James Beard Award-winning Cookbook Author

Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Cheesecake

It’s no secret that I love passion fruit, or to use its melodious Hawaiian name, lilikoi.  When I’m in Hawaii I always buy fresh passion fruit and extract the juice myself.

If I have a lot, I freeze it, pack it in my checked luggage, and bring it home to Montana.  This year, a friend of mine who has lots of lilikoi growing on his property, gave me a quart of fresh juice.  With this much lilikoi I had more than enough to make a cheesecake and a gorgeous tangy glaze.

Matt and Mary Lovein are artists who live and work on Hawaii’s Big Island, also called Hawaii, and they have a gigantic and prolific lilikoi vine on their property that produces hundreds of fruit a year.  Matt juices the fruit and freezes dozens of quarts of the orange liquid.

How To Buy Lilikoi (Passion Fruit) Juice

It takes a lot of lilikoi to make even a quart of juice, about 4 dozen fruit, and Matt’s gift  allowed me the luxury of experimentation.  The cheesecake is one of my results. Here’s the  recipe.  You can order unsweetened passion fruit juice from Aunty Lilikoi.

Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Cheesecake

The key to a successful cheesecake is not overbaking.  If you’ve experienced cheesecakes with cracked tops then the cake’s been baked too long. 
You can order unsweetened passion fruit juice from Aunty Lilikoi.
Course Dessert
Servings 12


Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter salted or unsalted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 3 8 ounce packages regular cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened passion fruit juice

Passion Fruit Glaze

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin I use Knox
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened passion fruit juice
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream Decoration

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened passion fruit juice


  • Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the Graham Cracker Crust

  • Combine the Graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl with a rubber spatula.
  • Press the crumbs firmly onto the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and bake about 8 minutes until crust smells fragrant and begins to brown.
  • Remove pan from the oven and reset the temperature to 300 degrees.
  • Let the crust cool while you make the filling.
  • When the pan is completely cool, lightly butter the sides with softened butter.

Make the Filling

  • Beat the cream cheese until very smooth and free of lumps. 
  • Add the sugar and beat well.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating only until incorporated after each.
  • On low speed, beat in the heavy cream until smooth. 
  • Stir in the passion fruit juice. 


  • Pour the filling over the cooled crust and place the pan in the oven.
  • Bake 1 hour. The center of the cheesecake will be jiggly and look underdone.
  • Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven 45 minutes more. The cheesecake top will be flat and lightly browned. 
  • Remove from the oven and cool the cheesecake to room temperature. 
  • Cover loosely with a paper towel and refrigerate several hours or overnight until very cold.

Make the Glaze

  • Put the water into a 1-cup glass measuring cup and sprinkle with the gelatin. Do not stir. Just leave it alone. The gelatin will absorb the water slowly.
  • In a small heavy saucepan, stir the passion fruit juice and sugar together over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid feels very hot to a fingertip.  You don’t want the juice to actually boil or it may destroy the gelatin’s ability to set.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the gelatin. 
  • Stir well to dissolve the gelatin—taste a drop or two to make sure you can’t feel any gelatin granules on your tongue—and add the gelatin to the remaining juice in the pan.
  • Prepare an ice water bath and set the pan of gelatin/passion fruit juice into the pan.
  • Stir constantly with a rubber spatula until the liquid is cold and becomes syrupy.
  • Pour the glaze over the cheesecake and spread evenly almost to the edges.
  • Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Serve the Cheesecake

  • Remove the sides of the pan
  • If you wish to decorate the top edge of the cheesecake, whip the heavy cream and passion fruit juice until stiff and pipe through a pastry bag with a star tip.
  • To cut the cake, rinse a knife in hot water before making each cut.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

9 thoughts on “Passion Fruit (Lilikoi) Cheesecake”

  • I LOVE this recipe. I am looking to try these as individual 3″ cakes. Any suggestions on how to alter the baking time?

  • This recipe is perfect for people that love passion fruit. The one change I made was the crust. I made a roasted macadamia nut crust using coconut, butter and cinnamon graham crackers bake in the oven for 10 minutes prior to adding the filling. Amazingly delicious. I live in a humid climate so whipping cream is out. Made a small amount of buttercream icing and piped it on top of the glaze. I prefer not to add the seeds into the glaze. I would definitely make this again. People loved it!

  • Greg – I’ve enjoyed your Montana Public Radio shows for years.
    Just a suggestion on cooking cheesecake. We’ve entered in the Sous Vide rage, and made “canned” cheesecake in small (individual serving) canning jars in the Sous Vide. Although you don’t get the slightly browned crust on the top, it is cooked perfectly. We also didn’t use any graham cracker crust. Yea, the “presentation” isn’t as nice as a “slice”, the flavor is really what we’re looking for. (and the guaranteed cooking success we’ve experienced).

    • Sous vide and the air fryer have opened all sorts of new possibilities for cooking. Very good to know, Dan, you’re happy with your cheesecakes and for passing along your results. Cheers, Greg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating