Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

My favorite recipe for classic pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.

Coming up on our second anniversary of living abroad next month, I’ve decided it’s simply a fact — moving away from home is pretty much guaranteed to make you ridiculously nostalgic for all of your favorite comfort foods.  Especially when it comes to fall baking, if you’re an American. ♡

Hence, the nonstop pumpkin-spice-a-thon taking place in our little Barcelona kitchen this fall.  So far this month, we’ve already made pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice granola, pumpkin bread (recipe coming soon), and lots and lots of pumpkin cream cold brew coffees (inspired by the one and only Starbucks) — all of which have been delicious.  But I think it’s safe to say that our favorite dessert so far has been this classic that I dig up from the blog archives every autumn.  It’s a recipe from my friend, Emily, that I first shared on the blog eight years ago.  And it’s one that always, always, always hits the spot.

Meet my favorite pumpkin bars recipe! ♡

I’m just going to say it — these pumpkin bars are quite simply the best.  The pumpkin bar batter itself is easy to whip up in just a few minutes (no mixer required), and then the bars bake up to be soft and moist and perfectly pumpkin-y, with just the right amount of pumpkin spice.  Then once the bars are topped with a generous spread of cream cheese frosting, look out, because that magical combination makes them downright irresistible.  They are pretty much guaranteed to be a hit for dessert.  And then, let’s be real, you should definitely serve them for breakfast the next day too.  (Yum.)

We made one batch of these pumpkin bars last week to share with a bunch of our friends and neighbors here, who always get very excited whenever they hear that we’ve been doing some American-style baking.  But afterwards, Barclay and I missed the sweet leftovers that we have usually with this recipe so much that we actually ended up baking a second batch the next day just to keep the pumpkin bar goodness going.  As always, they were just as nostalgic and delicious as ever, and I’m certain you will love them too.

Let’s make some pumpkin bars!

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

To make this classic pumpkin bars recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Pumpkin puree: One full can.  (I’m partial to Libby’s!)
  • Dry ingredients: Granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda.
  • Wet ingredients: Oil (vegetable, canola, avocado, or coconut), eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Cream cheese frosting ingredients: Cream cheese (full- or low-fat), butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

Ingredient amounts/instructions listed in the recipe below.

How To Make Pumpkin Bars:

Alright, let’s get to baking!  To make pumpkin bars, simply…

  1. Whisk together the wet ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract until combined.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda until combined.
  3. Combine. Add the dry mixture into the wet pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.  (Try to avoid over-mixing.)
  4. Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bars comes out clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  5. Frost. Spread the cream cheese frosting (see below) evenly on top of the bars.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!

Possible Recipe Variations:

Here are a few ways to customize this pumpkin bars recipe if you’d like…

  • Add nuts: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter if you would like.  (Or you can sprinkle them on top of the cream cheese frosting.)
  • Add chocolate chips: Feel free to stir 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips into the batter if you would like.  (Or you can sprinkle them on top of the cream cheese frosting.)
  • Use applesauce: If you would like to lighten up the bars, feel free to use 1/2 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup oil (instead of 1 cup oil).

More Pumpkin Recipes:

Craving more pumpkin recipes this season?  Here are a few of my faves:

Yield: 12 servings

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

My favorite recipe for classic pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Bars Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or avocado oil, or any mild-flavored oil)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 cups sifted powdered sugar*

Directions:

To Make Pumpkin Bars:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda until combined.
  4. Add the dry mixture into the wet pumpkin mixture and stir until completely combined.  (Try to avoid over-mixing.)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bars comes out clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  6. Spread the cream cheese frosting (see below) evenly on top of the bars.  Then slice, serve and enjoy!

To Make Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until combined.  Stir in the powdered sugar, add more until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  • Storage Instructions: Leftover bars can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  (Feel free to just cover the baking dish tightly with foil when refrigerating the bars, if you don’t want to transfer them to a separate container.)
  • *Powdered Sugar: If you would like a super-smooth frosting, I recommend sifting the powdered sugar before adding it to the frosting.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I’d love to see what you cook!