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Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust

Rich peanut butter cheesecake tops off a salty pretzel crust in this delicious cheesecake. A sweet and salty dream!

I love baking all kinds of desserts, from cookies to cakes and a whole lot in between. But, cheesecakes are special. I can think of few things that are as simple to make yet as impressive to serve. Just the sight of a cheesecake garners much excitement and praise.

Recently, Philadelphia Cream Cheese asked if I would like to make a cheesecake to help kick off the holiday season. Of course, I said yes. When I started thinking about what kind of decadent cheesecake I wanted to make, I pretty quickly decided to go with peanut butter, and the rest just fell into place.

I decided to forego the traditional graham cracker crust for a pretzel crust. Pretzels aren’t my favorite on their own, but I love what their flavor and saltiness can do to a dessert. There’s a bit of brown sugar in this crust that makes it both sweet and salty.

Sweet and salty fans won't want to miss this Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust. - Bake or Break

The filling is wonderfully cream cheese-y and peanut butter-y. While I love flavored cheesecakes, I really want my cheesecake to taste like cheesecake. And, that’s exactly what this one does. It’s cheesecake with a wonderful peanut butter flavor. And, it’s a big, thick, significant cheesecake, too. I’m not messing around here.

Then came the question of how to finish it. Well, what goes better with peanut butter than chocolate? So, I added a simple chocolate drizzle. And, for a little crunch and some extra flavor, all of that is topped with some toffee bits. This is truly a decadent cheesecake worthy of a celebration.

Pretzels, cream cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter are perfect dessert companions in this Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust! - Bake or Break

I’ve been using Philadelphia Cream Cheese ever since I started baking. And, I’m not alone, because it’s been setting the standard for cream cheese since 1872. Philadelphia is my cream cheese of choice because of their product standards. It starts with fresh local milk and real cream, and ends as cream cheese in their refrigerators within 6 days. Their original cream cheese has no preservatives. And, they use real ingredients, like the pecans in their honey nut spread.

This holiday season, Philadelphia has teamed up with recipe and lifestyle experts to bring you delicious recipes and fun entertaining tips to make your holidays extra special. Be sure to visit for some great recipes and tips and “bring out the silver” this holiday season.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust

Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes

Pretzels, cream cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter are perfect dessert companions in this Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust!

Rich peanut butter cheesecake tops off a salty pretzel crust in this delicious cheesecake. A sweet and salty dream!


For the crust:

  • 2 cups (about 7 ounces) crushed pretzels
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter

For the chocolate glaze and topping:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons toffee bits


To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.
  2. Combine the pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar until well mixed.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Then, set aside to cool slightly.

To make the cheesecake filling:

  1. Place the cream cheese, brown sugar, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed, beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the peanut butter and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust. and spread evenly.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F. Bake for 2 hours, or until the center is firm and the cheesecake no longer looks shiny or wet.
  6. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan.
  7. Turn off the oven. Place the cheesecake back into the oven for 2 hours. Then, remove the cheesecake, cover, and chill overnight.

To make the topping: **

  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave at half-power in 30-second increments until the butter has melted and the chocolate melts when stirred.
  2. Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the chilled cheesecake.
  3. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the top of the cheesecake.


**Using this method of baking cheesecake, I've never had a problem with cracks. If yours should happen to crack, you can double the topping recipe and spread it over the top of the cheesecake.

Crust recipe adapted from MyRecipes. Filling recipe adapted from I Love Cheesecake.

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    72 Comments on “Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust”

  1. Oh my gosh I love it! The pretzel crust takes this over the edge.

  2. We must be on the same wavelength. I have cream cheese in my fridge and I thought just last night that I should make peanut butter cheesecake. I think I might add Nutella too!

  3. I am buying a new cheesecake pan just this recipe! MMmm….peanut butter.

  4. This cheesecake reminds me of the peanut butter stuffed, chocolate covered pretzels from Trader Joes! This looks outstanding!

  5. You had me at cheesecake! This one might have to be made tomorrow! I like the Nutella idea too. And the pretzel crust. Genius!!!

  6. I’m already kind of a sucker for cheesecake but add PEANUT BUTTER and CHOCOLATE and SWEET AND SALTY to it. and I’m in love.

  7. YUM!!! And with a pretzel crust? Over the top!

  8. This is such a gorgeous cheesecake! You really outdid yourself!

  9. I love that you made a pretzel crust instead of the graham cracker! I still like graham cracker, but this is so fun and something different is always nice! this cheesecake looks perfect! Pinning!

  10. Peanut butter cheesecake is my weakness!
    Next time you make one, try using a chocolate chip cookie crust like I did.
    SO GOOD!
    have a good weekend J!

  11. Oh my, I think I am in love!!

  12. I have never thought of trying pretzel crust, what a neat idea!

  13. Alright, over the weekend I decided that I should eat a lot of vegetables today. You know, to be healthy and stuff.

    And then I saw this.

    Are peanuts a vegetable?

  14. This cheesecake looks seriously good! I love that thick layer of pretzel crust.

  15. This cheesecake looks so good! This is an absolute must try!

  16. Do I need to use a waterbath with this recipe? It seems when I’ve had success with cheesecake without having the top crack, a waterbath is always involved.

  17. I made this last night to take for Thanksgiving, I think it’s going to be awesome! Thanks for the recipe.

  18. Do you pour on the chocolate before or after you put it in the oven that’s turned off?

  19. Jennifer, I had such high hopes for this recipe but sadly it disappointed my family last night. I followed your instructions perfectly. The pretzels made the pie overly salty, the top cracked, the interior was dry and everyone felt it wasn’t sweet enough… The filling called for 3/4 cup sugar. It didn’t seem like enough. I also used unsalted butter for the crust. Perhaps we prefer a moister cheesecake filling in California. I love your blog and will continue to try your recipes. Happy New Year!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Sharon! Different kinds of pretzels have varying amounts of salt, so that could be the culprit in your crust. As for the sweetness and moistness, I recall this being both sweet and moist. Like you said, maybe it’s a difference in preferences. Happy New Year to you, too!

      • I’m so confused at what these people are doing. Three people in my family worked in this over the course of a day, following the recipe to a tee. And it’s perfect. No cracking, the interior was very moist (maybe too much cream cheese?), and the salt balance was lower than one would expect , and it was perfect . Delicious. 

    • We had the same results in T.N.

  20. I saw this recipe yesterday, and went out and got the ingredients right away. It is in the oven on the final 2 hour cycle as we speak (with the oven turned off). It smells amazing, and my husband LOVED the cheesecake ‘batter’ before it went in the oven, so we have high hopes! Cannot wait to try it. Might not make it all night in the fridge though…. 🙂

    Ive been baking desserts from your page for years, and have never been let down!

  21. Made this receipt yesterday. After reading the comments, I bought pretzels with the least amt of salt, used a bit more sugar in the crust, and a 1/4 more sugar in the filling. Finished topping earlier & chilled for 30 mins…. Delicious!!! Thick and creamy texture just as you said and top did not crack!!! My family prefers a “hint” of flavors in a cheese cake, so next time, I think I will use 1/2 c pb instead of a whole cup. I hope it doesn’t mess up the texture. Wonderful receipt! Thanks much!!! Now I need the tread mill!!!!!

  22. My friend Lydia made this for me for my birthday this year. She sent me here to get the recipe. I am making it tonight for a family birthday tomorrow. I have only tried to make a cheesecake one time before with disastrous results! This one was easy (so far). I loved that it was not real sweet. And that crust is the best. It is now in the oven for the 2 hour bake.

  23. I made this cheesecake (with a few changes to the crust and topping) for New Year’s Eve and it was a big hit! I will say that it didn’t taste as “peanut buttery” as I thought it would. It had a noticeable sour cream taste to it. Next time, I will probably reduce the sour cream and increase the peanut butter.

    This is the first time I have cooked a cheesecake using this method (no water bath, but reduced temperature and longer cook time) and it turned out great! No cracks, and a beautiful even cook all the way through. Thank you for this great recipe and cooking method!

  24. This is the second time I’ve made this cheesecake, and it’s perfect again. Cracks don’t really bother me too much, but I’m 2 for 2 with no cracks using this method. Oh, the cake is f’in delicious too!!!

  25. 32 ounces of cream cheese??

  26. Is there a recipe for this cheese cake as mini cheesecakes?

  27. Well balanced recipe, unsalted butter with cocoa and pb; so the bittersweet balances adult taste the Nutella works and suits the kids. 10th birthday so might just let them pick off the milk chocolate spider web 🎂

  28. Do I use 2 cups of pretzel crumbs or 7 ounces. Isn’t 2 cups 16 ounces? Am I missing something? Ha

    • Hi, Mellie. The ounce measurement refers to weight, not volume. You can measure 2 cups of crushed pretzels by volume, or you can use a scale to weigh 7 ounces of pretzels. I like to have the weight so I can measure the pretzels before I crush them. It’s a bit more efficient, as the pretzels will weigh the same before and after crushing them.

  29. Thank you so much….it is in the oven now!!

  30. I just popped mine in the oven. The batter is yummy and the pretzel crust is genius and crazy delicious.

    My BF keeps asking me when it’ll be ready haha.

  31. Could I make this into mini cheesecakes? How long would the baking time be if I used the following pan size: Cups size: 1.5” / 4cm deep, 2” / 5cm diameter. Thank you!

  32. I accidentally used light brown sugar in the filling. Will that make a noticeable difference?   Thanks!

  33. How many days ahead can I make this cheesecake and will it still be fresh? I was thinking the pretzel crust may get soggy.

    • It will, of course, be freshest if made the day before, which allows for chilling time. I’ve kept it for a few days without the crust becoming an issue. The crust will soften the longer you keep it.

  34. Great recipe! The only thing I changed was cooking method. I baked on 350 in a water bath until done, cooled and refrigerated overnight. Decorated with Reese’s cups 

  35. Can you provide more derailed instructions on how you get the topping effect? i know you said spoon but it seems that it would be difficult to get the drizzle effect with a spoon? 

  36. We used the pretzel crust for a salted caramel apple cheesecake my daughter (9yo) made and she took 3rd place out of 78 adults 😀 

  37. Hi Jennifer,
    I made this amazing cheesecake for our family Chanukah party this weekend and it was a smash hit! I couldn’t get the toffee bits so I subbed caramel sea salt chips and it was delicious that way too. People have asked for the recipe and everyone took leftovers home since it really is a huge cake. Thanks so much for another absolute homerun dessert! I’ve made so many of your recipes and each and every one of them is outstanding! Thank you for making me a ‘baking queen’ :)!!! Happy Holidays!

  38. How much do I fill a 9″ pan with the filling? Should I use all of the filling or leave some room?

  39. So excited for this to be done! It’s on its final oven cycle now. Making it for my husbands birthday.

  40. I am making this cheesecake for the second time (baking 2 at once, 1 for home and 1 to take to a family gathering) because it was soooooo delicious the first time! This is a very decadent dessert, you only need a small slice so it goes a long way.

  41. This is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made, I can’t wait to try it. Making it for my boyfriend’s birthday tomorrow! Thank you for the recipe!

  42. Hi Jennifer, I will be making this for my husband’s bithday this evening and I know he will love it. One question, how many bricks of cream cheese is 32 oz? It just seems like a lot, and I really want to get this right for him. Thanks in advance.

  43. Hi! Making this for NY Day. Can you tell me which pretzels work best for the crust?

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