Pumpkin Bars are moist pumpkin spice cake bars topped with rich cream cheese frosting. Easy one-bowl fall or Thanksgiving dessert recipe that’s ready in about 30 minutes!
I love pumpkin spice! I look forward to pumpkin spice season, and I can’t wait for all things pumpkin every fall.
One of my favorite pumpkin desserts is also one of the simplest – pumpkin bars.
Pumpkin bars are moist pumpkin spice cake bars topped with a rich cream cheese frosting. I top them with toasted nuts for a little crunch and texture.
These bars are also an easy, one-bowl 30 minute recipe that makes an easy weeknight dessert or a simple Thanksgiving dessert.
How to make pumpkin bars
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a large rimmed half-sheet pan, about 18x 13-inches.
Tip >> I like to use a nonstick baking spray with flour.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugars together until well blended.
Step 3: Beat in the eggs, scraping down the sides as needed.
Step 4: Mix in the pumpkin purée and vanilla.
Step 5: Stir the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice into the wet ingredients, then stir in the flour, beating gently to combine.
Step 6: Stir in the nuts.
Step 7: Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Step 8: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Step 9: Cool the cake in the pan.
Tip >> It’s important to let the cake cool completely before frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt and run.
How to make cream cheese frosting
Step 10: To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together.
Step 11: Mix in the powdered sugar.
Step 12: Stir in enough milk to make a spreadable frosting.
Step 13: Frost the bars, and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Store leftovers covered in the fridge.
- I like to use nonstick baking spray with flour to grease the pan when I make these bars.
- You can use other flavors of oil in this recipe. Melted coconut oil works well and makes for especially fluffy cake.
- Be sure to use canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix in this recipe.
- You can either use store-bought pumpkin pie spice, or you can make your own pumpkin pie spice blend.
- Be sure to let the bars cool completely before frosting.
- You can use regular or 1/3-less fat cream cheese in the frosting, but I don’t recommend using fat-free cream cheese.
These bars are great for those times when you need to make dessert ahead of time because they taste as good, or better, once they’ve had a chance to chill for a little bit.
You can make the bars a day or so ahead of time and then cover and chill until ready to serve.
Store any leftover pumpkin bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The bars will keep for up to 4 days when properly stored in the fridge.
More pumpkin spice recipes!
If you’ve tried this pumpkin bar recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!
Pumpkin Cake Bars
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans optional
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 cup toasted walnut or pecan pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a large rimmed half-sheet pan, about 18x 13-inches. I like to use a nonstick baking spray with flour.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugars together until well blended.
- Beat in the eggs, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Mix in the pumpkin purée and vanilla.
- Stir the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice into the wet ingredients, then stir in the flour, beating gently to combine.
- Stir in the nuts.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together.
- Mix in the powdered sugar.
- Stir in enough milk to make a spreadable frosting.
- Frost the bars, and sprinkle with the toasted nuts.
- Store leftovers covered in the fridge.
- Brown sugar: Light brown sugar or dark brown sugar will work.
- Pumpkin pie spice: Feel free to add more or less spice to taste.
- Nuts: The nuts are optional. Toasting the nuts before using will add more flavor.
- Cream cheese: Full-fat or 1/3-less fat cream cheese will work. I don’t recommend fat-free cream cheese.
- Butter: I use salted butter.
- Milk: Any milk, from skim to whole milk, will work.
- Nutrition values are estimates.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.
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