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The Best Pumpkin Bars

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These easy Pumpkin Bars are arguably the very best fall dessert recipe! Full of pumpkin flavor with the perfect amount of spice. Soft with the perfect amount of fluff and topped with the most dreamy cream cheese frosting.

This post was originally published October 23, 2014. It has since been updated to include fresh photos and helpful tips.

pumpkin cake topped with cream cheese frosting sitting on a white plate

Recipe Features:

  • Quick and Easy- It takes longer to preheat the oven than it takes to whip up the batter!
  • Perfect for a crowd- This makes 24 bars which means they are ideal for parties or gifting.
  • Freezer Friendly- 24 seem like too many? I’ve got you! You can totally freeze these bars and save them for later.

Hello, PUMPKIN BARS!

Here’s the deal. I am such a sucker for quick and easy recipes. These pumpkin squares fall firmly in that category. You mix it all by hand and only get a few dishes dirty. It checks all of the boxes for a go-to dessert.

They have the perfect density. In between super light and fluffy and dense, which makes them perfect for a more heavy cream cheese frosting, and the sweetness level is perfection. Not too sweet with lots of that fall spice shining through.

You cannot go wrong with this easy fall dessert.

bar batter being spread onto a baking tray

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

With the exception of canned pumpkin, most of the ingredients in this pumpkin bars recipe are pantry staples. That means you’ll likely already have everything on hand to get started! Let’s break it down:

  • Granulated Sugar- Regular ol’ white sugar.
  • Oil- I have made these bars using vegetable, avocado, and coconut oil with success.
  • Eggs- Large eggs at room temperature are best.
  • Pumpkin- Very important- USE PUMPKIN PUREE not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Vanilla Extract- Always opt for pure vanilla
  • Flour- All-purpose is our preference here, but you could substitute half for whole wheat.
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda- Fresh is best. These can start to go bad after opening so always check the date
  • Cinnamon and Pumpkin Pie Spice- We have a homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe you can try if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Salt- A flavor enhancer that really is key.
  • Cream Cheese- For the frosting. Don’t worry about name brand in this recipe. We’ve tried all of the options and all are equally delicious.
  • Butter- Salted preferred.
  • Powdered Sugar- Found in the baking aisle.

Substitution Ideas

I’ve had a LOT of people ask me about an oil substitution. Here’s the deal, I have tested this recipe with all of the oils AND applesauce. Here’s a quick breakdown for you.

  • Vegetable and Canola Oil- Our two faves. They add enough moisture without adding any flavor.
  • Butter- You can always substitute equal parts butter in this recipe.
  • Avocado and Coconut Oil- Like the two above, they add moisture without too much flavor.
  • Olive Oil and Applesauce- These two are not recommended. Olive oil will add a very robust flavor that tends to takeover the dessert and applesauce, while it can be used, gives you a much more chewy and dense texture.
cream cheese frosting spread onto baked pumpkin bar

Step by Step Instructions:

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10x15x1 Jelly Roll Pan (affiliate) with parchment, set aside.
  2. Whisk the sugar and oil with a whisk in a large mixing bowl until fully incorporated and slightly fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Whisk roughly 1 minute or until fully incorporated.
  4. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large measuring cup.
  5. Add to the wet ingredients and fold until no white remains, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the batter to your lined baking tray. Spread into an even layer.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cake.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

  1. Add the cream cheese and softened butter to a stand mixer.
  2. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined and soft, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and beat an additional 2 minutes on medium speed.
  6. Spread over the top of your cooled bars.
One bar on a white plate with a bite on a fork

Tips and FAQs

  • Make sure to measure the flour by spooning into a dry measuring cup (affiliate) and leveling off.
  • Mix by hand to avoid over mixing the batter.
  • Using parchment paper is optional, but will make lifting the bars from the pan much easier.
What size pan should you use?

This recipe will bake the best in a jelly roll pan. These pans are 10x15x1 in size and handy to have on hand for more than just baking. We use ours for roasting vegetables and small batch cookies.

Best frosting for pumpkin bars?

We love the frosting used in the recipe, so I have to say cream cheese frosting is the best. However, you could also add a dash of cinnamon or try the browned butter frosting from my banana bars.

How long do these bars last?

The best way to extend the life of these bars is to cover and store in the refrigerator. They will last this way for up to one week. If storing on the counter you will need to make sure they are eaten within 24 hours.

Can you freeze pumpkin bars?

Yes! To freeze these bars simply place in an airtight container or freezer zip top bag. It’s helpful to add a piece of parchment paper between the layers to keep them from sticking. Thaw on the counter when ready to enjoy.

Pumpkin bar on a white plate with a bite on a fork

More Pumpkin Desserts:

More Bar Recipes:

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The Best Pumpkin Bars

The Best Pumpkin Bars

Yield: 24
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These easy Pumpkin Bars are arguably the very best fall dessert recipe! Full of pumpkin flavor with the perfect amount of spice. Soft with the perfect amount of fluff and topped with the most dreamy cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil, we use vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the bars:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10x15x1 Jelly Roll Pan (affiliate) with parchment, set aside.
  2. Whisk the sugar and oil with a whisk in a large mixing bowl until fully incorporated and slightly fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Whisk roughly 1 minute or until fully incorporated.
  4. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large measuring cup.
  5. Add to the wet ingredients and fold until no white remains, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the batter to your lined baking tray. Spread into an even layer.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cake.
  8. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. Add the cream cheese and softened butter to a stand mixer.
  2. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined and soft, 2 minutes.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  4. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and beat an additional 2 minutes on medium speed.
  6. Spread over the top of your cooled bars.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 418Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 252mgCarbohydrates: 69gFiber: 1gSugar: 60gProtein: 3g

Recipe calorie counts are calculated by a third party. For more accurate counts please calculate on your own.

pinterest graphic with a pumpkin bar

Amber @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later!

Friday 24th of October 2014

Cute little things! The individual cups makes me want them even more!

Yvonne @ Tried and Tasty

Friday 24th of October 2014

I'm relatively new to pumpkin bars, these look really tasty!

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