksgiving.
Ingredients for gluten-free crust
- 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (about 220 grams)
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 5 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil, melted
Ingredients for gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake filling
- 2 cups raw cashews
- Water for soaking
- ⅓ cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted then cooled
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Add the raw cashews for the filling to a bowl and cover them in water. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight to let them soften. It's best to let them sit overnight, so they create a smooth filling.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Prepare your springform pan by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Start making the crust by adding the crust ingredients to the food processor or high speed blender, and pulse until a meal forms.
- Transfer the crust mixture to the prepared parchment paper-lined springform pan. Use your fingers to press it into a firm crust around the bottom and all the way to the edges of the pan to make an even layer.
- Bake the crust for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees F. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Drain the soaking cashews from their liquid. Add the soaked cashews, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the food processor or blender. Blend on high until smooth, about 5 minutes. This may take a few minutes to get the smooth consistency you're looking for for the cheesecake.
- Transfer the filling to the springform pan by pouring over the crust, and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
- Freeze the cheesecake for at least 4 hours to solidify and set.
- Remove the cheesecake from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and serve with your choice of toppings: coconut whipped cream, pumpkin pie spiced nuts, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon sugar drizzle, etc.
- Cut into 8 slices and enjoy!
This gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake can also be made with my gluten-free cheesecake crust that uses pecans, almonds, dates, cinnamon, and a few other ingredients. This is a no-bake option for a crust if that's what you prefer.
Be sure to choose a dairy-free graham cracker option for your gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake to also be dairy-free.
Use my gluten-free cheesecake crust for a vegan crust option with this recipe.
If you’ve been looking for a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake recipe for Thanksgiving or other fall get together, I hope you love this dairy-free recipe! This recipe really takes a classic cheesecake and turns it into a fall treat!