This apple pie cheesecake is a delicious mash up of two classics! It features a cinnamon graham cracker crust and a creamy, rich maple vanilla cheesecake filling. Then, it’s topped with caramelized apples and cinnamon whipped cream. Best, yet, this decadent dessert is lightened up with two simple ingredients!Jump to Recipe
Apple Pie Cheesecake
Confession: I’m not a huge pie fan. So, I’m always a little disappointed at Thanksgiving when pie is the only dessert option.
Well, I decided to change that this year. I took the best part of apple pie, the luscious, caramelized apple filling, and topped it on a dessert I do love, cheesecake. Oh boy, what a crazy delicious mash up!
This apple pie cheesecake features a cinnamon cracker crust as the base, which tastes like a crunchy, spiced filled cookie. Then, the cheesecake layer is creamy and rich and flavored with vanilla, maple, and a touch of fresh orange juice. It’s then topped with caramelized honey crisp apples. Finally, it’s finished with a dollops of homemade cinnamon whipped cream.
But I didn’t just stop there. I also lightened up this dessert by making it half the fat and using much more wholesome ingredients. But I promise you can’t tell at all; it tastes like the real deal!
Ingredients in Apple Pie Cheesecake
Here’s what you need to make this deesert:
- cinnamon graham crackers plus cinnamon, I love a good crumbly graham cracker crust as it goes so well with the creamy, decadent filling. I used cinnamon graham crackers as it pairs beautiful with the apples. I added a touch more cinnamon to amp up that flavor.
- melted butter, to bind the crust. The addition of butter and cinnamon graham crackers creates a cookie like crust. Yum! You could also use coconut oil for another healthy swap!
- organic cane sugar, graham crackers need just a little extra sweetness to create the irresistible cookie-like crust!
- light cream cheese, you need cream cheese for a good, creamy, rich cheesecake! I find the light kind works great!
- greek yogurt and cottage cheese, both used to lighten up this cheesecake. It sounds weird but totally works to create a decadent but slightly healthier cheesecake. Just make sure to follow the instructions below for using them!
- maple syrup plus organic cane sugar: helps sweeten the cheesecake filling. The maple adds a touch of warm, rich sweetness that pairs well with the cinnamon and apples.
- orange juice, just a touch balances the rich, sweet flavors.
- cornstarch, helps firm up the cheesecake. We also use a little in the apple filling to help create a thicker caramel so it stays nicely on top of the cheesecake!
- eggs, help provide stability, plus adds richness to the cheesecake.
- apples, sautéed with butter, coconut sugar, make syrup, and cinnamon for a gooey, sweet topping. I use honey-crisp because of their sweet tart flavor and beautiful crunch.
- whipped cream, I made a homemade whipped cream using heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. It’s light as a cloud and perfectly sweet with just the right amount of cinnamon to tie all the flavors together!
How to make this Apple Pie Cheesecake
- Make and bake the crust. The graham cracker crust needs to be made and cooled before adding the filling. Combine crushed cinnamon graham crackers, sugar, salt, cinnamon and melted butter to create a wet sand like mixture. Then, add the crust mixture to a greased and lined 8in or 9in springform pan. Firmly press the crust mixture to cover the bottom of the pan and the sides. I like to use a measuring cup to aid in this process. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
- Make the filling. This is a multistep process. In a food processor, blend the cottage cheese, strained greek yogurt, orange juice, vanilla, and maple syrup until no lumps are present. Add in the eggs and blend until just combined. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, cornstarch, and sugar and mix on low until sugar is dissolved and it’s super creamy. Slowly add in the cottage cheese greek yogurt mixture to the cream cheese mixture until just combined. The batter will be thin; it will thicken as it bakes. Pour the batter into the cool crust.
- Bake the cheesecake: Baking cheesecakes can be tricky! But I learned some great tricks that helps ensure a pretty cheesecake with limited cracking. First, bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees. Low and slow is best. Next, use a water bath. This simply means placing a large roasting pan or casserole dish on the bottom rack of the oven and carefully filling it with the boiling water. The water bath helps create even heat distribution in the oven which helps evenly cook the cheesecake. When the cheesecake is fully baked (no longer wobbly in the middle) turn off the oven and crack the door, but keep the cheesecake in the oven for at least 30 minutes before removing. If you remove the cheesecake immediately from the oven after baking, the sudden change in temperature can cause cracking. Keeping it in the turned off oven with the door cracked allows it to slowly cool and settle so when it’s removed it doesn’t shock it!
- Allow the cheesecake to cool: once baked, you need to allow your cheesecake to cook completely. Once cooled, remove the sides of the springform pan then stick it in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours before serving.
- Cook the apples: Peel and thinly slice 3 small honey crisp apples. Before serving, caramelize the apples. Allow the apples to cool for at least half an hour before topping on cheesecake.
- Whip up some cinnamon whipped cream: Right before serving, make the whipped cream. If you make it too early, it could deflate and become watery. Also, use a cold bowl to whip the cream for best results. Combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in the cold bowl and whip until stiff peaks form (you can use a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer). This can take 5-8 minutes!
- Put it all together: Before serving, top your cheesecake with those delicious gooey apples and cloud-like cinnamon whipped cream!
Tips for making this dessert
- Strain the greek yogurt: the key to seamlessly swapping greek yogurt for cream cheese is removing some of the moisture from the greek yogurt. To do so, simply add the greek yogurt to a fine mesh strainer and place a bowl under the strainer. Allow it to sit for 1 hour up to overnight. The bowl will fill up with the excess moisture and you’ll be left with a super thick strained greek yogurt that resembles cream cheese!
- Use room temperature dairy ingredients for filling. This helps create a smooth, lump free batter.
- Use a water bath: this helps create more even heat in the oven and helps prevent cracking or sinking.
- Cool cheesecake completely: in the instructions, the cheesecake filling part requires a few steps to get right. Follow them! Especially, the cooling time. You may notice small crackers around the crust when you remove it from the oven. These tend to disappear as the cheesecake cools and the filling rests. It also allows the filling to fully set, so it’s easy to cut and serve!
- Don’t fret small cracks: if your cheesecake does have small imperfection, don’t worry! You can hide it with the apples and whipped cream. Your guests will never know!
- Cook apples before serving: The apples tastes best if freshly caramelized. You could do this step about an hour before serving, so it’s still warm and gooey!
- Remove cheesecake from fridge about an hour before serving: This allows the cheesecake to be super creamy, which is ideal for serving and eating!
- Top with whipped cream just before serving: so your whipped cream is fresh, light, and airy (and doesn’t deflate on the cheesecake!).
How I lightened up this Apple Cheesecake
- Swapped some of the cream cheese for greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Ok, I know this sounds funky. But, it totally works! The greek yogurt is strained and the cottage cheese pureed till smooth and combined with low fat cream cheese to create a rich, creamy filling. I promise you cannot taste the difference!
- Less sugar. Most cheesecake recipes call for tons of sugar. In my opinion, it makes the dessert too sweet! I halved the sugar and substituted some of it with pure, unrefined maple syrup. This help create a fall-inspired, perfectly sweet cheesecake!
- Apples are refined sugar free: I made the caramelize gooey apples with coconut sugar and just a touch of maple syrup.
Make Ahead Tips
This is a great make ahead dessert! You can make the cheesecake 1-2 days in advance (which is ideal because the cheesecake needs to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours anyways!).
The apples and whipped cream should be made before serving for best results (1-2 hours before).
Also, I find the cheesecake tastes best if you remove it from the fridge at least a half hour before serving so it’s extra creamy and not too firm.
Other Thanksgiving Recipes
- Miso Maple Brussels Sprouts
- Melting Sweet Potatoes with Maple Bacon Brown Butter
- Pomegranate Fall Harvest Salad
- Fall Inspired Charcuterie Board
This apple pie cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-shocker and pleaser at your Thanksgiving. A truly delicious and decadent lightened up dessert that combines cheesecake and apple pie. Yes please!
If you make this apple pie cheesecake, please leave a comment below. I absolutely love to hear from you guys and your thoughts on my recipes. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or pin it on pinterest, cuz sharing is caring!
Apple Pie Cheesecake
A delicious mash-up of two classic desserts! It features a cinnamon graham cracker crust and a creamy, rich maple vanilla cheesecake filling. Then, it's topped with caramelized apples and cinnamon whipped cream. Best, yet, this decadent dessert is lightened up with two simple ingredients!
- 2 cups ground cinnamon graham crackers
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup organic granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 cup plain full fat Greek yogurt strained and at room temperature (see note)
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese at room temperature
- 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 8-oz packages low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¾ cup organic granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Splash of vanilla
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 small honey crisp apples peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup coconut or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon water
Make the Crust. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray an 8-inch (24-cm) or 9-inch (27-cm) springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the crushed cinnamon graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the melted butter and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined. The mixture will resemble wet, crumbly sand. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and firmly press it into the bottom and along the sides of the pan using a measuring cup. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is a light golden-brown color. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Make the Cheesecake Filling. To make the filling, reduce the oven’s temperature to 325°F (163°C). In a food processor, combine the yogurt, cottage cheese, orange juice, maple syrup, and vanilla. Process the ingredients for 1 to 2 minutes, until they are smooth. Add the eggs and process until the ingredients are just combined. Add the cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix the ingredients on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the ingredients come together and form a smooth batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix the ingredients on low speed for 20 more seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, add the yogurt–cottage cheese mixture to the cream cheese mixture in two batches. Mix them together until they are well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the batter into the cooled graham cracker crust.
Bake. Create a water bath by placing a large roasting pan or casserole dish on the bottom rack of the oven and carefully filling it with the boiling water. Place the cheesecake on the oven rack above the water bath. Bake an 8-inch (24-cm) cheesecake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or a 9-inch (27-cm) cheesecake for 1 hour, or until the middle is just set and not jiggly. Turn the oven off and crack open the oven door with the cheesecake still inside the oven. Leave it there for 30 to 45 minutes.
Allow Cheesecake to Cool. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cheesecake in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 4 hours up or to overnight so it can fully set.
Caramelize the Apples. To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the apples and cook until slightly softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add in the coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in the lemon juice and stir to combine. Finally, make a cornstarch slurry by combining the cornstarch and cold water and mixing until no lumps are present. Add slurry to the apple mixture and cook until thickened, another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Make the Whipped Cream. While the apples cool, make the cinnamon whipped cream. In a cold bowl, combine all of the whipped cream ingredients. Using a hand mixer, whip until stiff peaks form.
Serve. Top cheesecake with apple mixture. Top with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!
Note: Greek yogurt needs to be strained for at least an hour (or even overnight) to remove extra liquid. Place the yogurt in a sieve with a bowl underneath and allow the extra liquid to seep out of the yogurt and into the bowl. Discard the liquid in the bowl and use the strained Greek yogurt left behind in the sieve