This decadent Caramel Apple Cheesecake recipe combines a cheesecake base perfectly flavored with applesauce and drizzled with a homemade silky caramel sauce and tender spiced apple topping! It’s sure to be a Fall favorite and is definitely is a holiday showstopper to impress all your family and friends! Each bite is full the homemade apple topping and plenty of creamy goodness from the cheesecake and homemade caramel sauce.
I love fall desserts, and this caramel apple cheesecake recipe is one of the great ones. For me, Fall recipes highlight the spectacular fruits and veggies that are in season during the fall months, such as apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and cranberries.
This caramel apple cheesecake is right in line with all the other great apple and fall desserts. I think it has a chance to become a new classic! Other cheesecake recipes with fall flavors I think you will love are this Butter Pecan Cheesecake and this Maple Cheesecake.
This recipe is inspired by my boo Lindsay’s, recipe in her new cookbook Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes.
Why You’ll Love This Apple Caramel Cheesecake
- Perfect Cheesecake! It cooks up perfectly creamy and crack-free with apple essence right inside each and every bite.
- Bursting with Apple Flavor. Applesauce flavors the creamy cheesecake while a caramel apple topping covers the top of the cheesecake.
- Unique Cheesecake Perfect for the Holidays. It looks stunning while the homemade caramel is sweet and silky with tender spiced apples that are just right.
Ingredients to Make Caramel Apple Cheesecake
The ingredient list may look a little daunting, but I promise everything you need is fairly basic and you should be able to find it in your grocery store or maybe you already have some in your pantry. Be sure to check the full ingredient list and quantities of each in the recipe card.
Crust and Cheesecake Filling
- Vanilla Wafers: For the cookie crumb crust.
- Cream cheese: Use a full-fat cream cheese for the best flavor and make sure it’s at room temperature before you start mixing.
- Light brown sugar: The addition of molasses gives brown sugar more moisture and more depth of flavor than regular sugar. It works perfectly with the apple flavors.
- All-purpose flour: A bit is added to the cheesecake for thickening.
- Cinnamon: My favorite spice to use with apples for warmth and lightly spiced sweet flavors.
- Sour cream: Makes for a creamier cheesecake. It also needs to be at room temperature.
- Applesauce and caramel sauce: Added to the cheesecake batter to give it a caramel apple flavor.
- Eggs: Give the cheesecake its stability and structure.
Caramel Sauce and Apple Topping for Cheesecake
- Sugars: You will be using white granulated sugar for the caramel sauce while the diced apples are tossed with light brown sugar.
- Butter: Use salted butter to give your caramel sauce the perfect amount of saltiness that balances the sweetness.
- Heavy whipping cream: This gives the caramel apple topping for cheesecake its creaminess.
- Apples: You can use any variety of apples you love.
- Lemon juice: Keeps the apples from browning but also a bit of tartness that works great to cut a bit of the sweetness.
How to Make Caramel Apple Cheesecake
There are multiple steps involved in making this apple cheesecake with caramel apple topping. You definitely want to make sure to plan ahead as it takes time to mix, bake, and set up. Here’s a look at the main steps but be sure to read through the detailed instructions in the recipe card before you start.
Making the Caramel Sauce
- Whisk the sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it’s melted. The sugar will clump up first, but will eventually completely melt after about 10 to 15 minutes. Stop whisking when it’s melted and cook until it has turned a little darker amber color. You may notice a nutty aroma.
PRO TIP: The change in color will happen quickly so don’t let it go too long or get too dark or it will burn. Turn off the stove but leave the caramel over the heat.
- Slowly add the butter and whisk until combined. The mixture will bubble up but keep whisking until all the butter has melted and combined.
- Then slowly pour the heavy whipping cream into the caramel and whisk constantly until it’s incorporated.
PRO TIP: It is very important that the butter and whipping cream are both at room temperature or warmer. If they’re too cold, the caramel will seize.
Preparing the Crust
- Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of your prepared pan. Bake the crust and then set aside to cool.
PRO TIP: After baking the crust, cover the outside of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in.
Making the Cheesecake
- Blend the cream cheese, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a large bowl on low speed until well combined and smooth.
- Add in the sour cream, applesauce, and caramel sauce and mix until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in slowly to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is mixed.
- Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust. Place the cheesecake pan in a larger roasting pan and into the oven. Add warm water to the baking pan to go about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake your cheesecake.
Making the Apple Topping
- Combine the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and butter in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender.
Assembling the Cheesecake
- After chilling the cheesecake overnight, you can release it from the springform pan and place it on a serving plate.
- Spread the top of the cheesecake with caramel sauce and then spoon the apples over the top in the center. You can also drizzle additional caramel down the sides of the cheesecake.
Tips for Making the Best Apple Caramel Cheesecake
As with any other recipe, there are always ways to guarantee a better result. Here are a few of my tricks and tips!
- Beating the Cheesecake Filling. Use low speed so you avoid adding excess air to the mixture which is what causes the cheesecake to crack.
- Filling the Water Bath. Its purpose is to keep any water from getting into the pan so the water should not go above the top of the foil.
- Always Use Room Temperature Cream Cheese. Softened cream cheese is creamier when mixed, and it blends better with the other ingredients in the recipe. If the cream cheese is too cold, your mix will be lumpy, and so will your finished cake.
- Use a Springform Pan. Springform pans help you avoid having to invert your regular cake pan just to have the cheesecake completely fall apart. Be sure to grease the bottom and the sides before baking and you’re guaranteed a smooth release.
- Do Not Overbake and Allow it Time to Cool. It’s important to be patient with your cheesecake and allow it the proper amount of time to cool and settle. Rushing the baking process, placing it in the fridge before it has come to room temperature, and cutting it too early are surefire ways to ruin the cake.
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Swap the cookie crumbs. Even though I really love the flavor you get from the vanilla cookies, you can also use graham cracker crumbs or gingersnap cookies.
- Add cranberries to the topping. Mix in a half cup or so of dried cranberries to the apple topping.
- Want some crunch? Nuts, especially walnuts or pecans would make a great addition to the apple topping for cheesecake. Chop them up coarsely and mix them in at the end.
- Apple pie spice. You can swap the cinnamon for a bit of apple pie spice which includes a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
What to Serve with Apple Caramel Cheesecake
- Serve up this cheesecake at the end of your Thanksgiving holiday dinner after enjoying loads of roasted turkey with turkey gravy, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and cranberry sauce.
- Serving a crowd for the holidays! Create a dessert table with other favorites such as pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin cupcakes.
- Don’t forget to serve your favorite coffee drink, eggnog, or apple cider.
- More apple desserts! If you want to keep with the theme, consider serving this Spiced Cider Apple Cake, Baked Crumble Apples, or these Butterscotch Apple Bars!
How to Store Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve. Be sure to leave the springform pan bottom in place for support. Store it in an airtight container or loosely wrap in plastic. You can place some toothpicks over the top to keep the plastic from sticking to the apple topping.
How long will caramel apple cheesecake last in the fridge?
It’s best eaten within 2-3 days but will last 4-5 days in the fridge.
Can I freeze apple caramel cheesecake?
Yes, you can! You can freeze the slices individually or together. I suggest wrapping them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to protect them from freezer burn and any freezer flavor. To wrap individually, freeze the cheesecake slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then wrap once they’re frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t have time to wait, or you’ve simply forgotten to leave out the cream cheese, use your microwave to blast your cream cheese (out of the foil) for 10 seconds at a time. Make sure it doesn’t get hot, just warm and malleable.
Your cheesecake is done when the edges are slightly brown and the entirety of the cake is just about set except for a bit of jiggle in the middle. Look for the jiggle about 4 inches into the cake. Don’t worry, that’ll set in the cooling process.
Mix the cheesecake batter on a low speed just long enough to mix all the ingredients together to avoid adding too much air to the batter. Baking at a lower temperature and in a water bath may also help keep it from cracking.
After baking and enjoying this caramel apple cheesecake for dessert, I feel certain you will discover that each bite was better than the last! It’s definitely THE DESSERT to serve as the meal showstopper! Add it to your Thanksgiving menu now! I know I’m adding it to mine! Or enjoy it throughout the fall (or any time of the year!) you have a craving for spiced apples.
More Cheesecake Recipes
If you like this cheesecake recipe, then you’ll love these:
- Red Velvet Cheesecake
- Strawberry Cheesecake Shortcake
- Spiced Sweet Potato Cheesecake
- No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
- No Bake Banana Pudding Cheesecake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Recipe
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter cubed, room temperature
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream room temperature
- 2 cups Vanilla Wafer Crumbs about 1/2-3/4 of an 11 ounce box
- ½ cup salted butter melted
- ¼ cup light brown sugar loosely packed
- 24 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup sour cream room temperature
- ½ cup applesauce
- ¼ cup caramel sauce
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 ½ cups chopped apples any variety (about 2-3 apples)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- Additional caramel sauce
For the Caramel Sauce:
- Pour the sugar in an even layer in a large saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking the sugar until melted. The sugar will clump up first, but will eventually completely melt after about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and allow the sugar to cook until it has turned a little darker amber color. You may notice a nutty aroma. The change in color will happen quickly so don’t let it go too long or get too dark or it will burn. Turn off the stove but leave the caramel over the heat.
- Slowly add the butter and whisk until combined. It is very important that the butter is room temperature or warmer. If it’s too cold, the caramel will seize. The mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted and combined.
- Slowly pour the heavy whipping cream into the caramel and whisk constantly until incorporated. Again temperature is very important. If it’s too cold, the caramel will seize. Set the caramel aside to cool.
For the Crust:
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
- To make the crust, combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Cover the outside of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in. Set the prepared pan aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
For the Cheesecake Filling:
- In a large bowl, blend the cream cheese, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon on low speed until well combined and smooth. Make sure to use low speed while beating to avoid adding excess air, which will cause the cheesecake to crack.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the sour cream, applesauce, and caramel sauce until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is mixed. Pour the cheesecake filling into the crust.
- Place the cheesecake pan in a larger roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and then fill the pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the side of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top of the foil. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 25 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door! After 30 minutes, crack the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 20 minutes. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the water bath and remove the foil. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s completely cool and firm, 6-7 hours or overnight.
- Don’t remove the springform pan from the cheesecake until it’s done chilling and you’re ready to assemble.
For the Cinnamon Apple Topping:
- Combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and butter in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the apples are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Spread the top of the cheesecake with additional caramel sauce, then spoon the apples over the top in the center. Drizzle additional caramel down the sides of the cheesecake if desired. Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve.
- It’s best eaten within 2-3 days but should last 4-5 days.