Thursday, November 15, 2012

Low-Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

I think this Low-Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie is officially my favorite Thanksgiving Dessert, but this would also be great for Halloween.

Low-Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
(Updated November 2012.  As we count down to turkey day, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipesThis Low-Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie has been my favorite for several years now, and I'm making it again for this Thanksgiving.)

I never was a fan of pumpkin pie, and back in the days when I wasn't watching my sugar intake I'd always pick banana cream for my Thanksgiving pie. Then I started eating the South Beach Diet way, and discovered a recipe for Reduced Sugar Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake that I really liked, and I made that a few years for Thanksgiving. This year I got the urge to try something slightly different, and this pumpkin cheesecake pie is halfway between pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. It has more pumpkin than the cheesecake, and the texture is a little closer to pumpkin pie, while still having that creamy mouth feel of cheesecake. How did I like it? I just gobbled up the piece you see in this photo for breakfast! I'm adding this recipe to our list of Thanksgiving Recipes, and I highly recommend it for a slightly different bake on Thanksgiving pie.

I made this three times to get a recipe with very minimal sugar that I loved the flavor of, and if I was better at baking, my oven wasn't broken so I had to use the toaster oven, and Thanksgiving wasn't four days away, I might have tried baking it in a water bath to prevent the cracking on top. I actually didn't mind the more rustic look with a few cracks in the surface, but if anyone tries using a water bath to bake this, I'd love to hear how it turns out. By the way, other food bloggers might be interested to hear that photos in this recipe are the first time I've shot a complete post including step-by-step photos using my Lowell Ego Light Set. Of course, nothing is better than natural light for food photography, but these lights are pretty useful.

Use a hand mixer to beat together softened cream cheese, Splenda or Stevia In the Raw Granulated Sweeter, brown sugar, and vanilla. (I tried using the new KitchenAid for one of my versions, and the hand beater worked much better.)

Then beat in the eggs, adding them one at a time and beating about 10 seconds each time.

Add canned pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, and apple pie spice and beat until well combined.

I'm not one of those people who loves to bake, so I used a purchased graham cracker crust. You can also make your own crust, or see after the recipe for another option to eliminate the crust for less sugar. (If you buy a crust, be sure to get the larger 9 oz. size or the filling won't fit.)

Be sure to fold up the edges of the pan before you pour the filling in, because it comes clear to the top. (If you have the smaller size pie shell, bake some filling separately in a ramekin!)

After you bake the pie for an hour and take it out of the oven, the center will be slightly puffed up like this. The pie will still be a bit wiggly until it's cooled.

After about 15 minutes the middle will sink down like this, so don't worry! Right about now you'll really be wanting to eat some, but it needs to be chilled for 3-4 hours or overnight before you serve the pie.

Low-Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
(Makes 8-10 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Reduced Sugar Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake and pumpkin pie memories from childhood.)

2 pkg. cream cheese (two 8 oz. package or total of 16 oz.) softened at room temperature for about 30 minutes (I used light cream cheese. Don't use fat free.)
1 C Splenda granular or Stevia In the Raw Granulated Sweeter
1/4 cup brown sugar (or use 1/4 cup more Splenda or Stevia if you need less sugar)
1 T vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream. Don't use fat free.)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice (contains cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves if you don't have the blend)
1 purchased graham cracker pie crust (Use the large 9 oz. size, or bake some of the filling in another container if you want a smaller pie.)
whipped cream for serving, optional

Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Unwrap cream cheese and let it soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes. When cream cheese is soft, add Splenda, brown sugar, and vanilla and use a hand mixer to beat together until well combined.

Add eggs one at a time, beating about 10 seconds when each egg is added. Then add canned pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, and apple pie spice and beat together until the mixture is completely combined and smooth.

Fold up the metal edge of the purchased graham cracker crust, then pour the filling in until it comes just to the top. (If you have a smaller pie shell, bake some of the filling separately in a glass or crockery dish sprayed with non-stick spray.)

Carefully transfer pie to oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until pie is mostly set and barely starting to brown on top. It will still seem slightly wiggly when you remove it from the oven. Let pie cool for at least 30 minutes, then refrigerate to chill for several hours or overnight.

I ate this with a dollop of whipped cream. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for several days, if you can manage to keep it around that long.

(For a lower sugar version without a crust, spray a glass pie dish with non-stick spray and dust with almond meal, then pour in pie filling and bake.)

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
The graham cracker crust I used for this pie has about 9 grams of sugar per serving if you divide the pie into 8 servings (which seems like a more reasonable size to me than the 10 servings the package says.) The brown sugar adds about 6 grams of sugar per serving, and there's some natural sugar in the pumpkin as well, so this pie would probably be phase 3 for the South Beach Diet or a very occasional treat for phase 2. However, for a holiday dessert this is a pretty low-glycemic option, and I'd definitely indulge in something like this for Thanksgiving!

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Low-Sugar Pumpkin Desserts for Turkey Day:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Sugar-Free Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake from Kalyn's Kitchen
Reduced Sugar Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake from Kalyn's Kitchen
Low Sugar Pumpkin and Apple Crumble with Cranberries from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pecan Pumpkin Pie Bars from Ginger Lemon Girl
Eggless Chocolate Pumpkin Pie from Health Nut
Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake from Christine Cooks
Pumpkin Pie from Baking History
Gluten-Free Dairy Free Pumpkin Pudding from The W.H.O.L.E. Gang
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Gorgeous pie! Love the combination of cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and the low sugar can't hurt either =D.

  2. I just wanted to tell you that I'm on a semi SBD diet with more exercise and I have to thank you for what an inspiration your blog is. Thank you :) I've already lost 10 pounds in the first phase and there's a lot more to go and for the first time in my life, I'm excited about exercise and great 'healthy' food.

  3. wow, looks gorgeous! If I were to use regular sugar instead of splenda would the proportions be same? Thanks!

  4. Lauren, thanks. I really like how it turned out (at least the third try!)

    A&N, thanks, so nice to hear about your success. Glad you are enjoying the blog.

    PJ, when I adapt a recipe I use Splenda 1:1 for the sugar, so I'd guess so, but how sweet you like things is partly a matter of taste. You could start with a bit less sugar and the brown sugar mixed with the cream cheese and taste before you add the eggs, then decide if you want to add more sugar.

  5. The photos look great, and I'm so glad you're enjoying the EGO lights. The ability to shoot photos at night, especially at this time of year, has saved my sanity. Now we can actually eat (and photograph) dinner at dinner time!

  6. I like the cracks - it gives the pie character! Sounds delicious, too. I'm on pie duty this year, and I'm getting down to the wire, so I've got to come up with a plan soon.

  7. Great pictures! I have those lights too. They work great now that it is dark so early.

  8. What a lovely pie. I love pumpkin pie and I love cheesecake. I get the best of both worlds and its lower in sugar. Wonderful! Thanks so much for the recipe and Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. I'm making a normal-sugar pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving since I think the family would stage a rebellion if I tried to give them anything low-sugar (they are already getting low fat...they just don't know it yet). I would love to make this myself though to have for dessert during the week!

  10. Beautiful! I'm going to make the traditional pumpkin pie, but most certainly will save this to make another time. Thanks for the post.

  11. Does this really use 1 T. of vanilla - the recipe it's based on only uses 1/2 tsp. Can't wait to try it, though!!

  12. Lydia and Gina, I am loving the lights. Next time I'll do custom white balance before I shoot, because I had to adjust that on these photos (shot with white balance on auto) but still I thought the pictures weren't bad at all.

    TW, I'd say you're well qualified for pie duty! Hope you will post your pies. (I'm pie-crust challenged, but recently Andrea Meyers posted a whole wheat pie crust I might try!)

    Sou, you're welcome and Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    Joanne, I think you could sneak this past anyone, even people who usually only like real sugar. Yesterday my niece came with her husband and kids to pick up a table that I'm giving them. They all loved this, even the kids! (The kids were hesitant to try it, but after we convinced them to take a bit they both liked it.)

    JoAnn, yes I did use a whole T of vanilla. Thanks for asking though, because I've been known to mess up!

  13. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving and I have never used pumpkin in dessert before.
    This looks so good, I'm bookmarking this recipe.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Kalyn.

  14. Kalyn,
    This looks great...I love pumpkin cheesecake and just did a recipe for it on my blog this weekend, as well...
    So happy to hear of your success with the lights- I've been debating whether or not to get them but I think you just closed the deal for me. Can I ask you do you have 1 or 2, and did you purchase the backdrop sheets, as well?

  15. Aparna, I'm not always a fan of pumpkin but I did really like this!

    Winnie, I bought the Lowel Ego Two Light Set. It might be hard to find on if you buy it there because they spell Lowel wrong! The set comes with two lights, a s-back-up stand with paper backgrounds (which I've never used) and two folding "bounce" boards to bounce the light (which I love.) One good thing about the set is that each light fixture with the filtered front has two bulbs in it. I had a homemade set up earlier using the Lowel set in reflective light fixtures and filtering through a photo box. That worked pretty well for a less expensive option, but this is definitely better!

  16. Kalyn, Did you mean two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese for a total of 16 ounces or two 4 oz. packages for a total of 8 ounces? I'm guessing the former, but it wasn't clear to me. Thank you for all of your hard work. It is wonderful to have a SB source of inspiration. Karen

  17. Karen, two package, 8 oz. each for a total of 16 ounces. Thanks for pointing out that isn't crystal clear. I will edit to make sure no one gets confused.

  18. Karen, haven't seen that site before, so don't really have an opinion about their recipes. I can't publish a comment with the link or I'll be over-run with people posting links to other sites in my comments. I think there are lots of sources for healthy recipes though, just find what works for you.

  19. I had the pleasure of eating this pie first hand and it was awesome! Tim polished off the last 2 pieces when we got home. You are the best!

  20. Thanks Kara! I'm so glad to have some taste testers for the pie so I can verify that it's both adult and kid-approved! (That comment is from my gorgeous niece Kara, mother of three of the cutest kids in the universe!)

  21. Thank you, Kalyn!

    For diabetics or people who just want a lower-carb option, you can substitute the graham cracker crust with either almond flour or ground pecan flour. Just mix 1 1/2 - 2 cups of almond flour or ground pecan meal (you can make this yourself in a blender or food processor, just make sure to buy unsalted pecans!) with a few tablespoons of melted butter. You can also add Splenda and spices, if you'd like your crust to be more flavorful. Mix all the ingredients into a bowl until you get something with a dough-like consistency, and then mold it into a pie dish like you would a normal crust. Bake on 350 for 10-20 minutes, but check after 10 minutes. You have to let it cool before pouring in Kalyn's delicious cheesecake filling. Nuts are a great alternative because they're high fiber, low carb, and low glycemic, plus they taste amazing.

  22. Adriana, thanks for those great instructions. I've heard about those types of crusts, but haven't made one.

  23. I'm so making this. My kids were just asking me to make cheese cake the other day. I make all my pies with low sugar. After you start to use less sugar all other pies taste so sickeningly sweet.

  24. Chigiy, it got two thumbs up from a couple of very picky small kids, so I think it's a winner! I definitely agree about the low sugar, I never miss it.

  25. Thank you, Klyn for all your recipes and instructions. Your site has made life so much easier for my mother and I(as we are both hypoglycemic and she has other food related problems). I made this pie without the sour cream and one ofthe packages of cream cheese. Used light ricotta cheese instead (to the same measurements)and it turned out wonderfully!

  26. Ramona, you're so welcome! And what a brilliant idea to use ricotta; now I want to try that!

  27. Interesting! I enjoyed reading your post. It makes a lot of sense, i love it. :)


  28. Yum, what a great recipe! I've been looking for healthier alternatives and this is great!

  29. Danielle, so glad you liked it!

  30. Best Thanksgiving RecipesNovember 8, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    Tried this recipe the other day and it was fantastic! We will be using this one for thanksgiving.

  31. I just took this pie out of the oven for my Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and it looks delicious!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  32. Cassie, hope you will really enjoy it!

  33. Thanks for such an awesome recipe. I made this for Thanksgiving, but tweated it a bit using a spring-form pan and graham cracker crust. I used the whole can of pumpkin (1 1/5 cups) cause I couldn't think of what to do with the extra 1/2 cup:) I was wonderful!!!! So many compliments. I told NO ONE that it was Splenda and they gobbled it all up. I just made my 2nd one (for my 2nd Thanksgiving at my mom's tomorrow) and used the Pecan crust from your Raspberry Cheese Cake recipe...can't wait to try it tomorrow! Thanks for sharing so many fabulous SBD recipes. I've lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks eating nothing but what you post!

  34. Angela, I know what you mean about using that leftover pumpkin! I freeze it until I get enough to make something with. So happy to hear the recipes are working well for you.

  35. This is great alternative to traditional pumpkin cheesecake or pie. Very nice! Thanks.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.



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