This really is the best moist, spiced pumpkin bars recipe with cream cheese frosting! Impress everyone with this fall classic.
What’s one of the best pumpkin desserts? It’s a tough call, but we think it’s these Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting! The bars are perfectly moist and cakey, with just the right warm-spiced interior from cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. They’re topped off with a lusciously creamy layer of cream cheese frosting that gives a tangy lift to each bite. This recipe makes a big sheet pan, ideal for fall gatherings and entertaining. We could not stop eating these (and had to gift them to neighbors, who also raved!).
Why to try this pumpkin bars recipe
This pumpkin bars recipe is ideal for any fall occasion: Thanksgiving, Halloween, dinner parties, or to pass out to neighbors to spread fall cheer. Here’s why this recipe stands out:
- It’s moist and cakey, but not like cake: you can still eat it with your fingers.
- It’s perfectly spiced. It’s got a hefty 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spices and ½ tablespoon cinnamon: make sure to use both for the perfect flavor!
- It makes a big sheet pan. Trust us, you’ll find ways to use or gift up the leftovers.
- The cream cheese frosting is to-die-for. It adds just the right gooey tang: and it’s right the right amount (not too much, not too little).
Tips for making pumpkin bars
There isn’t too much baking technique involved in this pumpkin bars recipe: it’s simply a matter of mixing the dry ingredients, the wet ingredients, combining them and baking! But here are a few notes on the overall process:
- Use a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan. This is a non-negotiable! It gets just the right height so they work as bars, not fluffy cake.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. It should take 25 to 30 minutes. Make sure not to overbake, or the bars will not be as moist.
- Allow to cool fully before frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will melt when you apply it. If you want to go right into frosting after its cool, set out the cream cheese and butter on the counter in advance (see below).
For the cream cheese frosting
These pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are nothing without that sweet, creamy layer of goodness on top. If you’ve never made cream cheese frosting, it’s fairly simple but requires a few quick tricks:
- Allow the butter and cream cheese to come to room temperature for 1 hour. You can also try tricks to soften them (like a few seconds in the microwave), but that risks melting them and destroying the texture. If you’re planning to frost the bars right away, you may want to set out the butter and cream cheese while you’re in the middle of
- Sift the powdered sugar. This helps to eliminate any lumps in the frosting when you mix it.
- If desired, make the frosting in advance. You can save it for up to 1 week; just set it out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before icing the bars.
Store pumpkin bars refrigerated
The last thing to know about these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting? They’re best stored refrigerated! While you can store them at room temperature, the frosting holds up best in the fridge. Store the bars refrigerated for up to 5 days.
More pumpkin recipes
In the fall, it’s all about that cozy orange squash. Here are a few more pumpkin recipes and pumpkin desserts you’ll love:
- Try our Best Pumpkin Cookies, Perfect Pumpkin Cake or Pumpkin Muffins
- Go for Easy 1-Bowl Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- Go savory with the Best Pumpkin Chili or icy with Pumpkin Ice Cream
- Start the day with Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin French Toast or Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
Perfect Pumpkin Bars
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 24 bars 1x
Here’s the best moist, spiced pumpkin bars recipe with cream cheese frosting! Impress everyone with this fall classic.
For the pumpkin bars
- 2 cups [280 g] all-purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- ¾ cup neutral oil
For the cream cheese frosting
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan.
- In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, then whisk in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, and oil. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it into an even layer.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate about 15 minutes until it comes to room temperature. (Or allow to cool and refrigerate it, then frost before serving.)
- Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: Let the butter and cream cheese sit on the counter for 1 hour to come to room temperature. Use a fine mesh sieve to sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Beat the butter and cream cheese with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes until completely smooth, scraping once. Reduce the speed to low, then add the vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it comes together into a thick icing. Use immediately or refrigerate until using (stores refrigerated for up to 1 week; allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes and stir before using).
- Spread the frosting on top of the bars. If desired, dust with cinnamon. Serve immediately or store refrigerated. Stores refrigerated for up to 5 days. Freeze the completely cooled unfrosted bars tightly wrapped for up to 3 months.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Fall
- Diet: Vegetarian
Keywords: Pumpkin bars, pumpkin bars recipe
Please post nutrition facts for this recipe. Actually, nutrition facts for all your recipes would be very helpful.
Thank you :)
Added! I’ll get to them all someday :)
You said non negotiable on the jelly roll pan but here I am asking anyway: could these be done in muffin tins? They seem like great options for cupcakes if parents don’t want to eat the kid ones for a 4 year old bday party, haha.
Haha! I’m not sure, but I dont’ see why not. :)
Re: greasing the pan(s): many of us use parchment or other materials for this purpose; so I’m curious about how fragile/finicky this big recipe might be if one did so – then wants to pull the parchment off ! if it’s too unwieldy or precarious I suppose we have to revert to “old school” greasing the pans. hahaha
We typically use parchment paper too! But since this time you’re baking using the entire sheet pan as your pan, you’ll want to grease the entire pan and sides (the dough comes all the way up the sides). You’re welcome to add parchment on the bottom though for easy removal!
Hi Alex ! I posted a question which will probably be answered, but FORGOT to ask another one regarding these excellent pumpkin bars. Almost-Perfect as they are, I am also wondering if they are good without any frosting ? Or, if there are other frosting/glaze (not creamcheese) which might be good too.
Meantime, just know I LOVE your newsletter and recipes. They are very interesting, helpful and full of great recipes !
Great question! So glad you like the newsletter: thank you for subscribing! The pumpkin bars taste best with the cream cheese icing, but if you don’t want to use it you could try dusting the top with powdered sugar (a generous amount) or trying more of a glaze like our powdered sugar icing: https://www.acouplecooks.com/1-minute-powdered-sugar-icing/. Good luck!
Hi Alex and Sonja, I’m making these bars for an event tomorrow. Ugh I only have an 8 1/2 by 12” pan and a 12 by 17”. Should I double it and use the larger pan? Thanks for you help! Susan
I would double and go larger! The cooking time may need just a little longer.