Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust

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

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 16 servings

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust


    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, softened
  • 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:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

Combine pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar until well mixed.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Press evenly into bottom of pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then, set aside to cool slightly.

To make the cheesecake filling:

Place 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 vanilla extract.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add peanut butter and mix thoroughly.

Pour filling into crust. and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 200°. Bake for 2 hours, or until the center is firm and the cheesecake no longer looks shiny or wet.

Remove cheesecake from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the pan.

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: **

Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at half-power in 30-second increments until the butter has melted and the chocolate melts when stirred.

Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the chilled cheesecake.

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.

Disclosure: Philadelphia Cream Cheese provided me with compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

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  1. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie November 7, 2013 Reply

    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. JEP November 7, 2013 Reply

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

  4. Tracy | Pale Yellow November 7, 2013 Reply

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

  5. Linda November 7, 2013 Reply

    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. Joanne November 7, 2013 Reply

    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. Collleen November 7, 2013 Reply

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

  8. Mimi @ Culinary Couture November 7, 2013 Reply

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

  9. tahnycooks November 8, 2013 Reply

    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. vanillasugarblog November 8, 2013 Reply

    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. Becca @ Crumbs November 9, 2013 Reply

    Oh my, I think I am in love!!

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

  13. Renee @ Awesome on $20 November 10, 2013 Reply

    Pretzel crust sounds brilliant!

  14. movita beaucoup November 12, 2013 Reply

    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?

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry November 12, 2013 Reply

      You know, peanuts ARE a legume. Let’s roll with that.

  15. Lauren at Keep It Sweet November 13, 2013 Reply

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

  16. Shelly (Cookies and Cups) November 14, 2013 Reply

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

  17. Jeff Ferrington November 22, 2013 Reply

    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.

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry November 23, 2013 Reply

      Hi, Jeff. The method I describe in the recipe is the one I use, so there’s no water bath. I’ve never had a cheesecake crack by baking it as I described in the recipe.

  18. Megan November 28, 2013 Reply

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

    • Meg November 28, 2013 Reply

      Update…it was delicious lol.

  19. Emily December 23, 2013 Reply

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

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry December 23, 2013 Reply

      Emily, it goes on after the cheesecake has chilled. See the final step of making the cheesecake filling and then the first step of making the topping.

  20. Sharon December 25, 2013 Reply

    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!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry December 28, 2013 Reply

      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!

  21. Ashley January 12, 2014 Reply

    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!

  22. Pam January 20, 2014 Reply

    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!!!!!

  23. AnnaMull April 23, 2014 Reply

    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.

  24. Sarah January 2, 2015 Reply

    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!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry January 2, 2015 Reply

      Hi, Sarah! I’m glad you liked the cheesecake! That baking method hasn’t failed me yet, and I’ve been using it for years.

  25. Jeremy June 6, 2015 Reply

    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!!!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry June 8, 2015 Reply

      Yay! It takes a while, but this is pretty much the only way I’ll make cheesecake.

      • Jeremy June 8, 2015 Reply

        So you’ve made other cheesecakes this way? I was wondering if it was recipe specific or not. You’re right, it is time consuming but they come out not only looking great but perfectly baked as well.

        • Author
          Jennifer McHenry June 8, 2015 Reply

          I make just about all my cheesecakes this way. It’s yet to fail me! You’ll find lots in the Recipe Index.

          • Jeremy June 8, 2015

            Thanks for the response!

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