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There’s nothing more festive than serving dessert straight out of a pumpkin, and it’s a special touch that’s easy to pull off – even during the busy holidays.
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Table of Contents
What is pumpkin spice
Nowadays, it seems that you can get pumpkin spice everything. From coffee to cereal to even chicken wings. It’s a quintessential fall flavor.
Pumpkin spice is simply a blend of spices that have warm aromatics, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
It’s pretty similar to apple pie spice. The main difference is that apple pie spice usually includes cardamom, instead of the ground cloves.
- Pie Pumpkin: These are mini orange squash that look like the big pumpkins you carve at Halloween. They should have a sticker on them that says pie pumpkin. They’re sweeter than the big guys.
- Butter: Use stick butter, instead of spreadable butter.
- Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar will work.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: You can buy it pre-made or mix together your own.
- Cream Cheese: One 8-ounce block, preferably softened.
- Sour Cream: This gives your cheese cake extra silkiness and a little tang. Regular or low-fat is fine.
- White Sugar: The brown sugar is used for roasting the pumpkin. The granulated sugar is used to sweeten the cheesecake.
- Vanilla: I prefer using vanilla bean paste, because it has those flecks of vanilla beans. But the liquid pure vanilla extract is fine, too.
- Egg: You’ll only need one for the recipe.
- Caramel Sauce: This is optional, but it adds a special touch.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
How to roast a pie pumpkin
This is an easy recipe because you don’t need a springform pan or fancy water bath. And the recipe doesn’t call for pumpkin pie filling or a graham cracker crumbs crust. Instead, the creamy cheesecake batter is baked right inside of a pumpkin.
To start, use a small pie pumpkin. Sometimes, they’re called sugar pumpkins. They are sweeter, smaller and usually about 4-6 pounds.
- STEP ONE: Instead of carving the pumpkin from the top or bottom like a Jack-O-Lantern, cut it in half from the stem to the bottom. Then, using a large spoon, carve out the seeds and pulp, leaving behind the inner flesh.
PRO TIP: You can microwave the pumpkin for 2 minutes to help soften the rind to make it easier to cut.
Save those seeds. Smoked bacon pumpkin seeds are incredible.
- STEP TWO: The pumpkin spice part of this dessert comes from the actual pumpkin. Brush the cavity with butter and sprinkle with a blend of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
- STEP THREE: Grill over indirect heat at 425F degrees for 1 hour. The sugar will caramelize, and the pumpkin will soften, but it will still be a little firm, because we have another hour to go.
How to bake cheesecake in a pumpkin shell
- STEP ONE: I’ve found the secret to silky cheesecake is adding sour cream. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream with cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt for about 60 seconds, until it’s smooth. Beat in an egg, until combined.
PRO TIP: For an extra creamy filling, you can combine the ingredients in a stand mixer at medium speed using a paddle attachment.
- STEP TWO: Pour the cream cheese filling into the cavity of the pre-roasted pumpkins. Reduce the grill temperature to 350F degrees and continue cooking them over indirect heat for another hour.
You’ll know it’s ready when the cheesecake sets up in the middle and the pumpkin is fork tender.
How to serve grilled pumpkin spice cheesecake
To finish the cheesecake, drizzle a little caramel sauce right on top.
You can do it in a simple striped pattern (as pictured below) or give it a few swirls.
For a special touch, use an electric mixer to whip up 1 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar to make fresh whipped cream and garnish with a mint leaf.
Then, move it to a plate and serve the grilled pumpkin spice cheesecake with a spoon.
The best part about this recipe is that you can scoop in and just get a bite of cheesecake, or you can dig deeper and carve some of that roasted pumpkin spice pumpkin onto your spoon.
These cheesecakes can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days. For best results, gently cover them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. I recommend adding the caramel just before serving, so it’s fresh and pretty.
These don’t freeze well, because they lose the luscious consistency once frozen.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Instead of mixing pumpkin puree into your cheesecake, bake the cheesecake in a pumpkin
- Roast the pumpkin for one hour to soften; it will continue to soften during the second hour
- Bake the cheesecake right in the pumpkin shell for a wonderful appearance
- You’ll know the cheesecake is ready when the internal temperature reaches 145F degrees
Frequently Asked Questions
Make sure that you use room temperature cream cheese. This way, it will blend in with the other ingredients smoothly, creating a creamy batter.
Don’t overcook it. Cheesecake is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 145F degrees. But honestly, if it cracks, that’s okay. This is a rustic dish. A little cracks add character.
They are considered winter squash, so they’re usually at your grocery store during pumpkin season, which is in the fall and winter. Sometimes they’re called sugar pumpkins. I usually have no problem finding them at Wal-Mart.
Yes. Follow the recipe as described. Place the pumpkins on a baking sheet. Set the oven temperature to 425F degrees to roast the pumpkin. Then, reduce the temperature to 350F degrees once you add the cheesecake filling.
More Pumpkin Recipes
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Grilled Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
- 1 small pie pumpkin
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 8 ozs cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- Caramel sauce
- Heat grill to 425F degrees with an indirect heat area.
- Cut the pumpkin in half vertically. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp. (Save the seeds to make smoked pumpkin seeds).
- Brush the insides of the pumpkin with melted butter. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Sprinkle evenly over the inside of the pumpkin halves. Place on the grill over indirect heat cut side up. Grill with the lid closed for 1 hour.
- While the pumpkin is cooking, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and salt for about 60 seconds, until it’s smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg, until mixed through.
- Reduce the grill heat to 350F degrees.
- Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the pumpkins. Continue grilling with the lid closed for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is set.
- Drizzle with caramel sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.