Pecan Pie Cheesecake with caramel pecan sauce blends cheesecake with the festive taste of pecan pie for a dessert that’s ready to take center stage on any holiday table. Easy to make with three simple components.
3(8-ounce/227g) blocks cream cheeseroom temperature
⅓cupsour creamroom temperature (80g)
For the Pecan Pie Topping:
¾cupfirmly packed light brown sugar(165g)
For the Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wrap wide heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter and salt until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to create and even layer. Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while making the filling.
For the Cheesecake Filling:
Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until fully incorporated, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat just until combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop to scrape down the bowl between the eggs. Sift in the flour and beat just until combined. Pour into the cooled crust.
Place the cheesecake inside a large roasting pan or baking dish. Pour boiling water into the pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan, making sure it doesn’t come above the top edge of the foil. (See Notes for an alternative method.)
Bake for 40 minutes or until the center wobbles when gently shaken and the edges are slightly puffed. Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Let cool for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool completely at room temperature. Remove form the water bath and discard the foil. Chill for 6 hours or overnight.
For the Pecan Pie Topping:
About 45 minutes before you want to serve, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar. Stir until dissolved and bubbling.
Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until fully incorporated and bubbling again. Stir in the pecans and coat well. Cook for 1 minute. (Caramel will still be runny but thickens as it cools.) Remove from the heat and let cool, stirring frequently, until barely warm to the touch, about 40 minutes. (Transfer the caramel mixture to a bowl for faster cooling.)
Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake pan. Release the spring and remove the sides of the pan. Pour the cooled pecan topping over the top of the cake before serving.
Make your own graham cracker crumbs. If you can’t find cracker crumbs or have whole graham crackers on hand, make your own cracker crumbs for this recipe. Pulse the crackers in a food processor or place them in a zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin until no large pieces remain and the mixture has a coarse sandy texture.
Use a glass to evenly press the crust into the springform pan. A flat-bottomed drinking glass is a great tool to use to evenly press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pressing the crust about one inch up the sides will make the best base for the cheesecake layer.
Toast the pecans. Toasting the pecans for a few minutes before adding them to the caramel sauce enhances their flavor and makes them extra crunchy. For step-by-step pictures and methods, see my how to toast pecans instructions.
Allow time for the cream cheese and sour cream to reach room temperature. These ingredients will blend together smoothly when they are softened to room temperature. If you are short on time, you can soften the cream cheese in the microwave for 20 seconds at 50% power.
Crust variations. To change things up, try making the crust with other types of cookies instead of graham crackers. Crush crispy cookies like Biscoff cookies, Oreos, digestive cookies, gingersnaps, chocolate graham crackers, or Nilla wafers in a food processor or with a rolling pin. This is a fun variation if you don’t have graham crackers or want to offer a pie with a more unique crust.
Topping variation. For a drippier topping, replace 1/4 cup of the brown sugar with dark or light corn syrup or maple syrup. For added flavor, stir in a teaspoon of orange zest, ground ginger, or a few tablespoons of bourbon or brandy into the sugar mixture along with the cream.
Don’t open the oven door. Opening the oven door while the cheesecake bakes can cause it to fall or cracks to form. If you need to take a peek at the cake as it is baking, turn on the oven light and look through the glass door.
Wooden spoon trick. For the best cheesecake, allow it to cool for one hour in the oven with the oven door propped open. Turn the oven off and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. The cheesecake will continue to set as it cools, and leaving it in the oven allows it to cool more gradually, reducing the risk of it cracking.