This Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Bars recipe will become everyone’s favorite dessert. Topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting, these delicious pumpkin bars will disappear around a crowd.
With Thanksgiving only weeks away, it is pumpkin season so I thought I would resurrect this recipe for pumpkin bars with rich cream cheese frosting. It was 5 years ago that it was originally posted…and it is still a winner, winner. A perfect dessert for the holidays.
I’ve made it 3 times in the past 2 weeks and everyone in our neighborhood knows of Joe’s awesome classic Pumpkin Bars. They are a huge hit for this time of year.
Why Make Pumpkin Bars?
- Because they are made with tasty, pumpkin spice ingredients.
- A recipe makes a 12″ by 17″ sheet pan, (also known as a half sheet pan) #ad, full of the best pumpkin bars. Enough for a crowd!
- They bake in 20 minutes.
- The result is super moist, fluffy pumpkin bars.
- Cream cheese frosting.
- Pumpkin desserts are in season!
- They make great treats to give to friends and neighbors.
I got this recipe years ago from a co-worker of MaryJo’s. She would make bars and bring them to work. The way MaryJo puts it, “People would be all elbowing each other to get a piece of Julie’s pumpkin bars!”
That kind of endorsement convinced me that this should be shared. You too could be the hit of the party by making and serving these moist, cream cheese frosting-topped bars.
Ingredients Needed For Pumpkin Bars
If you are a person who does a lot of baking, you probably have most of these ingredients on hand.
For the bars you will need:
All-Purpose Flour. If you are on a gluten-free diet, King Arthur Gluten Free Flour would also work in this recipe. Bob’s Red Mill also has gluten-free flour.
Pumpkin Pie Spices. Cinnamon, ground ginger, ground allspice, and grated nutmeg.
Pure Pumpkin Puree. 1 15-ounce can is all you need.
Mixing The Bar Ingredients Together
First, mix the dry ingredients together.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Use a spatula or whisk to mix these together.
For this recipe, I used ground nutmeg from Penzey’s spices. You may also use freshly grated nutmeg if you prefer.
Next, combine the wet ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, add the canned pumpkin puree, brown sugar, granulated white sugar, eggs, canola oil, and vanilla.
A whisk works well to combine all these ingredients. An electric mixer could also be used.
Now you just add the dry ingredients to the wet.
Start with about a cup of the flour mixture and whisk it until all the flour is wet.
Then add the remainder of the flour and whisk until a nice batter is formed.
If you have a few small lumps of flour left, that is alright because it will bake just fine.
Get Ready To Bake The Pumpkin Bars
Use a half-sheet 12-inch by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet to bake the bars in. (You can also use a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan. You would just need to bake the bars for another 5 minutes).
Lightly spray the baking dish with cooking oil spray. Then pour the pumpkin bar batter into the prepared pan.
Use a spatula to even out the batter. I even lift the sheet up and drop it back onto the kitchen counter to make it more even.
Place the baking sheet into your preheated 350°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Turn the sheet 180° after 10 minutes.
The bars will be done when there is slight browning and separation around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let the pumpkin cake bars cool. Next, mix up a batch of cream cheese frosting.
Step-By-Step Recipe For Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients For The Frosting
You will need:
- 6 tablespoons of butter at room temperature.
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature.
- 3 cups of sifted confectioners sugar, (powdered sugar).
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, (optional).
Mix the room-temperature butter with the room-temperature cream cheese in a large bowl until it is smooth. A hand mixer works well for this or even a stand mixer.
Next, add the pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
Then add the sifted confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time and mix until smooth.
Continue to add the powdered sugar until it is all combined and smooth.
Use a spatula to incorporate the dry sugar from the edges of the bowl.
Now you are ready to frost the cooled baked pumpkin bars.
It is best to place dabs of frosting on the baked bars. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the cream cheese frosting.
Once the cream cheese frosting is applied, it is best to refrigerate the bars for 60 minutes or more before they are cut into squares.
Storing the Bars
The bars need to be stored in the refrigerator. I believe that they would last 5 days, covered in the refrigerator, but I don’t think anyone has gone that long without eating them all.
They would be perfect to make a day ahead, refrigerate, and serve the next day.
To freeze the bars, put them into an airtight container and freeze them for up to 3 months. Defrost them by taking them out of the freezer and letting them defrost at room temperature.
That’s what makes the pumpkin bars a great treat to take to work and a sheet pan full serves 32 people, (2 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ piece).
Frequently Asked Question
If you don’t have a 12 by 17-inch half-sheet pan, the bars can be baked in a 9 by-13 inch casserole type dish. Just add 5 or 6 minutes to the baking time. Use the toothpick method to determine if it is done baking.
This is an easy peasy recipe to put together and the result is much more than the sum of its parts.
This pumpkin bar recipe is a perfect way to satisfy your pumpkin cravings.
The full printable recipe is below
Leave a comment to let me know how you liked them!
Also, check out these delicious recipes:
- Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
- Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
- Cranberry Quick Bread
- White Chicken Chili
- Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos
Pumpkin Bars Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 15- oz can Libbey’s pure pumpkin
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 8 ounce package regular cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, (optional but adds a bit of flavor)
- In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Set aside.
- In large bowl, beat together the sugars, eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla for about 60 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until smooth.
- Pour into a greased 12” X 17” (half sheet pan), rimmed sheet pan. See notes.
- Bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes. Bars are done when they’re just turning brown around the edges and pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake or the bars will be dry.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- Beat butter and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
- Add the vanilla and pumpkin spice and about 1/3 of the sifted confectioner's sugar. Beat this until smooth. Then add another third of the sugar until smooth. Finally, finish beating in the remaining sifted powdered sugar. Use a spatula to scrap down any powdered sugar from the side of the bowl and incorporate it with the mixer.
- Spread the cream cheese frosting on the completely cooled bars. It is best to refrigerate the sheet pan of bars for about an hour before cutting into squares.
- Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated.
- 32 servings, approximately 2.5" by 2.5".
- Prior to slicing the bars, it's best to refrigerate for about an hour or more.
- Using a rotary pizza cutter is a slick way to cut the bars. Clean off the wheel after every pass.
- Refrigerate the bars for up to 5 days. To freeze them, put them into an airtight container and put them in your freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost them at room temperature.
- If you don't have a rimmed 12 x 17-inch sheet pan, a 9 x 13-inch metal cake pan can be used. Just add 5 to 6 minutes to the baking time. Check the doneness with the toothpick method.