Pumpkin cheesecake is such a good mash-up of favorites. I love cheesecake and pumpkin pie, but I love this combination even more.
The tangy cream cheese cuts the sweetness of the pumpkin, brown sugar, and warming spices, and the graham cracker and pecan crust has just enough salt to make all of the flavors pop.
A pecan-speckled crust, not-too-sweet pumpkin filling, and boozy whipped-cream topping made this cheesecake the favorite dessert at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner last year! I’ll be making it every year now, in my Instant Pot, while the rest of the kitchen is in serious holiday mode.
Why Make Cheesecake in the Instant Pot?
Made in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, cheesecakes never dry out, crack, or come out underdone in the middle. I love the consistency of cooking them this way, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to oven-baked versions.
- New to the Instant Pot? Check out our post How To Use an Instant Pot: A First-Timer’s Guide.
What Equipment Do You Need?
For a 6-quart electric pressure cooker, you’ll need a 7-inch pan, as anything larger won’t fit in the pot. This makes a cute little cheesecake, yielding eight wedges that really are plenty of dessert after a big holiday meal.
My favorite pan for making cheesecakes has a removable bottom, and it’s tall enough that I can cover the cheesecake with foil to prevent any condensation from dripping down onto it. A springform pan works too, though you’ll have to leave it uncovered, then dab off a bit more moisture once the cheesecake is cooked. Use whichever kind of pan you prefer.
One other special piece of equipment I like to use for my pressure cooker cheesecakes is a long-handled silicone steam rack. The OXO® brand one is my favorite (they call it a Silicone Pressure Cooker Lifter). Its handles are long enough to fold up and over the pan, and they snap together for easy lowering and lifting. It also performs the function of a steam rack, since it’s tall enough that the cheesecake pan sits above the water while it’s in the pot.
If you don’t have one of these nifty tools, you can fashion a makeshift sling out of aluminum foil instead. Simply fold an 18-inch piece of foil lengthwise a couple times into a long, sturdy strip. Center it underneath the cheesecake pan, then lift up the ends and use it to transfer the cheesecake in and out of the pot. (See step-by-step photos with this Pressure Cooker Cheesecake recipe.)
You’ll also want to have the wire metal steam rack inside the pot, so that the cheesecake sits above the water.
Make the Cheesecake a Day Ahead
When you make this cheesecake, be sure to prepare it a day ahead so it has at least 12 hours to firm up and chill in the fridge. You’ll be rewarded with a silky smooth texture, and the spices will have a chance to meld with the pumpkin filling. It’s worth the wait!
How to Freeze Cheesecake
Believe it or not, cheesecake freezes beautifully!
I prefer to transfer the cheesecake to a cake board then wrap it in plastic and foil. You can also freeze cheesecake by the slice, which is nice when you have only a piece or two leftover. Wait to add the garnish until you thaw it.
Click on How to Freeze Cheesecake for a step-by-step guide on keeping a cheesecake in the freezer.
How to Top Your Cheesecake
The topping for this cheesecake topping is super simple. Rather than do a complicated glaze or ganache, I make up a little batch of whipped cream, which only takes a couple minutes to come together.
You can whip your cream in a stand mixer, with an electric hand mixer, or with a whisk (and a lot of elbow grease!). A splash of bourbon and a little bit of powdered sugar make it boozy and just sweet enough. Feel free to add a little more sugar if you like your whipped cream on the sweeter side.
More Cheesecake Recipes to Enjoy!
- Pressure Cooker Vanilla Cheesecake
- No-Bake Cheesecake
- Perfect Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Raspberry Cheesecake in Jars
- For the crust:
- 1/4 cup pecans or pecan pieces
- 8 graham cracker sheets
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or turbinado sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the filling:
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar or turbinado sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- To garnish:
- Sprinkling of ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans
Prepare the pan
Line the base of a 7-inch round springform pan or 7-inch by 3-inch push-pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides of the pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
Toast the pecans
Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat on the stovetop for 4 to 5 minutes until they become fragrant; watch carefully to avoid burning. Alternatively, toast the pecans in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, checking frequently, until toasted and fragrant.
Allow the nuts to cool.
Process and prepare the crust
In a food processor, process the cooled pecans and graham crackers to fine crumbs. Add the brown sugar, melted butter, and salt. Using 1-second pulses, process until the mixture resembles damp sand.
Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer on the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to firmly press the crumbs into the bottom.
Place the pan in the freezer to allow the crust to firm up a bit while you make the filling.
Make the filling
In the now-empty food processor, combine the cream cheese, heavy cream, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Process the mixture for about five 1-second pulses, just until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
One at a time, add the eggs and the egg yolk, processing for two 1-second pulses after each addition until just barely combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in any large streaks of egg yolk. It’s fine if a few small streaks remain. (Do not over-process the filling, or the batter may overflow the pan as it cooks and you will end up with an overly fluffy cheesecake, which may crack as it cools.)
Pour the filling into the prepared crust
Remove the crust from the freezer and pour in the filling. Tap the pan firmly against the countertop a few times to remove any air bubbles from the filling. Place the pan on a long-handled silicone steam rack.
If you are using a tall push pan, you can cover it with aluminum foil to keep any condensation off of the cheesecake. If using a springform, do not cover.
Pressure cook the cheesecake
Pour 1 1/2 cups water into the Instant Pot. Holding the handles of the steam rack, lower it into the pot.
Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to “Sealing.” Select the Cake, Pressure Cook, or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 32 minutes at high pressure. (The pot will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
Release the pressure and cool
When the cooking program ends, leave the pot on its default “Keep Warm” setting for 20 minutes, letting the pressure release naturally.
After 20 minutes, open the pot, taking care not to drip condensation from the lid onto the cheesecake. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, grab the handles of the steam rack, lift it out of the pot, and transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack.
If you have not covered the pan with foil, use a paper towel to dab up any moisture that may have settled on the top. If the pan is covered, remove the foil, taking care not to get burned from the steam.
The cake will be puffed up and jiggle a bit in the center when it comes out of the pot, but it will settle and set up as it cools.
Cool and refrigerate the cheesecake
Let the cheesecake cool on the rack for about 1 hour, then cover (or re-cover) and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours.
Prepare the whipped cream
The day you plan to serve the cheesecake, make the whipped cream. In a medium bowl or stand mixer, combine the heavy cream, bourbon, and powdered sugar. Using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the mixture vigorously (about 2 minutes on high) until fluffy and just stiff enough to hold its shape. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up 12 hours.
Serve the cheesecake
If using a springform pan, run a knife around the side of the pan, then unclasp the collar on the pan and lift it off to unmold it. Use the parchment border to tug the cheesecake off the base of the pan and onto a plate.
If you’re using a push pan, run a knife around the side of the pan, place a drinking glass under the pan, then gently slide the outside ring of the pan downwards.
Transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve each piece topped with whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.