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What’s cool about this recipe is that it’s great for a hot summer day but also a perfect fall dessert.
I prepared this recipe on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl in the outdoor kitchen. Find out what the judge’s had to say and how I’ve adapted the recipe since the show.
What is a cheesecake stack
A cheesecake stack is a quick way to layer grilled apples with no-bake cheesecake to make an elegant-looking dessert in about an hour.
The apples are grilled with melted butter and cinnamon, and the delicious cheesecake is made with Italian mascarpone, powdered sugar and homemade whipped cream.
Everything is finished with rich apple syrup and candied pecans. For added class, I also use fresh nutmeg and fresh thyme leaves as a garnish.
What happened when I made these on Food Network
Making this recipe on BBQ Brawl on Food Network was a challenge. My team was limited to cooking an entire meal on one Santa Maria-style grill. I knew I had to get my apples cooking before the raw meats hit the grill, so I hustled.
After grabbing my ingredients, I sliced the apples and went straight to the grill. Unfortunately, amid the rush, I forgot to peel them. Also, the coals weren’t quite as hot as I wanted them to be and I couldn’t drop the grate because we had Dutch ovens under it. So I didn’t get the heat and char that I really needed to.
When it came time to make the no-bake cheesecake filling, I scrambled to find all of the equipment I needed. I finally found a mixer and piping bag, but time was ticking away fast. It also didn’t help that it was warm out, so my cheesecake filling was extra soft.
I also couldn’t bring a bottle of Athol Orchards Apple Cider Syrup with me, so I made an apple caramel sauce from scratch. It was good, but nowhere near as good as the syrup.
When my dessert was presented to the judges, Chef Brooke Williamson said the apples seemed undercooked and she wished I had peeled them because they threw things off texturally. Pitmaster Rodney Scott said my dessert was a great idea but needed more refining.
Fortunately, when you make this caramel apple cheesecake recipe at home, you won’t be faced with any of those obstacles, so it should come out perfect!
- Green Apples: I use granny smith apples for this recipe because I like the tartness and they are firm enough to stand up on the grill.
- Cinnamon Sugar: You can use the pre-made kind or make your own.
- Butter: For the best results, use real butter. Salted or unsalted is fine.
- Mascarpone Cheese: This is a soft Italian cheese. It’s similar to American cream cheese but is more rich and creamy.
- Powdered Sugar: This adds a touch of sweetness to the no-bake cheesecake portion of the dessert.
- Heavy Cream: Once whipped, this will create a luscious whipped cream that gets folded into the cheesecake mix.
- Vanilla: You can use vanilla extract, but I always use pure vanilla bean paste when I bake.
- Pecans: You’ll need chopped pecans for this recipe. If you buy pecan halves, place them in a baggie and pound them with a kitchen mallet or the bottom of a glass to crumble.
- Apple Cider Syrup: I fell in love with Athol Orchards Apple Cider Syrup several years ago. It’s a thick caramel-like syrup that has all the flavors of apple pie and apple cider.
Substitutions: To make your own cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 tsp cinnamon with every 1 tablespoon of sugar. Instead of the apple cider syrup, you can also use store-bought caramel or your own caramel sauce recipe.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to prepare caramel apple cheesecake
This recipe is made in a few phases. First, you’ll grill the apples. Then, you’ll make the no-bake cheesecake and candy the pecans. All steps can be done ahead of time, and you can assemble just before you’re ready to serve these cute desserts.
- STEP ONE: Wash the apples. Then, slice them into 24 1/8 to 1/4-inch-thick slices. You should get four large slices per apple. The smaller apple slices can be saved for snacking.
- STEP TWO: Using a 3-inch circle cutter or pairing knife, remove the peel from the apple slices. Then, use a 1-inch circle cutter to remove the core and seeds.
- STEP THREE: Brush the slices with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Be sure to do both sides.
- STEP FOUR: Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Add the apples to the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until they get nice grill marks and become more tender.
- STEP FIVE: In a large mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla, until it’s smooth.
- STEP SIX: In another bowl, whisk the heavy cream with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Start at a low speed and whip, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Then, place the creamy cheesecake filling into a piping bag with a large star tip.
PRO TIP: If you prefer tart cheesecake, add a splash of lemon juice to the mixture, or consider adding 2 tablespoons of sour cream in place of some of the whipped cream.
- STEP SEVEN: Place the pecans and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar in a skillet or small saucepan. Place the skillet on a grill or stovetop over low to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring continuously. When the pecans are coated with melted sugar, dump them onto a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper to cool.
PRO TIP: Once the sugars start to melt, it’s almost ready. Keep a close eye on it, so the sugars don’t burn.
- STEP EIGHT: To assemble the stacks, pipe a layer of cheesecake on top of one slice of grilled apple. Add another grilled apple slice on top, and pipe on another cheesecake layer. Drizzle apple cider syrup or caramel sauce on top of the cheesecake.
- STEP NINE: Garnish with candied pecans, a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg and fresh thyme leaves.
From the side, you can see the beautiful grilled apple layer topped with the cheesecake mixture.
How to serve no-bake caramel apple cheesecake stacks
Assemble on a pretty platter and serve with plates and forks.
It’s best to serve these right away, but if you want to make them in advance or you have leftovers, store them on a platter in the refrigerator and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Try not to smash the topping.
They’ll last for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. After that, the sugars in the apples will start to macerate and will become soft.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Granny smith apples hold up great on the grill
- Use mascarpone instead of cream cheese for richer flavor
- Homemade whipped cream is more luscious than pre-made whipped cream
- To make this extra special, get a bottle of Athol Orchards Apple Cider Syrup
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Instead of grilled apples, you can layer this no-bake cheesecake filling with any grilled or fresh fruits. It tastes great with peaches, grilled pineapple rings and fresh berries. For a more authentic cheesecake flavor profile, sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. You could even drizzle on some chocolate.
This recipe calls for mascarpone, which is an Italian cream cheese made with whole milk. Instead, you can use American-style cream cheese to make the cheesecake batter. Just allow it to sit at room temperature so it softens.
Yes. Instead of grilling the apple slices, you can bake them in an oven on a wire rack. Set the oven temperature to 350F degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes, until they are fork tender.
More grilled desserts
More recipes from BBQ Brawl
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No-Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecake Stack
Grilled Apple Slices
- 6 green apples
- 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar*
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 8 ozs mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tbsp cinnamon sugar
- 1/4 cup Athol Orchards Apple Cider Syrup
- freshly grated nutmeg
- fresh thyme leaves
Grilled Apple Slices
- Slice: Slice the apples into 24 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick slices. Save the rest of the apple pieces for snacking.
- Peel + Core: Use a 3-inch circle cutter or pairing knife to remove the peels from the skins. Use a 1-inch circle cutter to remove the core and seeds.
- Season: Brush the slices on both sides with melted butter. Season both sides with cinnamon sugar.
- Grill: Heat the grill to medium-high heat with a direct heat zone. Grill the slices for 3-5 minutes per side, until they have nice grill marks and have softened.
- Mix: In a large bowl, mix together the mascarpone, powdered sugar and vanilla.
- Whip: In another bowl, whip the cream, until stiff peaks form.
- Fold: Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Place it into a piping bag with a star tip.
- Candy: Place the pecans and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon sugar in a skillet. Place it on the grill or stovetop over low to medium-low heat. Slowly cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and coats the pecans. Pour onto a sheet of wax paper to cool.
- Pipe: Place 12 slices of grilled apples on a platter. Pipe one layer of no-bake cheesecake around the apple ring. Add a second apple slice and another layer of cheesecake.
- Garnish: Drizzle apple cider syrup on top of each stack. Add candied pecans. Top with freshly zested nutmeg and a few thyme leaves.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.