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Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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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 (amounts listed in the full recipe below):

  • 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.

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, pumpkin pie spice, 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:

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Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 25 reviews
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


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



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*


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.


*Powdered Sugar: If you would like a super-smooth frosting, I recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to the frosting.

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.)

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

The Best Pumpkin Bars

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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, 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 ? Nicole has had that blog up for a decade or more and makes it relatively painless to enjoy baking again.

      Best of luck!


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

    • I halved it last night and my son is trying to convince me that he can eat it ALL for breakfast. Lol. I just set my timer to 20 minutes and checked it regularly after that. And I used store bought cream cheese frosting (I know, not as good but I was in a pinch).

  13. 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! :)

  14. 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?

  15. 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!

  16. 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…

  17. “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.

  18. Made these over the weekend, love how I just whipped em up and had them in the oven in no time. We went crazy for them, easy AND delicious!! The icing I loved, this was my first time making a cream cheese icing and we loved it!! Thanks for a keeper recipe!!

  19. Perfect! I did half applesauce half vegetable oil and they were so good. I was short 1/3 cup granulated sugar, so I ended up only adding 1 1/3 cups to the mix because I simply didn’t have enough and was too far in to go buy another bag and they still turned out really well. Sifting the powdered sugar for the frosting really makes all the difference and I will absolutely do that from here on out. I’ve made them twice now. The first batch was in a glass dish and they took a bit of extra time. The second batch was in a metal dish and 35 minutes was just right. Thank you!

  20. Easy recipe and turned out fantastic. I cut the sugar back by about 10% in the bars and 25% in the frosting and didn’t notice. Also used the applesauce substitution suggested, and half whole grain pastry flour instead of the AP flour. Still super rich and delicious. Brought them to the office and my son’s school – was a hit with everyone. Thanks!

  21. These were amazing! I made them for a potluck and by the time I went to grab the dish to go home, they were all gone! I got compliments from multiple people, not only about how good these tasted, buy how nice they looked. Such a wonderful recipe for fall. Thanks!

  22. Great Recipe. Moist and very delicious. Excellent variations to suggest. Used the 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup vegetable oil method with the addition of chocolate chips. First time trying it and it was a success. Next time, adding more chocolate chips.

  23. These turned out absolutely amazing! I brought them to a Friendsgiving party and everyone loved them. They are super delicious. The icing is so good and the bars are the perfect texture.

  24. Sooo good! Oh my goodness! Ended up cooking only 27mins and using reduced fat cream cheese. Did not make a difference in taste. They’re absolutely superb!

  25. its really good also if you add a little bit of both you get a flavorful blast my family enjoyed them!

  26. Made some modifications (added apple, subbed in almond flour for half the regular flour, and left out one egg) and LOVED this delicious pumpkin recipe. Really enjoy your blog and the great cooking it inspires!

  27. Hi, is it ok if I use the pumpkin pie spice extract? Or does it have to be the powdered pumpkin pie spice?

  28. Absolutely Delicious!!

  29. Which spice did you dust on top? Cinnamon or the pumpkin spice? They look amazing, will be making them tonight!:)

  30. I can’t wait to bake these this weekend!!

  31. Excellent – moist and delicious. Rave reviews from family. Will definitely make again. Made exactly per the directions.

  32. mmmm. I didn’t have powdered sugar so I found a recipe to use granulated. still used the cream cheese, double the butter, 3T flour and milk as needed but only 1 1/2 c sugar.

  33. Holy smokes! Made this last night and it turned out amazing! The texture of the bars is so pillowy soft! I even ate them straight out of the fridge today and it was still soft, no need to bring it to room temperature! I halved the recipe though because I live alone and used a 8 x 8 pan. I took it out after 25 minutes but I guess it could’ve used another 5 minutes because the center was still a bit underdone. But still, overall, this turned out wonderful! Now I’m off to deliver a few slices to a friend so they can share in the goodness :)

  34. If you’re in the market for a Pumpkin CAKE – this recipe is absolutely delicious!! 4 stars only because I was hankering for some BARS & got a cake instead.

  35. They were great

  36. For this recipe, I see you sprinkle something on top at the end. Is that cinnamon or the pumpkin pie spice? Thanks!

  37. My daughter and I made these. They are so good!!! We will definitely make them again. Thank you!

  38. These are perfect!! Soft, delicious, and tastes like fall!

  39. Made these this week and my daughter, who doesn’t like pumpkin bars, now loves them thanks to this recipe. She was “shook” since the hate game was strong – I don’t know if I should be trilled or cranky that now I have to share.

  40. I love this recipe. I made it for a family birthday party. Suddenly I found all the children eating these pumpkin bars instead of the chocolate cake. That’s how good they are…

  41. I want to make more, less thick bars for a group gathering. Any adjustments needed to make in a jelly roll pan?


  42. I made this for a friend’s birthday. There were rave reviews from all 5 participants!

  43. SO good! I was a little nervous to bring this dessert to Thanksgiving with my in-laws for the first time two years ago. My mother-in-law has a tradition of making a pumpkin dessert that their whole family loves, and I didn’t want to look like I was trying to upstage her. I decided to bring it anyway, since her dessert has nuts in it, which I can’t have. These pumpkin bars were a HUGE hit with the whole family! They ask me to make them every year now, and my MIL asked me to send her this recipe.
    I always do my own combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove instead of a premade “pumpkin pie spice.” This is one of our family’s all-time favorite desserts for this time of year!

  44. I made these last year and brought it to a family Thanksgiving function. There were many people I hadn’t seen in years and I was fairly uncomfortable. I brought this dessert along with some other things and people went crazy for it! I bonded with a cousin over the Great British Baking Show and he couldn’t stop eating this cake. I am just now shopping for ingredients to make it again this year and I am so excited. I went home with some leftovers and ended up eating the rest all by myself!

  45. I used 3 eggs, some almond flour (along with gluten free flour) 1/3 c less sugar, home grown butternut squash (in place of pumpkin). Also 1/2 c of apple pie filling. I baked for around 20 minutes in a cookie sheet size pan. I didn’t have enough cream cheese , so substituted 1/2 cream cheese with organic coconut oil (which I melted a bit first) I grated fresh nutmeg on top of frosted bars. It was absolutely delicious!!

  46. Great recipe! I have made this twice already. It is a great fall treat my grandma used to make.

  47. Made this last week for Turkey day… everyone loved it. It was to die for! I forgot the 4th egg and used Oat flour instead of all purpose tho, but it still turned out great :)