Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! I want to show you how to make this wonderful King Cake Cheesecake for Mardi Gras! If you’re in the mood for a green, gold, and purple-decorated cheesecake for your celebration, this is the recipe for you!
I also have a “regular” King Cake with cinnamon cheesecake filling that I will share some other time.
Round out your Mardi Gras with this easy spicy Cajun tomato soup recipe.
For ease of browsing, find all my cheesecake recipes here in one place.
Watch my King Cake Cheesecake Web Story here.
Why Make This Recipe?
First of all, it’s cheesecake, so what’s not to love?
It’s an easy recipe to memorize because it has an easy ratio:
1 block cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 oz cream cheese (plus seasoning/flavorings
Since it has an easy ratio, you can make a 6″ cheesecake with 2 blocks, an 8″ with 3 blocks, and a 9-10″ cheesecake with 4 blocks of cream cheese.
The batter is rich and thick and bakes up beautifully in a water bath.
How to Make a King Cake Cheesecake
This cheesecake is made in 3 parts:
- Graham cracker crust, which you can make with homemade Graham crackers or store-bought
- Cheesecake filling
- Cream cheese glaze and colored sugar
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make each component. Where possible, I will also provide substitutions that will work in this recipe.
For the Crust
- Graham crackers: You can also use vanilla wafers or chocolate sandwich cookies if you prefer
- Butter: The fat holds the crust together. You probably don’t need nearly as much as you think you do. Sub coconut oil or plant-based butter
- Salt: For flavor. I generally find there is no need to add additional sugar, but if you must, you can add a tablespoon or so.
NOTE: Adding extra sugar to your crumb crust can cause it to set up too hard, making it very difficult to cut to serve or to eat.
For the Filling
- Cream cheese: Provides body, tang, and the bulk of the filling. You may sub neufchatel in blocks if you prefer. In that cast, do use the otherwise-optional cornstarch to prevent any weeping.
- Sugar: Provides sweetness, minimal aeration, and body
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar and cinnamon is a good enough combo for breakfast toaster pastries, so it’s good enough here!
- Salt: Brings out the flavor in the rest of the ingredients
- Cinnamon: Provides warm, spicy notes
- Vanilla: Rounds out the cinnamon flavor
- Sour Cream: Adds a little extra tang and loosens the batter up a bit. You can substitute creme fraiche or buttermilk. (I have a cinnamon buttermilk cheesecake if you’d like to check that out as well)
- Eggs: Adds structure and allows the cheesecake to set up to a sliceable consistency.
- Cornstarch (Optional): When the starch gelatinizes, it holds onto liquid in the batter that would otherwise begin to weep out after a couple of days
If making this for Mardi Gras, you may want to hide a pecan half in your batter. It’s better than baking a plastic baby in your cheesecake!
Whoever gets the slice with the pecan is in charge of next year’s festivities!
For the Topping
- Cream cheese: Provides tang and body
- Sour cream: Same as cream cheese, plus since it’s a bit looser, it helps make a good glaze consistency
- Salt: Brings out the flavor. Don’t leave it out!
- Vanilla: Rounds out the flavor of the glaze and provides floral notes.
- Powdered sugar: Provides sweetness and contributes to the thickness of the glaze
Cheesecakes are fairly straightforward to make.
Here’s the procedure. Be sure to follow my tips for success below to make the perfect King Cake Cheesecake!
- Make and pre-bake the crust.
- Mix all the cheesecake ingredients together on low-to-medium speed. (See recipe for the order)
- Scrape into prepared pan and bake in a water bath.
- Cool and chill.
- Glaze and decorate in Mardi Gras colors (or however you like)
To Avoid Using a Water Bath
If you prefer to bake without a water bath, double the crust ingredients (you may have some leftover), and press the crust all the way up the sides of the pan.
Be sure to add a bit of extra butter so it will pack more easily when pressing it up the sides of the pan.
The crust will help to insulate the filling so it bakes evenly.
I would still recommend adding a pan of water to the oven to make a humid environment and minimize cracking.
This is a good, basic cheesecake recipe. As such, you can vary it to suit your taste.
Stir in mini chocolate chips, leaving out the cinnamon or not.
Flavor it with lemon juice and a touch of lemon oil along with the vanilla. Again, leave the cinnamon out if going this route.
For a very tall and proud King Cake cheesecake, increase the amounts to 2 pounds cream cheese and 4 eggs, scaling up the rest of the ingredients accordingly.
You may want to use a push pan or springform pan to bake this cake.
I love a push-pan. Easier to clean than a springform pan, and it doesn't deform the way springform pans can sometimes do. To "de-pan," all you have to do is go around the edge of the pan with a thin spatula to make sure the cake is loose. Then put the pan on a raised round surface smaller than the opening in the pan--a large can works well, Then, slowly slide the sides of the pan down and lift the cake on the base up and away. Easy!
This will eliminate the need of turning the cake out and then flipping it right-side up.
But know, even if you don’t own either kind of pan and only have an 8″ x 3″ cake pan, you can still successfully make a cheesecake.
The best way to tell if your cheesecake is done is to use an instant-read thermometer. They are very versatile, and I highly recommend picking one up.
Tips for Success
Make sure all your ingredients–including cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs are at room temperature. This will make for a smoother batter and easier mixing.
When mixing the batter, don’t mix faster than medium speed. This will minimize the amount of air you beat into the batter and keep your cheesecake from “soufleeing” and then falling, causing cracks.
Cool your cheesecake gradually–first in the oven with the door open, and then on the counter. Finally, refrigerate it. Slow cooling also minimizes cracking.
If your cheesecake cracks anyway, don’t despair. The glaze will cover it, and nobody ever has to know!
Here is a video clip to give you an idea of what the texture of your batter should look like at different stages.
I hope you find it helpful!
Also, here is the order to add the ingredients, mixing after each addition:
- cream cheese, salt, and both sugars
- cinnamon and vanilla
- sour cream
- eggs, 1 at a time
After everything is incorporated, this is how luscious your batter should look:
Cheesecake Q & A
Your cheesecake will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days if not made with cornstarch. Adding the cornstarch will buy you another couple of days without weeping. Note that even if you cake does weep, it is still edible and will be tasty. The weeping will soften the crust, though. Plan on eating in no more than 5 days?
Yes, cheesecake freezes really well. Freeze whole before glazing and decorating, well wrapped in plastic wrap and tin foil. Leave the cake in the pan. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating. For the cleanest cuts, chill before slicing, and wipe your knife clean between each cut.
Yes. Use gluten-free cookies for the crumb crust, and check all your labels to avoid any kind of cross-contamination. Otherwise, as written, the batter and glaze are gluten-free.
This cheesecake stands on its own, friends.
It is rich, cinnamony, and very, very tasty.
And the crunch from the sugar on top is really nice.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I have updated this post to better reflect what people are searching for: cinnamon King Cake cheesecake, and not a cinnamon cheesecake-filled King Cake. If you are looking for the original cheesecake-filled King Cake recipe, email me, and I will send it to you.
This is just a stop-gap until I get a new post up for that recipe. Thank you!
For the Graham crust
- 1 sleeve Graham crackers (about 18 squares/9 sheets)
- pinch of salt
- 1.5 oz (3 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
For the Cheesecake Batter
- 3 blocks (24 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- heavy pinch of salt
- 3 oz granulated sugar
- 3 oz brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 oz (about 1/2 cup) sour cream, room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 2 oz (1/4 block) cream cheese
- 1 oz (about 2 Tablespoons sour cream
- 8 oz (about 2 cups) sifted powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Allow cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream to come to room temperature, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350F for the crust
- If using a 1-piece pan, spray all over with pan spray and line the bottom and sides with a circle and strips of parchment.
- If using a push pan or springform pan, just line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the sides with pan spray.
- Get a cake pan or roasting pan that is 1" larger than your baking pan. Fill a kettle with water. Heat to a boil right before you put the cake in the oven. This is for the water bath.
For the Crust
- Crush cookies in a food processor or a plastic bag.
- Add salt.
- Melt the butter and work in until the mixture looks like damp sand.
- Press evenly into the bottom of your pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes and remove to cool.
- Turn the oven down to 300F.
For the Batter
- On no more than medium speed, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
- Add salt, brown sugar, and brown sugar and mix until well-combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Add cinnamon and vanilla, and mix again.
- Mix in sour cream.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing one in well before adding the next. Be sure to scrape the bowl often.
- Scrape the finished batter into the prepared crust.
- If making for Mardi Gras, push a pecan half down into the batter near the edge of the pan.
- Place the filled pan of batter into the larger pan and place on the oven rack.
- Carefully pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the pan.
- Bake until the center of the cheesecake registers 160F with an instant-read thermometer.
- Turn off oven, open oven door, and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Remove to a rack and cool completely.
- Chill completely and remove from the pan.
- Spread on the glaze and decorate with sprinkles as desired.
For the Glaze
- Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just to soften.
- Whisk cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth.
- Whisk in salt and vanilla.
- Whisk in as much powdered sugar as necessary to make a thick glaze.
- Spread glaze over the top of the cheesecake, allowing it to drip down the sides if it wants to.
Keep chilled in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Slice it chilled, but for best flavor and texture, allow the slices to sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before serving.
Freeze the whole cake, or freeze individual slices. Wrap well in plastic and then foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow the cake to thaw completely in the fridge before serving.
If freezing the whole cake, freeze before decorating and then decorate after it thaws.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 494Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 74mgSodium 151mgCarbohydrates 97gFiber 0gSugar 93gProtein 5g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Enjoy the cinnamon King Cake Cheesecake!
Take care, and have a lovely day.