Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These easy frosted Pumpkin Bars can be made with either canned pumpkin OR canned pumpkin pie mix: Whatever is in your pantry. Every delicious square is perfectly spiced and not too sweet.

Pumpkin bars on a white plate.

When the leaves start falling, some of us stock up on cinnamon, are first in line at the pumpkin patch, and fill our houses with decorative gourds as soon as possible. If you can relate, these bars (my mom’s trusted recipe) are going to make your day, and possibly your whole week!

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled pumpkin pie ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Pumpkin pie spice: Use store bought or make your own: Mix together 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves. Spoon out what you need and store the rest in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Canned pumpkin: The recipe uses canned 100% pure pumpkin, but if all you have is pumpkin pie mix (it’s easy to confuse the two) you can still make the recipe, with a few adjustments. See the recipe variations below.
  • Cream cheese: If you can, buy the “bricks” of cream cheese, as opposed to the whipped kind sold in tubs.
  • Pumpkin candies: These are optional but so much fun, especially for the kids. Substitute candy corn, toasted pecans, toasted coconut, or just leave them plain.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the jelly roll pan with parchment, or coat the inside with nonstick baking spray. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, pie spice, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, and oil. Then one by one, crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk them in.
    Pumpkin bar ingredients in two clear bowls.
  2. Next, pour in the flour mixture and gently fold it into the wet ingredients. When just mixed, pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan.
    Pumpkin bar batter in a pan before being baked.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the bars cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. That gives you time to make the cream cheese frosting!
    Baked pumpkin bars in a pan.
  4. To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and softened butter until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar in stage. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth, then slather the frosting over the cooled bars.
    Cream cheese frosting being spread on top of pumpkin bars.
  5. Cut into squares and top with pumpkin candies.
    Pumpkin bars frosted and topped with candy pumpkins in a pan.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Jelly roll pan: These bars are made in a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan. I love it because the resulting bars are thinner and you have a more equal cake-to-frosting ratio.
  • Cool completely before frosting: Frosting spreads most easily on cooled bars. If the bars are still warm, you might end up lifting part of the cake off as you spread, making holes in the top and mixing cake with frosting. In short: a mess!
  • Cutting into squares: Using a ruler (nerd alert) I aimed for roughly 2 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch squares. I ended up with 24 squares in a 4×6 configuration.
  • Toting: Going to a party? Frost the bars in the pan, and insert toothpicks at regular intervals into the frosting. Lightly drape the toothpicks with sheets of plastic wrap, which will help keep the wrap from sticking to the frosting. When you get to where you’re going, remove the wrap, take out the toothpicks, and you’re ready to eat.
  • Storing: If you’re going to eat the bars in the next day or two and your house hovers around 70 degrees or cooler, the bars should be fine sitting on the counter, even with cream cheese frosting.
  • Freezing: Tightly wrap unfrosted or frosted bars and freeze them up to 2 months. When ready to eat, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Canned pumpkin pie mix: If you grabbed a can of Pumpkin Pie Mix (canned pumpkin mixed with spices and some sugar, as opposed to 100% pure canned pumpkin), no problem! I tested and adjusted my standard recipe just for you. Here’s what to do:
    1. Increase the baking powder to 3 teaspoons.
    2. Omit the cinnamon and pumpkin spice.
    3. Substitute 16 ounces of canned Pumpkin Pie Mix.
    4. Keep the sugar in the recipe as-is. (I personally feel that the batter benefits from the full 2 cups of sugar as listed in the original recipe. It tastes closest to the original that way.)

Pumpkin bars on a cooling rack, and three on an off white plate.

More delicious fall recipes:

 

Pumpkin bars on a white plate.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These easy frosted Pumpkin Bars can be made with either canned pumpkin OR canned pumpkin pie mix: Whatever is in your pantry. Every delicious square is perfectly spiced and not too sweet. 
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 352kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the bars:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (see note 1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 16 ounces pumpkin puree (see note 2)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened (see note 3)
  • 1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 MellowCreme pumpkins (see note 4)

Instructions

To make the bars:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray or use parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, pumpkin, and oil. Whisk in eggs.
  • Fold in flour mixture until uniformly combined. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the frosting:

  • In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat well. Spread evenly over cooled bars. Cut into 24 bars and top each with a MellowCreme pumpkin.

Notes

  1. Pumpkin pie spice: Use store bought or make your own: Mix together 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves. Spoon out what you need and store the rest in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Canned pumpkin: The recipe uses canned 100% pure pumpkin, but if all you have is pumpkin pie mix (it's easy to confuse the two) you can still make the recipe, with a few adjustments. See the recipe variations below.
  3. Cream cheese: If you can, buy the "bricks" of cream cheese, as opposed to the whipped kind sold in tubs.
  4. Pumpkin candies: These are optional but so much fun, especially for the kids. Substitute candy corn, toasted pecans, toasted coconut, or just leave them plain.
  5. Jelly roll pan: These bars are made in a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan. I love it because the resulting bars are thinner and you have a more equal cake-to-frosting ratio.
  6. Cool completely before frosting: Frosting spreads most easily on cooled bars. If the bars are still warm, you might end up lifting part of the cake off as you spread, making holes in the top and mixing cake with frosting. In short: a mess!
  7. Cutting into squares: Using a ruler (nerd alert) I aimed for roughly 2 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch squares. I ended up with 24 squares in a 4x6 configuration.
  8. Toting: Going to a party? Frost the bars in the pan, and insert toothpicks at regular intervals into the frosting. Lightly drape the toothpicks with sheets of plastic wrap, which will help keep the wrap from sticking to the frosting. When you get to where you're going, remove the wrap, take out the toothpicks, and you're ready to eat.
  9. Storing: If you’re going to eat the bars in the next day or two and your house hovers around 70 degrees or cooler, the bars should be fine sitting on the counter, even with cream cheese frosting.
  10. Freezing: Tightly wrap unfrosted or frosted bars and freeze them up to 2 months. When ready to eat, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  11. Canned pumpkin pie mix: If you grabbed a can of Pumpkin Pie Mix (canned pumpkin mixed with spices and some sugar, as opposed to 100% pure canned pumpkin), no problem! I tested and adjusted my standard recipe just for you. Here's what to do:
    • Increase the baking powder to 3 teaspoons.
    • Omit the cinnamon and pumpkin spice.
    • Substitute 16 ounces of canned Pumpkin Pie Mix.
    • Keep the sugar in the recipe as-is. (I personally feel that the batter benefits from the full 2 cups of sugar as listed in the original recipe. It tastes closest to the original that way.)

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 3282IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. Kaela

    All I have is the Libby’s easy pumpkin pie mix. Could I use that instead of the 100% pumpkin? 

    1. Kaela

      Thank you so much! I’m so excited to make these 💖💖💖💖💖

    2. meggan

      Hi Kaela, yes you can! Here’s what you need to do. Increase the baking powder to 3 teaspoons (instead of 2), omit the cinnamon and pumpkin spice, and then swap in 16 ounces of your canned pumpkin pie mix (instead of the pure pumpkin). Now, I was only able to locate a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix. If that is your situation, too, you can freeze the other half of the can to make these again later. I also have a Pumpkin Muffin recipe that is going up soon which I think is basically the exact same batter, so I’m going to double-check that this substitution works for the muffins too. So that’s another option to use up the pumpkin pie mix!

      One more thing I wanted to mention. While Pumpkin Pie Mix has sugar in it, there really isn’t much. I made one batch of bars with no sugar in it, and the bars were NOT sweet. They were just flat and sad. I personally think the full 2 cups of sugar from the originally recipe belongs in the Pumpkin Pie Mix version, too. My assistant thought the bars were a little sweet, but to my knowledge they taste identical to the original. But, if you want to cut out 1/4 cup sugar or something, you can probably get away with it. Or even 1/2 cup. But I haven’t tested those variations so I don’t know for sure!! Depends on how risk-averse you are. :D I think it’s perfect with all the sugar.

      If you have any other questions, or you need anything else, just let me know! Thanks Kaela! -Meggan

    3. Kaela

      That’s plenty of time, thank you so much! 

    4. meggan

      Hi Kaela! I think so. I feel like you could use that and just leave out the pumpkin spice and cinnamon… and probably all or most of the sugar. I can test this on Wednesday 8/29 and report back how it turns out. How soon are you going to make the bars? I hope I give you enough time! Thanks for the question!

  2. Mary reyes

    Hi Megan, It’s Mary from Shawano Wi. “GO PACK GO”
    Another of your fabulous recipes. The BBQ one was one of our favorites and now the pumpkin bars. I always thpugh my recipe was hands down the best, but yours are fabulous! I added a bit more pumpkin cuz it makes even more moist. Thanks for posting such good recipes.
    Hope u can make it back to WI for a visit before the snow flies. It’s coming quick. In April we got 38′ of snow! Wjat a shocker that was.
    Yack Care!5 stars

  3. Debra U

    Why does the cook time at the top of recipe differ from the one in the directions?

    1. meggan

      Hi Debra, sorry for the confusion. “Cook time” refers to the amount of time it takes to complete all of the instructions, not just the time the cake spends in the oven. If that makes sense. Versus “prep time” which refers to how much time to get the ingredients to the state they are listed in the list. For example, “1 carrot, grated.” You would count how long it takes to grate a carrot in “prep time.” Once you start actually following the directions, that is what goes in to “cook time.” So really cook time should be called “The amount of time it takes to complete all of the instructions.” And generally that includes cooling time or chilling time, marinading time, whatever. All of it. Does that make sense? Sorry for the confusion. Also, recipes that have absolutely no “cooking” (as in heating or whatever) still have a “cook time.” Which is also a bit confusing. Sorry again!

  4. Ashlyn

    I will definitely make it again. 5 stars

  5. Ashlyn

    It was kind of easy to make, but very delicious. My family has it gone in less than 5 days. Everyone loved it. 

  6. Paige

    Looks delicious! I don’t have a jelly roll pan and was going to try to bake in a 9×13 pan instead. How long would you recommend baking with a 9×13? 

    1. meggan

      Hi Paige! Good question! I’d keep the oven temp at 350 degrees but bake it for 30 to 35 minutes. This is a guess, so obviously stab it with a toothpick and check it and bake longer as needed. But I think that should do it! Thanks for checking, I will definitely test this myself soon so I can make sure. Thanks again!

  7. Jodi

    Oh my gosh, these look delicious! I was wondering how long I should cook these if I were using mini cupcake tins?

    1. meggan

      Hi Jodi! Thanks! I would check them at 9 minutes. Might take 12-14 minutes, but please check them at 9. And temp stays at 350 degrees. What a great idea!

  8. Yum! I can already see them disappearing!5 stars

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