This super easy Caramel Apple Cheesecake recipe is made with a buttery graham cracker crust, a rich (and creamy!) cream cheese filling, and a caramel apple topping. It’s smooth, creamy, and perfectly sweet.
We love this baked apple cheesecake all year long, but we love it especially around this time of year! The filling is full of cinnamon and brown sugar, and it pairs perfectly with the creamy cheesecake filling.
I’ve mentioned it before, but a homemade cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite desserts in the entire world.
I love the creaminess of the filling, the combination of the tangy cream cheese with the sweet, buttery graham cracker crust, and the overall flavor, whether it’s a classic plain cheesecake, a pumpkin version, or something like this one, a caramel apple cheesecake.
While making a cheesecake from scratch can seem intimidating, I promise you, this cheesecake base is the one I’ve been making for years. It’s straight out of my mom’s recipe box, and it’s an incredibly simple recipe.
Cross my heart.
Why This is the Best Caramel Apple Cheesecake (in my humble opinion):
- This is an easy cheesecake recipe that’s foolproof.
- No sour cream is needed in this recipe, and it’s still rich and creamy! If anything, I think it’s richer without sour cream.
- This is a cheesecake recipe without a water bath. High fives all around! But seriously.
- Quality ingredients are absolutely necessary to make this the best cheesecake around.
- The apple topping is made with fresh apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and vanilla extract.
- Jarred caramel sauce makes this an extra easy recipe!
Other favorite cheesecake recipes:
- graham crackers
- unsalted butter
- granulated sugar
- cream cheese
- vanilla extract
- brown sugar
- ground cinnamon
- caramel sauce
Does It Matter What Brands I Use?
- The short answer: YES. Use high quality brands to make this the perfect cheesecake.
- The long answer: In a lot of cases, store brand ingredients work fine in baking recipes. However, when it comes to cheesecake, there are certain ingredients that can make or break the flavor of your cheesecake.
My Favorite Cheesecake Ingredients:
- Cream Cheese: I highly, highly, highly recommend using Philadelphia Cream Cheese. In my opinion, in the best brand on the market. It’s perfectly creamy, incredibly rich, and has the best slightly tangy flavor.
- Graham Crackers: If you can, use Honey Maid Graham Crackers. The flavor is rich and buttery, and it’s perfectly crisp. My second choice is Trader Joe’s brand.
- Caramel Sauce: I don’t make my own homemade caramel sauce for this recipe, because I wanted to keep things simple. Plus, if you use a high quality caramel sauce, the flavor is just as good as homemade. My favorite brands are Trader Joe’s, Williams-Sonoma, Ghirardelli, or Stonewall Kitchen.
- Apples: My favorite apples to use in this recipe are Honey Crisp, Gala, Jazz, or Pink Ladies. While you can use any apple you have on hand, I find that a sturdy apple with a crisp bite make the best baking apples. Also, make sure your apples are fresh. If they are older, they won’t have the best flavor or texture.
How Do I Keep My Cheesecakes From Cracking?
I talk in great detail about why cheesecakes crack in my recipe for my classic cheesecake. That recipe is full of tips and tricks on how to make the perfect cheesecake.
- Temperature: Cheesecakes often crack because of a drastic change in temperature. To help prevent that from happening, I like to leave my cheesecake in the oven with the door cracked open after it’s done baking. This helps the cheesecake gradually come down to room temperature.
- Over Baking: If you bake cheesecake too long, it cracks and pulls away from the sides of the crust. Your cheesecake is done when the center jiggles slightly when the baking dish is slightly shaken.
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure you use room temperature ingredients. If the ingredients are too cold, they won’t incorporate together properly, which can cause lumps in your cheesecake and possibly cause the cheesecake to crack.
Why Do Some Cheesecake Recipes Call for a Water Bath?
A water bath is often used when baking custards, puddings, and sometimes cheesecakes. It adds moisture to the oven, which is a tool to help prevent a rubbery texture or any cracks in the filling.
This recipe does not need a water bath, because it’s baked for a shorter period of time at a higher temperature. Also, the ratio of ingredients keep the cheesecake filling nice and stable so if it’s baked and cooled properly, you shouldn’t have any cracks. And the texture is absolutely perfect!
I Don’t Have a Springform Pan. Can I Make Cheesecake Without a Springform Pan?
Absolutely! You can make cheesecake in a pie plate or a baking dish (like a square pan or a rectangular pan).
How Do I Make This Caramel Apple Cheesecake?
- Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure you allow your ingredients to fully come to room temperature, because it makes for the best silky smooth filling.
- Oven Temperature: Preheat to 350 degrees. Let it preheat fully before you put the cheesecake in the oven. (This is a tip for all recipes! It’s really important for ovens to reach the correct temperature before a recipe is baked, otherwise it can keep your recipes from baking properly.)
- Graham Cracker Crust: I like to make my own graham cracker crust, because I find that it tastes better. It’s as simple as that. In a food processor, pulse your graham cracker crumbs and sugar together until the graham crackers are crumbs. Add in vanilla extract and melted butter and mix. Press crumbs into the bottom of your chosen baking dish.
- Filling: Use a hand held mixer or standing mixer to beat the cream cheese for 5-10 seconds. Then, add in granulated sugar until it’s combined. Next add in vanilla. Lastly, add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until the filling is silky and smooth.
- If you see any lumps, you can generally smooth them out by hand with a rubber spatula.
- Bake: Pour filling over the crust and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the center jiggles slightly.
- Cool: Turn off the oven and crack open the oven door. Let the cheesecake cool about 45-60 minutes in the turned off oven. Next, let it cool on the counter until the cheesecake is room temperature. Lastly, chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
- Tip: Allow the cheesecake to cool entirely before adding the topping, for best results.
- Apple Topping: In a small saucepan over med-low heat, mix apples with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Cook until the apples are at your desired tenderness (for me it was about 3-4 minutes). Allow the apples to cool to room temperature before topping on the cheesecake (or let it chill in the fridge if you prefer everything about your cheesecake cold).
- Caramel: Drizzle with caramel sauce. Add extra sauce on each slice, if you prefer.
Final Tips & Tricks for the Best Apple Cheesecake:
- Use high quality ingredients. This is important to the overall flavor and texture of cheesecake.
- Let all of your filling ingredients come to room temperature. This will make for the best silky and rich cheesecake filling.
- Cheesecake is done when it jiggles a little bit in the center, but is firm on the outsides.
- Cool your cheesecake before adding the apple topping.
- Drizzle with a lot of caramel for extra decadence.
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 8 oz cream cheese packages, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, softened to room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large apples, chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter, salted or unsalted is fine
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Caramel Sauce
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a food processor, pulse the graham cracker sheets (about 10-12) until they resemble crumbs.
- Next, add in sugar, vanilla extract, and melted butter and pulse the mixture until well combined.
- Pour graham cracker crumbs into your baking dish and press the crumbs into the bottom of the dish and up along the sides. Set aside.
- With a hand mixer or a standing mixer, beat cream cheese on a low speed for about 5-10 seconds.
- While on a low speed, slowly add in the granulated sugar and mix until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Add in vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Next, add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on low until everything is combined and the filling is silky and smooth.
- Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust and spread in an even layer.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes (mine is usually done at approximately 24 minutes), or until the center of the cheesecake jiggles slightly when the baking dish is gently moved.
- Turn the oven off, crack the door, and let the cheesecake slowly cool for about 45-60 minutes (I ususally do 60 minutes, but if you’re pressed for time, you can pull it out at 45 minutes).
- Continue to cool the cheesecake on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- Finally, chill the cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if possible (cheesecake gets better the colder it gets).
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract until the apples are at your desired tenderness. For me, the apples are perfect after cooking for about 3-4 minutes (soft with still a bit of a bite to them).
- Allow the topping to come to room temperature before topping on the cheesecake.
- Top the cheesecake with the apple topping.
- At this point you can serve the cheesecake, or you can chill it again if you prefer the topping to be cold.
- Drizzle the cheesecake with caramel sauce.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
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