From August – November, pumpkin spice takes over store shelves. I kid you not, I spotted pumpkin spice shampoo the other week. I know I’m crazy and even crazier from postpartum hormones but pumpkin spice… SHAMPOO?! Am I the only one who thinks that’s weird? I guess I just don’t want my hair smelling like pumpkin pie.
Specifically with a toasted pecan/graham cracker crust and a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top. And by dollop I mean… an actual mountain. I restrained from my usual (and obnoxious) amount of whipped cream in these photos. Didn’t want you to think I’m crazy or anything.
Let’s hop right into these easy pumpkin pie bars. They taste like pumpkin pie, but let me try to convince you that they’re *even better* than pumpkin pie.
There’s two parts: the crust and the filling. Both come together in minutes. Let’s start with that crust…
This crust is made with pecans, graham crackers, a little sugar, and melted butter. You’ll process the nuts + grahams 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 pan, then pre-bake for about 8 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!!
You can pour the filling right into the pre-baked crust. No need to wait for it to cool down. The filling comes together in minutes 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!
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 Flour. 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.
When it comes to pumpkin, keep it simple. And maybe keep it out of the shower?!
Make ahead tip: Cooled pumpkin pie bars can be frozen up to 3 months. The filling can be made, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before pouring into crust and baking. Bars pie freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
*I prefer canned pumpkin, not fresh pumpkin puree in this recipe. I like to use Libby's brand. Fresh will work in a pinch, but they're tastier and more firm with canned. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
*Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/2 teaspoon each: ground allspice and ground ginger AND 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ground cloves.
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Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
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