Mini peanut butter cup cheesecakes are cupcake-sized cheesecakes made with a chocolate graham cracker crust, peanut butter filling, and chocolate topping. These individual cheesecakes are rich, decadent, and perfect for any peanut butter lover.
Readers love my classic mini cheesecake recipe because they're crowd-pleasing and the first to go on the dessert table. If you're a peanut butter fan, you're going to love this peanut butter cup variation!
Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combination. The thick chocolate crust is the perfect base for a peanut buttery and tangy cheesecake filling. They're topped with a rich chocolate peanut butter candy coating, just like your favorite candy-aisle treat.
Mini cheesecakes are the perfect dessert for holidays, parties, and birthdays because they're individually portioned and easy to serve.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chocolate graham cracker crumbs - Can be substituted with regular graham cracker crumbs or crushed cookies, like vanilla wafers or Oreo cookies. The entire graham cracker crust can also be substituted with whole oreo cookies (like in my mini oreo cheesecakes recipe). Simply place an oreo cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner and top with cheesecake batter.
- Granulated sugar - Sweetens the filling and also acts as a glue in the crust. I don't recommend omitting the sugar in the crust - it's not just for sweetness. The sugar along with the butter creates a 'glue' of sorts that helps hold the crust together and prevent crumbling after baking.
- Unsalted butter - Butter helps hold the crust together. Unsalted or salted butter works in this recipe.
- Cream cheese - You'll need regular (not low fat) block-style cream cheese for this recipe. Whipped cream cheese or spreadable cream cheese will not have the right consistency for this recipe.
- Eggs - Add structure to your cheesecake filling.
- Peanut butter - Adds peanut butter flavor to the filling. I've only tested this recipe with creamy Jif peanut butter, so I can't say for sure how other nut butters or natural butters would turn out. I've read that natural peanut butter can change the consistency of cheesecake, so I don't recommend it for this recipe.
- Vanilla extract - Adds flavor to the cheesecake filling.
Candy coating ingredients
- Chocolate chips - We're using chocolate chips to make the candy coating. I recommend semi-sweet chocolate chips for richer flavor or milk chocolate chips for sweeter flavor.
- Peanut butter - Adds a bit of peanut butter flavor to the candy coating.
- Coconut oil - Used to thin the chocolate shell and help it harden into a solid coating when chilled. The topping is essentially an ice cream magic shell topping. While I haven't tried it myself, readers have had success using vegetable oil or shortening instead of coconut oil.
Batter tips and tricks
Use room temperature ingredients - Room temperature ingredients are easier to mix together to form a smooth, even batter. Starting with cold ingredients can create lumps and will take more mixing to blend together, which adds air.
Add ingredients in order - I've had the best luck by adding my ingredients in this order: cream cheese, granulated sugar, eggs, peanut butter, then vanilla extract. I've never had a lumpy batter when mixing room temperature ingredients in this order.
Don't overmix your filling - While your cheesecakes will sink slightly in the center as they cool, overmixing, or whipping extra air into the filling, can cause them to sink even more. Instead, mix each ingredient until just combined and turn off the mixer.
Allow your cheesecakes to rest a moment in the oven - Sometimes, the shock of cold air can cause cheesecake to sink when taken out of the oven quickly. When your cheesecakes are done, turn the oven off and crack the door open a few inches. Allow them to rest for 2-3 minutes before removing them from the oven. This allows them to slowly begin cooling off without being shocked immediately.
Allow cheesecakes to cool before unwrapping - Warm cheesecake will fall apart and stick to the wrapper. Allow your cheesecakes to cool completely before adding toppings, unwrapping, or serving.
Topping tips and tricks
How magic shell works - The candy coating on top is basically a magic shell ice cream topping. The topping works because it's made with chocolate chips and coconut oil, which are both solids at room temperature. When melted together, they create a smooth chocolate sauce. When the sauce comes in contact with something cold (like ice cream) or has time to chill in the refrigerator, it hardens into a crisp candy shell.
Microwave melting - Microwave your shell ingredients in short bursts (no longer than 30 seconds at a time). Otherwise the chocolate can scorch, adding a gritty texture.
Stovetop melting - Use a double boiler to melt your chocolate chips, peanut butter, and coconut oil on the stovetop. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.
Tilt for complete coverage - Tilt your cheesecakes from side to side to cover the entire top with candy coating. The topping layer should be thin, barely covering the top of the cheesecake.
Refrigerate until hardened - After topping each cheesecake, transfer to the refrigerator and chill until the topping is set and filling is chilled, about 2 hours.
Frequently asked questions
For this recipe you'll need a standard size cupcake or muffin pan. Here's the exact muffin pan that I use: Wilton Perfect Results Non-Stick Standard-Size Muffin and Cupcake Baking Pan
The term "mini" in the title refers to the size of the cheesecakes compared to a whole cheesecake. The measurements in this recipe are meant for a standard sized cupcake pan, not a "mini cupcake pan".
Your mini cheesecakes will sink slightly in the center as they cool. This is normal. It also makes a perfect vessel for toppings! To prevent your cheesecakes from sinking too much, I recommend not overmixing/whipping extra air into the batter, using room temperature ingredients, and allowing your cheesecakes to set in the oven for a few minutes before removing them. For full details on these tips, see the 'tips and tricks' section above.
Yes, cheesecake freezes well for up to a month. Allow your cheesecake to cool completely, wrap tightly, and allow to thaw for 2 to 3 hours on the countertop before serving.
Here's a great article on freezing cheesecake: Taste of Home: Your Guide to Freezing Cheesecake
Mini cheesecakes will keep for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. They keep well and are great for making a day or two ahead of an event.
No, not really. While they may look like a big peanut butter cup, these cheesecakes taste like tangy peanut butter cheesecake with a dense, creamy texture. The candy coating on top is the only quality similar to a peanut butter cup.
If you're looking for a dessert that mimics the taste and texture of a peanut butter cup, I suggest trying my recipe for peanut butter buckeyes.
Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1.5 cups (165 g) chocolate graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 16 ounces (454 g) cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (99 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup (135 g) creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Peanut Butter Topping
- ½ cup (85 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a standard-sized cupcake pan (not a mini cupcake pan) with 18 paper liners and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar. Add melted butter and stir until fully incorporated. Divide crust mixture between the 18 cupcake liners. Using the back of a measuring cup, press graham cracker mixture firmly into the bottom of each cup. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add cream cheese. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat until smooth. Add granulated sugar, then mix until smooth. Next, add eggs and mix until incorporated. Add peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Last, add vanilla and mix until incorporated. We're adding each ingredient separately to prevent lumps from forming. Take care not to over-mix or whip extra air into the batter (this causes sinking later on).
- Distribute batter evenly between cups. Gently tap pan onto counter top a few times to level filling and remove excess air bubbles.
- Bake for about 17-19 minutes, or until cheesecake looks set and centers only slightly jiggle. Turn the oven off and crack the door a few inches. Allow cheesecakes to rest for 2-3 minutes before removing from oven. Remove and allow cheesecakes to cool for 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, add chocolate chips, peanut butter, and coconut oil. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted and combined. If preferred, you can melt over a double boiler on the stovetop as well.
- Add a spoonful of chocolate topping to the tops of each mini cheesecake. Tilt from side to side until entire top is coated.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 1 day, before serving.
- This recipe makes 18 standard size cupcake cheesecakes. "Mini" refers to the size compared to a regular whole cheesecake and does not refer to a mini muffin tin. You are welcome to use mini muffin tins for this recipe, but it has not been tested, so baking times and quantities will vary.
- Room temperature ingredients are important for making a creamy cheesecake filling. If even one ingredient is cold, it can create lumps in the batter.
- Have lumpy batter? Try pressing it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the lumps.
- Cheesecake will keep for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.