Cranberry sauce swirl cheesecake is creamy, smooth, and indulgent. It tastes as delicious as it looks, with a gorgeous red swirl on top making it the perfect holiday dessert for your next party or gathering. This homemade cheesecake features an easy graham cracker crust, a creamy cheesecake base, and a simple cranberry sauce swirl on top (which is also a perfect way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce!). With step-by-step instructions from crumbling your cookies to the delicate bain-marie water bath, this cheesecake recipe is easy to make with minimal prep work.
Why You'll Love Cranberry Sauce Swirl Cheesecake
- It’s the perfect holiday cheesecake. Cranberry Sauce is a holiday favorite that tends to only rear its head around during the cold winter months — so we better make the most of it! This cheesecake features holiday flavors and a beautiful white and red design, which makes it ideal for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and any other winter gathering with family and friends.
- The cheesecake filling is pure indulgence. The cheesecake base is made with cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream for the smoothest and creamiest cheesecake. With a cranberry sauce swirl on top, this cheesecake has a little tang but is also a stunner.
- It’s not as hard as it seems. Some novice cooks might turn away at the thought of making a cheesecake from scratch or opting for a no-bake cheesecake instead (like this No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake), but this cranberry cheesecake is easy to make with a little prep work required. As long as you follow the recipe as written, and give the cheesecake adequate time to chill, you will end up with a gorgeous festive cheesecake made with your very own two hands.
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make this delicious Cranberry Sauce Swirl Cheesecake, you will need the following ingredients (full quantities in recipe card below):
- cheesecake crust - made with Graham-style cracker crumbs (or can substitute with crushed gingersnap cookies).
- cream cheese
- sour cream and heavy cream - you can substitute one or both of the sour cream and heavy cream for more cream cheese (3 blocks total) for a denser firmer cheesecake (New York style cheesecake).
- lemon juice - this adds a slight tang that compliments this cheesecake so well. You can leave it out if you choose.
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract - adds flavor.
- all-purpose flour or cornstarch - this helps the cheesecake filling be a little more firmer, but it's optional.
- cranberry sauce - you can use homemade cranberry sauce or store-bought sauce. It's the perfect recipe to make when you have leftover cranberry sauce in your fridge that you need to use up.
How to Make the Best Cranberry Sauce Swirl Cheesecake
- Prepare the crust. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well mixed. (If you are using whole crackers, simply add the crackers into a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. You can also transfer the cookies into a ziploc bag and roll a rolling pin on top to crush them). Press the crumb mixture firmly into a lightly greased 8-inch springform pan and freeze for at least 15 minutes, allowing the crust to set before filling.
- Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla extract and flour using the hand mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to help mix evenly. Set aside. Add 1 egg at a time and beat just until blended. Repeat until all the eggs are blended (Do not overmix to avoid cracking during baking).
- Add filling inside the crust. Carefully pour cheesecake filling into the cooled crust and smooth out the surface with an icing spatula. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles from the filling. Spoon cranberry sauce over the filling and gently swirl with a toothpick. For a smoother filling, first transfer the cranberry sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Bake in water bath. Wrap the outside of the springform pan tightly with aluminum foil and place the pan in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with 1 inch (2 cm) deep boiling water. Move the baking dish into the oven and bake in a 325F preheated oven at for 1 hour in the boiling water bath. After an hour, turn the oven off and let the cheesecake sit inside for another 30 minutes. This prevents the cheesecake from cracking due to a sudden drop in temperature.
- Chill and serve. Take the pan out of the oven and run a paring knife gently around the outside of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Slice and serve with extra cranberry sauce on top, if desired.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t rush room temperature: Room temperature means room temperature — not slightly cold and not microwaved for 30 seconds. Give your ingredients an hour to rest on the counter before making the cheesecake filling.
- Be patient: Baking a cheesecake requires patience because this dessert is not a fan of sudden changes. Give it enough time to slowly cool down and settle to avoid cracking.
- How to store: Keep cranberry cheesecake covered in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it, and serve it cold. It will last for 3-7 days, but peak freshness will be up to 3 days.
More Cranberry Sauce Recipes
- 15 Leftover Cranberry Sauce Recipes
- Cranberry Baked Brie
- Cranberry Sauce Oat Bars
- Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins
- Cranberry Sauce Swirl Pound Cake
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.