This vegan pumpkin cheesecake is also paleo, no-bake and super creamy. It really tastes similar to a traditional pumpkin cheesecake!
I’m super excited about this recipe! Really, this pumpkin cheesecake is tied with my paleo vegan pumpkin pie as my favorite Thanksgiving dessert.
Once it’s chilled, the texture is very close to that of a traditional cheesecake. More than any other vegan cheesecake I’ve had. And I’ve had some really awesome ones, like this vegan cheesecake recipe or this vegan chocolate cheesecake (both of which are also paleo!).
And the flavor is amazing. Pecans, pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice (in addition to a bunch of other stuff!) make for a perfect fall treat.
By the way, if you’re vegan, definitely check out my post on Is Maple Syrup Vegan? Some manufacturers use an animal product during production that you may or not be okay with.
I should warn you that when you first blend the filling, it doesn’t exactly taste right. Once it sits for a few hours, it tastes as it should.
And the settling time is no problem because it needs to sit a really long time in the fridge, anyway. Like 12 hours.
You can also freeze it if you’re in a hurry but it’ll still take quite a bit of time. The problem with freezing it is that the outside part will freeze quickly and then the center will still be gooey for several hours.
And then you have to defrost it, which also takes time. I found that the fridge was the easiest option, as long as you have the time.
You can make this vegan pumpkin cheesecake several days in advance, making it a great Thanksgiving dessert option! It also freezes great long-term.
Mr. T isn’t interested in anything with pumpkin spice so I eat all fall spiced treats by myself. I would have loved to have eaten the entire cheesecake in a day or two but I was good and put half in the freezer. It was just as delicious a month later!
If freezing the entire cheesecake, let it sit in the fridge overnight so that it defrosts evenly.
I will absolutely be serving this vegan pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving this year. Unlike a lot of paleo and vegan cheesecake recipes, this one yields a full-sized 8″ cheesecake, making it great for a crowd.
It also won’t be taking up precious oven space! This dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake is no-bake but if you toast the pecans for the cheesecake, the crust tastes WAY better. I first made it with raw pecans and the texture of the raw nuts disturbed me somehow.
But! I have a weird thing with raw nuts so maybe it’s just my issue.
If you try it out, I’d love to hear what you think! :)
Substitution questions about this vegan pumpkin cheesecake?
- Can I use something instead of pecans?
I tried it with walnuts first because they’re so much cheaper but pecans definitely tasted better. Any nut should technically work – it’s just a matter of taste.
- Do I have to toast the nuts?
You don’t have to but I think it helped a lot with the pecan and walnut version. Not only was the crust tastier, but it had a better texture. For almonds or cashews, I don’t think it’s necessary to toast them.
- Can I reduce the amount of coconut oil?
Yes, but then you wouldn’t have a cheesecake but more like a mousse pie. It’d still be delicious but very soft. I wouldn’t recommend reducing it by more than 1/4 cup (so use at least 1/2 cup coconut oil).
- Can I use unrefined / extra-virgin coconut oil?
You can if you don’t mind a strong coconut taste in the filling! In the crust, it wouln’t be terrible but I think it would clash a lot with the other flavors in the filling.
- Can I use something instead of dates?
I haven’t tried it but perhaps prunes would work.
- Can I use something instead of maple syrup?
Any liquid sweetener that you would use in place of maple syrup would probably work here. If you use honey, the cheesecake would almost definitely have a distinct honey taste to it. Same goes for coconut palm syrup and date syrup. I definitely recommend maple syrup!
- Can I use something instead of coconut sugar?
Brown sugar would work if you don’t care about it being paleo. Maple sugar would work for a paleo version. A liquid sweetener would make the cheesecake too runny. You could probably add a bunch of coconut oil to firm it up but I think that’d require a lot of experimenting to find the right amount.
- How do I make this into a keto pumpkin cheesecake?
I think you’d need to find a different crust recipe since there’s no good low-carb sub for dates and there’s a whole lot of them in the crust. For the filling, you could use whatever low-carb / keto sweeteners you’d usually use in place of coconut sugar and maple syrup.
- What can I use in place of the coconut cream?
Nothing unfortunately! There’s no sub for it.
- Can I use homemade pumpkin puree?
Of course! I just always call for canned because the consistency is always the same. In homemade, the moisture content varies quite a bit. In something like a cake, that can make a big deal. In this vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe, it’d just make the filling a bit softer.
- Do I have to use lemon juice?
Yes! Without it, this cheesecake just doesn’t taste right (I know because I tried it without it and the lemon juice was definitely the missing ingredient!).
- Can I use something in place of cashews for the filling?
I haven’t come across a good sub for them in a vegan cheesecake recipe like this. Sorry about that!
- Can I use a different sized pan?
Definitely! Your cheesecake will just be thinner / thicker. Just remember to adjust the crust accordingly. I think there would be enough filling for a 9″x13″ pan to make pumpkin cheesecake bars, but you’d probably need 1.5x or even 2x the crust.
- I don’t have a food processor or high-speed blender. What else can I use?
You definitely need one or the other for this recipe. I really recommend a high-speed blender (not a regular blender!) over the food processor. It’ll get the filling perfectly smooth and creamy. I can’t say that all food processors will do the same (though I’m sure some would!).
- How do you make that spiral decoration?
Place it on a turntable and use a mini spatula to scrape the surface while rotating the turntable.
Paleo Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 6-8 slices
- 2 cups (220 grams) toasted pecans1
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) coconut oil - I used refined for no coconut taste
- 1 cup (150 grams) pitted dates
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) coconut sugar, tightly packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (168 grams) coconut oil, melted - I used refined for no coconut taste
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) maple syrup
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) coconut cream (not coconut milk!)
- 1 cup (240 grams) canned pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) coconut sugar, tightly packed
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice2
- 2 cups (300 grams) raw cashews, soaked3
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- candied pecans for garnish
For the crust:
For the cheesecake:
- Line the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) of an 8" circular springform pan with a piece of foil.
- In the bowl of your food processor using an S-blade, pulse all the crust ingredients until it starts to come together. Depending on your food processor, this will take about 30-60 seconds. Pinch a bit of it together - it should stick together easily. You can also use a high-speed blender to make the crust but you have to scrape the sides of the container often. I thought it was much easier with a food processor.
- Firmly press down the mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan. Place in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling.
- Place all the filling ingredients, in the order listed, into a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 1-3 minutes or until it's completely smooth. You'll likely need to stop and stir it several times. You can probably use a food processor but I can't say for sure if it'd get 100% smooth.
- Pour over the crust and smooth the top.
- Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. It'll firm up as it chills (but it really does take so long!). It should be firm and not at all gooey.
- Keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. If freezing the whole cheesecake, move it to the fridge to defrost overnight. Then ensure that it defrosts evenly.
- Top with candied pecans immediately before serving.
- To toast pecans, bake for 7-9 minutes at 350 °F (175 °C) until they smell fragrant. Let cool.
- If you don't have pumpkin pie spice on hand, make your own using 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
- To soak the cashews, put the cashews in a small pot (or whatever bowl you can safely pour boiling water into). Cover with boiling water and let sit for 1 hour. Drain.