These soft pumpkin cheesecake cookies are the perfect fall dessert! With a fluffy pumpkin cookie outer shell filled with tangy cheesecake filling – they’re irresistible! They also have a tested gluten-free option.
I can be a little over the top when it comes to fall baking. I love pumpkin spiced everything, and what’s better than pumpkin + cream cheese?!
These cookies are indeed more work than a basic cookie recipe, but they’re so worth the trouble. It’s almost like having a bite-sized mini pumpkin cheesecake in hand.
(if you’re wondering why these hands are different than the ones you usually see, it’s because they belong to a second photographer :))
To make these cookies, you prepare the cookie dough and freeze cookie dough balls for an hour.
Next, make the cheesecake filling, dollop spoonfuls of it onto a piece of parchment paper, and freeze that for an hour. Then you smash a cookie dough ball, put a cheesecake ball in the middle, and then wrap them up. It’s pretty fun!
- You can use a cookie scoop to make uniform-sized cookie dough balls.
- If your hands are warm, flatten the cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper. It makes it less messy.
- Sometimes a little cheesecake filling might peek through a small crack in the dough, but it’ll be fine.
- Don’t overbake the cookies. They don’t need to be super brown. Keep an eye on them, and if they seem too soft out of the oven, remember that they’ll continue to bake on the tray out of the oven.
- Pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling are not the same, so make sure you’re getting the right product. Pumpkin pie filling is pre-mixed with spice and flavor, so you don’t want that for these cookies. On the can, the list of ingredients should simply say “pumpkin puree.”
- Chilling the dough and cream cheese filling before putting it in the oven will keep them fluffy and without spreading too much. Chilling it makes the butter firm up too, so the cookies bake without spreading all out. Chill for at least 1 hour.
- There is a difference between room temperature and soft butter. Room temperature butter should be slightly cool but soft. If you press your finger on the surface, it will leave an indent. In this recipe, the butter should stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If it is too soft, place it back in the fridge to firm up a bit before starting the cookies. Butter temperature is important because it will determine how much the cookies spread.
How to store and freeze
These cookies have a cream cheese filling, so don’t store them on the counter. They can be put in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To freeze them, put the cookies in a sealed, airtight container or freezer bag. They should keep for up to a month.
I like to place them in the fridge overnight to thaw. You can microwave them for 10-15 seconds to make the filling gooey again.
Can I make them in advance?
I would start with the cookie dough and freeze it first if I were to make them in advance. Then the night before you’re ready to serve, thaw them in the fridge. Next day make the filling, stuff, bake and serve.
You could possibly also freeze unbaked cookies already stuffed, then thaw them in the fridge overnight and bake them accordingly. The texture of cream cheese sometimes suffers with freezing, and I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure that this would work out well.
Do I have to freeze the dough and filling?
The pumpkin puree makes the dough quite soft. Way too soft to smash into flat discs, as you see above, and roll around the cheesecake balls.
Cheesecake filling is also super soft. It’s just not possible to wrap the cookie dough around totally soft cheesecake filling.
So, yes! You absolutely must freeze both first.
Can I use my own puree?
My first choice is always canned pumpkin puree. It always has the same consistency. Homemade varies a lot, and that can have a huge impact on baked goods!
If you don’t have access to canned pumpkin (which I believe is most of the world, other than the US and Canada), I’ve got this recipe on How To Make Pumpkin Puree so you can have the best pumpkin puree for the season.
If you make your own, know that it can have more moisture than canned pumpkin puree. So you’ll want to squeeze out the extra liquid with a fine-meshed sieve and cheesecloth or a paper towel and allow it to drip out. You just want to make sure that the batter isn’t too wet if using homemade pumpkin puree.
I hope you like these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies as much as we did. If you make them, please leave a comment below and let us know what you think. On social media, feel free to tag #easywholesome so I can see your creations!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour - or for gluten-free, use King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-free Flour
- 6 ounces cream cheese room temp
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons coarse/raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Also place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of a cutting board, small baking tray or whatever will fit in your freezer (for 18 dough balls).
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar at high speed until well combined and light. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree, just until combined.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin spice, cinnamon, baking powder and salt over the top.
- Beat it in, just a few seconds until combined.
- Add the flour. Use a silicone spatula to incorporate it a bit so that you don’t make a mess with the flour. Then use your mixer on low to incorporate the flour, just until combined.
- Roll the dough into eighteen 33-gram balls. Place them on the cutting board/baking sheet and freeze them for 1 hour. If you end up freezing it longer, just let it sit at room temperature until soft enough to work with.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium until light and fluffy, and then stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on top of a cutting board, small baking tray or whatever will fit in your freezer. Scoop out eighteen 11-gram (2-teaspoon) sized balls of filling and place in mounds on the prepared tray. If you have a smallish cookie scoop, that’d be ideal. You don’t want to freeze them as flat discs, as you’ll be wrapping the dough around the filling balls. Freeze for an hour until frozen.
- Once the cheesecake and dough balls are firm, flatten one in the palms of your hand, like a pancake, and place a cheesecake ball inside. Pull up the edges to wrap it up into a ball and make sure that the cheesecake isn’t peeking out. You can alternatively flatten the cookie dough balls on the countertop between two pieces of parchment paper.
- Dip the filled balls in the remaining cinnamon sugar and place 3” apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Do NOT flatten them down!
- Bake for 14-16 minutes or until they’ve cracked and are firm on top.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.