Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

My favorite recipe for classic pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Coming up on our second anniversary of living abroad next month, I’ve decided it’s simply a fact — moving away from home is pretty much guaranteed to make you ridiculously nostalgic for all of your favorite comfort foods.  Especially when it comes to fall baking, if you’re an American. ♡

Hence, the nonstop pumpkin-spice-a-thon taking place in our little Barcelona kitchen this fall.  So far this month, we’ve already made pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice granola, pumpkin bread (recipe coming soon), and lots and lots of pumpkin cream cold brew coffees (inspired by the one and only Starbucks) — all of which have been delicious.  But I think it’s safe to say that our favorite dessert so far has been this classic that I dig up from the blog archives every autumn.  It’s a recipe from my friend, Emily, that I first shared on the blog eight years ago.  And it’s one that always, always, always hits the spot.

Meet my favorite pumpkin bars recipe! ♡

I’m just going to say it — these pumpkin bars are quite simply the best.  The pumpkin bar batter itself is easy to whip up in just a few minutes (no mixer required), and then the bars bake up to be soft and moist and perfectly pumpkin-y, with just the right amount of pumpkin spice.  Then once the bars are topped with a generous spread of cream cheese frosting, look out, because that magical combination makes them downright irresistible.  They are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit for dessert.  And then, let’s be real, you should definitely serve them for breakfast the next day too.  (Yum.)

We made one batch of these pumpkin bars last week to share with a bunch of our friends and neighbors here, who always get very excited whenever they hear that we’ve been doing some American-style baking.  But afterwards, Barclay and I missed the sweet leftovers that we have usually with this recipe so much that we actually ended up baking a second batch the next day just to keep the pumpkin bar goodness going.  As always, they were just as nostalgic and delicious as ever, and I’m certain you will love them too.

Let’s make some pumpkin bars!

How To Make Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

To make this classic pumpkin bars recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Pumpkin puree: One full can.  (I’m partial to Libby’s!)
  • Dry ingredients: Granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda.
  • Wet ingredients: Oil (vegetable, canola, avocado, or coconut), eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Cream cheese frosting ingredients: Cream cheese (full- or low-fat), butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

Ingredient amounts/instructions listed in the recipe below.

Pumpkin Bars Recipe

How To Make Pumpkin Bars:

Alright, let’s get to baking!  To make pumpkin bars, simply…

  1. Whisk together the wet ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract until combined.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda until combined.
  3. Combine. Add the dry mixture into the wet pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.  (Try to avoid over-mixing.)
  4. Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bars comes out clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  5. Frost. Spread the cream cheese frosting (see below) evenly on top of the bars.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

Possible Recipe Variations:

Here are a few ways to customize this pumpkin bars recipe if you’d like…

  • Add nuts: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter if you would like.  (Or you can sprinkle them on top of the cream cheese frosting.)
  • Add chocolate chips: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips into the batter if you would like.  (Or you can sprinkle them on top of the cream cheese frosting.)
  • Use applesauce: If you would like to lighten up the bars, feel free to use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil (instead of 1 cup oil).

Pumpkin Bars Recipe

More Pumpkin Recipes:

Craving more pumpkin recipes this season?  Here are a few of my faves:

5
5 / 5 (2 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review »

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

My favorite recipe for classic pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or avocado oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 cups sifted powdered sugar*

Directions:

To Make Pumpkin Bars:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda until combined.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.  (Try to avoid over-mixing.)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bars comes out clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  6. Spread the cream cheese frosting (see below) evenly on top of the bars.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!

To Make Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until combined.  Stir in the powdered sugar, add more until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  • Storage Instructions: Leftover bars can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  (Feel free to just cover the baking dish tightly with foil when refrigerating the bars, if you don’t want to transfer them to a separate container.)
  • *Powdered Sugar: If you would like a super-smooth frosting, I recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to the frosting.

Adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, originally from Paula Dean.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

The Best Pumpkin Bars

Leave a Reply

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

24 comments on “Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Mmmm….definitely one of my favorites this time of year! :) I am so glad you enjoyed them too!

  2. Yum, this looks so yummy, I adore cream cheese frosting!

  3. one of my favorite fall desserts! I made a very similar recipe and top each square with a pecan! Yum! :)

  4. Hey Alison! This looks delish! Is this they same recipe that you used for the cupcakes Saturday night? I’m planning on making some this Friday for a friend’s get together. :)

  5. Just made these. Very good! I thought there was an error I’m the recipe since it calls for both cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, but if I had left out one or the other it would not be flavorful enough.

  6. Made these for my sister’s birthday. I did add cinnamon to the frosting and baked in a jelly roll pan and my own pumpkin pie spice, but she said they were the BEST she had ever had. And, she doesn’t just say those things! Love your site! Thanks.

  7. Just made this recipe last night- frosted it this morning. The “cake” bar portion is AMAZING! Excellent recipe, flavorful and definitely NOT dry! I admit I ate a piece before I added the frosting and it was good. I am not a huge frosting fan, so I was hesitant to add one. But I definitely think the frosting balances it out and completes it. Then I forgot to add the vanilla… *facepalm* Still a great classic recipe with pumpkin and cream cheese.

  8. Pingback: Pumpkin Roll Recipe | Gimme Some Oven

  9. Pingback: What’s on the menu?

  10. This recipe was wonderful. By far the best Pumpkin Bar recipe I have made. I will make this again!
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Pingback: Pumpkin Bars |

  12. This sounds wonderful and looks delicious! I would like to know if anyone has tried cutting this recipe in half and baking in a 8″x8″ pan? If it can be done, I would love to make it. Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Hi Barbara! Sure, you could definitely do that. I would just keep a close eye on the bars as they’re cooking, since they will need less baking time in the oven. Enjoy!

  13. Oh my, these are right up my alley! Thank you for the great recipe idea, and all the substitution suggestions. I’m always trying to reduce the sugar in my treats and one way I do that is to sub about half of the powdered sugar in the frosting for nonfat (or whole) dry milk powder instead. If your milk powder is grainy you’ll need to grind it a bit finer in the blender or food processor, then just sift it into the powdered sugar.
    I’m so excited to try these and pack them into my family’s lunches. Thanks Ali!

  14. Ali, you are my favorite blogger and I drool when I read a recipe like this one. BUT, I am gluten free (not by choice) so this is shear torture. Bless your heart you are young, beautiful, a talented cook and not cursed with this affliction.
    Just the same, any consideration to expand your following base exponentially by tinkering with GF recipe alternatives?
    Most fares are simple to adapt. Baking is the challenge, of course. Like this one… Please!!!!

    • Hey Rosalind, I’m GF also, have been since 2012. These will easily adapt with a quality all purpose GF flour. My favorites are Better Batter (available on Amazon, cheaper in bulk at betterbatter.org), and Pamela’s Artisan GF flour, also available on Amazon (but I just get it from my local Kroger grocer). These have all the little extra added in so you can just sub cup for cup with regular wheat flour. If you’d like to build your GF baking confidence may I suggest glutenfreeonashoestring.com ? Nicole has had that blog up for a decade or more and makes it relatively painless to enjoy baking again.

      Best of luck!

      Julie

  15. Is there anyway to reduce ingredients so this can be made in an 8 x 8?

  16. Ali,
    I love your recipes and have been following your blog now for 10+ years so I feel like I know you…hope that’s not creepy! Anyways, for whatever reason I just CANNOT with cream cheese frosting. At all. Homemade, add ins. Nope nope nope when I’m lazy you best bet I check that pillsbury roll multiple times for regular icing. (Irony, I even like cream cheese just not there)

    These bars look fab but I would like to sweeten it up with an icing…buttercream seems maybe too heavy but like a glaze too light! SOS and love FROM NC!!!

    • Haha, that Pillsbury icing IS crazy good! Sure thing, a buttercream (you could thin it out with some milk, or some lemon juice for extra tang) would work great. Enjoy! :)

  17. Pumpkin Bars are more cake-like, but nonetheless, they are moist and so very delicious! Next time I’d like to try substituting some of the oil with applesauce as suggested.
    Q: Could these be made as cupcake-style bars? If so, what would the baking time be?

  18. Do you add the 2 tsps. of cinnamon and the 2 tsps. of pumpkin spice to the dry ingredients. I see the 2 tsps. of pumpkin spice mentioned in the ingredients. But in the instructions I only see the cinnamon mentioned. Just wanted to be sure!

  19. These were unbelievable!!! I’ve never made cream cheese frosting before and now, I’ll never go back! It’s going to be a challenge not eating these all at once…

    Rating: 5
  20. “This is soooo goooood” my 5 year old daughter said and I agree! We followed the recipe exactly other than the fact that I accidentally used a 7×11 pan. It cooked for about 15 minutes longer and was still super moist and delicious! It’s good with or without the icing. My 3 year old prefers without, while my daughter and I prefer it with! Anyways, thank you for the recipe! Half the pan is already gone and my husband hasn’t even gotten to try it yet, lol.

    Rating: 5