Bake or Break

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake is wonderfully rich, sweet, and bold. Caramel and bourbon are a perfect pair for a really amazing dessert!

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

I tend to think of cheesecakes as seasonal. Sure, I make plenty of no-bake cheesecakes during the summer, but I feel like the amount of oven time required for baked cheesecakes makes them a better candidate for cooler weather. Add in some caramel and a little bourbon, and this cheesecake is definitely made for fall and winter.

The recipe for this cheesecake evolved a bit as I was testing it. I had originally envisioned a topping for it, but one taste was enough to assure me that it didn’t need another thing. I added just an extra drizzle of caramel when serving, and that was plenty of embellishment.

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

I used a store-bought caramel sauce for the caramel swirl. If you have a homemade caramel you prefer, then feel free to use that instead. Whether you use regular or salted caramel is up to you. The salty flavor won’t be very bold once it’s mixed with the cheesecake, so think about which you’d prefer for drizzling over slices when you serve it.

The bourbon adds a wonderful flavor and richness. Bourbons have different flavor profiles, so the one you choose will affect the cheesecake’s flavor. I chose one with a buttery, spicy flavor, but there are some with notes of vanilla, caramel, citrus, and all sorts of great flavors. Personally, I am not a bourbon drinker. My experience with it is that I enjoy the aftertaste of it far more than the actual taste. The flavor in the cheesecake reminds me of that wonderful aftertaste. It’s warm and spicy and really just fantastic.

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

This baking method is pretty much the only way I bake cheesecakes. No terrifying water baths! It does require a lot of time, but it’s hands-off time while the cheesecake is in the oven. Just keep the total time in mind when you start baking. Be sure not to skip that last bit of oven time. At first glance, it may seem unnecessary but this method is the best way I’ve found to prevent cracking.

As with most cheesecakes, this one comes together quickly and easily. But, of course, the best part is the spectacular flavor. The rave reviews it gets are pretty great, too.

Find more cheesecake recipes in the Recipe Index.

More Bourbon Desserts

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Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake

Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 25 minutes

You'll love the fantastic flavor of this Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake. The combination of rich caramel and buttery, spicy bourbon are a perfect pair!

Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake topped with a drizzle of caramel

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2 cups (200g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 24 ounces (680g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (114g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (160g) caramel sauce, plus more for garnish*

Instructions

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter until thoroughly mixed. Press evenly into the bottom and partially up the sides of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake 10 minutes. Set aside.

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the eggs, bourbon, and vanilla, and mix well. Mix in the sour cream.
  2. Transfer about a third of the filling to the partially baked crust. Drizzle about 1/3 of the caramel over the top of the batter. Use a thin knife to swirl the caramel into the batter.
  3. Repeat the layers twice.
  4. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Decrease the oven temperature to 200°F. Bake for 2 hours.
  6. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and run a thin knife around the outside edge.
  7. Turn off the oven. Return the cheesecake to the oven. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 2 hours.
  8. Cover the cheesecake loosely and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  9. Serve with more caramel sauce if desired.

Notes

*The weight will vary depending on the specific caramel sauce. If in doubt, measure by volume.

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    29 Comments on “Bourbon Caramel Swirl Cheesecake”

  1. I’m been an avid baker for three decades now. I must have made 100 cheesecakes. This one is, by far, the best! My husband says it’s the best cheesecake he’s ever had…big words from an Italian. 

  2. What type of bourbon did you use in the recipe? 

  3. Hi, im making this for my dad birthday, he’ll be 65 tomorrow. He loves cheesecake & Bourbon. Do the eggs need to be room temperature?

  4. Would like to make, but is the bourbon flavor very strong, or subtle? I wasn’t quite sure after reading.

  5. I was hunting through my cookbooks earlier hoping to find a good cheesecake recipe.  I shouldn’t have wasted my time!  I should know by now that if I want a good recipe to look at yours first.  🙂

  6. I baked this yesterday, served it today, for my dad’s birthday. Huge hit, rich and delicious. I usually can’t stand whiskey (my dad picked out a rye whiskey for it, rather than a bourbon), but it made for a really complex flavor that went great with the cheesecake, without any of the paint-thinner burn of straight whiskey. Delicious.

  7. I made this with minor mods (half vanilla wafers, half Graham crackers for crust; half a bean of vanilla paste in filling) for a 2019 Kentucky Derby party yesterday. It almost generated as much excitement as the race! Thank you so much for this recipe. I’m going to bake another today for us at home. So delicious.

  8. Thoughts on baking two at once? Would baking time be the same?

  9. Hi there! I have a question regard your fabulous looking recipe. For his birthday party in a week, my husband requested a bourbon cheesecake similar to one he loves at a local restaurant. I’ve never baked a cheesecake before. (No pressure, right?!?!)
    Here’s my question — would it hurt anything or change any of the other ingredient amounts if I didn’t use the caramel sauce in layers within the cheesecake batter? I’m thinking I’d like the sauce to just be on top but IDK if that means I would need to make other changes (like increase the amount of liquid in the cheesecake batter itself as an example). I’m hoping you see this in time to respond before I need to start baking! Thanks so much!

  10. I Hey Jennifer! This recipe looks amazing. It’s my parent’s 40th anniversary this weekend and I’m making a few desserts in smaller sizes. Do you think I could make this in cupcake size? If so, what changes should I make considering oven time and such? 
    Thanks!

  11. I didn’t have any bourbon so used 3 teaspoons of peppermint extract and chocolate sauce. So good!! 

  12. What is a non alcoholic substitution I could use?

  13. I love cooking cheesecakes this time of year! Today I’m making one for a Friendsgiving event..

    Trying this for first time… still another hour in the oven. I may have used Evan Williams Kentucky Cider for a twist. I figured you can go wrong with cheesecake, Carmal, bourbon mixed with cider😉. Smells amazing!!!

  14. hello!! can this be halfed to make a smaller cheesecake or can it be spilt into smaller pans? 

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