Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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These easy Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are moist, delicious, and loaded with cream cheese frosting. They are perfectly spiced without being too sweet.

Pumpkin bars on a white plate.


 

Pumpkin is a season all its own, and I love pumpkin in all forms from muffins and cookies to smoothies and pancakes. It’s hard to go wrong with pumpkin recipes in the fall.

And while pumpkin baked goods don’t need any sort of frosting, these bars go a long way to showing why it might be a good idea.

If you use a 9×13 pan, you’re basically looking at a pumpkin cake. To get a true Pumpkin Bar, grab your nearest jelly roll pan. This always alters the ratio of cake-to-frosting – in the best way possible.

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Equipment and ingredient notes

  • Jelly roll pan: To get the ideal cake-to-frosting ratio, bake this cake in a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan (I love this one by OXO).
  • 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 ½ teaspoons ground allspice, and 1 ½ 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.
  • 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 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.
Pumpkin bar ingredients in two clear bowls.
  1. Fold in flour mixture until uniformly combined. Spread into prepared pan.
Pumpkin bar batter in a pan before being baked.
  1. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
Baked pumpkin bars in a pan.
  1. 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.
Cream cheese frosting being spread on top of pumpkin bars.
  1. Cut into 24 bars and top each with a MellowCreme pumpkin.
Pumpkin bars frosted and topped with candy pumpkins in a pan.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 24 squares, 2 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch each, cut in a 4×6 configuration (as shown immediately above).
  • Storage: Refrigerate any uneaten bars within 2 hours and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can bring them to room temperature before serving or eat them cold (I personally love cold cream cheese frosting).
  • Freezer: Tightly cover unfrosted or frosted bars and freeze them up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • 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.
  • Travel: To bring frosted banana bars to a party, cut them at home but keep them in the pan. Stick toothpicks at regular intervals into the top of the frosting, then drape plastic wrap lightly over the toothpicks to prevent the plastic from sticking to the frosting.
  • Canned pumpkin pie mix: To substitute 16 ounces Pumpkin Pie Mix (canned pumpkin mixed with sugar and spices in the mix) for the pure pumpkin, increase the baking powder to 3 teaspoons and omit the cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Follow the recipe as directed.
  • More mix-ins: Stir in toasted walnutstoasted pecans, or mini chocolate chips before baking.
Pumpkin bars on a cooling rack, and three on an off white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make Pumpkin Pie Spice?

To make homemade pumpkin pie spice, mix together 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice, and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. Store in an airtight container in a dark place.

More pumpkin recipes

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Pumpkin bars on a white plate.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These easy Pumpkin Bars are moist, delicious, and loaded with cream cheese frosting. They are perfectly spiced without being too sweet.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 352
4.93 from 14 votes

Equipment

Ingredients 

For the bars:

For the frosting:

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.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Jelly roll pan: To get the ideal cake-to-frosting ratio, bake this cake in a 10-inch by 15-inch jelly roll pan (I love this one by OXO).
  2. 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 ½ teaspoons ground allspice, and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. Spoon out what you need and store the rest in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. 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.
  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. Yield: This recipe makes 24 squares, 2 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch each, cut in a 4×6 configuration (as shown immediately above).
  6. Storage: Refrigerate any uneaten bars within 2 hours and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can bring them to room temperature before serving or eat them cold (I personally love cold cream cheese frosting).

Nutrition

Serving: 1 barCalories: 352kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 3gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 245mgPotassium: 77mgFiber: 1gSugar: 39gVitamin A: 3282IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. It FINALLY cooled off here, so since I had ‘most’ of the ingredients on hand I decided to make these bars yesterday. I DID, however, go to the store to purchase those cute candy pumpkins (which made these bars look as AMAZING as they tasted.) Thank you for your delicious & easy recipe. It was a HUGE hit with my family, as I’m sure it will also be when I take a pan of it to an upcoming Halloween Party. Thanks SO VERY MUCH for all of your incredibly delicious recipes!5 stars

    1. Hi Angela, you’re so very welcome! I love the candy pumpkins, too! I’m so happy you loved these bars! Hope they are also a hit at your Halloween party! – Meggan

    1. 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. 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

  2. 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

    1. 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!

  3. 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. 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!

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

    1. 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!