Don't have time for a homemade holiday dessert? These smart tips for amping up a grocery store cheesecake will make you think again.
Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake
Credit: Linda Pugliese, Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas, Buffy Hargett Miller

Homemade cheesecake is rich, creamy, favorite around the holidays, but if you're running late and don't have the groceries, time, or equipment (i.e. a springform pan), a prepared cheesecake from the grocery store can be a real lifesaver. Save time, stress, and cash (let's be real, ingredient cost on homemade cheesecake can get pricey) with these 5 tasty tips and tricks for dressing up a store-bought cheesecake; you'll skip the hassle and whoever is lucky enough to eat your cake will be none the wiser.

1. Whipped cream + peppermint extract + peppermint candies

Add holiday flair to a plain vanilla or chocolate cheesecake by topping it with homemade peppermint whipped cream and decorating with crushed peppermint candies. Beat heavy cream and a teaspoon of peppermint extract with an electric mixer until foamy, then gradually add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread the Whipped Peppermint Cream over your cheesecake and decorate around the base and top of the cheesecake with crushed soft peppermints.

2. Make a homemade compote

Brown Sugar Cheesecake with Cranberry Compote
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr, Mary Lyn Hill Jenkins

Thick cranberry sauce lends brilliant color and sweet-tart taste to otherwise an otherwise kinda boring store-bought cheesecake. Here's how to make it:


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup shredded, peeled ripe pear (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine fresh cranberries and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until the cranberries pop, stirring frequently. Cool to room temperature, and serve over cheesecake.

3. Decorate with candy melts

Decorate a store-bought cheesecake with red petals to look like a Poinsettia for a quick and impressive holiday dessert. Here's how to do it:

4. Drizzle with a rich Pecan-Praline Sauce

No-Bake Cheesecake with Pecan Caramel
Credit: Johnny Miller; Styling: Sarah Smart

This homemade caramel hardens quickly to a yummy praline-like shell. It's so easy to make and adds perfect salty-sweetness to cheesecake you picked up on a last-minute grocery run.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and next 3 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir with a whisk just until sugar melts. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes (do not stir). Remove pan from heat. Stir in bourbon and toasted pecans. Cool slightly. Drizzle caramel over cheesecake.

5. Orange slices + sugar + lemon juice

The beauty of this cheesecake is in the caramelized, candylike topping made from orange slices. The citrus-meets-sweet combination is a definite crowd-pleaser.

Add a burst of color to the table and make use of winter's best citrus fruits by making this glistening topping of caramelized, candylike orange slices.


  • 1 large thin-skinned orange, such as Valencia
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


Rinse and dry orange. With a sharp knife, slice into thin rounds (between 1/8 and 1/16 in. thick; see Notes), discarding ends and seeds. In a deep 10-in. frying pan or pot over medium-high heat, stir sugar, 3/4 cup water, and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add orange slices and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, until they're slightly candied and translucent and liquid has the consistency of a thin syrup, about 20 minutes (there should be about 1/2 cup liquid in pan; if less, add enough hot water to make that amount and shake pan to mix water into syrup). Let cool in pan. Cover and chill at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days. Gently lift candied orange slices from syrup, reserving syrup, and blot dry with a paper towel. Arrange slices, slightly overlapping, over top of cheesecake.