Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake (Step-by-Step) – Lauren’s Latest

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An epic, show-stopping dessert, this Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake is perfect for birthday parties, fall get-togethers, or any major holiday. Two spiced pumpkin cakes baked and stacked with a thick layer of cheesecake in between. Covered generously with cream cheese frosting and decorated with pumpkin candies, this will become your new favorite cake for pumpkin season!

slice taken out of large pumpkin cheesecake cake

Why You’ll Love This Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

Everyone needs to sit down and get their seatbelts fastened because I’ve got a doozy of a recipe I’m sharing with you today! Friends, meet my Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake. I’m convinced this is the ultimate dessert you could ever make in the months between September and December. It’s got soft, delicious pumpkin cake, a thick cheesecake layer added in, with a whole lot of cream cheese frosting. It’s not for the faint of heart.

This Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer Cake is the very definition of ridiculous and quite possibly is the start of The Cheesecake Factory going out of business. Just kidding. I love The Cheesecake Factory.

But when I made this first back in 2012 and then again last week, I was reminded again that this is the mammoth, the big kahuna, the heavy hitter of all the pumpkin desserts out there. It’s got everything there is to love about any dessert, plus it’s pretty darn easy to make. It’s like a delicious cousin of my classic cheesecake, my pumpkin cheesecake and the classic pumpkin bar. Oh mama, it’s good.

pumpkin cheesecake cake on white cake stand

What is a Cheesecake Cake?

Well, friends, a cheesecake cake is simply a regular cake that is layered with a crust-free New York style cheesecake. This happens to be a pumpkin version, but you absolutely can make this with just about any flavor combination out there. The sky truly is the limit.

Love Pumpkin? Try these other favorites: Pumpkin Drop Biscuits, Pumpkin Pull Apart Monkey Bread, Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler (a great Thanksgiving recipe with over 300 5-star reviews!), and of course Pumpkin Pie.

When cake decorating, life gets significantly easier if you use the proper tools. Nothing crazy or expensive, but items that will make a difference. Consider using the following:

  • parchment paper – to line all your baking tins for the pumpkin cakes and the cheesecake.
  • offset spatula – for spreading the frosting easily and evenly across all layers of cake.
  • disposable piping bag – for easy clean up
  • the larger Wilton star 1M tip – for making those big rosettes on top of the cake.

How to Make the BEST Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

Before you navigate away from this blog post thinking you simply cannot make such a dessert quite as complex as this, stop right there. This recipe is so so so much easier than you think! Take a peek at the ingredients list in the recipe card and think again. Why yes, that is a cake mix you see.

This recipe is SO easy!! Flexibility is the name of the game. Looks fancy, but it is pretty simple! The steps aren’t hard…they just take a few hours to put all together. For ingredients and exact measurements needed, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is step by step how to make this cake:

pumpkin cheesecake cake on white cake stand

Preheat Oven + Prep Cake Pan

Preheat oven to 325° F. Using an 8-inch round cake pan (not a springform pan!), trace a circle on parchment paper, cut out and line bottom of pan. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Make the Creamy Cheesecake Layer

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, whip softened cream cheese. Slowly stir in granulated sugar. Scrape sides of the bowl and mix until sugar is incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time until incorporated into the batter. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl and mix again until batter is completely smooth. Stir in sour cream. Pour the cheesecake batter into an 8-inch cake pan.

Create a Water Bath + Bake

Place cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, or other pan with high sides. Fill pan up carefully with very hot water (tap water is fine) until it reaches halfway up the cake pan. Bake 40-50 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and cheesecake has almost completely set.

Remove from oven. Cool. Remove from water bath, wipe pan and refrigerate 3 hours to overnight.

Make the Pumpkin Cakes

While cheesecake cools, make the pumpkin spice cake. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2-8 inch cake pans with parchment paper (just like above) and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine vanilla cake mix, water, oil, eggs, pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!), cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger (or feel free to use pumpkin pie spice). Stir together to incorporate. Do not over mix!

Bake + Cool

Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans, level off the tops and bake 20-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. (A few moist crumbs should be fine.)

Cool 15-20 minutes to room temperature, then remove from warm pans and transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Cream Cheese Frosting

Place cream cheese and butter into a large bowl and whip to incorporate. Stir in vanilla. With mixer on low, slowly stir in powdered sugar, scraping sides as needed. Continue whipping the frosting until it’s smooth and well mixed. Set aside.

Assemble Cheesecake Cake

Cut small dome shape off cooled pumpkin cakes, if present, to create flat cakes. Place one pumpkin cake onto cake stand. Top with cream cheese frosting and add chilled cheesecake. Spread with more cream cheese frosting and then top with second pumpkin cake.

Pro Tip: If the cheesecake has collected some condensation from the fridge, be sure to press with paper towels to dry before stacking in the cake.

Decorate + Serve

Coat entire cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting (called a crumb coating), starting on top and working down the sides of the cake. Refrigerate 30-45 minutes to solidify the frosting. (Or freeze for 15 minutes.)

Add a second layer of frosting overtop the crumb coating and use any extra frosting to pipe rosettes around the top border. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg and garnish with pumpkin candies (optional). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Storing Directions

Store any leftover cake tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the fridge. This cake will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To Freeze: If you want to store your assembled cake longer, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

slice taken out of large pumpkin cheesecake cake

FAQ + Baking Tips For Pumpkin Cheesecake Cake

I thought you hated using water baths?

Yes, I did say that in my cheesecake recipe post again and again. I am the queen of no water bath cheesecake recipes. For the record, I still think they should go and die. But they really aren’t so bad when you’re making a smaller cheesecake in a pan that is completely sealed (read: NOT a springform pan). If the pan is sealed like the round cake pans we’re using in this recipe, then your cheesecake can’t get ruined by water that seeps in because there is nowhere for the water to seep in. You see what I’m saying?
With a larger cheesecake that requires a springform pan, I absolutely do not recommend using a water bath. For something small like this, I say no big deal.

What if I want a smaller cheesecake layer?

If you are not a cheesecake person or if this looks like a little *too much* cheesecake for you, then we can’t be friends. Kidding, but sort of not.
If you’d like to reduce the size of the cheesecake layer, feel free to reduce the cheesecake portion of this recipe by one-third. So you would use: 2 packages of cream cheese, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and 6 tablespoons sour cream. Bake in the same fashion, but check it around 35 minutes to be sure you don’t over bake, as baking time may vary.

My cakes baked unevenly! What do I do?

So, here’s the deal with these cakes. The cheesecake will be the exact same size as the pan you bake it in. I used all 8-inch rounds for this recipe. However, the pumpkin cakes have a tendency to shrink a tiny bit. This means when you stack them up on each other, they won’t be exactly the same width. Don’t worry! This is normal!
How do you fix it? With frosting, of course! Frosting will fix a multitude of sins. Do your best to even them out with frosting along the sides. With the crumb coating, you might still notice they are uneven. That second go-round with the frosting is where you’ll be a little more generous and make them as even as possible.
Another solution that isn’t quite as easy is shaving a tiny little ring of cheesecake off the entire cheesecake layer. It’s easier said than done and I don’t recommend this.

What is this ‘crumb coating’ you speak of?

A crumb coating is simply a sacrificial layer of frosting that covers the entire cake that “locks” all the crumbs in that layer before adding a second clean layer of frosting. In between the crumb coating and last layer of frosting, you’ll want to refrigerate your cake for 30-45 minutes (or freeze for 15) to make sure those crumbs don’t make it into your last coating of frosting.

Can I make this pumpkin cake cheesecake in advance?

Yes! You can bake each of the layers, let them cool completely. Next, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and freeze each layer separately. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, allow time for the cakes to thaw, make the cream cheese frosting and assemble as you normally would. Refer to the recipe card for assembly directions.

More Pumpkin Cakes to Try!

If you’re looking for something show-stopping that will make your family and friends’ jaws drop, then this is a sure bet. Be sure to print/share/save/bookmark/pin this recipe because it’s a good one! The recipe card is below. Have a great day, friends!

If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and leave your review in the comments! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.

slice taken out of large pumpkin cheesecake cake