The best pumpkin cheesecake cookies - delightfully spiced, chewy pumpkin cookies stuffed with a creamy cheesecake filling. Perfect for fall!
This time of year, there are all sorts of pumpkin desserts popping up all over the place. I have a few of my own favorites, including my Pumpkin Crème Brûlée and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes. But there are few things that can get a pumpkin lover in the fall baking mood more than pumpkin cookies - chewy and filled with warm spices and delicious pumpkin flavor.
But you know I always have to be extra about it, so THESE pumpkin cookies are stuffed with a wonderful, cream cheese filling. Every bite has the warmth and chewiness of the cookie and the smooth, tangy cream cheese - the perfect fall treat!
- Butter - There's no need to have room temperature butter as we'll be melting the butter to make this a wonderfully chewy cookie. You can use salted or unsalted butter for this cookie recipe.
- Sugar - We'll use two kinds of sugar in this recipe. For the white sugar, make sure it is extra fine (caster sugar in the UK).
- Brown Sugar - I like to use light brown sugar for these cookies, but if you would like more of a molasses flavor, you can use dark brown sugar instead.
- Pumpkin Purée - Canned pumpkin puree actually works better than homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe, just because there is a little less moisture. Make sure you pick up a can of pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling - the cans look similar but they are different things!
- Egg Yolk - We'll just be using the egg yolk. Egg yolks bring richness and flavor to recipes. If you add the whole egg you'll get more fluffy pumpkin cookies, more cakey cookies than chewy ones. If this is what you prefer you can add the whole egg.
- Vanilla - Use a high-quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
- Flour - All-purpose flour makes the best texture for these cookies. It provides enough structure to make a chewy cookie. Using cake flour would give you a very soft cookie, but we need the strength to hold the cheesecake filling.
- Spices - You can use whatever spices you like for your pumpkin cookies, I think everyone has their own favorite blend of fall spices! For a quick and easy option, you can just add some pumpkin pie spice. I like to use a mix of cinnamon and ginger.
- Cream Cheese - Use a full-fat cream cheese for the best flavor and texture. It helps if the cream cheese is at room temperature before you try to mix it.
See recipe card for quantities.
Note: I strongly recommend using a kitchen scale to measure your ingredients instead of a measuring cup, but if you do use cups make sure you use the level method and fluff up the flour before measuring it out.
Make the Cheesecake Filling
The first step of making pumpkin cream cheese cookies is to make the filling that will form the creamy cheesecake center.
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until totally smooth. You could use an electric mixer for this but it's easy to do with just a regular spoon.
- Use a teaspoon to form cheesecake balls and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. They do not have to neat little balls as the cheesecake is quite soft, even sized blobs will do the trick!
- There should be enough cream cheese mixture to make 16 blobs.
- Place the baking sheet in the freezer to allow your cheesecake balls to freeze completely (about 2 hours).
Make the Pumpkin Cookie Dough
Now to make the lovely soft pumpkin spice cookies. These pumpkin cookies are honestly so delicious by themselves, so if you don't feel like doing the cheesecake part, these are still one of the best pumpkin recipes to make!
- Start by preparing the pumpkin puree. Spread it out thinly on a plate, then use paper towels to blot the excess moisture from the pumpkin puree. This is very important as that moisture will leak into your cookie dough and make the dough sticky and hard to work with, and you'll end up with a very soft pumpkin cookie.
Lay the paper towel flat on the puree and let it soak up as much moisture as it can. Repeat with fresh paper towels until there is barely any moisture coming off of it. Once it is sufficiently dried, it should no longer look watery and mushy like a puree and will be more dry and flaky.
- Melt the butter in the microwave in 30-second increments until it is completely liquid.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the melted butter, white sugar, brown sugar and blotted pumpkin puree. Mix everything together until combined. You can do this by hand, or with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix them in.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and ground ginger (or pumpkin pie spice).
- Add the flour mixture into the main cookie dough bowl and mix everything in until a soft dough forms and there are no more lumps of flour.
- Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Make the Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
- Once your cookie dough has chilled. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°'C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Take a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball, then place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat until you have sixteen cookie dough balls. (You will need to either do this on multiple cookie sheets or bake your cookies in batches, as there must be enough space between the cookies to allow them to spread).
- Press the cookie dough balls down slightly with your hand to make a thick disc, then use your thumb to form a little dent in the middle of the disc. Don't make the dent too deep or the cookie dough on the bottom will be too thin to contain the cheesecake.
- Put one frozen cheesecake ball into the dent in the middle of each cookie.
- Take another tablespoon of dough and flatten it into a disc in your hand, then press that disc on top of the cheesecake ball to sandwich it in between the two discs of dough.
- Press the sides of the dough together to seal the cheesecake inside the dough, then roll the dough in your hands to form a neat ball. Repeat with all the cookies.
- Put the cookies in the oven to bake. If you are baking the cookies in batches, place the rest of the cookie dough balls in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
- Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the cookies turn golden brown and look baked in the center. While I would normally encourage you to underbake cookies to keep them gooey, these cookies should be fully baked so that they can hold the weight of the cheesecake filling. If they are too soft, you won't be able to pick them up without them breaking.
- Once they are done, let the baked cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. This is important, if the cookies are left to cool on the baking sheet instead of a wire rack, the bottom of the cookie will go soggy.
The pumpkin cookies are great as they are, but if you want to decorate them, try drizzling a little cream cheese glaze on top and sprinkling with a few chopped pecans.
Can You Use Homemade Pumpkin Puree Instead of Canned?
In theory, you can use your own pumpkin puree for these cookies, though for this particular recipe I wouldn't recommend it.
I always try to use fresh and 'from scratch' ingredients when I can, but the amount of moisture that comes from fresh pumpkins is just a little bit too much for cookies.
If you do want to use homemade pumpkin puree, just make sure you blot it really thoroughly to remove as much moisture as you possibly can.
Add chocolate - In my other cheesecake stuffed cookies, I have had great success with adding some white chocolate chips to the cookie dough. White chocolate compliments cheesecake really nicely, so you can add some of these to the mix if you want to up the sweetness a little.
Bars instead of cookies - For something a little different, you could turn this recipe into pumpkin cheesecake bars instead. Just press half of the cookie dough into a square or rectangular cake pan, then spread the cream cheese filling (not frozen) over the top, and top with the rest of the cookie dough.
Add a topping - For a little extra crunch, you could try adding a streusel topping or some graham cracker crumbs on top of the cookie dough balls right before baking.
You really don't need any fancy equipment to make these pumpkin spice cheesecake cookies, you can do it by hand without any machinery.
- Large mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Large cookie sheet (for baking cookies)
- Small cookie sheet (for freezing the cheesecake balls).
Keep your cookies in an airtight container in the fridge. Make sure you line the container with paper towels, as the cheesecake filling can sometimes release enough moisture to make the bottoms of the cookie a little soggy, and the paper towels will soak that up.
The cookies will keep in the fridge for up to five days, but for best results, they should be eaten within three days.
If you want to freeze the cookies, I recommend freezing the prepared cookie dough balls, once they are assembled. Let them thaw out before baking them as normal.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
- Cookie Sheet
For the Cheesecake Filling
- 1 cup Cream Cheese 227g
- ¼ cup White Sugar 50g
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
For the Pumpkin Cookies
- 1 stick Butter 113g
- ½ cup White Sugar 100g
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar 110g
- 1 Egg Yolk
- ⅓ cup Pumpkin Puree 80g
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour 187g
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Ginger
Make the Cheesecake Filling
- Put the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat together until completely smooth.1 cup Cream Cheese, ¼ cup White Sugar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon teaspoon sized blobs of cream cheese mixture onto the baking sheet. You should be able to make 16 blobs.
- Put the baking sheet into the freezer and allow the cheesecake blobs to freeze completely before making the cookie dough (about 2 hours).
Make the Pumpkin Cookie Dough
- Start by spreading the pumpkin puree out on a plate and using paper towels to blot away all excess moisture. This is important or the cookies will be too soggy. Cover the puree entirely in paper towel and let it soak up all the moisture. Repeat with fresh paper towel until hardly any moisture is coming out of the pumpkin.⅓ cup Pumpkin Puree
- Melt the butter in the microwave and then add it to a bowl with the white sugar, brown sugar and blotted pumpkin puree. Mix together until combined.1 stick Butter, ½ cup White Sugar, ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined.1 Egg Yolk, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger and mix them in until a smooth dough forms and there are no more lumps of flour visible.1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour, ½ teaspoon Baking Soda, ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, ½ teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Cinnamon, ½ teaspoon Ginger
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Make 1 tablespoon sized balls of dough and then flatten them slightly on the cookie sheet with your hand. Use your thumb to press a small dent in the center of the dough.
- Take the cheesecake balls out of the freezer and place them in the little dents.
- Take another tablespoon of dough and make another disc, then put that on top of the cheesecake balls and press the two sides of dough together to seal the cheesecake inside. Then roll them in your hands to make a smooth ball, making sure the cheesecake doesn't poke through.
- Bake for 11-14 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly browned at the edges and set in the middle.
- Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. This is important, as if you leave them to cool on the cookie sheet they will get a soggy bottom. Let cool completely before serving.