These are the best pumpkin bars I’ve ever had. They have incredible spiced pumpkin flavor and aren’t quite as light and cakey as most other recipes I’ve tried. Instead, they’re soft and sturdy which pairs perfectly with the spiced cream cheese frosting on top!
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil*
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree*
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces (226g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 56g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice*
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- optional: sprinkles for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 10×15-inch baking pan. Or line the pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily lift the bars (as a whole) out.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a mixer or whisk until completely combined. Batter will be thick.
- Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 28-35 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The bars are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the bars browning too quickly, loosely tent with aluminum foil.
- Remove the bars from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack. Cool bars completely. (After about 45 minutes of cooling, you can place the bars in the refrigerator to speed things up!)
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker, add an extra 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar. Spread the frosting on the cooled bars. To help “set” the frosting, refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. This makes cutting easier and less messy.
- Enjoy with or without a fork, but definitely grab a napkin!
- Cover leftover bars tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you skipped the frosting, cover and store plain pumpkin bars at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 4. Cover cooled bars tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. You can cut the bars and freeze in a large freezer container, too. Bring to room temperature, make the frosting, frost, and serve. Frosted bars also freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 10×15-inch Baking Pan | Glass Mixing Bowls | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Cooling Rack | Icing Spatula
- Lining Pan: You can line the baking pan with parchment paper to easily lift out the bars as a whole. Or you can simply grease the pan. Once completely cool, you can (very carefully!!) slide a couple thin spatulas under the bars and lift out to put on a cutting board to slice. Or just slice them in the pan.
- Spices: You can find pumpkin pie spice in the baking aisle of most grocery stores or make your own homemade pumpkin pie spice. If you don’t have either and want to use individual spices, use 3/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon each: ground cloves and ground allspice. Do not leave out the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon that is also called for in this recipe. In the frosting, use a tiny pinch of each, plus a tiny pinch of cinnamon too.
- Oil: Instead of 1 cup of oil, try 1/2 cup (90g) unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 (120ml) cup oil. The bars are just as moist. Vegetable oil is best, but melted coconut oil works too.
- Pumpkin: I strongly recommend using canned pumpkin puree over homemade in this recipe, though 2 cups of homemade would be fine in a pinch. I found the flavor better with canned. I prefer Libby’s brand.
Keywords: pumpkin bars