Sweet and spicy Pumpkin Bars will become everyone’s favorites. Topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting, these bars will disappear around a Thanksgiving Day crowd.
Updated December 28, 2020.`
With Thanksgiving only days away, I thought I would resurrect this pumpkin bar, (or cake), recipe. It was 5 years ago that it was originally posted…and it is still a winner, winner. I’ve made it 3 times in the past 2 weeks and everyone in our neighborhood knows of Joe’s Awesome Pumpkin Bars.
Why 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 tasty pumpkin bars.
- They bake in 20 minutes time.
- The result is super moist bars.
- Cream cheese frosting.
- 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.
Just mix up the ingredients and pour them into a 12″ x 17″sheet pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in a 350° oven, turning the pan after 10 minutes. (See the recipe notes to bake the bars in a 9″x 13″ cake pan). Let the bars cool and then mix up a batch of cream cheese frosting.
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. To freeze the bars, bake them and don’t frost them. They would freeze well, but the cream cheese frosting is not something that should be frozen.
They would be perfect to make a day ahead, refrigerate, and serve the next day. 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).
This is an easy recipe to put together and the end result is much more than the sum of its parts. When I was doing the photos of these, I actually had to grab a piece and eat it! They are scrumptious!
Check out Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce for another Thanksgiving treat.
Disclaimer: This recipe post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.com.
Joe's Awesome Pumpkin Bars
- 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
- 1/4 cup half-and-half , whipping cream or milk.
- 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 powdered sugar until smooth, add the cream cheese and beat just until combined. Beat in the vanilla and half-and-half until smooth.
- Once you’ve added the cream cheese, don’t beat any longer than necessary because cream cheese gets runny when beat too long.
- Frost the completely cooled bars.
- 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 up to 5 days. Do not freeze frosted bars. Un-frosted bars can be frozen, then thawed and frosted.
- 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 bake time. Check the doneness with the toothpick method.