Ready for the best way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving? Add it to this cranberry swirl cheesecake, a quick and simple citrus and vanilla cheesecake with ribbons of fresh cranberry sauce and a sweet and spicy gingersnap cookie crust. A delicious and festive holiday dessert! Gluten free friendly.

cranberry swirl cheesecake recipe from

Do you always have cranberry sauce leftover at Thanksgiving, too?

This cranberry swirl cheesecake is my favorite way to use some of it up, and come away with a a vibrant and festive holiday dessert (that’s a whole lot less work than pie).

Simply set aside a few big spoonfuls of homemade cranberry sauce beforehand. I’m partial to an oh, so easy version with fresh cranberries, orange juice (go for high pulp), aromatic vanilla, and a cinnamon stick. You’ll still have plenty of sauce for the big meal, but you’ll also end up with a dreamy cheesecake topped with pretty ribbons of ruby red, sweet and tart cranberries.

The tangy sauce is a lovely complement to the creamy orange and vanilla infused cheesecake filling, the natural tartness cutting through some of the richness of the cream cheese, especially when paired with a spicy gingersnap crust. Tis’ the season, after all!

A closeup of crispy gingersnap cookies in a food processor.

What you’ll love about this cranberry swirl cheesecake:

While the end result may look fancy, this pretty cheesecake requires mostly very basic ingredients. The filling is simply cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. The crust combines gingersnaps (the only unusual player here), butter, cinnamon, and salt. And the cranberry swirl takes great advantage of leftovers (or comes straight from a can!).

The components all come together quickly, with no need for a water bath like some more complex cheesecake recipes. You can also easily make it ahead of time and/or into mini cheesecakes or bars, for sharing at holiday parties. Creamy, tart, and sweet… and utterly irresistible!

cranberry swirl cheesecake recipe from

How to avoid your cheesecake cracking:

Cracking on the surface of cheesecake (and other baked custards like pumpkin pie) generally happens for two reasons. Either too much air is whipped into the batter during mixing, or the cheesecake is overbaked.

The cranberry swirls on top will actually mask some of this, but as a general rule we want to avoid both scenarios.

First, be sure to mix your ingredients on low speed and beat only until creamy and well combined. It greatly helps for all of the ingredients for the filling to be at the same (room) temperature before mixing for the creamiest, dreamiest cheesecake.

Then, as your cheesecake bakes, you’ll know that it’s done when the edges are set and beginning to show just a bit of color. At this point, the center should still wobble when the pan is gently shaken. Even if the center looks a little bit uncooked, it will continue to cook as it cools. Once fully cooled and set, it will firm up properly.

Having a bit of patience to wait a couple of hours – or better, overnight – before diving in will pay off, with a more flavorful cheesecake, and a smoother, creamier texture. Happy baking!!

Other easy and delicious cranberry recipes to make next:

If you make this cranberry cheesecake, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura

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cranberry swirl cheesecake recipe from

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

  • Author: Laura Bolton
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 35 min
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: One 8-inch Cheesecake 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Ready for the best way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving? Add it to this cranberry swirl cheesecake, a quick and simple citrus and vanilla cheesecake with ribbons of fresh cranberry sauce and a sweet and spicy gingersnap cookie crust. A delicious and festive holiday dessert! Gluten free friendly.



for the crust:

  • 11/2 cups gingersnap crumbs ¹
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp (55g) unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:

  • 2 cups (16oz) brick cream cheese, at room-temperature
  • 1/2 cup (99g) cane sugar
  • 2 (100g) large eggs, at room-temperature
  • 11/2 tsp (8g) pure vanilla extract
  • 12 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberry sauce

homemade cranberry sauce:

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup (60g) orange juice
  • 1 cup (198g) cane sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick


Cranberry swirl cheesecake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Set aside an 9-inch round springform pan or cheesecake pan with a removable bottom.
  2. Make the crust: Use a food-processor to pulse together the gingersnap crumbs, salt, and cinnamon. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse a few times until combined. The crumbs should be evenly moistened but not overly greasy.
  3. Spoon the crumbs into the prepared pan then press down gently into an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, make the cheesecake filling: Add the softened cream cheese and sugar to the mixing bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on medium-low speed, until light and creamy, and no lumps remain. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Beat in the eggs on low speed, followed by the vanilla and orange zest, if using.
  6. Pour over the crust, and use an offset spatula to smooth the top into a smooth, even layer. Gently tap the bottom of the pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles.
  7. Add spoonfuls of the cranberry sauce over the filling, then use a toothpick or skewer to create swirls throughout.
  8. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until the sides of the cheesecake are gently puffed, and just beginning to color, 30-35 minutes. The center should still have a bit of jiggle to it, and the cheesecake will continue to cook as it cools.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool to room-temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator and let set and chill thoroughly for 2-3 hours.
  10. When ready to serve, remove the bottom or release the sides of the pan and serve chilled. Best the day of, but will keep well covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Enjoy!!

Homemade cranberry sauce (will make more than you’ll need for this recipe):

  1. Add the cranberries, sugar, and orange juice to a medium sauce pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved, and the cranberries have begun to soften.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium, add the cinnamon stick, and continue cooking until the cranberries burst, another 10-15 minutes. Let cool to room-temperature before serving.
  3. You can leave the sauce chunky, or blend to a smooth puree before swirling into the cheesecake. Can be made in advance, and will keep for several days in the refrigerator.


¹ There are a lot of variables when writing for gingersnap or graham cracker cookie crusts– the brand of cookie, how finely you crush/crumble them, how firmly you pack the crumbs into the measuring cup, the density/sugar/moisture contents of your cookies, etc. All these different factors demand different amounts of butter to moisten/hold together the crumbs without becoming greasy. This recipe was originally tested with Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger gingersnap cookies, which I like because they are crisp and extra spicy. I’ve used other brands with success, too. This is the ratio of butter to cookie that works for me, but use your best judgment.

For a sweeter and subtler crust you can also use graham crackers to make your cookie crumbs. Make this cheesecake gluten free by simply using GF gingersnaps.

A few tips: the cookies should be crumbled to the point of resembling coarse sand. You don’t want to pulverize them completely into powder. Pulsing in a food processor works well. Don’t worry if there are a few larger bits of cookie here and there.

Because there are so many different brands of gingersnap cookies, use your judgment when it comes to the butter/crushed cookie ratio. 4 Tbsp of melted butter may be more or less than you need depending on the particular gingersnaps you use. Start by adding about 3 Tbsp of the melted butter to the crumbs. If they aren’t coming together or don’t seem damp enough, add a little more butter. If they seem excessively buttery, add more crumbs, and so on. You want a crumbly, moist crumb that can easily press into the pan.

Bake the crust(s) on top of a rimmed sheet pan to catch any butter drips. This is especially important when using tart pans with removable bottoms.

² Homemade cranberry sauce tastes best, but there’s no shame in using store-bought canned cranberry sauce either. You may puree the cranberry sauce for a smoother swirl, but I like the occasional whole berry to peek through. If you want the overall cheesecake to be a little less tart, replace 1/2 cup of the fresh cranberries with raspberries.

Keywords: cranberry swirl cheesecake, easy cheesecake, orange, cranberry, no water bath, vanilla, creamy, leftover cranberry sauce