Made with a graham cracker and toasty pecan crust, these creamy pumpkin pie bars are irresistible. Like pumpkin pie, but so much easier!
I’m a pumpkin purist. I prefer my pumpkin spice in basic form. Treats like pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin roll, pumpkin muffins, and… pumpkin pie bars! Specifically with a toasted pecan/graham cracker crust and a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top. Or, if I’m feeling fancy, the topping from pecan pie cheesecake is also fantastic here! These bars are smooth, pumpkin-spiced, and simply divine. They’re easy to make and easier to eat.
Pumpkin Pie Bars vs Pumpkin Pie
These easy pumpkin pie bars taste like pumpkin pie, but let me try to convince you that they’re *even better* than pumpkin pie. (If that’s even possible!)
- These treats are handheld so they’re perfect for gatherings, parties, etc.—anytime forks and plates aren’t really convenient! (Same goes with mini pumpkin pies. I love handheld treats.)
- None of the fuss of traditional pie crust.
- Wait time is cut in half because they cool down a lot quicker than pie!
- 1 pan makes 18–24 bars, so you’ll feed more hungry tummies.
- 4-ingredient toasty pecan graham cracker crust. Enough said.
There are two components to pumpkin pie bars: the crust and the filling. Both come together in a matter of minutes with basic baking ingredients.
Upgraded Graham Cracker Crust
This isn’t your typical graham cracker crust. Today’s pumpkin pie bars feature a delicious from-scratch crust made with pecans, graham crackers, a little sugar, and melted butter. Process the nuts + graham crackers together to break down the nuts, then add the sugar + butter to combine. A food processor makes all this a breeze. Press tightly into a 9×13-inch pan, then pre-bake for a few minutes. Under direct heat, the pecans take on an incredible toasty flavor. I guarantee you’ll only want pumpkin pie with this crust from now on. That’s a bold statement!
Make the Easy Filling
The filling comes together quickly and is similar to the filling in my great pumpkin pie recipe. It’s sweetened with brown sugar for superior flavor and thickened with heavy cream and a touch of cornstarch. Eggs help the filling set and the rest of the filling ingredients are for flavor… spices, vanilla, pumpkin! You can absolutely use homemade pumpkin pie spice here.
Pour the filling right into the pre-baked crust. No need to wait for it to cool.
My Pumpkin Pie Bars Secret Ingredient
If you’ve tried my pumpkin pie, you’re familiar with my 1 secret ingredient: black pepper. It’s bizarre, but totally works. I got this tip from the genius kitchen crew over at King Arthur Baking. And I’m forever grateful!! A pinch of black pepper turns your pumpkin pie (or, in this case, pumpkin pie bars) into the BEST pumpkin pie (bars). And no one will know it’s there! They’ll all go nuts for the deeply spiced flavor, and that spiced flavor, my friends, comes from black pepper.
More Fall Grab-and-Go Treats
If you’re looking for a few other convenient fall desserts, I’ve got you covered. These are some of my very favorite treats to bring to football parties, girls’ nights, friendsgiving, and to any other fall events where simplicity is crucial:
- Pumpkin Spice Truffles
- Apple Blondies
- Mini Pumpkin Pies
- Pumpkin Spice Toffee
- Apple Pie Bars (with Salted Caramel!)
- Brown Butter Pecan Pie Bars
When it comes to pumpkin, keep it simple! These bars or any of the above recipes would also be a welcome addition to your lineup of Thanksgiving pies. Pies can be time consuming, and we can all use an easy alternative now and then!Print
Like pumpkin pie, but so much easier! Made with a graham cracker and toasty pecan crust, these easy creamy pumpkin bars are irresistible.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full-sheet graham crackers)
- 1/2 cup (62g) chopped pecans
- 2 Tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
- 5 Tablespoons (71g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 can (15-ounce; 425g) pure pumpkin
- 1 cup (200g) light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- optional for topping: whipped cream and chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside.
- Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers (or crumbs) and pecans together into crumbs. A few larger pieces of nuts is OK. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined. Press tightly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared baking pan. Pre-bake crust for 12 minutes. Leave oven on.
- Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or simply using a whisk) beat/whisk all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. Pour into warm crust.
- Bake for 40–50 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly. Remove from the oven, set on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Once cool, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. Remove chilled bars from the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares. Bars are best served chilled.
- Top with whipped cream and chopped pecans, if desired. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: The filling can be made, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before pouring into crust and baking. Cooled pie bars freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Pumpkin: I prefer canned pumpkin, not fresh pumpkin puree in this recipe. I typically use Libby’s brand. Fresh will work in a pinch, but these pie bars are tastier and more firm with canned. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: 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 1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and ground ginger AND 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves. This is in addition to the 1 teaspoon of cinnamon—you will still add that. If using my homemade spice blend, which includes black pepper, you can leave out the black pepper in the recipe above.
- Crust Without Pecans: You can leave out the pecans in the crust, but you will need more graham cracker crumbs and butter. Add 1/4 cup extra graham cracker crumbs (2 full sheets/30g) and 1 more Tablespoon (14g) of melted butter. Pre-bake as directed.
- Non-US Readers: Don’t have graham crackers where you live? Use 200g ground digestive biscuit crumbs (about 2 cups; 13–14 biscuits), 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar, and the same amount of pecans and butter. Pre-bake for 14-15 minutes.
Keywords: pumpkin pie bars