Lightened-Up Pumpkin Spice Bars.

Enjoy these easy pumpkin-spice bars – lightened up with less sugar and fat.

Easy Pumpkin Spice Bars - lightened up with less sugar and fat.

Considering my week’s plans include a Wednesday night baking date with my sister, a pumpkin pie + sweet potato casserole to inhale on Thursday, leftover turkey sandwiches on Friday, and a night of pumpkin beer to drink on Saturday… let’s just say something lighter is welcomed with open arms.

Easy Pumpkin Spice Bars - lightened up with less sugar and fat.

Traditional pumpkin bars get a healthy kick today. Typically made with a heavy dose of oil and sugar, pumpkin bars aren’t exactly your healthy snack of choice.  Everything in moderation, of course, but when pumpkin is involved… it’s hard for me to stop at one!

I have a thing for healthy pumpkin desserts, so for my last pumpkin recipe of the season, I give you one of my very favorites.

To lighten up your average pumpkin bar recipe, I used melted Land O Lakes Light Butter to replace the oil. I hardly ever use light butter in my recipes because fat is necessary for structure, taste, and moisture.  Bold in flavor and wet in consistency, pumpkin did a fine job of keeping these bars moist and tender – even without all of the fat of regular butter or oil.  Pumpkin is the reason why my low fat pumpkin cookies do not need any oil and still remain so soft! Feel free to use regular butter or a mixture of apple sauce and regular butter to replace the light butter in today’s recipe.

I reduced the sugar to the bare minimum and kept the bars flavorful with a medley of my favorite fall spices.  We have a heavy does of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in the batter and there is no other way I’d have it.  When it comes to cinnamon in recipes, I like the say – the more the better. I’m a complete cinnamon FREAK.

Easy Pumpkin Spice Bars - lightened up with less sugar and fat.

Both all-purpose and whole wheat flour make an appearance in today’s recipe. I didn’t want the bars to be extremely dense and heavy, which are typical results from the use of whole-wheat flour. I love whole wheat flour in recipes like oatmeal or granola bars, but not when I’m looking for a light and airy texture in my baked good.

I went halfsies on the types of flours used. We’re getting the best of both worlds – whole wheat wholesomeness with a light texture from all-purpose flour.  used the same flour logic in my chocolate muffins.

What I love MOST about these squares is the whole muffin-top quality. Clearly I am not referring to the muffin top associated with too-tight pants… although a healthy pumpkin bar could remedy that problem. The soft and sticky tops are my very favorite part of a muffin. The tops are typically packed with the most flavor and depending on the recipe, left incredibly moist when exposed to air. The same goes for the tops of today’s bars. The top layer is gooey, sticky, and sweet – making each bite taste like a muffin top + pumpkin pie combined.

The recipe makes a small 8×8 pan of 12 moderately sized squares. Feel free to double the recipe if you’re baking for a crowd.  When I’m making a treat for only myself, small batches are most definitely preferred. Especially since Kevin doesn’t even like pumpkin. (I know. I KNOW.)

Easy Pumpkin Spice Bars - lightened up with less sugar and fat.

A good use for leftover canned pumpkin, these one-pan-thank-you-ma’am squares are easily one of my favorite pumpkin recipes. Every now and then, I enjoy a “healthified” dessert recipe that tastes like the original – and I know many of you are with me in that boat!

Lightened-Up Pumpkin Spice Bars

Yield: 12 bars

Print Recipe

Easy pumpkin-spice bars made lighter with less fat & sugar.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup milk (or almond or soy milk)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) light butter, melted (or regular butter or melted coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients until fully combined. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, and pumpkin together until combined. Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until *just* combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely and cut into 12 squares. Bars remain fresh for up to one week stored chilled in an airtight container.
  4. Make ahead tip: These bars freeze wonderfully-- freeze them for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Looking for a healthy recipe this holiday season?

I got ya covered. 😉

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See more pumpkin recipes.

Enjoy these lightened-up pumpkin spice bars this holiday season! Grab the recipe on

60 Responses to “Lightened-Up Pumpkin Spice Bars.”

  1. #
    Loretta Eposted November 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I totally feel ya on the muffin top! That’s my favorite part too. They look great!


  2. #
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweetposted November 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    These bars look super tempting, Sally! Love the muffin top!


  3. #
    Angelina Mitchumposted November 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Those Pumpkin Bars look so yummy. Ya have me in the mood to make mine. Not sure how fattening mine are, but when ur eating them……who really cares at that point. It won me 1st place in a baking contest. Yay! 1 box of spice cake mix & 1 can of pumpkin. And powdered sugar odusted on top. Easy enough I guess.


  4. #
    luv what you doposted November 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Those looks so rich and deliciuos, I bet we’d never know they were light if you didn’t tell us. I’m all for saving up for the excitement and food to come. That pumpkin pie/sweet potato casserole sounds unreal. I hope there is a recipe coming with that!


  5. #
    Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girlposted November 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    With the week of heavy eating I have before me, I could totally use a lightened up treat like this. And you know what? My husband doesn’t like pumpkin pie, though he is “okay” with pumpkin bread/bars/muffins. But what is up with guys not liking pumpkin? That’s just wrong–especially since I love it SO MUCH. :-) These bars look great, Sally!


  6. #
    Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chefposted November 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    these sound good! i love anything pumpkin. delish :)


  7. #
    The Witch's Kitchenposted November 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Oh man do these look good! Will definately have to give these a try.


  8. #
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebelposted November 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Ohhhh yes please! I could definitely use some lighter fare before my preparation for food coma on Thursday night! And these look just delicious, Sal. I love that you’re the queen of making healthy desserts!


  9. #
    Liz (Little Bitty Bakes)posted November 17, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Light pumpkin dessert, my dream! If I wasn’t leaving for New York in two days, I’d totally bake these right now! <– haha, as if I couldn't polish off this entire pan in less than 48 hours. 😉


  10. #
    Michelleposted November 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I still have SO much puree frozen from Halloween pumpkins left, this definitely seems like a delicious way to get rid of some of it! I’ll certainly be making these tonight Sally :)


  11. #
    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crustposted November 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Love ’em Sally! Lightened up is awesomesauce. Especially when I’m the only one eating it!


  12. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooksposted November 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    The muffin top part looks great – that ooey gooey part that I instantly go for! The part that I scope to see which exact bar in the pan has the most, that’s the one I’m having!

    Crazy Kevin doesn’t even like pumpkin! I bet he’ll come around one of these years, though!

    And small batches, yes, indeed. A food blogger’s best friend, for sure!


  13. #
    Laura Dembowskiposted November 17, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Love all your healthy recipes! I’ve never heard of light butter before but it sounds interesting. One of my favorite things about pumpkin is that the fat and sugar can be reduced because it is so moist and flavorful.


    • Melodyreplied on September 10th, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Sally, I’ve recently become a HUGE fan of yours when I stumbled upon your website via pinterest. My almost 2 year old twin girls and I love your skinny muffins. :) I try to steer away from light butter because of the extra junk it has in it, so when you recommend doing a combo of apple sauce and regular butter would you do 2 tbspns (1/4 stick) of regular butter and then 2 tbspns of applesauce? It’s coming up on my pumpkin baking season soon, so I wanted to check! Thanks!


      • Sallyreplied on September 10th, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        Hi Melody! That’s a great question. I recommend exactly what you stated – 2 Tbsp reg butter + 2 Tbsp applesauce. I hope you love these lightened-up autumn treats!

        And I am so glad you and your daughters love my skinny muffin recipes. I’m working on a new one to post soon!

  14. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.posted November 18, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Bring on the skinny recipes! Especially of the pumpkin variety!


  15. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Deliciousposted November 18, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I’m all for lightened up desserts too because once Thanksgiving comes, I will be gaining at least 10 lb! I totally need to get my hands on some lighter butter so I can make this ASAP!


  16. #
    Joyposted November 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I too am a cinnamon freak! It was cinnamon toast this morning for breakfast as I waited for cake to cool :-) The pumpkin bars look amazing…I feel in the spirit of Thanksgiving even though I’m from the UK :-)


  17. #
    Becky @ Olives n Wineposted November 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing a healthy dessert recipe! I think we could all use a little health this time of year :) I think I’ll make these for the guys’ Sunday football extravaganza this afternoon – Thanks!


  18. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Bakingposted November 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I love it when you post healthier recipes. :) These look delightful and there’s so much pumpkin in there compared to flour that they must have the best texture. And the gooey muffin top… that’s always a good thing!


  19. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishesposted November 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I love how pumpkin can replace oil/fat in recipes and still taste amazing! And…I can’t imagine anyone NOT liking pumpkin. These look so good…


  20. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wifeposted November 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Since I’m eating THREE full-on Thanksgiving dinners this year, these bars are exactly what I need! You had me at muffin top (never thought I’d put those words together, lol). I can totally picture these as the base of a vanilla caramel sundae or in the morning with coffee. Thanks for this light and versatile recipe Sally!


  21. #
    Melissa @ Fit 'N' Well Mommyposted November 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    You pumpkin spice bars look so good! I also love your pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal bars. They would make for a great snack; I think I might make them today!

    By the way, I just found your blog and I’m practically drooling over all of your recipes. I can’t wait to follow it!


  22. #
    Jocelyn @BruCrew Lifeposted November 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    He doesn’t like pumpkin? Well, I guess all the more yumminess for you to enjoy. Yay for a small pan of lightened up bars. And I love all the cinnamon goodness in these…I like to be able to really taste my cinnamon and spices, especially in pumpkin goodies!!! With a week of nonstop eating ahead of me, I need some of these bars to help balance out the fat.


  23. #
    Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking}posted November 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Sally these look and sound amazing! You’re living proof that you can skinnyfy (skinify?) a recipe and still have it turn out and taste out of this world. I heard you can replace butter with yogurt, not sure whether that’s true or not.


  24. #
    amy @ fearless homemakerposted November 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Keep the lightened-up recipes coming! Between all the sweets + heavy meals we eat around the holidays, I need all the lightening up I can get. And these bars look absolutely wonderful – i’ll take two with my evening tea, please! =)


  25. #
    Alexisposted November 27, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Yum. Yum. YUM! I made these a couple days ago, and my boyfriend and I ate the whole pan ourselves in less than two days! Irresistible! I did use only whole-wheat flour, so maybe that helped make them even healthier! :) The pumpkin kept it wonderfully moist! Thanks for sharing! (I’m eating a chewy Butterfinger cookie that I made a couple days ago as I write; still soft and chewy!) Happy Holidays!


  26. #
    Vanessaposted January 6, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    These were wonderful!!! Even my husband who is not a pumpkin fan LOVED these :) I ran out of whole-wheat flour so I substituted homemade oat flour which provided a nice texture as there were still small bits of oat. Thanks again – this will be a staple in my home!


  27. #
    Catalinaposted January 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Sally!! I’m Chilean but I’m here in Miami for the holidays and I just couldn’t resist the urges of trying and baking something with pumpkin puree!! I made 1,5 recipe and used a baking dish (which I have no idea the size of) that was a bit smaller than a 9×13!! I used a granulated sweetener and used 1 and 1/3 cups of it. Out of this world, thanks a lot!!


    • Sallyreplied on January 14th, 2013 at 8:50 am

      I’m so glad you made these bars, Catalina! They are a favorite recipe of mine for sure. I need to make them again and maybe I’ll increase the amount to make a larger batch in my 11×7 baking pan. :) Thanks Catalina!


  28. #
    Ruosiposted March 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    So I made a double batch of this yesterday but only added a half stick of butter on accident. It was still amazing though!!!! :)


  29. #
    Sarahposted May 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Any tips for determine the calories in this or other recipes? I absolutely love punpkin and am super excited to try these. Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on May 24th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Sarah – feel free to look up the calories online if you can find an online calculator. Thanks!


  30. #
    ellenposted August 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm


    Can you use all AP flour? Is there something that can be a substitute for the butter? Can pumpkin pie spice be used instead of the 3 spices listed? If so, how much would you recommend using?



    • ellenreplied on August 29th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Could these also be made into muffins with the above recipe?


      • Sallyreplied on August 29th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

        Hi Ellen! Yes, they certainly could. I’m not sure of the baking time, but keep an eye on them at the 15 minute mark.

  31. #
    Maddyposted September 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    My whole family loved these! They’re the most indulgent lightened up recipe I’ve yet to come by. Thanks!


  32. #
    Keyia Mposted September 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Funny how you say it will stay fresh for a week in an airtight container. It lasted less than 24 hours AND tonight is the 2nd time in 48 hours that I’ve made it. Easy and delicious Fall treat!


  33. #
    Tiaposted October 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Hey! I saw these and thought they would be a great alternative to the pumpkin bars I normally make which are SO not good or you! I just made these and I had them in the oven for 30+mins and so I took them out but they are very “mushy” still… could I have undercooked them or is that the muffin top like texture you are talking about?.. Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on October 25th, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Did you change anything about this recipe? Anything at all? I would check your oven temperature. Do you own an oven thermometer? I fear your oven temperature may be off if these are taking longer than 30 minutes to cook through.


      • Tiareplied on October 25th, 2013 at 9:12 am

        Yeah I am thinking its my oven, tried another recipe and the same thing happened! Not cool! I guess I will stick to making raw desserts for now until I can get it fixed! but I did change a few things, I used applesauce instead of butter and honey instead of brown sugar..

  34. #
    Ozposted October 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I just finished baking these and they are unbelievably delicious! The only thing is that the few pieces in the middle were still slightly uncooked, but even that way they are so tasty! This is one of the most moist, tender, scrumptious cakes I have ever made. Thank you!!


    • Sallyreplied on October 27th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Happy these bars are a hit, Oz! Maybe a little more time in the oven next time you try them. And cover loosely with aluminum foil so they bake evenly.


  35. #
    Samanthaposted November 7, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Hey! Yesterday i made these bars and they are so good; they taste just like pumpkin pie! The only change i did was used all applesauce instead of the butter,they came out a little thicker but still amazing.


  36. #
    Lauraposted November 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    This recipe is such a keeper, you absolutely cannot tell that these bars are “lightened up!” I used 1 cup all-purpose flour as it was all I had on hand, as well as almond milk and melted coconut oil in place of the butter and it turned out amazing- fluffy, soft, cinnamon-y pumpkin deliciousness! From reading the other comments at least I know I’m not the only one to make a pan of these disappear on my own in 2 days :)


  37. #
    Hebaposted August 3, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Hi Sally , I don’t have pumpkin purée in where I live how can I made it at home?
    Thanks for sharing great recipes


  38. #
    Nicoleposted September 15, 2014 at 7:22 am

    It blows my mind that these made with healthier ingredients still have more calories than a sugary pumpkin cheesecake cookie. I calculated 97 calories for these (had to use regular butter-didn’t have anything else) and pumpkin cookies from the store with cheesecake pieces only have 80? Did I calculate something wrong?


    • Lizareplied on September 19th, 2014 at 3:30 am

      Baked goods from the store are usually pumped full of preservatives so while they may be lower calorie, you’re better off making your own bars from scratch! I calculated these at about 110 calories a bar, for 12. Not bad for dessert at all!


    • Janessareplied on September 19th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Look, trying not to be rude, but really here. Eat your dessert & be happy about it. Does it really matter that they had 15 extra calories then the store bought crap?


  39. #
    hhayleymorrinn@gmail.composted September 19, 2014 at 3:28 am

    So… Funny story about these bars. I made them yesterday afternoon with the last of my pumpkin, and when I reached into my spice cabinet to grab cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves, I had grabbed Chili powder instead of cloves. I didn’t realize it until I had the measuring spoon in the little container and nearly added it to the batter! A couple drops actually did get into the batter… That would’ve a disaster! So glad I realized my mistake though because after that incident I followed these bars to the letter and was super happy with them! I think this will be my go-to recipe for using up extra pumpkin :)


    • Sallyreplied on September 19th, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Hahahahaha – if you did add it, they would’ve been these interesting spicy/sweet pumpkin flavored bars. Maybe that would be good? Happy you caught yourself though!


  40. #
    Nicoleposted September 29, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I made these last night. They were very good! I had a can of pumpkin left over and I needed to use it for something before the pumpkin went bad. These pumpkin bars were the ticket! :) Even my fiancee who is a sugar addict liked them. Well done.


  41. #
    Toriposted October 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I made these yesterday! I substituted the eggs for flax eggs, all the butter for applesauce, and the all purpose flour for oat flour. I added a little extra baking powder because of the oat flour and flax eggs and doubled up on the nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla. I also frosted them with your Greek yogurt frosting (excluding the peanut butter) and lightly dusted the tops with cinnamon. They were aesthetically pleasing and really, really delicious. Thank you!


  42. #
    Sofiaposted November 9, 2014 at 8:46 am

    hi Sally, I’m making these today and I have two questions. Could I use all whole wheat but only 3/4 cup? Also I would like to add some dried cranberries, how much should I add? Thank you!!


    • Sallyreplied on November 9th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      hi Sofia, sorry I’m just getting to you now. Sundays are usually my day off. I do not recommend reducing the flour, but using all whole wheat would be fine if you need to. I would say 2/3 – 3/4 cup dried cranberries would be great.


  43. #
    Chloe Loganposted March 12, 2015 at 3:00 am

    Sally I absolutely loved these bars, and all of my co workers did too! I used all whole wheat flour because thats all that I had and they turned out great :) I also added on your recipe for streusel topping and it paired perfectly! I work in a restaurant and the head chef tried them and asked me for the recipe. Your lightened up treats are always a hit! Thanks so much for all of the handwork you put into all of your recipes. I can’t wait to see what you cook up for this years St. Patty’s day!


    • Sallyreplied on March 12th, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      So glad these were such a huge hit, Chloe! Thanks so much for reporting back.


  44. #
    Katelynposted July 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Can you believe that I have never heard of pumpkin bars before??!! These look so delicious.. I will definitely try them! Btw, I went to Books-a-Million yesterday to look at the cook books… I found your book and freaked out! I bought it and am so excited to try the recipes!


  45. #
    Cassandraposted September 14, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I’ve been a follower for a few years and have always admired your writing style and recipes. Fall is just around the corner and I can’t wait to try these out this season :)


  46. #
    Tiffanyposted September 26, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Oh my goodness. AMAZING!!! These won’t last long… Next time I think a sprinkle of chocolate chips on top before baking may be delicious too. I love your recipes!!!


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