Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin-bars-with-cream-cheese-frosting

Wonderfully spiced and fluffy pumpkin bars are topped with a thick layer of smooth cream cheese frosting for the ultimate fall treat. Quick and easy, homemade pumpkin bars will be on repeat all season long!

Squares of pumpkin bars stacked on a flecked gray plate.

There’s something so delightfully cozy about pumpkin baked goods. For me, anything made with pumpkin signals the start of fall – new routines, cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and more time with family.

These homemade pumpkin bars are no exception and are one of my family’s most requested pumpkin recipes. One taste and they’ll quickly become a favorite in your family, too!

Perfect Pumpkin Bars Recipe Highlights

  • Simple to prepare
  • Made with basic fall baking ingredients
  • Wonderfully spiced
  • Topped with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting
  • Your kitchen will smell amazing while they bake!
  • A great make-ahead dessert option for busy fall months
  • Always a hit!
Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting cut into squares with some flipped sideways.

Pumpkin Bars vs. Pumpkin Cake

Quite honestly, I’m not sure why pumpkin bars are actually called pumpkin bars. In my mind, pumpkin bars are essentially a one-layer frosted pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting; much like a Texas Sheet Cake or Tres Leches Cake. Some pumpkin bar recipes are a little bit denser and more “bar” like, but my recipe for traditional pumpkin bars is light, fluffy, and very much like cake – pumpkin cake bars!

Semantics aside, these are fabulous and a must-make this season!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients for pumpkin bars prepped and labeled.

Homemade pumpkin bars come together quickly and easily with just a few seasonal pantry ingredients. Here’s what you need (full recipe and instructions can be found in the recipe, below):

  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour for the base of these bars.
  • Cinnamon & Salt: For flavor.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Both help the bars rise while they bake.
  • Pumpkin: A must! Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Sugar: For sweetness.
  • Oil: Adds moisture.
  • Eggs: Bind everything together.

And for the cream cheese frosting? Basics here, too: cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Simple!

Cream cheese frosting in a bowl with powdered sugar on top and beaters from a hand mixer.

How to Make Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a perfect recipe to keep stashed away for when you find out last-minute guests are on the way! The batter comes together in 15 minutes, and while the bars bake, make the cream cheese frosting.

  1. Combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
  4. Bake.
  5. Make the frosting.
  6. Frost and serve!
Side by side photos of pumpkin bars batter whisked together and then poured into baking pan.
Pumpkin bars baked in pan and being frosted with offset spatula.

Pumpkin Bars Make Ahead, Storage, and Freezing Tips

Homemade pumpkin bars are a great make-ahead recipe! The flavor intensifies as the bars cool; I prefer them straight out of the refrigerator!

  • Make Ahead: I always make these the day before I plan to serve! For one day, you can keep them at room temperature or store in the refrigerator.
  • Storage: Keep frosted pumpkin bars covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: These bars freeze wonderfully! Place in an airtight container (if you need to stack them, place a piece of parchment paper between layers) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve cold or bring to room temperature before serving.

Try These Pumpkin Recipes Next

Squares of pumpkin bars with fall and pumpkin sprinkles on top and around surface.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 18 bars

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Wonderfully spiced and fluffy pumpkin bars are topped with a thick layer of smooth cream cheese frosting for the ultimate fall treat.

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15 ounces (425 g) canned pumpkin
  • 1⅔ cups (331 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (198 g) canola oil
  • 4 eggs

For the Frosting:

  • 8 ounces (227 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (113 g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (340 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan; set aside.

  • Make the Cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth and thoroughly combined. Pour the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk or stir gently until incorporated and smooth.

  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, smoothing out the top with a spatula.

  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

  • Make the Frosting: Mix together the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy (you can do this by hand if they are both nice and soft, otherwise use a hand or stand mixer on medium speed). Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and mix until completely combined and smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract.

  • Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake. Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • Canned Pumpkin: Be sure to purchase the pure pumpkin puree, NOT the pumpkin pie mix, which includes sugar and seasonings.
  • Cinnamon: You can substitute pumpkin pie spice if you want additional flavors, such as nutmeg, ginger, cloves, etc.
  • Canola Oil: You can substitute vegetable oil or any other neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed oil or sunflower oil.
  • Frosting: You can simply dust the cake with powdered sugar to go a no-frosting route, or use another favorite frosting such as vanilla buttercream, brown sugar frosting, seven-minute frosting, or cinnamon frosting.
  • Make-Ahead: I always make these the day before I plan to serve! For one day, you can keep them at room temperature or store in the refrigerator.
  • Storage: Keep frosted pumpkin bars covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freezing: These bars freeze wonderfully! Place in an airtight container (if you need to stack them, place a piece of parchment paper between layers) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve cold or bring to room temperature before serving.

Calories: 322kcal, Carbohydrates: 51g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 291mg, Potassium: 139mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 39g, Vitamin A: 4055IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 1.3mg

Course: Snack

Cuisine: American

Photography by Dee Frances.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply