Orange-Cranberry Cheesecake

Last Thanksgiving I posted a photo on Instagram of the dessert I made for my family dinner and sooo many people asked for the recipe.  I actually made it up as I was doing it, so I promised to re-make it this year and share it in time for you to actually plan.  So here we are!

Pies seem to be standard fare on the holiday table, so I love to bring cheesecake to mix it up.  Plus the other main reason I often do cheesecake is because it has to be made a day ahead of time, which is awesome because you can check it off your list and have one less thing to do on the actual holiday.  Lots and lots of you make our Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap crust every year and that continues to be a favorite.  I wanted something with a different flavor profile, but still festive, and this fits the bill so beautifully.  I am so in love with this Orange Cranberry Cheesecake!

I spiked the graham cracker crust with warm notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and then brightened the creamy cheesecake with tons of fresh orange zest.  Before baking, I swirl on a layer of sweet and tart homemade cranberry spread and then garnish it with these gorgeous and sparkly Sugared Cranberries and Candied Orange Slices.  This is such a show-stopper!


Ingredient, Equipment, and Recipe Notes

  • Special Equipment – You’ll need a 9 or 10 inch springform pan, a roasting pan (or similar) for a water bath, and some heavy duty aluminum foil to keep cheesecake protected from leaks.
  • Eggs – This recipe calls for room temperature eggs. To bring them up to room temp quickly, place them in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes while you gather your other ingredients.
  • Make Ahead- I don’t want you to be scared off by the long to-do list here.  The great thing about cheesecakes, especially for a busy holiday, is that you can make them ahead of time.  There are a few extra steps here that make this cheesecake really shine, and the great part is that you can do them either earlier in the day, or even a day ahead of time.  And I definitely recommend you do that or you might feel overwhelmed.  But I promise it’s worth it!  Both the Sugared Cranberries and Candied Orange Slices  can be made ahead of time and also the cranberry layer in the cheesecake (which is a tweaked version of this cranberry sauce recipe). I love, love, love baking with fresh cranberries during this time of year. Make your sugared oranges first, and then use the leftover syrup to make the sugared cranberries.
  • Cranberries – This recipe requires one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, which you can find in the produce department of the grocery store during fall and winter months. You will use half the bag for the sauce, and the other half for the sugared cranberries on top.

Fresh Cranberries

How to Make Orange Cranberry Cheesecake


Sliced Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

  1. I like to make my sugared cranberries and candied orange slices a day or two ahead of time. The cranberry layer, which can also be made ahead, is simply cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and a pinch of cinnamon and cloves. That all gets baked for 45 minutes and blended until smooth. It’s nice to have these steps completed before working on the cheesecake.
  2. Everyone knows one of the best parts about cheesecake is the crust, so I do nice generous one. Graham cracker crumbs are combined with brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and butter to make a mouthwatering crust.  I like to pat it down on the bottom, and also about an inch up the sides.  The sides don’t need to be perfect; I actually love the look of a rustic-edge crust.


3. In the actual cheesecake layer, cream cheese is combined with sugar, room temperature eggs, sour cream, and vanilla, then I load it with fresh orange zest.  (You can juice those leftover oranges to use in the cranberry sauce if you haven’t made it yet.)  It brightens the flavor so much and goes perfectly with the cranberries and spices.

Orange Zest

4. The cranberry layer gets spread on top of the cheesecake and I just use a butter knife to swirl it all around.  You can’t really mess it up, honestly. I always wrap the outside of my springform pan in a couple of layers of heavy duty aluminum foil to seal out water from the water bath. Place the pan into a larger roasting pan in the preheated oven and fill the larger pan with hot water until it reaches about half way up the cheesecake pan.


5. Bake. This cheesecake should take about an hour to cook. It should be firm, yet slightly jiggly (think Jell-o) when wiggled or gently shaken. When done, turn off oven heat, crack door, and let cheesecake sit for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before serving. (Once it cools you can chill it up to a couple of days, really. )

6. When ready to decorate, whip up some sweetened whipped cream. Cheesecake doesn’t need a whole lot of whipped cream, so I spread a thin layer on top,

spreading whipped cream

and then I fill up a piping bag with a jumbo star tip to pipe a decorative edge.  If you want a nice, stable whipped cream that will not fall flat, I suggest using this tutorial for stabilized whipped cream.  If you use this method, you can decorate the cheesecake with the whipped cream ahead of time and it will still look gorgeous when it’s time to eat!

Decorative Whipped Cream

7. Finally, pull out those sparkly sugared cranberries. I looooove these; they look like little frosted jewels.  If you make a batch, you’ll have plenty to snack on, too!  AND, if you make the beautiful candied orange slices, you can use the syrup from that recipe in place of the syrup in the cranberry recipe.  Remember that tip! Pop a cranberry in each whipped cream dollop, then decorate as desired with candied oranges.

Decorated Fall Cheesecake

Isn’t this gorgeous?

Perfect Thanksgiving Cheesecake

I promise it tastes as good as it looks, too.

Sliced Orange Cranberry Cheesecake

In the center you get that creamy cheesecake with just the right amount of cranberry coming through.

Inside Orange Cranberry Cheesecake

The flavors in the crust bring it all together.  You could bring extra orange slices to put one on every piece because they are so, so yummy.

Sliced Orange Cranberry Cheesecake

Even if you’re refusing to think about Thanksgiving this early, make sure to Pin this so you can remember when you need it!

Orange Cranberry Cheesecake from Our Best Bites


Related Recipes

Looking for more holiday desserts like this one? Try one of these Our Best Bites favorites:

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan-Gingersnap Crust

Almond Toffee Tart

Classic Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Fruit Pizza

Chocolate Custard Pear Tart


  • What if I don’t have time to make the sugared fruit toppings? While the sugared fruit toppings really elevate this cheesecake, they are not 100% necessary. You could certainly just top with whipped cream and some orange zest in a pinch.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, and then come back and give this recipe a rating!


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Orange Cranberry Cheesecake

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Creamy cheesecake with a spiced crust and the perfect blend of bright citrus and sweet and tangy cranberries. A show-stopping dessert worthy of the holiday table!


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick, or 1/2 cup), melted

3 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
23 tablespoons fresh orange zest (use a microplane zester!)
1/2 cup full fat sour cream

6 ounces fresh cranberries (that’s about 1 1/2 cups, or half of a standard size 12-oz bag from the produce department)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
pinch of cinnamon and cloves

1 cup heavy whipping cream, sweetened to taste and whipped
Sugared Cranberries
Candied Orange Slices



  1. If you are making sugared cranberries or candied orange slices, feel free to make them 1-2 days ahead of time and simply store in a covered container in the fridge.
  2. Cranberry Layer: (Can also be made several days in advance. It will thicken in the fridge from the natural pectin. Simply add a small amount of hot water while stirring to thin back to sauce consistency.) To make cranberry layer, place berries, sugar, orange juice, water, and spices in an 8×8 pan. Stir together and then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let cool until warm and then place in blender or food processor and process until semi-smooth (or very smooth, if you prefer). Set aside or store in fridge.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 9 or 10 inch springform pan on a double layer of heavy duty foil. Wrap the foil up around the sides of the pan and set aside.


  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and spices in a bowl and stir with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until it is all incorporated. Press into a 9 or 10 inch cheesecake springform pan. Press down to flatten crust on the bottom of pan, and about 1-inch up the sides. Set aside.
  2. Cheesecake: For best success, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
  3. Beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and zest and beat to combine. Add sour cream and beat until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared crust and spread into an even layer.
  4. Dollop cranberry sauce over cheesecake and very gently spread out with a spoon into an even layer on top. Using a butter knife, swirl through the top of the cheesecake, swirling the cranberry and cheeecake layers together.
  5. Place foil-wrapped pan in a larger roasting pan and place in oven. Use a tea kettle or microwave-save liquid measuring container to pour hot (or boiling) water into the roasting pan, so it surrounds the cheesecake pan about half way up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Cheesecake should be firm, yet slightly jiggly (think Jell-O) when wiggled or gently shaken. When done, turn off oven heat, crack door, and let cheesecake sit for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight before serving.


Spread whipped cream on top to cover about 1/4 inch on top and then pipe decoratively around edges. (You can certainly just spread it all on top if you prefer.) Decorate with sugared cranberries and candied oranges and graciously accept all praise when served. 😉


  • To quickly get your eggs to room temperature, place in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  • This recipe requires one 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, which you can find in the produce department of the grocery store during fall and winter months. You will use half the bag for the sauce, and the other half for the sugared cranberries on top.
  • Make your sugared oranges first, and then use the leftover syrup to make the sugared cranberries.
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Desserts
Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. This might be a dumb question… but why the wrapping the pan in foil? Is that a necessary step?

  2. I made this last year – little 4″ ones that I gave away to certain people for Christmas. It was Amazingly delicious. Not too sweet, really bright flavors. I totally loved those cranberries too. I will definitely make it again.

  3. Thanks for the great recipe! This was my first time making a cheesecake and it turned out so great. The flavors are so great (I’m totally using the cranberry sauce layer for crepes or waffles!). My family all went back for seconds, including those of us who don’t really love cheesecake. I’m so excited to make this again!

  4. You say use the syrup from the candied oranges in the cranberry recipe is that in the candied cranberry recipe or as a substitute of the sugar, orange juice, and water in the cranberry sauce recipe? I am making this for my anniversary this weekend. 🙂

    1. Instead of making a the simple syrup for the cranberry recipe, use the leftover sugar syrup from the candied oranges 🙂

  5. This was a hit. Thanks. I didn’t think I’d ever make it again but everyone loved it! (Move over Cheesecake Factory!). I’ll make it faster next time.

  6. I made this cheesecake and served it for Thanksgiving dessert. It was a huge hit!!! Gorgeous presentation, simply amazing flavors. The only thing I will do different next time I make it is to use clear vanilla extract for the whipped cream so that it finishes up a bright white. Otherwise, totally worth every minute spent on it!

  7. I made this and it was DELICIOUS. I accidentally used the entire 12 oz bag of cranberries for the top layer, but it was still awesome. I’m making two more for Christmas.

  8. Hi! I see your cheesecake baking method has it baking in water in the roasting pan… I’ve had problems With that before (think gooey mess)!! Do you think baking in conventional oven would do? If so, any suggestions?

  9. I can’t wait to make this. I’ve never made a cheesecake before so it will be interesting! I want to make the sugared cranberries and candied oranges slices but the links don’t work, is there another way to find them?

  10. I missed you!!!!! I couldn’t get on your site yesterday (not sure if it was my end or yours) and it was torture. Of course I only checked 400 times. Glad to have you back!!! You ladies rock!

  11. These cake looks straight out of a bakery and would cost you a mint! Probably close to 30 bucks where I live.

  12. This might be the most beautiful dessert ever! My husband doesn’t love cheesecake because it’s too rich (I didn’t even know “too rich” was possible until I married him!) but maybe the tart cranberry layer would help him with that. It sounds delicious.

  13. This is probably a stupid question, but how do you get the cheesecake off the spring-form pan bottom? I have never dared to try to transfer it to another plate!!

  14. This is gorgeous! I’m flying solo and making Thanksgiving all by myself this year. And I’m scared to death. Not because I can’t do it but because I know it’s going to be so much work. I’m basically looking for ANYTHING I can do ahead of time. This is perfect! At least the meal will just be for my little family, so less stress that way.