Love salted caramel? You’ve gotta make this caramel cheesecake recipe! Ribboned with toasty, buttery caramel in every bite.
Today I am bringing you one of the most sinful, decadent desserts I could ever dream up: caramel cheesecake!
Are you a caramel lover?
I sure am. I rank it right up there with some of the most delicious treats out there. It’s sweet & sticky, rich & buttery, with a roasty-toasty flavor that’s just completely irresistible.
But today is all about cheesecake. It’s creamy and cool and so silky-smooth, with a buttery graham cracker crust, a caramel-infused filling, and ribbons of caramel sauce running through every luscious bite.
Take this dessert totally over the top with an extra drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top, and a pinch of sea salt.
Is your mouth watering yet?
WHAT IS IN THIS CARAMEL CHEESECAKE?
This salted caramel cheesecake recipe consists of 5 main components:
- Graham Cracker Crust
- Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling
- Salted Caramel Sauce Swirl
- More Salted Caramel Sauce, for drizzling on top
- An extra pinch of sea salt, to bring out all the flavors
THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
You can find the full Graham cracker crust recipe, plus additional tips and tricks here: Graham Cracker Crust.
It’s very easy to make in just about 5 minutes with Graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
This crust has a crunchy, sandy texture and a buttery flavor that’s a perfect complement to the soft, creamy cheesecake filling.
I personally liked the hint of warm cinnamon in the crust, but if you’d prefer your caramel cheesecake to be pure and unadulterated caramel, feel free to leave it out.
THE SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE FILLING
The cheesecake filling is made in the traditional New York-style, so it is dense and creamy and so ultra-smooth.
I’ve included brown sugar and real salted caramel sauce, so it’s really got a rich, warm, and toasty flavor.
There’s also a ribbon of caramel sauce swirled all throughout. This cheesecake is caramel on caramel on caramel- a very good thing!
Use my easy salted caramel sauce recipe, found here: Salted Caramel Sauce. It’s made in 10 minutes or less and has the most incredible buttery flavor. One batch is just the right amount to make and garnish this cheesecake recipe.
Or, you can use a store-bought caramel sauce if you’re looking for ways to cut down on the prep!
HOW TO MAKE IT
Once you have your Graham cracker crust and salted caramel sauce made, this cheesecake recipe comes together pretty quickly.
Start by combining the cream cheese, brown sugar, caramel, cornstarch, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Beat these ingredients together on medium-low speed, just until smooth. You don’t want to whip a lot of air in here, because it could cause your cheesecake to crack as it bakes.
Once you have a smooth mixture, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, and work in the first egg.
It’s very important that you stir in the eggs one at a time, allowing each one to become fully incorporated before adding in the next.
And scrape the bowl often! This is how you avoid lumps.
Once all the eggs are in, stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Then pour the filling over the crust.
To make it extra-lovely (and extra-caramelly!) add a drizzle of caramel sauce all over the top, and make a pretty swirl pattern with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. You can see how this is done by watching the video in the recipe card below.
This cheesecake gets baked in a water bath for a gentle, even heat. The slower bake will also help to prevent cracks and will ensure that your final result is incredibly creamy!
Lower the unbaked cheesecake into a larger baking dish and pour water all around, until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Then bake until the edges are set but the center is still a bit wobbly. It will take a long time to cool, and things will continue to set up quite a bit during that time.
I know a lot of cheesecake recipes insist on a springform pan, but I really don’t like them.
No matter how tight the seal, no matter how well I wrap the outside of the pan, they always, always leak. And then you have a wet, soggy crust.
I’m sorry, but the contrast between crunchy crust and soft, smooth filling is one of the best things about cheesecake! I want to preserve that crunch with everything I’ve got.
So I’ve found that a regular 9-inch diameter, straight-sided cake pan works brilliantly. And the cheesecake slips out just fine, as long as it’s well-chilled.
You’ll notice that as the cheesecake cools, it shrinks away from the sides of the pan. The only thing that might give you trouble is if the greased pan is very cold, the fats may harden and stick a little. This is easily remedied by wrapping the pan in a hot towel before flipping the cheesecake out. It works like a charm!
You can see how to do this when you watch the video I’ve embedded in the recipe card below.
ALLERGEN-FREE CARAMEL CHEESECAKE
This recipe can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free graham cracker crumbs.
Since eggs and dairy are such key players in this recipe, I’m not sure I’d recommend subbing with vegan ingredients. But if you really have a great substitution that you feel could work well, by all means!
CAN THIS BE MADE AHEAD?
It’s definitely a good idea to make this recipe ahead. While the prep time is relatively quick, it does take a while to bake, and even longer to fully chill.
I’d recommend making this caramel cheesecake at least a day before you plan to serve it. It should chill in the fridge until an hour or two before you’re ready to serve it.
HOW LONG WILL IT KEEP?
Cheesecakes generally keep very well.
This one will do just fine at room temperature for several hours.
If you have any leftovers, stash them in the fridge and they should last for a week at least.
Or you can freeze them. Frozen cheesecake will keep in the freezer for several months and can be thawed gently in the refrigerator.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE CHEESECAKE RECIPES:
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- 1 (170 g) graham cracker crust,, prepared
- 24 ounces (680.39 g) cream cheese, (3 blocks), softened
- 2/3 cup (146.67 g) dark brown sugar,, loosely packed
- 2/3 cup (150.67 g) salted caramel sauce,, divided
- 3 tablespoons (44.36 g) cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.23 g) kosher salt
- 4 (176 g) eggs,, large
- 1/4 cup (59.5 g) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons (9.86 g) vanilla extract
- salted caramel sauce, (optional garnish)
- sea salt, (optional garnish)
- Prepare the graham cracker crust as per the directions found here: Graham Cracker Crust, and press the mixture into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Place the cream cheese, brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the salted caramel sauce, cornstarch, and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat together on medium-low speed until smooth.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then beat in the first egg.
- Continue adding the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to become fully incorporated before adding the next, and stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Stir in the cream and vanilla, and pour the batter over the crust.
- Drizzle the unbaked cheesecake with the remaining 1/3 cup of salted caramel sauce, drawing a skewer through the sauce to marble it.
- Place the unbaked cheesecake in a larger pan, and pour water into the larger pan and all around the cheesedake until it comes about halfway up the sides of the pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F, then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 50 to 70 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set around the edges but still a bit wobbly towards the center.
- Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake to cool down slowly, with the oven door slightly ajar.
- When the cheesecake has reached room temperature, transfer it to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
- Just before serving, flip the cheesecake out of the pan, invert onto a serving plate, and cut into slices.
- Garnish with additional salted caramel sauce and sea salt.