Pumpkin Bars

August 29, 2021

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The BEST Pumpkin Bars! They’re perfectly pumpkin-y, deliciously rich and buttery, and they are finished with heavenly cream cheese frosting. A fall staple every year!

Homemade pumpkin bars stacked on a blue plate.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

A simple treat that makes enough for a small crowd or dessert you can enjoy throughout the busy week. These pumpkin bars are one of my favorite things to make this time of year!

They have the perfect medium density to them. I switched from oil to butter, and cut back on the leavening and the eggs from 4 to 2 (vs. the traditional recipe).

They have just the right level of sweetness. We use a combo of caramel-like brown sugar and granulated sugar. Then of course powdered sugar for the frosting. This is a dessert after all.

And you’ll find they have plenty enough spice and pumpkin flavor. I’m not a fan of pumpkin recipes that try to use just a little pumpkin for a chewy texture or something. You might as well just make a spiced dessert and not even waste that can of pumpkin.

Then of course what would they be without that dreamy frosting? It’s a decadent finishing touch that really leaves everyone craving more.

You’ll love how easy these are to make, plus they freeze well too.

I think they ought to be the first thing on the fall to do list this year!

Photo of ingredients used to make pumpkin bars.

Pumpkin Bars Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 cups (256 g) all-purpose flour (spoon and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, diced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 1 cup packed (200 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Print option shown down below in recipe box.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (360 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extractCollage of four photos showing flour mixture and butter for pumpkin bars.

How to Make Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Preheat oven, prepare pan: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 15 by 10-inch rimmed jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  3. Melt butter: Place butter in a large microwave safe mixing bowl. Heat in microwave until melted. Let it cool slightly.
  4. Add sugars + wet ingredients: Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla extract to melted butter then whisk until well combined.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients: Pour flour mixture in with wet ingredients and fold and stir mixture with a rubber spatula until combined.
  6. Spread into pan: Pour and spread mixture into prepared baking sheet using an offset spatula.
  7. Bake until just set: Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes.
  8. Cool: Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Mix frosting ingredients: Add cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.
  10. Using an electric hand mixer blend on low speed until combined, then increase speed to high and whip until light and fluffy about 2 to 3 minutes.
  11. Frost pumpkin bars: Spread frosting over cooled bars. Cut into squares.

Collage of six photos showing steps to make pumpkin bars. Includes combining wet and dry ingredients, spreading into pan, and baking. Four photos showing steps of making cream cheese frosting and spreading over bars.

How to Store

  • Store in an airtight container, or with a baking sheet lid over them.
  • Store in a single layer – unless frosting has been chilled and set. If is has you’d want to store with parchment paper between layers.
  • Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freeze up to 3 months.

Helpful Pumpkin Bar Recipe Tips

  • Don’t use canned pumpkin pie filling! It has added sweetener and spices and will throw the recipe off completely.
  • Use the correct size pan. It’s not a traditional baking sheet used here. It is this size here used to make a cake roll.
  • Use a kitchen scale for best results. When baking I always recommend a kitchen scale for measuring for the most accurate results. I have this one and this one (the first is my favorite but the second is a good cheaper alternative).
  • Reduce salt with salted butter. If you only have salted butter on hand you can use that but reduce salt in recipe to 1/4 tsp.
  • Thicken the frosting: If frosting seems runny you can freeze it for about 10 minutes (and stir halfway), to thicken it up before frosting the dessert.
  • Let bars cool completely before frosting. If you don’t the frosting will melt. You can speed up chilling the bars by cooling them in the fridge.
  • Substitute for brown sugar: You can make it yourself by mixing 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar with 1 Tbsp molasses.

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting cut into squares and shown on a metal sheet pan.

Possible Variations

  • Use pumpkin pie spice: Instead of using the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves you could just use 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice.
  • Add nuts: You can add 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter (when folding in the flour mixture), or sprinkle over the frosted pumpkin bars.
  • Increase spices: For a little stronger spice flavor increase ginger to 1/2 tsp and cloves to 1/4 tsp.
  • Brown the butter: I’ve also made these with browned butter for one more layer of flavor. It’s super delicious! Just let it cool for 10 minutes in heat proof bowl before proceeding with the recipe.
  • Sneak in wheat flour: You can replace 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour.
  • Add vanilla bean: Replace vanilla extract in the frosting with seeds of 1 vanilla bean.
  • Sub chocolate frosting: Bars are also delicious with a thin layer of chocolate ganache frosting. Here I use a fairly thick ganache with a less cream than usual. It tastes like pumpkin chocolate chip bread, YUM!

Close up photo of sliced pumpkin bars on baking sheet.

More Tempting Pumpkin Baking Recipes to Try

Homemade pumpkin bars stacked on a blue plate.
5 from 2 votes

Pumpkin Bars

The BEST Pumpkin Bars! They're perfectly pumpkin-y, deliciously rich and buttery, and they are finished with heavenly cream cheese frosting. A fall staple every year!
Servings: 20
Prep25 minutes
Cook25 minutes
Cooling2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bars

  • 2 cups (256 g) unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level to measure)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger*
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, diced into 1 Tbsp pieces**
  • 1 cup packed (200 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (360 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • For the pumpkin bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 15 by 10-inch rimmed jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  • Place butter in a large microwave safe mixing bowl. Heat in microwave until melted (I recommend covering the bowl. It takes about 30 to 60 seconds). Let it cool slightly.
  • Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla extract to melted butter then whisk until well combined.
  • Pour flour mixture in with wet ingredients and fold and stir mixture with a rubber spatula until combined.
  • Pour and spread mixture evenly into prepared baking sheet using an offset spatula.
  • Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • For the cream cheese frosting: Add cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.
  • Using an electric hand mixer blend on low speed until combined, then increase speed to high and whip until light and fluffy about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Spread frosting over cooled pumpkin bars. Cut into squares.

Notes

  • *If you like more spice flavor increase ginger to 1/2 tsp and cloves to 1/4 tsp.
  • **This recipe is also delicious using browned butter if you are looking for one more layer of flavor then brown in a light colored skillet, pour into heat proof mixing bowl and let cool 10 minutes before proceeding.
  • Store in the fridge in an airtight container. They should be stored in a single layer if frosting isn't chilled yet.
  • Bring bars to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving. Bars can also be frozen.
Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Bars
Amount Per Serving
Calories 339 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 190mg8%
Potassium 98mg3%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 34g38%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 3870IU77%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.