This is by far one of my favorite fall dessert recipes. These pumpkin bars are easy to whip up and produce soft, moist and slightly dense spiced pumpkin bars (or cakey-bars are what I call them) topped with a pillowy layer of cream cheese frosting - the perfect ratio of cake to frosting as my hubby puts it and that’s because these bars bake up in a thin jellyroll pan - another reason to love them as they are great to make for a crowd. One jelly roll pan can be sliced and served up for any fall gathering. I love to eat these bars chilled and recommend chilling them for 30 minutes before serving - they get even more dense and moist as they chill similar to carrot cake and I just can’t get enough of them. If you are looking for a tasty and simple fall pumpkin spice recipe to try make sure to put these pumpkin bars on your list!
Why You are Going to Love These Pumpkin Bars:
- Easy to make with pantry ingredients and no stand mixer, hand mixer or electric mixer required (if you have one and wish to use it you can but a bowl and whisk can work here too) - just whisk stir and bake
- The texture of these bars is fabulous - cakey but moist and slightly dense and have the perfect ratio of bar to frosting
- Bars are thinner than cake and bake up a lot faster - quicker baking time equals quicker in your tummy - always a bonus!
- These bars are loaded with all the pumpkin spice flavour you could want in a fall recipe - of course you could always add more so feel free to adjust spice levels to suit
What are Pumpkin Bars?
Pumpkin bars are essentially pumpkin cake except although they are considered more of a cake (they do have a cakey texture) they are a little more moist then a sheet cake and are also made in a thinner sheet pan - more specifically in a jelly roll pan. So the batter bakes up thinner than a regular or standard cake and the pieces slice like bars from the jelly roll pan.
Easy Pumpkin Bars Recipe Ingredients:
One thing I love about this pumpkin bars recipe apart from their irrisistible pumpkin spice flavor is that you can make them with simple pantry ingredients. Here is a list of those ingredients and some information about them but the full measurements are in the recipe card below.
- Pumpkin: Use an entire standard 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin puree. I know you guys appreciate that - although I find it super easy to freeze leftover pumpkin puree if you only have one of those large cans of pumpkin puree ( a standard 15 ounce/398 ml can is approx 1½ cups of pumpkin puree). Using homemade pure pumpkin puree is fine but canned is really preferred because the moisture in the canned stuff is consistent - not always the case in homemade
- Flour: all purpose flour is what I use but you can use a good all purpose gluten free 1-1 flour here too which I find when used in these bars yields an even more moist and dense pumpkin bar
- Baking Powder, Baking Soda & Salt: to leaven and lift cake/bars and balance flavours
- Spices: I chose to use ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice because I always have it on hand but if you don’t what is a substitution for pumpkin pie spice? I recommend making your own by blending ground Ginger, Cloves, Allspice & Nutmeg - approx ½ teaspoon of each or adjust amounts to taste
- Eggs: make sure they are room temperature so that they incorporate well into the batter
- Sugar: I use a blend of both brown sugar and granulated sugar for these bars
- Oil: I used canola oil for this cake but feel free to use olive oil or coconut oil. Just rememeber that the bars will pick up any falvour from the oil you use
- Vanilla: even though this is a spiced cake vanilla brings out the best of all flavours in any baked good
- For the Frosting: Butter, Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar/Confectioners Sugar, Vanilla and a pinch of salt are what I use - feel free to add a pinch of spice to it too maybe some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. The frosting is optional but a delicious spread for the top of these bars - otherwise serve plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Optional Add Ins: Chocolate chips, chopped nuts and even raisins
How to Make Pumpkin Bars:
These bars are easy to make and require very little effort - here are the simple steps involved in making these bars:
- Preheat oven and prepare baking pan: Grease your pan or line with overhanging parchment paper for easy removal of bars from pan - but that is optional because you can also slice and serve them straight from the pan.
- Whisk Together Dry Ingredients
- Whisk Together Wet Ingredients
- Combine Wet & Dry Ingredients (simply using a spatula or a hand mixer)
- Pour Batter into Prepared Pan
- Allow to Fully Cool in pan then Frost (Tip: Set out your butter/cream cheese when you start making the cake so they can be at room temperature when it’s time to make the frosting.)
- Chill 30 minutes before serving - this is totally optional but how I prefer to have them
What Pan to Use for Pumpkin Bars
It’s best to use a 10x15x1 inch jelly roll pan for pumpkin bars. If you don’t have a jelly roll pan, you can also use a 9×13 baking pan. The bars will need to bake for an additional 5 minutes or more and will be thicker very similar to my Pumpkin Sheet Cake
How to Store These Pumpkin Bars:
- Serve: Unfrosted Pumpkin Bars can be left at room temperature for up to 3 days but with cream cheese frosting, you want to refrigerate after 2 hours. I prefer to store them chilled wether they are frosted or not.
- Store: Cover bars with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 days to 1 week. Bring bars to room temperature before serving or enjoy it straight out the fridge just like I prefer them
- Freeze: Cool bars completely after baking and cover Pumpkin Bars with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, or transfer to a sealed container. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator before serving. Thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature or serve cold.
More Simple and Irresistible Pumpkin Recipes You Will Love:
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars
- Easy 5 Ingredient Pumpkin Pie
- Pumpkin Spice Latte
- Chewy Pumpkin Molasses Cookies
For The Pumpkin Bars
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- One 15 oz/ounce can pumpkin puree 1½-¾ cups)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting
- ½ cup butter, room temp
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Pinch of salt
For the Pumpkin Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter or grease a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan or 9×13 baking pan or baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the wet ingredients plus sugars: eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until well blended.
- In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients: flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix with a spatula or a handmixer until combined - do not over mix, a couple of lumps in the batter are fine.
- Pour batter into previously prepared baking pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula .
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack; cool completely in pan for approx 2 hours.
For The Frosting
- While the pumpkin bars cool, make the frosting by beating room temperature cream cheese and butter together until combined then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat on low until it’s incorporated then switch to high for about 3 minutes or until light and creamy. Scrape the bowl down the sides and mix once more.
- Once the bars have fully cooled, spread and cover top with the cream cheese frosting, cut into bars and serve. I like to garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts
- Cover leftovers and store the pumpkin bars in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days