13 Cheesecake Toppings that Take the Cake
The cheesecake is an All-American classic; we even celebrate it nation-wide every 30th of July. The truth is, each time you serve a slice of creamy, silky cheesecake it’s a celebration; it’s that good.
How can something so simple be so delicious?
A cheesecake is just soft cheese mixed with eggs and sugar over a cracker crust. Simple is beautiful, they say, and we agree.
Cheesecakes have a long history, people have been making them for thousands of years, the Ancient Greeks cooked them and so did the Romans.
The modern version, though, the New York Style cheesecake, was developed in 1872, and we’ve never looked back.
Today there are dozens of different cheesecake recipes; it seems everyone has its favorite way to make it and serve it.
Chicago has its own version, and so does Philadelphia, and that’s OK. Who doesn’t enjoy having options?
Here’s a question:
How come, being so simple to make, the cheesecake is one of the best-selling baked goods in the country?
I know, store-bought cheesecakes are great, even the supermarket frozen cheesecakes are reliable, but we should get back to the kitchen and start making our own.
We should turn things around and get baking, mainly because you can make a cheesecake in a breeze and it gives you lots of room for creativity.
What you put on your cheesecake changes everything.
These are our favorite Cheesecake Toppings.
If you’re asking yourself what to put on a cheesecake, we should all agree there’s no wrong answer, and you can top a homemade cheesecake as well as a store-bought one.
Try out our suggestions and let yourself be inspired. Create your own cheesecakes and surprise your loved ones.
1. Jam, a Classy Touch of Sweetness
We’ve seen this before, sure, but only because it’s perfect. Jam adds subtle sweet notes and a necessary tanginess to your cheesecake.
You can buy a cheesecake with strawberry jam, it’s a common variation, but you would miss out all the fun.
There are unlimited jam flavors, which means there are as many different cheesecakes to make.
Try topping your cake with jams and preserves made with grapes, boysenberries, red plums or seedless raspberries.
A homemade peach preserve is a personal favorite.
Check out this Raspberry Jam Cheesecake at The Battle Baker. NEL & KL have mastered this recipe.
2. Fresh Fruit, Farmers Market, Here We Go!
Jams are OK, but fresh fruit is much better. Let’s give some height to our cheesecake with a fresh fruit layer.
Berries look exceptionally good, and you can use more than one type. Why not sliced bananas or a thin layer of sliced apples?
The quality of the fruit is paramount, so source fresh, ripe fruit from your local farmers market and top your cheesecake with what’s in season.
Dust your fruit with a layer of icing sugar before serving for the full effect.
Nadia, from the YouTube channel Baking with Nadia makes a mean New York Cheesecake with Fruit and Whip Cream here
3. Pretzels, a little saltiness to balance the act
You’d be surprised by how a little saltiness elevates any dish, even cakes.
Pretzels (the smallest ones you can find) will look beautiful on top of your cheesecake, and they’ll add another texture: a crunchy bite.
Try the chocolate covered pretzels too, just make sure they’re salty — Some chocolate pretzels are only sweet cookies in the shape of a pretzel.
Arrange your pretzels neatly or simply crush them over your cake for added drama.
See how Tiffany from Le Creme de la Crumb makes Salted Caramel Pretzel Mini Cheesecakes here.
4. Chocolate, Because We Love It
There are many ways to top your cheesecake with chocolate, everyone’s darling.
Try drizzling a pattern with chocolate syrup; you can have the kids help out.
Another way is adding a thin, even layer of chocolate ganache that will make your cake look shiny and upscale.
You can also shave baking chocolate over your cake, so make it snow!
Remember, there are different types of chocolate, from mild milk chocolates to extremely bitter ones, then there’s white chocolate or, better yet, try the new pink “ruby” chocolate for extra impact.
Fauzia from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun shows us how she makes a lovely No-Bake Cheesecake with Chocolate Sauce Topping here.
5. Marshmallows, bring in the fluff
This one is a great cheesecake topping no one’s talking about.
Buy different sized marshmallows, from jumbo size to mini marshmallows, and carefully arrange them in different patterns.
Your cheesecake will look lovely, and it will taste even better. You see, the airy pillows will contrast nicely with the dense cake.
Blowtorch your marshmallows in the end for that smoky, caramel taste that will remind you of good times around the fire.
Learn how to make your own Dip-Dyed Marshmallows on The Kitchy Kitchen here.
6. Pink peppercorn, bringing down barriers
You already know peppercorns come in different colors: black, green, white, and pink.
What you might not know is that the pink kind is not a peppercorn at all.
Pink peppercorns are dried berries found in tropical climates. They look like peppercorns, but they aren’t.
They do pack a bite; their subtle spiciness and hints of sweet red fruits are hard to match.
Freshly crushed pink peppercorn on top of your cheesecake, especially if you add some other topping like fresh berries, makes the dessert a mind-blowing experience.
Take your cheesecake to another level with Jennifer’s recipe at The Lemon Apron for a Balsamic Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn Cheesecake here.
7. Caramel Shards, a dramatic touch
Caramel shards are easy to make, it’s just hardened molten sugar in irregular pieces.
They’re utterly dramatic, though.
Imagine a colorful forest of sugar crystals topping your cheesecake, like the fortress of solitude.
Made them as round or spiky as you want. You can also place them down like tiles.
Color your caramel with natural food dyes and make your cheesecake a modern work of art.
What to put on a cheesecake just got Instagram-worthy.
A recipe from the Honest Cooking blog for an Almost New York Cheesecake, by Michael Tchea, is a standout.
8. Crushed cookies, as easy as it gets
One of everyone’s favorite cheesecake toppings is crushed cookies. It’s a no-brainer. Cookies bring color and texture to the table.
Oreo’s are a popular choice but stroll down the cookie aisle and imagine the possibilities!
Homemade or bought from your local baker, your cheesecake already sits on a cookie crust.
Many pie crusts are made with crushed cookies, so why not mirror the pie crust with your cookie toppings? — match the carpet with the drapes, so to speak.
Ashley, the Recipe Rebel make a delicious No Bake Oreo Cheesecake here.
9. Matcha, an oriental twist
Matcha is powdered, Japanese green tea. It’s herbal, fresh, and slightly bitter. It’s very colorful too.
By powdering matcha over your cheesecake, you’re making a statement that even the classics can be reinterpreted and merged with other cuisines and cultures. Of course, it’s OK to do it just because it looks gorgeous!
See how the enticing bitterness in matcha brings out the sweetness in the cake. Soon you’ll be putting this green stuff over everything.
A Matcha cheesecake from Nom Nom Paleo, from Michelle Tam, is mesmerizing.
10. Cake glaze, the best of both worlds
This might seem like a big no-no, but it’s not as crazy as you think.
Cheesecakes are cakes after all, although they also fit in the tart and custard categories.
Glazes come in all colors and flavors, so you have endless possibilities here.
Take your chances and try covering your cheesecake with one of those beautiful mirror glazes everyone’s talking about.
You won’t want to put a knife into it.
See how Josephine, the Jo Baker, makes a Mirror Glaze Dark Chocolate Cheesecake.
11. Citrus peels, aromatic greatness
This subtle topping makes a big difference. Try grating fresh zest from citric fruit over your cheesecake to give it a lemony or orangy feel.
Shaved citrus peels are excellent toppings too, especially when caramelized. They are sweet, colorful, and mouthwatering acidic.
Aromas from the citrus oils will liven your cake making dessert time a full multi-sensory experience.
Try lemons, limes, grapefruits and tangerines, they all add a bit of their personality to your cheesecake.
A sweet Candied Lemon Cheesecake from Allie at Through the Looking Glass here.
12. Nuts, a crunchy bite
A mature, health-conscious way of topping your cheesecake is as easy as adding a few fistfuls of your favorite nuts.
Scattered or meticulously arranged, nuts give your cake a crunchy texture, lots of healthy oils, and delicious just-say-autumn flavors.
Try pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios or macadamia nuts. Better yet, make your nut mix and have the best of all the nut varieties.
While you’re at it, add raisins, granola and powdered cinnamon to the mix, and see your cheesecake transform in front of your eyes.
Deborah from Taste and Tell Blog makes a crunchy White Chocolate Cheesecake with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel here.
13. Candy, make it decadent
Last but not least, you can always top your cheesecake with your favorite candy: from mini snicker bars to crushed Almond Joy.
Or better yet, get out your candy molds, and make your own unique candy cheesecake toppings!
We can all agree that there are no two candies alike. A peanut butter cup cheesecake is in a different category than a Kit Kat-topped one.
M&M’s are universally good: they can make your cheesecake pass as a not-your-average birthday cake for cheesecake lovers.
Julie, Maddie and Kinsle make a fun Monster Cookie Cheesecake for Tastes of Lizzy T.
The Best Cheesecake Toppings: The perfect recipe
Now that we have the cheesecake toppings covered, from traditional to over the top, we should talk about the star of the show: The Cheesecake.
There are one hundred ways to make a cheesecake, but we thought you could use at least one easy, thirty-minute recipe to add to your repertoire.
You never know when you have to impress a special someone.
The following recipe makes a fabulous no-bake cheesecake that you can make at home with little cooking skills.
Of course if you want to “bake” one up in your Instant Pot or other favorite appliance, go ahead.
Best of all, we’re ditching the eggs, because sometimes a cheesecake is all about the cheese.
This cheesecake is perfect for grown-up birthday parties, date night, or to bring with you as a housewarming gift.
The Perfect No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe
What you’ll need
For this recipe, you’ll only need a medium-sized mixing bowl, an electric mixer and space in your fridge.
A store-bought nine-inch graham cracker pie crust. You can get these online at Amazon.
There are other types too, so choose your favorite, it’s no biggie.
2/3 cup of white sugar. The perfect amount to make a not too sweet cake.
Two cups of heavy whipping cream. Make sure you use the heavy kind. It’ll give your cheesecake the consistency you need.
Avoid the “light” whipping cream, we need the fat content for this one.
16 ounces of cream cheese. Softened. Leave it outside the fridge for a few hours before cooking. The regular kind will do.
One teaspoon of real vanilla extract. Get the good stuff, with so few ingredients you need the best quality you can get, there’s no room to hide artificial flavorings.
Now, add your favorite topping! Can’t decide? Think about what else you’re serving the cheesecake with and pick a complementary topping from our list above.
Mix the cream cheese, the vanilla extract, and the whipped cream in your bowl.
Take your time and make sure the ingredients get fully incorporated. Add the sugar slowly until your mix is thick and fluffy.
Fill the pie crust to the rim and smooth the surface with a table knife.
Refrigerate your cheesecake for at least four hours to allow it to settle and get the desired texture.
Top your cheesecake before serving for the freshest taste.
Like Chef Ramsay would say: Cheesecake toppings; done!
Level up your game and get cooking. Homemade or store-bought, what to put on a cheesecake is not a problem anymore — you’re on your way to cheesecake greatness.
Call your friends and family and share your newfound love for cheesecakes.
Don’t forget to pair your cake with a hot cappuccino or a glass of chocolate milk.