Can you make gulab jamun in an air fryer? Yes, let me show you how! In this gulab jamun cheesecake recipe, we will bake these milk-based Indian sweets in a rose water scented cheesecake. With its rich pistachio crust and garnish of delicate rose blossoms, this makes a very special holiday dessert. Feed a crowd with this recipe that's both low carb and vegetarian!
Gulab jamun and cheesecake are a match made in heaven! Do you know what gulab jamuns are? If you've ever eaten at an Indian buffet in the United States, you are probably familiar with this delectable Indian sweet.
Appearance-wise, gulab jamuns resemble soft donut holes. They are golden brown in color and soaked in syrup with some combination of cardamom, rose water, and saffron. We almost always have these at the end of our meals at Indian restaurants. So sweet and delicious!
What I did not realize about these sweets until recently is that they are primarily made of milk solids, not grain-based flour. If you use a sugar substitute to make the syrup, these "donuts" surprisingly become a low carb treat.
I knew I wanted to try making gulab jamun in the air fryer, but I did not want to stop there. I then wanted to incorporate them into a dessert that would hold up a little better at holiday gatherings. That is how I ended up with this baked gulab jamun cheesecake recipe.
Yes, this is essentially a recipe for donuts stuffed into a cheesecake. It's not something I'd include as part of my everyday diet, even though it is sugar-free. Most recipes for "healthier" baked goods, including this one, still count as indulgences that should be consumed moderately (if at all).
- Who is gulab jamun cheesecake with cream cheese for?
- What are the benefits of making gulab jamun cheesecake with air fryer gulab jamuns?
- Ingredients for Gulab Jamun Cheesecake with Air Fryer Gulab Jamun
- How can you make gulab jamuns at home?
- Making Perfectly Round Gulab Jamun in an Air Fryer
- How to Make Gulab Jamun Syrup
- Making the Pistachio Crust
- How to Make Gulab Jamun Cheesecake
- Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- What are some other sugar free dessert recipes?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Recipes Using Dry Milk Powder
- And now for the disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- Gulab Jamun Cheesecake with Air Fryer Gulab Jamun
- 💬 Comments
Who is gulab jamun cheesecake with cream cheese for?
My original intent with this site was to focus solely on moderate and low calorie recipes for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. However, these recipes may not have enough energy for some, particularly those who want to gain weight (or not focus on weight). For that reason, I also threw some high-calorie recipes into the mix.
No matter what your needs are energy-wise, it's usually best to have most of your diet be composed of nutrient-rich whole foods. If you want to lose weight, choosing a dietary pattern of whole foods that helps you feel full while in a calorie deficit may make things easier. In general, baked goods (even those with no refined grains or added sugars) are not the best choice for satiety during weight loss.
I recognize that many of us in the U.S. are consuming an extraordinarily high amount of calories from baked goods. Originally, I wasn't going to share any baked good recipes on this site at all. However, I realized that being so restrictive with recipe content wasn't meeting the needs of a subset of my readers.
All eaters are welcome here. Though I typically focus on more health-oriented recipes, this one is more for my foodie visitors. I don't make a lot of baked goods, but I want what I make to be really special when I do. This dessert most definitely qualifies!
It IS possible to enjoy occasional treats on holidays while staying on track with weight loss or maintenance goals. I was able to do this, and I don't want to give the impression that I completely avoid dessert at all times. Ultimately, my answer to "Who is this dessert for?" is anyone who wants to try it!
What are the benefits of making gulab jamun cheesecake with air fryer gulab jamuns?
- Suitable for vegetarian diets: Since this is a gulab jamun cheesecake recipe without gelatin, it fits vegetarian diets.
- No deep frying needed: Gulab jamuns are typically deep fried before being bathed in a sugary syrup. In this recipe, I've eliminated the need to deep fry by air frying the gulab jamun. This helps to cut back on the added fat (and calories) in the overall dish.
- Sugar free cheesecake recipe: Believe it or not, this gulab jamun cheesecake recipe is free of added sugar! I'm using the sugar substitute Swerve in this recipe to help lower the calories and refined carbs without sacrificing taste.
- Special enough for a holiday dessert: The unique flavors in this cheesecake definitely make it worthy of your next holiday gathering. You're really upping the wow-factor when you serve this cheesecake, stuffed with Indian donuts and scented with a hint of rose water. The sweet pistachio crust and colorful garnish of dried rose blossoms makes this a dessert to remember.
- Refined grain-free cheesecake recipe: The gulab jamuns are milk powder-based (I added a little whole grain spelt flour). Meanwhile, the crust of the cheesecake is made of crushed pistachios. That means this is a cheesecake recipe with no refined grains. It's also (accidentally) a low carb recipe.
Ingredients for Gulab Jamun Cheesecake with Air Fryer Gulab Jamun
This is one of the more complicated recipes on this website. I would think of it in terms of four recipes that are being combined into one fabulous dessert! Here they are:
- Making the air fryer gulab jamuns
- Making the floral syrup for the gulab jamun
- Constructing the grain free cheesecake crust
- Assembling and baking the cheesecake with a gulab jamun layer
If you wanted, you could skip the cheesecake altogether and make a dessert of sugar free gulab jamun and syrup. The air frying directions for gulab jamun will be slightly different if you want to eat them separately. I'll cover the whys and hows below.
Next up, let's talk about exactly what you need for each piece of this recipe.
Air Fryer Gulab Jamun Ingredients
The ingredients list for these gulab jamuns was loosely adapted from the gulab jamun recipe at Swasthi's Recipes. I went in a slightly different direction by preparing them in the air fryer. Here's what you need:
- Non-fat instant milk powder
- Whole grain spelt flour (whole wheat flour may be substituted)
- Ghee, melted (ghee is clarified butter)
- Ground cardamom
- Dairy milk, 2%
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt (unsweetened)
- Baking soda
- Cooking oil spray
Since we air frying gulab jamun rather than deep frying, you will also need an air fryer for this part of the recipe. I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. Your airfrying times may vary slightly if you are using a different air fryer.
Ghee is available in most major supermarkets in the United States. Regular butter should be a fine substitution if you cannot find it.
Gulab Jamun Syrup Ingredients
Make the "sugar" syrup for your gulab jamuns with the following ingredients:
- Granular Swerve (or your favorite 1:1 granulated sugar substitute)
- Green cardamom pod
I've been able to find all of these ingredients in regular grocery stores except the green cardamom pods. Rosewater may be found in your supermarket's international section. I'm providing Amazon links to purchase some of these products if you can't find them locally.
If you have a grocery store in your area specializing in Indian foods, you may find the cardamom pods there. I was able to find both green and black cardamom pods at our local Indian grocery. They are much less expensive in brick and mortar stores than you can typically find them online.
Pistachio Cheesecake Crust Ingredients
The grain free nut crust we're using in this cheesecake recipe is pretty simple. Here's all you need:
- Shelled pistachios (unsalted or lightly salted)
- Granular Swerve (another 1:1 sugar substitute may be used)
- Cooking oil spray
Again, it's fine to substitute regular butter for the ghee. However, I feel like the ghee is a nice touch and in keeping with this Indian-inspired cheesecake recipe.
For equipment, you will need parchment paper and a 9" springform pan to make the crust. It's important to use a pan of the right size for this recipe. Otherwise, your crust will be too thin or too thick and will not bake properly.
Finally, we get to what you need for the cheesecake! Here's our roundup of ingredients:
- Blocks of cream cheese (softened, at room temperature)
- Confectioners Swerve (another powdered 1:1 sugar substitute may be used)
- Large eggs
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Vanilla extract
- Cardamom powder
- Dried rose blossoms and crushed pistachios (for garnish)
- Whipped cream topping (if desired, sugar-free whipped topping may be used)
You'll also need a hand mixer to incorporate these ingredients into a uniform mixture. The most unusual ingredient on this list is probably the rose blossoms. I really think they are a must if you want to make a beautiful dessert that is perfect for holiday company.
They add a lovely pop of color and fragrance to the gulab jamun cheesecake. Leftover dried rose blossoms can be used to make sachets and potpourri mixes (great holiday stocking stuffer idea). Alternatively, you can drop a few blossoms into a cup of hot water and enjoy a relaxing cup of rose tea.
How can you make gulab jamuns at home?
Your gulab jamuns should have a crisper outside and softer inside. It's not too difficult to achieve this using an air fryer.
To make these air fryer Indian sweets, stir the milk powder, spelt flour, cardamom, and baking soda together. Next, add the liquid milk, melted ghee, and Greek yogurt. Stir until you have a uniform (liquidy!) gulab jamun dough.
Let the dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. This will give the dough time to firm up, making it easier to shape into the gulab jamun balls.
Mist the drip pan of your air fryer oven with cooking oil spray. (Note that we are using a solid drip pan for this, not the air fryer racks with the holes.)
Rub some ghee on your hands. This has two purposes:
- Prevents the dough from sticking to your hands
- Provides a thin oil layer on the outside of the gulab jamuns
Break the gulab jamun dough into eight evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place it on the air fryer pan. Space the balls out on the pan so that they are not touching.
Place the drip pan in the top rack position in the oven. The gulab jamuns should not touch the top heating element in the air fryer oven. Air fry at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes, then flip them and air fry an additional 3 minutes.
They will lose a bit of their perfectly spherical shape during air frying. This actually helps them to fit into a nicer layer in the cheesecake, without making the top of the cheesecake uneven. They'll stay slightly soft when cooked at 350F, with a nice texture for your gulab jamun cheesecake.
Making Perfectly Round Gulab Jamun in an Air Fryer
If you are just snacking on the gulab jamun and not making a cheesecake, you'll want to make sure they stay round. To do this, you need to air fry the gulab jamun at a higher temperature so that they will cook faster. This gives them less time to flatten out and makes them quite a bit firmer on the outside.
Try air frying the gulab jamun at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-5 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue cooking until done to your liking. They will be medium to dark brown in color (but not burnt).
After air frying, allow the gulab jamuns to soak in the syrup to soften their exteriors. You can give them a little squeeze if they aren't absorbing the syrup easily.
How to Make Gulab Jamun Syrup
Combine the Swerve, water, green cardamom pod, rosewater, and saffron in a small saucepan. Put it over medium heat and allow the Swerve to fully dissolve, stirring occasionally. Remove the cardamom pod when it is finished cooking.
The syrup begins to crystalize if left sitting for too long. If you are serving it with the cheesecake, you'll want to wait to make it until serving time. If you are snacking on gulab jamuns by themselves, you can make the syrup right away.
Making the Pistachio Crust
Next, you need to make the pistachio cheesecake crust. Cut a piece of parchment paper to perfectly fit the bottom of your 9" springform pan. Mist the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking oil spray.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the pistachios, Swerve, and ghee into a food processor.
Blend until the pistachio nuts are crushed well. You will probably have to stop the food processor a few times to scrape down the sides. It's finished when the ingredients are sticking together, but some texture remains. You're not looking to get it smooth like nut butter.
Using oiled hands, firmly press the crust into the bottom of the springform pan. The crust should be in an even, flat layer with no holes. Be sure to watch the recipe video below if you need a visual!
Bake the crust in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. It will come out of the oven looking like a bit of a liquidy mess, but no worries. Let it cool and chill completely in the fridge before filling it with the cheesecake mixture. The crust will firm right up.
How to Make Gulab Jamun Cheesecake
We've reached the home stretch of this cheesecake recipe. Woohoo! Make sure the oven is preheated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut your cooked gulab jamuns in half. Set them aside.
Using a hand mixer with whisk beaters, blend the cream cheese, Swerve, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, rosewater, and cardamom powder together in a large bowl. Aim to get a fairly smooth and uniform mixture. This will be much, much easier to do if your cream cheese is at room temperature.
Pour approximately 1.5 cups of the cheesecake filling on your cooled pistachio crust. Smooth it to make an even layer with a spatula.
Next, make your gulab jamun layer. Place all of the gulab jamuns in a single layer on top of the cheesecake mixture. The gulab jamuns should be placed cut side down on the cheesecake.
Finally, pour the remaining cheesecake mixture over your gulab jamun layer. Smooth the top of the cheesecake with a spatula. Make sure the cheesecake mixture is completely covering the gulab jamuns.
Bake your cheesecake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the top third of the oven for 45 minutes. Let it cool completely before removing it from the cheesecake pan.
To serve, spoon a bit of warm gulab jamun syrup on a plate. Top with a slice of cheesecake, and garnish with whipped cream, crushed pistachios, and dried rose petals. (Oooooh!!! Ahhhhh!!!)
Who's up for some cheesecake with a layer of donuts and a sweet pistachio crust? (My goodness, that would be me! Haha)
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). This high fat cheesecake is the sort of recipe that is perfect for sharing. One serving is 1/16 of the cheesecake, so this will be a lot of dessert for most small families.
As I mentioned above, even though this cheesecake is sugar-free and has no refined grains, it's still dessert. It's quite high in saturated fat and thus not a good choice for those looking to lower their saturated fat intake. That said, using a sugar substitute makes it an easier fit into most low calorie or low carb diet plans.
However, just because it's low in carbs doesn't mean I'd take double or triple helpings. Instead, I'd enjoy a regular portion of this sweet treat but continue to get the bulk of my calories from nutrient-dense meals.
Using granulated white sugar and confectioner's sugar instead of Swerve will greatly increase the calories and carbs in this cheesecake. Neither granulated sugar nor powdered sugar offer much nutritionally beyond calories.
To be frank, I don't see the point in using regular sugar here. Some exceptions might be if you strongly prefer the taste, if you're trying to increase your calorie intake, or if you have an intolerance to sugar substitutes. (Welcome to the world of nutrition, where there are nearly always exceptions!)
What are some other sugar free dessert recipes?
You're going to have some Swerve (or another sugar substitute) leftover if you make this gulab jamun cheesecake. Here are some additional ideas for dessert recipes using Swerve:
- Sugar Free Apple Crisp Recipe
- Strawberry Shortcake with No Added Sugar
- Dalgona Coffee (No Added Sugar, Caffeine Free)
Any 1:1 sugar substitute should work well in these recipes. I think it's nice to have some sugar free desserts available at holiday gatherings for the folks who want that option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is gulab jamun called gulab jamun?
"Gulab" comes from words in the Persian language that mean "flower" and "water." Flower water is referring to the rose water-scented syrup that the gulab jamun is served in.
The "jamun" part of the name refers to the jamun fruit, also known as the Indian black plum. This fruit is similar in shape and size to the pieces of gulab jamuns.
Can I make this a no bake gulab jamun cheesecake?
Yes! After you air fry gulab jamun and let them cool, you can use your favorite no bake cheesecake recipe. You don't have to use the baked cheesecake recipe that I am providing, though I think it's worth the work!
For the best results, I recommend using a cheesecake recipe that fits in a 9-inch springform pan. The layer of halved gulab jamuns will fit perfectly in a pan of that size.
Can I keep the dough of gulab jamun for later use?
I would not save the gulab jamun dough in this recipe to air fry later, as it will continue to harden over time. This air fryer recipe only makes a small batch of gulab jamuns, eight pieces. It is exactly how many you need to make the gulab jamun cheesecake recipe!
Is gulab jamun bad for health?
Classic gulab jamun is deep fried and served in a sugary syrup. It's not the best choice if you are looking for healthier options.
Even though this is a lighter airfryer recipe, with air fried gulab jamun and a sugar free syrup, it is still a dessert! That means it should not be indulged in very often (if you choose to include it at all).
Enjoying gulab jamun on the occasional holiday is not likely to negatively impact your health. When we make treat foods a larger and more regular part of our diets, health issues can arise. If desserts start crowding out more nutrient-dense foods that you'd get from meals, it's probably smart to cut back.
Other Recipes Using Dry Milk Powder
I really don't like drinking prepared dry milk powder, so I appreciate having recipes to use it up! Dry milk powder is a convenient way to get a little more protein and calcium into your dishes. When you are done using dry milk to make gulab jamun, why not try one of these recipes that use dry milk?
- Banana Protein Muffins | No Added Sugar
- Small Batch Banana Muffins (No Butter)
- Proats Recipe: Egg White Oatmeal
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Gulab Jamun Cheesecake with Air Fryer Gulab Jamun
For the air fryer gulab jamuns:
- 11 tablespoons nonfat instant milk powder (equivalent to ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons whole grain spelt flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ghee, melted
- 2 tablespoons milk, 2%
- ½ tablespoon nonfat Greek yogurt, plain
- ½ tablespoon ghee (for greasing your hands)
- cooking oil spray of choice
For the gulab jamun syrup:
For the pistachio cheesecake crust:
For the cheesecake:
- 24 ounces block cream cheese (680 grams; not the whipped kind)
- 18 tablespoons Swerve, confectioners (equivalent to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 3 large eggs
- 2½ teaspoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon rosewater
- ¾ teaspoon cardamom powder
- dried rose blossoms and crushed pistachios (for garnish)
- whipped cream topping (if desired, sugar-free whipped topping may be used)
To make air fryer gulab jamun:
- First, stir the dry ingredients together (milk powder, spelt flour, cardamom, and baking soda). Next, add the liquid milk, melted ghee, and Greek yogurt. Stir until you have a uniform (but not very solid) dough.
- Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. It will firm up, making it easier to shape.
- Mist the drip pan of your air fryer oven with cooking oil spray.
- Rub some ghee on your hands. Break the gulab jamun dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the prepared drip pan. They should fit comfortably on the pan without touching.
- Place the drip pan in the top rack position in the oven. Air fry at 350°F (175°C) for 5 minutes, then flip them and air fry an additional 3 minutes.
- Let the gulab jamun cool slightly, then cut each one in half.
To make gulab jamun sugar syrup:
- Note: Wait to make the syrup until shortly before serving the cheesecake!
- Combine the granular Swerve, water, green cardamom pod, rosewater, and saffron in a small saucepan. Put it over medium heat and allow the Swerve to fully dissolve, stirring occasionally. It will take 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the cardamom pod when it is finished cooking.
To make pistachio crust:
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. Mist the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking oil spray.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Put the pistachios, granular Swerve, and ghee into a food processor.
- Blend until the pistachio nuts are crushed well. You will probably have to stop the food processor a few times to scrape down the sides. It's finished when the ingredients are sticking together, but some texture remains.
- Using oiled hands, firmly press the crust into the bottom of the springform pan. The crust should be in an even, flat layer with no holes.
- Bake the crust in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Let it cool and chill completely in the fridge before filling it with the cheesecake mixture. The crust will firm up when it is chilled.
To make the cheesecake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Using a hand mixer with whisk beaters, blend the cream cheese, confectioners Swerve, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, rosewater, and cardamom powder together in a large bowl. Aim to get a fairly smooth and uniform mixture. This will be much easier to accomplish if your cream cheese is at room temperature.
- Pour approximately 1½ cups of the cheesecake filling on your cooled pistachio crust. Smooth it to make an even layer with a spatula.
- Place all of the gulab jamuns in a single layer on top of the cheesecake mixture. The gulab jamuns should be placed cut side down on the cheesecake.
- Finally, pour the remaining cheesecake mixture over your gulab jamun layer. Smooth the top of the cheesecake with a spatula. Make sure the cheesecake mixture is completely covering the gulab jamuns.
- Bake your cheesecake at 350°F (175°C) in the top third of the oven for 45 minutes. Let it cool completely before removing it from the springform pan.
- To serve: spoon a bit of warm gulab jamun syrup on a plate. Top with a slice of cheesecake, and garnish with whipped cream, crushed pistachios, and dried rose petals. Enjoy your fine work!