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Made with a graham cracker and toasty pecan crust, these creamy pumpkin pie bars are irresistible. Like pumpkin pie, but so much easier!

overhead image of pumpkin pie bars with whipped cream

I’m a pumpkin purist. I prefer my pumpkin spice in basic form. Treats like pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin roll, and… pumpkin pie bars! Specifically with a toasted pecan/graham cracker crust and a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top. These bars are smooth, pumpkin-spiced, and simply divine. They’re easy to make and easier to eat.

Before we get started, let’s clarify. These are not pumpkin bars—pumpkin bars are the bar version of pumpkin cake. This recipe is the bar version of pumpkin pie. The more you know!

stack of 2 pumpkin pie bars on a silver plate with whipped cream topping

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.
2 images of graham cracker crust mixture in a food processor

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!

graham cracker crust pressed into bottom of a 9x13 baking dish

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.

pumpkin pie filling in a glass bowl

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.

Trust me.

stack of pumpkin pie bars

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:

When it comes to pumpkin, keep it simple!

Print
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stack of pumpkin pie bars

Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 1824 bars 1x
  • Category: Bars
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Like pumpkin pie, but so much easier! Made with a graham cracker and toasty pecan crust, these easy creamy pumpkin bars are irresistible.


Ingredients

Scale

Crust

  • 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

Filling

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Top with whipped cream and chopped pecans, if desired. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I didn’t have heavy cream, so I used almond milk with olive oil instead of the cream. And I didn’t have graham crackers, so I used dark chocolate wafers. It turned out great. So delicious!

    1. I would place the bars on a tray, with space between, and freeze them, then most likely place in a container and defrost unwrapped.

  2. Husband loves them, but I wonder if they are too soft, should I be able to stack them without them getting stuck to eachother?

    1. Hi Priscilla! These bars are just like smooth, soft pumpkin pie in bar form and would be best stored without stacking. You could try layering them with parchment paper in between them, but they may stick a bit.

    1. Hi Deborah, we haven’t tested it ourselves, but yes, you should be able to use sweet potato puree in place of the pumpkin here. Enjoy!

    2. Perfect! You are so right. It’s easy and better than Pumpkin Pie! Not sure what the negative commenter did wrong but its delicious! Thanks! Phyllis

  3. I’ve been an avid fan of the recipes dating all the way back to when “Thank You, Betty” cookie brownies were first published (I HIGHLY recommend this recipe!). However, this particular recipe was atrocious. It was very bland in taste and underwhelming. I ended up throwing them out to the animals. I will continue to make her recipes, except for this one.

    1. That strange as I use basically the same recipe for my pies and my family and friends can’t wait every year . Bland not one bit !

    2. That is unfortunate. There was a reason for the lack of flavor, but don’t blame the recipe. I used the pumpkin pie spice substitution recommended and it was perfectly spicy. Maybe your spices were too old. Or you have qualified for membership in my club of absent minded bakers.
      Make sure your spices are reasonably fresh, avoid distractions and try the recipe again. It’s one of our favorites.

  4. This recipe is a winner!!! We all loved it and will be making it for Thanksgiving for sure!!

    1. Hi Diana, we don’t recommend any subs for heavy cream – it’s a must for these bars. Half-and-half or milk wouldn’t set up the bars properly.

      1. When I made this without heavy cream, I googled ‘sub for heavy cream’ and selected a link to 10 substitutions. I used a combination of milk, yogurt and butter for a Five Star result.

  5. These were terribly disappointing as I had high hopes. As another commenter mentioned, the crust is not crisp at all….,quite soggy. I even baked a couple minutes longer as Sally recommended. Give me an actual piece of pumpkin pie anyway over this.

  6. Hi! The filling for these bars is PHENOMENAL. I tested the recipe out and my family loved them plus it was so quick/easy!
    If I double the crust recipe for next time would I still prebake for 8 mins or double the prebake time?

    1. Hi Nilu, so glad these bars were a hit! The crust bake time would likely be a bit longer but we’re unsure of the exact time needed. Let us know if you give it a try!

  7. These are amazing! I made them tonight for Thanksgiving, and had a hard time only eating a nibble. What is the best way to freeze these? Wrap them individually in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer bag or in a freezer safe container? I’m a little worried about them sticking to the plastic wrap, but if I use plastic wrap, should I take them out before defrosting so the plastic doesn’t stick?

    1. Hi Beth! So glad you enjoyed these pumpkin pie bars. For freezing, I recommend freezing in a single layer if at all possible first. Once they’re frozen, you can then line them between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer container or wrap individually with plastic wrap. For thawing, you can thaw if they’re stacked between sheets of parchment but if you’re concerned about some of the filling sticking, remove parchment and arrange in a single layer to thaw in the refrigerator. Or unwrap each from plastic wrap and thaw in the refrigerator.

  8. Hi,
    I would like to make these pumpkin pie bars for Thanksgiving this year. What can I substitute for the cornstarch?
    Thanks!

      1. Thank you! Would I include 1 tablespoon of flour to replace 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or more?
        Thank you in advance.
        Agatha

  9. My family LOVES these pumpkin pie bars! I used evaporated milk, instead of heavy cream, and they turned out perfect!

  10. I froze the bars, and defrosted them in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, the crust is now soggy (it wasn’t when I baked them). I let them cool completely before freezing them. Is this normal? Is there a way to save them?

    1. Hi Beth, There are a few reasons that could have happened. If the bars were not 100% cool or not wrapped tightly when frozen, condensation could have gotten in. Also, be sure to keep the bars covered while thawing in the refrigerator so that any condensation that forms will stay on the outside. These are easy fixes for next time! To fix this one you can certainly try to cover the top with aluminum foil and place back into the oven for 10-15 minutes on a lower rack.

      1. Thank you Stephanie. I didn’t wrap them individually, but put them in a Rubbermaid container. Next time, I’ll wrap them individually as well. They were still delicious, everyone loved them, and I’ll definitely make them again!

  11. My husband is not a huge pumpkin fan but he gives these bars a 10! Great idea on the pepper, Sally. I love how it elevates all the spices.

  12. Delicious crust and filling! And I can’t wait to try them again but with chocolate chips as one comment suggested!

    1. Hi Sean, we haven’t tested that. It may take quite a long time for thicker bars to bake through but let us know what you try!

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