Pumpkin Bars Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling
Pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing are a delicious (and surprisingly easy) festive fall treat. Flavorful, moist and oh, so simple, you'll be making these on repeat!

Updated: Jun. 04, 2024

Fall baking doesn’t get much better (or easier) than these delicious cakelike pumpkin bars. The star of these bars is canned pumpkin, which we prefer over fresh pumpkin for most recipes. It is consistently smooth and makes these bars incredibly moist, tender and a festive shade of orange. For a little extra decadence, we top the pumpkin bars with a smooth, slightly tangy cream cheese icing, making these the perfect crowd-pleasing treats for the cool, crisp months.

As one of our favorite canned pumpkin recipes, this pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing recipe is a keeper for when you have leftover pumpkin from the holidays, or any time you want to go into full pumpkin spice mode!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Bars

  • Eggs: Eggs help bind ingredients, create structure, and add richness and moisture.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar helps create the soft, tender texture.
  • Canola oil: Using oil instead of melted butter ensures that these pumpkin bars stay moist long after baking. Feel free to use vegetable oil if that’s what you have.
  • Canned pumpkin: Besides its festive orange hue and subtle earthy flavor, the best canned pumpkin is key to getting the consistent texture of this sponge cake. Make sure to use canned pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin pie filling, which has several other added ingredients.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour adds structure to the pumpkin bars. Measure your flour accurately for the best results.
  • Ground cinnamon: Cinnamon and pumpkin are a classic flavor blend; most types of cinnamon work in this recipe.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of baking powder and baking soda gives the batter some lift as it rises in the oven.
  • Salt: A touch of salt is added to the batter to help create a balanced flavor profile.
  • Cream cheese: We combine cream cheese and unsalted butter to make a smooth, creamy and slightly tangy icing for these pumpkin bars. Remember to bring these dairy ingredients to room temperature before combining for an ultra-smooth icing.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Confectioners’ sugar adds just the right sweetness while lending structure to the cream cheese icing.
  • Vanilla extract: Although this recipe calls for a small amount, using the best vanilla extract ensures optimal flavor.
  • Milk: Adding just 1 to 2 tablespoons milk helps thin out the cream cheese icing so it’s easily spreadable. We opt for 2% milk, but any milk you have on hand will work fine.

Directions

Step 1: Combine the pumpkin mixture

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended.

Editor’s Tip: You can mix this batter by hand, use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use an electric hand mixer. Baker’s choice!

Step 2: Combine and add the flour mixture

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, and mix well.

Editor’s Tip: To avoid overmixing the batter (which could lead to dense or tough pumpkin bars), add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in two or three separate additions, gently mixing after each addition until the ingredients are combined.

Step 3: Bake the bars

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Pour the batter into an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.

Editor’s Tip: If you have a 13×9-inch pan handy, feel free to use it. The bars will be a bit thicker but equally delicious!

Step 4: Make the cream cheese icing

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Beat the softened cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla in a small bowl until combined and creamy. Add enough milk to achieve spreading consistency.

Step 5: Spread the icing

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Spread the cream cheese icing over the cooled bars. Store in the refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Bar Variations

  • Add more spices: Pumpkin and warm spices go hand-in-hand with fall baking, so why not add more? Instead of ground cinnamon, add 2 teaspoons store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice (a combination of fall spices) to the batter.
  • Give some oomph to the icing: Zhuzh the cream cheese icing a bit by adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and/or 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup.
  • Get nutty: Top the frosted bars with a sprinkling of toasted chopped pecans or walnuts.

How to Store Pumpkin Bars

Frosted pumpkin bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Can you make pumpkin bars ahead of time?

Yes! Unfrosted pumpkin bars can be stored in the fridge, either in an airtight container or covered tightly, for one to two days before frosting and enjoying.

Can you freeze pumpkin bars?

Yes, you can store pumpkin bars in the freezer for up to three months, but hold off on the cream cheese icing until after they’ve thawed and you’re ready to enjoy them. To freeze, allow the pumpkin bars to cool completely. Wrap them in a layer of storage wrap and then foil, ensuring none of the cake is exposed. Thaw the bars in the refrigerator overnight, then ice them as directed.

Pumpkin Bar Tips

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Can you use pumpkin pie filling instead of canned pumpkin for this pumpkin bars recipe?

Pumpkin pie filling cannot be substituted for canned pumpkin puree. The filling contains additional ingredients, including sweeteners and spices that we’ve already accounted for elsewhere in the recipe. Can’t find canned pumpkin puree at the grocery store? Here are three easy canned pumpkin substitutions to use in a pinch.

How can you know when the pumpkin bars are done baking?

You’ll know the bars are ready to come out of the oven when the batter is risen and set. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or the top of the bars should spring back when gently pressed with your fingertip.

Watch how to Make Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield 2 dozen.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ICING:
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk

Directions

  1. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into an ungreased 15x10x1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
  2. For icing, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Add enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread icing over bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts

1 bar: 275 calories, 15g fat (4g saturated fat), 43mg cholesterol, 242mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (25g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the ultimate fall treat. But my family likes them so much, they ask me to make them all year long! —Brenda Keller, Andalusia, Alabama