Author: Catie Smith

This Vegan Thanksgiving, Don’t Forget Dessert!

It’s my favorite day of the year – the day we slow down, stop and express gratitude. It’s also a day of delicious, traditional foods here in the U.S., and I for one am thankful for how much easier it is today to serve an entire array of appetizers, soups, and side dishes with completely plant-based ingredients.

While I don’t recommend skipping good old-fashioned Turkey, I do recommend not skipping dessert.

In fact, one of my favorite traditions is to go all out, with an entire dessert buffet – here is my latest recipe for a sweet finish to a warm gathering as the temperatures drop here in the Hudson Valley.

Easy to make ahead, light, fluffy, and not too sweet, this no-bake version combines healthy and pure pumpkin puree, non-dairy cream cheese, non-dairy buttery spread, and all the spices we associate with pumpkin pie. Sitting on top of a graham cracker crust and topped by a drizzle of caramel sauce and a sprinkling of candied pecans, this is also a showstopper my guests save room for.

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake: Easy To Make and Better than Pumpkin Pie!

45 minutes to prepare.

Eight hours to chill.

Serves 6-8.


For the crust:

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (or your favorite crunchy cookie including ginger snaps which add another layer of flavor)

¼ cup organic cane sugar

6 tablespoons vegan buttery spread

Spices you enjoy (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves – just a pinch of each!)

For the filling:

1 cup of thawed non-dairy whipped topping (coconut-based is my favorite)

1 cup of non-dairy plain cream cheese

1 cup of pure organic pumpkin puree

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice (it goes with everything including pumpkin spice lattes!)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the toppings

Caramel sauce (I love the squeeze bottles – delicious and easy to decorate with)

Surprisingly spicy candied walnuts:

1/2 cup of whole nuts

1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

Dash of salt (to taste)

Dash of cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 tablespoon water


Start with the crust.

Place the graham crackers or cookies in a food processor and process them on high speed until they become fine crumbs.

Add the melted vegan buttery spread, sugar, and spices of your choice.

Pulse a few times, then press into a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Using the back of a measuring cup, press the mixture in firmly and let it rest in the refrigerator while you continue to create.

Make the filling.

Combine the non-dairy frozen topping with the vegan cream cheese, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spices and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and creamy.

Spread over the prepared crust and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Prepare the candied nuts.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat and place the walnuts in the pan. Roast for around 3 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring often (careful not to burn!)

Mix together the melted vegan buttery spread, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add the water and stir, then add to a cold pan and place over low to medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for around 5 or 6 minutes until golden brown. Make sure the sugar melts completely but doesn’t burn. Do not stir after the mixture has boiled – tip the pan but stirring will interrupt the process.

Remove from the stove, then add in the toasted walnuts and mix.

Let cool after spreading out on a baking sheet (parchment paper will help avoid a sticky cleanup!). Keep in a closed container until ready to use.

Right before serving, decorate the top of the vegan pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce and sweet, salty, and spicy walnuts. Enjoy – and enjoy the compliments!

May every day be full of gratitude!