This Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake is a wonderfully creamy cheesecake with a pretty cinnamon swirl baked into it! It really is a cinnamon roll in cheesecake form!
If you're a fan of cinnamon rolls and a cheesecake lover, this is about to become one of your new favorite desserts! Never again will you have to choose between a homemade cinnamon roll and a slice of cinnamon cheesecake.
One of our most popular muffin recipes in the bakery used to be our Cinnamon Roll Muffins, which is what gave me the inspiration to try this cheesecake. I used the same cheesecake filling as my Salted Caramel Cheesecake, created a brand new crunchy cinnamon base, and added the swirl filling to make the perfect cinnamon roll cheesecake!
When I had the idea for a cinnamon roll cheesecake, I thought SURELY this must have been done before. I searched the internet for cinnamon roll cheesecake recipes, and while there are many wonderful recipes out there, not one of them seems to have that signature cinnamon swirl baked into the cheesecake! They have the cinnamon filling or a cinnamon topping, but no genuine cinnamon roll cheesecakes - until now!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- The cheesecake has a striking cinnamon swirl baked into the top to look just like a giant cinnamon roll.
- There is also cinnamon filling swirled throughout the whole cheesecake for maximum flavor.
- It's a super smooth, creamy cheesecake
- Graham Cracker Crumbs - The cheesecake base is an adapted graham cracker base. If you aren't in North America or can't find graham crackers, you can use Digestive Biscuits or Leibniz Butterkeks for the same results.
- Butter - The recipe calls for butter in both the base and the cinnamon filling. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
- Brown Sugar - The cinnamon roll filling uses dark brown sugar to make a nice striking color contrast. You could also use light brown sugar if you wanted. The base calls for light brown sugar but this can also be substituted for dark brown if you want to stick to one kind of brown sugar.
- Cinnamon - Of course, we'll need some ground cinnamon! We'll be using this in both the filling and the graham cracker crust.
- Cream Cheese - Make sure you use full-fat cream cheese for the best flavor and texture. I used Philadelphia cream cheese, but you can use any brand you like.
- Sugar - For the cheesecake batter you want to use white sugar, make sure it is extra-fine so it can easily dissolve into the cream cheese. (Caster Sugar in the UK)
- Corn Starch - Also known as cornflour, this is the super soft, fine white powder that will help with our cheesecake's texture. Do not confuse it with cornmeal!
- Eggs - We'll use whole eggs and egg yolk in the cheesecake.
- Heavy Cream - Make sure you use heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, or double cream - something with a fat content above 33%.
- Vanilla - Use a high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. This adds flavor to the parts of cheesecake that don't have any cinnamon filling in them.
Note: Make sure your cream cheese, heavy cream and eggs are all at room temperature before beginning to make this cinnamon roll cheesecake.
See recipe card for quantities.
Make the Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust
This crunchy cinnamon base is an adaptation of a classic graham cracker crust. Just a few extra ingredients really make this a delicious base for your cheesecake!
- Blitz your graham crackers or digestive biscuits in a food processor to a fine crumb.
- Melt the butter in the microwave and then add it to the food processor along with the cinnamon, salt and light brown sugar.
- Pulse until everything is combined. If you don't have a food processor, you can just put the cookies in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin, then mix in the other ingredients by hand.
- Once combined, the crumb mixture should look like wet sand. If you squeeze some of it with your fingers, it should hold together, if it doesn't then add a little more melted butter.
- Tip the mixture into the base of a loose-bottomed cake pan or a springform pan. I like to line the bottom of the pan with a parchment paper circle to make it easier to get out, but you can also put it straight onto the pan. There is no need to grease your pan with butter or cooking spray or anything.
- Use your hands or a glass to push down on the crumb mixture to pack it in tightly so it doesn't move around at all.
- Once the crust is tightly packed, wrap the outside of the cake pan in several layers of aluminum foil, this is to stop any water leaking in when we place the cheesecake into a water bath. If your pan is not well sealed you will end up with a soggy crust. Set aside while you make the cheesecake.
Make the Cheesecake
This super easy cinnamon roll cheesecake recipe looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. The cheesecake itself is my favorite cheesecake recipe and uses very basic ingredients, and gets the cinnamon roll flavor from the crust and the cinnamon filling that is swirled throughout and on top of the cheesecake.
- Make sure your cream cheese, heavy cream and eggs are all at room temperature before beginning.
- In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, white sugar and cornstarch until the mixture is smooth and there are no more lumps. You can do this by hand, with a hand mixer, or with a stand mixer with either the paddle attachment or the whisk attachment. The important thing is to try not to put too much air into the batter. Unlike with cream cheese frosting, we don't want to fluff up the cream cheese, just beat it until smooth.
- Add the eggs and egg yolk and mix them in too. Unlike other recipes, we will do the eggs all at once as we will incorporate less air this way.
- Add the vanilla and mix in. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is incorporated.
- Gradually add the heavy cream while mixing on a low speed until it has all been added and incorporated.
- Set the cheesecake batter aside while you prepare the cinnamon mixture.
Make the Cinnamon Filling
- In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dark brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Pour the melted butter into the sugar and cinnamon mixture and stir everything together with a spoon. It should form a thick, dark mixture. There's really no need to use an electric mixer or anything for this part as it comes together so easily.
Assemble the Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
- Pre heat oven to 325°F / 170°C and get out a large roasting dish.
- Pour one-third of the cheesecake batter into the prepared cake pan, on top of the crust and smooth it out a little bit, just so you have a nice even layer of cheesecake.
- Take the cinnamon filling and use a spoon or a piping bag to put generous splotches of cinnamon mixture all over the top of the cheesecake. I like to use a piping bag as then I have more control.
- Use the back of a spoon or a toothpick to spread and swirl the cinnamon mixture throughout the cheesecake layer. Don't mix it in completely or you won't see it, just swirl it around a little.
- Pour half of the cheesecake batter that is left into the pan and repeat the process with the cinnamon filling.
- Pour the remaining batter into the pan and use an offset spatula to make a nice smooth top.
- Now to make the cinnamon swirl! I strongly recommend using a piping bag for this part - if you don't have a piping bag, you can use a Ziploc bag and snip a hole in the corner of it. Cut the hole of your piping bag or Ziploc bag to be about a quarter inch wide, this should be enough room to squeeze out a reasonably thick line without it being too thick and spreading everywhere.
- Starting in the center of the cheesecake, squeeze an even swirl pattern onto the top of the cheesecake. Be careful not to let the lines get too close to each other, as the cinnamon sugar will spread out as it bakes. Swirl all the way around the cheesecake until you reach the outside.
- Place your large roasting pan in the center of the oven and gently put your cheesecake in the roasting pan.
- Quickly, take a large jug and fill it with water and pour the water into the roasting pan. Fill it until the water is about halfway up the cheesecake pan, being sure not to get any water splashes in or on the cheesecake. It's much easier to fill the water bath once it's already in the oven, as trying to carry it to the oven when it's full can be challenging.
- Close the oven door and let the cheesecake bake for about 40 minutes. As the cheesecake bakes, the cinnamon swirl will spread and sink down a little into the cheesecake to form deep, cinnamon-filled grooves - just like on cinnamon buns!
- Once it's ready, the outer inch or two of the cheesecake should be set and the center of the cheesecake will still be wobbly. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door open a little, let the cheesecake cool in the oven for about an hour.
- After an hour, carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and let it cool further on the countertop. Once it has cooled to room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours. Do not attempt to unmold the cheesecake before chilling it!
- Once you are ready to serve, take the cheesecake out of the fridge for a few minutes before unmolding to make it easier to remove, gently push on the pan to release the cheesecake.
I am usually a big fan of putting flourishes and finishing touches on my cakes and desserts, and my go-to is a nice piped rosette around the outer border. But I honestly don't feel this cinnamon roll cheesecake needs any further decoration since the decoration is baked into the cheesecake itself. If you do want to go one step further though, here are a few ideas:
Cinnamon Whipped Cream - If you want to pipe some pretty rosettes, or even just have something to serve with the cheesecake, I recommend my Cinnamon Whipped Cream recipe. You'll find it in the recipe card for my Cinnamon Waffles.
Mini Cinnamon Rolls - I've seen a few other bloggers who have 'Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake' recipes, they don't have the swirl in their cheesecake, but they have decorated with little mini cinnamon rolls on top of the cheesecake, which is also super cute. (I think you can get these from Cinnabon).
Glaze - Of course, a signature part of a cinnamon roll is the sticky glaze on top. I didn't add one to this recipe as I didn't want to mask the pretty swirl, and frankly, I didn't think it needed it, flavor-wise. But if you want to add a glaze, just mix up some powdered sugar and a little dash of milk and vanilla and pour or drizzle on top of the cheesecake.
Do You Have To Use A Water Bath?
The short answer is no, it's your cheesecake and you can do whatever you want with it. But for the absolute best results, I strongly recommend making a water bath to bake your cheesecake. This is a real showstopping cheesecake that may be made for a special occasion or to really impress someone - it would be a shame if the gorgeous cinnamon roll swirl on top was ruined by a big crack.
The water bath not only helps to prevent cracks, but it makes this the smoothest, creamiest cheesecake you have ever eaten. It is an extra step on what is a relatively easy recipe, but I promise you the water bath is worth it and will help to make this cinnamon roll cheesecake one of your new go-to dessert recipes.
Graham Crackers - If you can't find Graham Crackers, you can also use Digestive Biscuits or Leibniz Butterkeks.
Sour cream - You can sub the heavy whipping cream for the same quantity of sour cream. The cheesecake will have a bit more of a tangy flavor.
Brown Sugar - The recipe calls for both light brown sugar( in the crust) and dark brown sugar (in the cinnamon swirl), you can substitute either for the other. Note though that the dark brown sugar does provide a darker, more striking result on the swirl.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream - Try adding some cinnamon whipped cream rosettes to the cheesecake for an extra touch.
Biscoff Base - This cheesecake is also really delicious with a Biscoff cookie base. Just replace the graham crackers with Biscoff cookies and omit the cinnamon.
Cheesecake Bars - For something a little different, make this recipe in a square or rectangular pan and pipe lots of little swirls on top to make cinnamon roll cheesecake bars.
- Spring form or Loose-bottomed Cake Pan
- Roasting Pan
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Piping Bag or Ziploc bag
- Offset Spatula
Store the cheesecake in the fridge, covered if possible. It will be good in the fridge for up to five days.
Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
For the Cinnamon Base
- 1 ½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs 150g (or Digestive Biscuits, or Butterkeks)
- 1 stick Butter 114g
- 2 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
For the Cheesecake
- 5 cups Cream Cheese 900g
- ½ cup Heavy Cream 120g
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp Sugar 115g
- 3 tablespoon Corn starch
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
For the Cinnamon Swirl
- 1 cup Dark Brown Sugar 180g
- ⅓ cup Butter 75g
- 2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Make the Base
- Crush your graham crackers/digestive biscuits into fine crumbs using a food processor or a bag and a rolling pin.1 ½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
- Melt butter in the microwave and mix into the cookie crumbs along with the cinnamon, salt and, brown sugar. Mix together or blitz in the food processor until everything is well combined.1 stick Butter, 2 tablespoon Light Brown Sugar, ½ teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- You should be able to press the mixture between your fingers and have it hold its shape. If it still falls apart, add a little more butter.
- Tip the crumb mixture into the base of a loose-bottomed cake pan and press down firmly with your hands or a glass to pack it in tightly.
- Wrap the cake pan very tightly in several layers of foil. We will be baking the cheesecake in a water bath and need to prevent any water from seeping in. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake.
Make the Cheesecake
- Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, and corn starch until smooth and free from lumps.5 cups Cream Cheese, ½ cup + 1 tablespoon Sugar, 3 tablespoon Corn starch
- Add in the eggs and egg yolk and beat until combined. Don't overmix, we just want to combine the ingredients, not incorporate any air into the batter.2 Eggs, 1 Egg Yolk
- Add vanilla and mix it in completely.1 teaspoon Vanilla
- Gradually add the heavy cream, while mixing it in slowly.½ cup Heavy Cream
- Set the cheesecake batter aside while you make the cinnamon filling.
Make the Cinnamon Filling
- Melt the butter in the microwave.⅓ cup Butter
- Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon until combined.1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, 2 teaspoon Cinnamon
Assemble the Cheesecake
- Preheat oven to 325°F / 170°C
- Pour a third of the cheesecake mixture into the cake pan, on top of the graham cracker base. Smooth it out with a spatula.
- Add generous splotches of cinnamon filling all over the top of the cheesecake layer. I like to do this from a piping bag as it's easier to control, but you can also just use a spoon.
- Use the back of a spoon or a toothpick to spread the cinnamon filling around and swirl it a little into the cheesecake.
- Pour another third of the cheesecake batter on top and repeat the process with the cinnamon filling.
- Pour the final layer of cheesecake on top and smooth it out as best you can.
- Pipe or spread a swirl of cinnamon filling on top of the cheesecake, be careful not to put the lines too close together as they will spread a little as it bakes.
- Put the cheesecake inside a large roasting dish and place it into the oven. Immediately pour water into the roasting dish, until it comes about halfway up the cheesecake. Be careful not to get any water in or on the cheesecake itself.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the outer 1-2 inches of the cheesecake are set but the middle is still wobbly.
- Turn the oven off and crack the door open a little, let the cheesecake cool for about an hour in the oven.
- Take the cheesecake out of the oven and out of the water bath, but do not attempt to take it out of the cake pan. Let it cool completely on the countertop and then transfer it to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours before unmolding.