The ultimate apple dessert – this caramel apple cheesecake has a creamy cheesecake filling that’s infused with caramel and topped with cinnamon apples. Make it for a fancy dinner party and wow your guests.
When it comes to apple desserts, I think everyone typically thinks about apple crisp or apple pie – but if you want a recipe that’s a little out of the box, a little more decadent and tastes like fall in cheesecake form – then this caramel apple cheesecake is the perfect recipe. It starts with a thick and crunchy cinnamon graham cracker crust. Then the filling is deliciously creamy and tangy with a salted caramel flavor that’s not too sweet. After the cheesecake is baked and cooled, it’s topped with cinnamon caramel apples.
The Perfect Caramel Apple Cheesecake Recipe
There’s essentially 3 parts to this recipe: the crust, the caramel cheesecake filling, and the apple topping. Therefore, the recipe card below has quite a few steps – but don’t be discouraged. The recipe itself isn’t actually that complicated.
The crust is a simple graham crumb crust, with the addition of a little cinnamon to go with the apples. Because I find the crust so delicious, I decided to make enough for the bottom and up around the sides of the pan. It will bake in for 10 minutes on its own after you’ve pressed the mixture into the pan which helps ensure it stays crunchy.
When looking at a lot of apple cheesecake recipes, I found that many were simply a New York Cheesecake topped with caramel apples. I wanted to really make the entire cheesecake inspired by a caramel apple – so we’re adding salted caramel sauce to the cheesecake filling. I’ve included my favorite recipe for thick salted caramel sauce but know that you can use your own or a quality store-bought caramel.
Making the filling is similar to any baked cheesecake recipe – beat the cream cheese until smooth. Then mix in the sugar, vanilla and in this case, salted caramel sauce. In goes the sour cream (it’s key for a smooth cheesecake that doesn’t taste grainy), and last but not least, we beat in the whisked eggs.
This cheesecake is baked in a water bath. This means that the springform pan is wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in a large roasting pan. About 1/2 inch of water is poured into the roasting pan which provides moisture and insulation for the cheesecake as it bakes. Essentially, it keeps your cheesecake from drying out and reduces the risk of cracks. Sounds complicated – but it’s actually very simple. You can see what it looks like below.
For the apple topping, we’re essentially making stovetop apple pie filling with the addition of a little extra caramel sauce. You can choose to use an apple that’s tart or a sweeter apple depending on your preference. You definitely want to choose an apple that’s crunchy though. Something like Honey Crisp for a sweeter option, or Granny Smith for a tart baking apple. Note, that a tart apple will sweeten as it bakes.
Cheesecakes need to cool slowly and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours before serving. Typically, I make the cheesecake the day before I plan to serve it. The morning of works too. The apple topping is best served immediately, so I typically make it just before serving.
And for more delicious apple desserts, don’t forget to try:
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
- 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan
- large roasting pan (large enough for the springform pan to fit inside)
- Aluminum Foil
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Here's my favorite recipe or feel free to use store bought or your favorite recipe
- 2 1/2 cups graham crumbs
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 24 ounces full-fat cream cheese* softened to room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup salted caramel sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sour cream room temperature
- 3 large eggs room temperature
Cinnamon Apple Topping
- 3 large apples* pealed, cored, and sliced into pieces
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup salted caramel
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
- Wrap the outside of a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan with aluminum foil. Wrap it at least 4 times so that all the seams are covered.
- In a medium bowl stir together the graham crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Stir in the melted butter - it should feel like wet sand.
- Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides (about 1/2 way to 3/4) of the pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep the oven turned on.
- In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until soft.
- Beat in the sugar, salted caramel sauce and vanilla extract.
- Mix in the sour cream, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, then beat them into the cheesecake batter.
- Place the crust (with the springform pan still wrapped in aluminum foil) into a large roasting pan. Pour the cheesecake filling into the pan and smooth the top. Then pour about 1/2-1 inch of water into the roasting pan.
- Place the roasting pan (with the cheesecake inside) into the oven (still at 350F degrees). Bake for 55-70 minutes, or until the top looks set except for in the very middle, and when you give the pan a gentle nudge there's a slight wobble (like a bowl of jello).
- Turn off the oven, open the oven door, and let the cheesecake cool in oven for 30 minutes. Remove the roasting pan (with the cheesecake inside) from the oven and continue cooling until room temperature.
- Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan (still in the springform pan), cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
- Add the butter and cinnamon to a medium frying pan or saucepan over low heat to melt the butter.
- Add in the chopped apples, sugar and water. Stir the mixture around a bit to coat them in the butter and cinnamon.
- Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes for the apples to soften. Occassionally, remove the lid of the pan and give the apples a stir.
- Once the apples have softened to your liking (I prefer mine a bit crunchier), remove the lid and stir in caramel sauce.
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and carefully trace around the edges of the crust with a thin knife.
- Unclamp the outer ring of the springform pan.
- Optionally, top the entire cheesecake with cinnamon apples (this is best if you plan to finish the entire cheesecake immediately), or slice into pieces and top each slice with a spoonful or two of the cinnamon apples. Slice the cheesecake using a sharp, thin knife such as a paring knife (do not use a table knife).
- A springform pan is necessary for this recipe. A 10-inch springform pan will work, however the crust will be thinner (I recommend only pushing the crust up about 1/3 of the way around the edges) and the bake time will be between 40-55 minutes. This recipe has too much filling for an 8-inch springform pan.
- Feel free to use your favorite homemade salted caramel sauce or high quality, store-bought salted caramel (dulce de leche works too). Make sure to choose a caramel that is thick and not one that comes in a squeeze tube.
- Make sure to use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese.
- Take the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs out of the fridge about 30 minutes before getting started on the crust to allow them to warm up to room temperature. This makes it easier to mix everything together without overmixing the batter.
- Choose an apple variety that is crunchy and flavorful. Something sweet like Honey Crisp works well, or a more tart apple, such as Granny Smith. I do not recommend McIntosh or Golden Delicious.
- I typically make the cheesecake the night before I plan to serve it and leave it in the fridge overnight to chill. Then make the apple topping right before serving.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and based on 1 piece (including caramel apple topping), assuming the recipe is divided into 12 equal pieces.
- Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. Leftover apple topping can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It is best if stored on its own.