In my house, there have been birthday cookie dough ice cream sandwiches, creme brulee, key lime pie and even fudgy brownies. Birthday cakes . . . not so much, at least not very often. This year we got a little closer to something traditional – my son Micah requested a rich and creamy caramel cheesecake. I mean, at least cake is in the word.
He’s a planner, so I had lots of advance notice and have been working on this recipe for months. It’s topped with a buttery salted caramel sauce that melds perfectly with the New York-style filling and graham cracker crust. Like all our favorite desserts, it’s gluten and refined sugar-free . . . but seriously no one can tell, it’s that good.
Before we dive into the recipe, here are a few quick tips to ensure a luxurious, smooth texture every time:
- Use room temperature eggs, cream cheese and sour cream – this is the secret to avoiding lumpy cheesecake batter.
- Always use full fat ingredients to create a rich, decadent texture.
- Don’t over-whip the filling – mixing it too long will incorporate excess air that can cause the cheesecake to sink in the middle as it cools.
Also, you may notice that I skipped the water bath in this recipe. It’s usually used to keep the cheesecake from cracking, but I’ve found that baking at a lower temperature for a little longer achieves the same goal with a lot less hassle.
Of course, even if your cheesecake does crack, it will be covered with caramel and no one will know, but now you know for all your cheesecake baking endeavors. 🙂
Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cheesecake Recipe
- 9-inch springform pan (I like this stainless steel one)
- Handheld electric mixer or stand mixer
Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 batch homemade gluten-free graham crackers
- 9 tbsp butter
- 32 ounces full fat cream cheese (should be four 8 ounce packages, room temperature)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 4 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 cup sour cream (room temperature)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (here's how to make it)
Salted Caramel Sauce Ingredients
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- berries or chopped pecans
To Make The Crust
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Line the bottom and sides of a springform pan with parchment paper.
- Break the graham crackers into large pieces and place them in a food processor. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the crackers and pulse until well-combined. The graham crackers will first grind into a flour-like consistency and then form a crumb-like texture as they mix with the butter.
- Set aside 1 1/2 cups of crumbles. Sprinkle the remaining graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom of the springform pan and press them into place with your hands.
- Take the remaining crumbs and place them in an even circle along the inside wall of the pan form. Press them upwards against the form wall, creating a vertical crust edge all around.
To Make The Filling
- Add the cream cheese and coconut sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Using a handheld electric mixer or your stand mixer, beat on high for 1-2 minutes and then scrape down the sides of the bowl toward the bottom. Mix one more minute until everything is well combined.
- Add one egg and beat until combined, then repeat the process with the three remaining eggs.
- Add the sour cream, lemon juice, tapioca starch and vanilla and mix again until everything is combined. It’s best not to overmix because that can introduce pockets of air that will cause the cheesecake to deflate as it cools.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and place in the preheated oven. Turn the temperature down to 300F as soon as it’s in and bake for one hour.
- While the cheesecake is baking, make the caramel using the instructions below.
- When the cheesecake has baked for one hour, turn off the oven and leave it in the oven for one more hour with the door closed. After an hour, remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Place in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours (or overnight) to firm up.
To Make The Caramel Sauce
- Add the cream, coconut sugar, and butter to a medium pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.
- Simmer on medium for 15 minutes, whisking often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 15 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Pour the caramel in a jar and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.
- When you’re ready to serve, scoop the caramel sauce into a medium saucepan and heat on low until it is just barely warm enough to pour. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and pour the caramel on top.
- Smooth with a large spoon or spatula and top with berries or chopped pecans (if using).
- Cut into slices and serve.
More Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes To Try
Fudgy Brownies – Rich and chewy, these gluten-free brownies are one of my favorite recipes from the Meals Made Simple Cookbook by Danielle Walker.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge – The browned butter in this cookie dough freezer fudge adds a light toffee flavor that kind of makes me want to eat the whole batch. I don’t, but that’s only because everyone in our house loves it so much I never get the chance.
Caramel Apples – In this recipe, sweet caramel is wrapped around crisp, tart apples. It can be served plain or rolled in chopped nuts, coconut shreds or even chocolate.
Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Cheesecake – This recipe from The Paleo Running Momma includes a chocolate cookie crust and an optional cherry topping.
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Can I substitute real sugar for the coconut?
I haven’t tested it but I would think just about any granulated sugar would work.
Thank you for this recipe, I can’t wait to make it for my son’s birthday this week.
What is the amount of butter used for the caramel sauce?
Thank you for catching that! It’s 4 tablespoons 🙂
You have a son who is 25? Happy birthday to Micah. Now when you make this dairy-free I’ll be all over it!
Ah, “last week”, but that still means you have a 20+-year-old. You don’t look much older than that yourself!
Oops, I should have said “two weeks ago” in my newsletter although the timing was last week when I first published the recipe. He’s a pre-teen 🙂
I will be making this cheesecake but don’t have time to make the graham crackers, you have an amt for the butter but not for the crackers. How many crackers should I be using?
Thank you for your blogs, they are most enjoyable.
Hi Wanda, a full batch of my graham crackers is about 12 ounces by weight. I don’t know if using the same weight of another recipe will yield the exact same results but it would likely be close.