Looking for the best salted caramel cheesecake? Look no further! This is the ultimate salty sweet and super creamy treat. A no bake salted caramel cheesecake made with homemade salted caramel sauce and a pretzel crust. Rich, smooth and loaded with salted caramel in every layer.
This recipe has three key components: the pretzel crust, the no bake salted caramel cheesecake and a salted caramel whipped cream. But before any of them, you need to make your salted caramel!
Quick Salted Caramel Sauce
The main ingredient in this recipe is salted caramel! This can either be made yourself or store bought for ease. If you opt to use store bought, the consistency of the sauce may vary based on brands.
To make your own homemade salted caramel sauce, you'll need the following:
- Butter - unsalted butter or salted butter. Bear in mind that the use of salted butter will add saltiness to the recipe. You may therefore wish to reduce the added salt here or it may be too salty!
- Brown sugar - light brown sugar, measurements firmly packed. Using brown sugar will make for a quick caramel.
- Vanilla extract - a touch of vanilla helps to bring out the caramel flavors in the recipe.
- Heavy cream - or double cream at room temperature. This ingredient is referred to under different names in different areas. You're looking for the type of cream you would whip to make homemade whipped cream. Tip: allow the heavy cream to come to room temperature for about an hour or 2 on the counter before making this sauce. This is important to prevent the sauce seizing when you add it!
- Salt - this is what will turn this sauce from a caramel sauce to a salted caramel sauce. If you're using salted butter, reduce the amount of additional salt - I'd suggest by half.
This salted caramel is a one pan recipe and follows a similar process to the caramel I use in my Salted Caramel Turtle Brownies.
Begin by putting your butter and brown sugar in a high sided saucepan. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently, while the butter melts and the sugar starts to dissolve.
Avoid bringing the mixture to a boil at this stage, but continue cooking for 10 minutes. When the sugar is fully emulsified in the melted butter, it may still be a little grainy to the touch, but should look thick and smooth. Slowly add the cream, a little bit at a time, whisking continuously, followed by the vanilla. Continue whisking and cooking over a medium heat, bringing the mixture to a boil.
Once boiled, remove from the stovetop and pour into a heatproof bowl to cool. Tip: you'll want to make the sauce first, since it needs to cool down to room temperature before adding to the cheesecake mixture!
Once you've got your salted caramel sauce, this cheesecake has three components - the base, the cheesecake filling and the topping.
For the crust, you only need three ingredients:
- Salted pretzels - finely ground salted hard pretzels. It's easiest to use a thin hard pretzel or pretzel stick. Pulse these in a food processor until you reach a fine crumb, similar to cookie crumbs like graham crackers.
- Brown sugar - light brown sugar, firmly packed.
- Butter - unsalted butter, melted. You can use salted butter in this recipe, though it will add to the saltiness. Unlike many recipes, the salt is less an issue here as the entire recipe is intended to be salted caramel!
Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling
For the cheesecake filling, you'll need:
- Heavy cream - just like with the salted caramel sauce, you're looking for a heavy cream that you would use for whipping cream, sometimes called double cream.
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar. If particularly lumpy, you may want to sift this first to avoid lumps in your mixture.
- Vanilla extract
- Cream cheese - soft, spreadable cream cheese. All of my recipes use spreadable cream cheese rather than block cream cheese - this is due to ingredient availability. For a discussion about the differences between spreadable and block cream cheese, see my Easy Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. You can use block cream cheese in this recipe, but you must allow this to soften at room temperature first and may find it takes a bit more effort to beat the mixture smooth.
- Brown sugar - light brown sugar, firmly packed.
- Sour cream - my cheesecakes almost all use a bit of sour cream to help give them the classic bite of a New York style cheesecake. This works well in baked and no bake cheesecakes.
- Salted caramel - use some of your homemade salted caramel sauce or store bought.
For finishing off the cheesecake, you'll want:
- Heavy cream - or double cream. Again, more of the same whipping cream as used in the salted caramel sauce and cheesecake filling.
- Powdered sugar - or icing sugar. You'll want to sift this before use if your powdered sugar is particularly lumpy.
- Salted caramel sauce
Making a Pretzel Crust
A pretzel crust is essentially the same as any other crumb based cheesecake base, like my Lotus Biscoff Cookie Crust. All you need to do is mix together the crushed pretzels, brown sugar and melted butter until you have a moistened crumb.
Press this into a parchment lined springform cake pan. This recipe should cover the base and sides of an 8" round pan. Tip: you can make this in other pan sizes. The smaller the pan, the thicker the crust and the further up the sides you may be able to press it. The larger the pan, the less far up the sides the crust will be able to be well pressed.
Once firmly pressed, place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
How to Make Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling
This no bake salted caramel cheesecake filling follows the same basic steps as my other no bake cheesecakes, such as my Biscoff Cheesecake recipe.
Start by whipping your heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until you have stiff peaks. I do this with a handheld electric beater or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. It is technically possible to do this by hand, but will take significantly longer to reach stiff peaks (and a lot of quick whisking!).
Note: this whipped cream is key to my no bake cheesecake setting firm, especially since there is no gelatine in this recipe. If you under-whip the cream, you risk the cheesecake not setting. If you over-whip, the cream will become stiff, on the way to being butter. This will impact the consistency of the cheesecake and it won't be as creamy smooth as you'll want. That said, over-whipped it will still set and be edible, so take that for what it's worth if struggling or in doubt!
Once you have your whipped cream for the cheesecake filling, set this aside while you whisk the other ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then add the salted caramel and sour cream, beating to combine. Finally fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula. Tip: avoid over-mixing at this stage - you don't want patches of unincorporated whipped cream, but you also don't want to beat all of the air out either!
Spread your filling over the prepared pretzel crust and smooth in an even layer. Then top with salted caramel sauce, reserving about 6 tablespoons for use in your whipped cream topping later. Tip: if using your homemade sauce, I simply measured out 6 tablespoons and set this aside in a small bowl. The remaining sauce I poured on top of the cheesecake and gently spread in a layer. If using store bought sauce, I'd put about half a cup on the cheesecake and spread in a layer - you may find you need a little more, but this will depend on the consistency of your sauce.
Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator to set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Making Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
When ready, gently unmould from the springform cake pan, removing the sides of the pan and the lining. Tip: if you're worried about lifting the cheesecake, I tend to just leave the base of the springform underneath. It won't impact your presentation much and is often safer than trying to pick up the cheesecake if you're nervous!
Place the cheesecake on a serving plate or cake stand.
In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and reserved salted caramel until the stiff peak stage. Transfer this into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe around the edge of your cheesecake. Add pretzels for decoration and serve!
Tip: if you don't have a piping bag or nozzle, you can use a sealable plastic storage bag, trimming the tip off a corner to allow for piping. Alternatively, simply dollop the cream in the centre of the cheesecake or on individual slices as your serve.
Yes!! This is a recipe for a silky smooth and creamy no bake salted caramel cheesecake with a pretzel crust. The salted caramel works really well with the sweetness of the cheesecake for those that love a bit of salty sweet!
You don't have to use a pretzel crust with this recipe and can substitute this with other cheesecake bases. My Lotus Biscoff Cookie Crust pairs very nicely with the salted caramel.
Absolutely - it is definitely possible to substitute the homemade salted caramel sauce in this recipe with a store bought version. Do please note that this recipe has not been tested with all varieties of sauces on the market, so there may be variations in consistency.
Tip: in many cases the store bought sauce may be a bit stiff to work with - this is particularly significant when topping the cheesecake in the layer of salted caramel. You may need to warm this gently first to make it more liquidy. Allow it to cool slightly so that it is no longer hot, but still smooth/pourable, in order to efficiently and effectively top the cheesecake.
My salted caramel cheesecake with pretzels will keep well in the refrigerator for about 3 days. If making in advance, I would recommend leaving off any additional pretzels for the topping until ready to serve. This is because the pretzels on top of the cheesecake may stale more quickly in the refrigerator.
This salted caramel cheesecake can also be frozen. If intending to freeze, allow the cake to set up overnight in the refrigerator, before wrapping well and transferring to the freezer. If can be frozen for 3 months. Allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Looking for more caramel treats? Try:
- Salted Caramel Turtle Brownies
- Samoas Brownies
- Apple Crisp Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
- Dulce de Leche Buttercream
No Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust
- 8" springform baking pan
Ingredients for Salted Caramel Sauce
- ½ cup unsalted butter (see note)
- 1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup heavy cream or double cream, left out at room temperature for about an hour before making the sauce (see note)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for Pretzel Crust
- 1½ cup crushed salted pretzels finely ground in a food processor
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- ¾ cup unsalted butter melted
Ingredients for No Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake
- 1 cup heavy cream or double cream
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar or icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 oz spreadable cream cheese soft cream cheese (see note)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup salted caramel sauce either your homemade sauce or store bought
Ingredients for Salted Caramel Whipped Cream
- ¾ cup heavy cream or double cream
- 3 teaspoon powdered sugar or icing sugar
- 6 tablespoon salted caramel sauce using either the homemade sauce or store bought
- extra whole pretzels and salted caramel sauce
Instructions for the Salted Caramel Sauce
- Place the butter and brown sugar in a deep sided saucepan over a medium low heat. Cook this, stirring regularly until the butter and sugar melt together. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, avoid bringing to a boil.
- Slowly add the cream to the sugar and butter, while whisking continuously. Then add the vanilla extract. Continue whisking until smooth and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl to cool.
Instructions for Pretzel Crust
- Begin by lining a springform cake pan with parchment paper - this will make removing the cheesecake easier later!
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the crushed pretzel crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter until you have a moistened crumb mixture similar to cookie crumb crust recipes.
- Press this crumb mixture firmly into the base and up the sides of your lined cake pan. Set the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling.
Instructions for Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat this until stiff peaks form (see note). Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Then add the sour cream and salted caramel, again beating until smooth.
- Add your whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold with a spatula to incorporate.
- Spoon the filling into your prepared pretzel crust and spread evenly.
- Reserving 6 tablespoons of your salted caramel sauce for use in your whipped cream topping, pour the remaining salted caramel sauce (roughly ½ cup) onto the top of the cheesecake and gently spread in an even layer.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill and set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Instructions for Salted Caramel Whipped Cream and Assembly
- Once the cheesecake has thoroughly chilled and set up, carefully unmould from the springform pan and place on a serving plate or cake stand.
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar and reserved salted caramel until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer the cream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe swirls around the edge of the cheesecake. (see note)
- Top with pretzels for decoration and serve.