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Layers of fluffy homemade pastry, creamy cheesecake, and lots of sweet cinnamon sugar and honey make these Gluten-Free Sopapilla Cheesecake bars hard to resist. They’re great to slice up and serve at parties or for times when you want cheesecake but with a twist. Plus, they’re entirely gluten-free!
Easy Sopapilla Cheesecake Recipe
I love deep-fried pastries but I don’t always love the actual deep frying part when I make them at home – there’s so much oil and often a bit of mess. So I thought, why not take the general concept and flavors of sopapillas – deep-fried, air-filled pastries – and make them into a simpler, still super decadent dessert?
In this gluten-free version of sopapilla cheesecake, I use two batches of homemade gluten-free crescent roll dough to sandwich a creamy, vanilla-scented cheesecake filling. The sopapilla cheesecake bars are then baked in the oven, keeping prep easy and removing all the stress of the deep frying process. When the bars have cooled and set I cut them and drizzle each one with plenty of honey (local if possible!). These make a pretty presentation and taste even better!
What is Sopapilla?
Traditional sopapilla pastries are little pillowy pockets of air-filled, deep-fried dough. They can be made in a savory or sweet preparation, but you’ll most often see them on menus as a dessert offering drizzled with honey.
Sopapillas have an interesting history – they’re thought to be a version of the olive oil fried dough known as sopaipas that originated in southern Spain. It’s probable that Spanish settlers brought their culinary tradition to North America, specifically New Mexico, where it evolved into the sopapilla pastries you’ll now find on many New Mexican menus. You may also see versions of sopapillas in Mexico and in South America. In this recipe, I skip the gluten and frying to make gluten-free baked sopapilla cheesecake bars.
What You’ll Need
Here’s a quick glance at what you’ll need to make this recipe. Don’t forget to check out the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts and instructions.
- Gluten-Free Crescent Roll Dough: You can use my recipe for Gluten-Free Crescent Roll Dough or purchase gluten-free dough if available where you live.
- Cream Cheese: If you wish to make this recipe dairy-free, you can use a dairy-free cream cheese in place of the cream cheese.
- Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter. To make these sopapillas dairy-free, use your favorite non-dairy butter of choice in place of the butter.
- Cinnamon: Use ground cinnamon in this recipe.
- Honey: To be used as a garnish.
How to Make Sopapilla Cheesecake
Follow along with the photos and details below for the best method for making sopapilla cheesecake bars.
- Preheat the oven and have a pan ready. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Set aside a 9×13-inch ungreased baking dish.
- Mix together the cream cheese and sugar. Combine cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Scrape down the bowl.
- Mix in the egg and vanilla extract. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat again until just combined. Set aside.
- Roll out half of the dough. Remove 1 batch of chilled crescent roll dough from the refrigerator. Lightly dust a piece of parchment paper with flour. Roll the dough out to a rectangle, roughly 9×13 in size.
- Fit the dough in the pan. Use your pan as a guide to cut the dough to the exact size to fit in the bottom of the baking dish. Using the parchment paper to hold the dough, transfer it to the bottom of your baking dish.
- Spread out the cream cheese mixture. Spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer over the dough.
- Roll out and top with the second half of the dough. Roll out the second piece of dough using the same method as above. Transfer it to the pan on top of the cream cheese mixture.
- Add the melted butter. Pour the melted butter over the top crust. Use a pastry brush to spread it evenly.
- Mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it over the top of the dough. Combine the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over the top crust.
- Bake the bars. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before slicing.
- Garnish with honey. Garnish slices with a drizzle of honey and serve.
Tips for Success
This sopapilla cheesecake recipe is not difficult to make, but I do have a few tips to help you make it turn out successfully every time.
- Use parchment paper. Parchment paper is key here to avoid any stickiness when rolling out the gluten-free dough. It will also help when you’ve baked the bars and want to remove them from the pan. Parchment paper is one of the best cook’s helpers out there.
- Keep the dough cold until you’re ready to use it. Gluten-free dough can often be more delicate than dough made with wheat flour. To help with rolling it out, keep the gluten-free crescent roll dough in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
- Use store-bought dough. While I truly recommend making my recipe for homemade crescent rolls dough, if you’re short on time you can use store-bought gluten-free dough. You can usually find this in the gluten-free freezer section of stores like Whole Foods. If you buy frozen dough, defrost it according to the package directions before using it.
- Substitute gluten-free pie dough for the gluten-free crescent rolls dough. Again, I highly recommend using crescent rolls dough! But if you wish, you can use a double-crust gluten-free pie dough in place of the dough. Try my Gluten-Free Pie Crust recipe or use a purchased gluten-free pie dough.
- Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Bringing the cream cheese to room temperature before making the filling will help when you spread it on top of the dough – softer cheese won’t tear the dough.
Ways to Eat These Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars
When you’re in the mood for simplicity, serve individual slices of sopapilla cheesecake drizzled generously with honey. But if you want to up the ante, try some of my ideas below.
- Drizzle with chocolate sauce. You can either skip the honey and substitute chocolate sauce or top the sopapilla cheesecake bars with honey and chocolate sauce. Make sure to use a thinner chocolate sauce rather than a hot fudge sauce, which is typically thicker.
- Top with whipped cream. A pile of lightly sweetened whipped cream would taste so good contrasted with the sweet cream cheese filling! You could add the whipped cream before dolloping on the honey, or add the whipped cream after you’ve drizzled with the honey.
- Add fresh fruit. Sliced strawberries or a combination of fruit like raspberries and blueberries would go so well on top of slices of cheesecake. Add whipped cream and fruit for the ultimate presentation.
- Sprinkle on some toasted nuts. Add some toasted nuts like chopped walnuts or almonds along with the honey for crunch and texture.
How to Store
If you have leftover sopapilla cheesecake, you can store it in the fridge. To store, place individual bars in a single layer in an airtight container. If you want to layer the bars, place a piece of parchment or waxed paper in between the layers. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve cold from the fridge or at room temperature.
Can I Freeze Cheesecake?
Yes – cheesecake freezes well. To freeze leftover sopapilla cheesecake bars, wrap each bar in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and serve cold or at room temperature. Note that the texture of the dough may change slightly after it defrosts (but it will still taste good).
Things You’ll Need
As mentioned, you’ll need a 9×13-inch baking pan and parchment paper to handle the dough. I like this pan from OXO because it is sturdy and non-stick, and pre-cut parchment sheets are convenient don’t roll up. A small offset spatula is a helpful kitchen tool, in this case for spreading the cheesecake mixture. And silicone pastry brushes are easier to clean than other types of bristles.
Gluten-Free Sopapilla Cheesecake
- 2 batches Gluten-Free Crescent Roll dough
- 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups/250 grams sugar, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup/57 grams butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- honey, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Set aside a 9×13 ungreased baking dish.
- Combine cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add egg and vanilla extract and beat again until just combined. Set aside.
- Remove 1 batch of chilled crescent roll dough from the refrigerator. Lightly dust a piece of parchment paper with flour. Roll the dough out to a rectangle, roughly 9×13 in size.
- Use your pan as a guide to cut the dough to the exact size to fit in the bottom of the baking dish. Using the parchment paper to hold the dough, transfer it to the bottom of your baking dish.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture in an even layer over the dough.
- Roll out the second piece of dough using the same method. Transfer it to the pan on top of the cream cheese mixture.
- Pour the melted butter over the top crust. Use a pastry brush to spread it evenly.
- Combine the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over the top crust.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before slicing.
- Garnish slices with a drizzle of honey and serve.
- Refrigerate leftover bars.