We tested this at 3,500 and 7,200 feet. And it worked without cracking!
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 2 hours
Cooling: 8 hours 30 minutes
Slow cooker liner bag, heavy-duty wide foil, or 11–12-inch round cake pan (Something to keep the water out of the springform pan.)
Nonstick cooking spray
10-inch springform pan
Large high-sided roasting pan
Food processor (helpful but optional)
14–16 ounces (50 cookies) crisp gingersnap cookies
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter, melted
Note: A graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust will also work.
4 8-ounce packages (908 g) cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup (57 g) sour cream, at room temperature
2½ cups (495 g) sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
6 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (see Note)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional: Sweet Sour Cream Topping
1 cup (227 g) sour cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Heat a large kettle or pan of water to boiling for a water bath.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the springform pan in a slow cooker bag. Twist the excess bag and tie it in a knot tightly against the pan under the rim. You can also cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with two layers of heavy-duty wide aluminum foil. Crimp the top of the foil around the top edge of the springform pan. Another option is to place the springform pan inside a larger round metal or silicone cake pan. The goal is to keep the water bath from going into the springform pan.
Lightly spray the bottom of the 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Crust: Add the cookies to a food processor or blender and grind them into fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a plastic bag and crush them with something heavy. You will have about 2½ cups of gingersnap crumbs. Pour the crumbs and 1 tablespoon brown sugar into the melted butter. Mix until the crumbs become coated.
Pour the crumbs into the prepared springform pan. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake the gingersnap crust for 10–12 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 325°F.
Filling: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar for 3 minutes or until well combined or smooth and creamy. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
Add in the pumpkin puree and beat until well combined. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the beaten eggs, pumpkin spice, and vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
Carefully pour the pumpkin cheesecake filling over the prepared gingersnap crust to the top of the springform pan. You might not use all of the filling. Carefully tap the pan against the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Place a high-sided roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven. Set the springform pan in the center of the roasting pan. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan around the springform pan, taking care not to get any on the filling. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Check the cheesecake after 1 hour, to see if it is getting too brown or overcooked. To prevent more browning, place a layer of foil over the top of the cake. The internal temperature of the center should read 145°F with an instant-read thermometer. An adequately cooked cheesecake will slightly jiggle when you nudge the pan.
Optional Sweet Sour Cream Topping: Prepare near the end of the baking time. Stir the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together until combined.
Spread the Sweet Sour Cream Topping over the cheesecake, if using. Return cheesecake to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
After the cheesecake has baked, turn off the oven, slightly crack the door open and allow it to cool for 30–60 minutes. This helps to get a perfect top without it falling or cracks forming. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven.
Remove the cheesecake from the water, remove the bag or foil if used, and dry the bottom of the pan if needed. If necessary, run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the cheesecake to make sure it’s not sticking to the sides. Place it in the refrigerator on a wire cooling rack to chill for at least 8 hours before serving. After 30–60 minutes in the refrigerator, wrap the top of the cheesecake with plastic wrap or foil.
Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Slice with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between slices.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers.
Note: Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice mix by combining 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice, 1½ teaspoons ground cloves. Store leftovers in airtight container.
For more recipes, nutrition, and food safety information, visit UW Extension’s Nutrition and Food Safety website, https://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/.