Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

These pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the best fall dessert ever!

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

These pumpkin bars are literally the very best pumpkin dessert I’ve ever had. What I love about them is not only that they are super soft, moist, and full of pumpkin flavor, but that they are a quick and easy fall dessert that can be whipped up in no time. I would take these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting over pumpkin pie (or any pie for that matter) any day.

Pro Tips for the Best Pumpkin Bars Ever

  • Use pumpkin puree. Not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling, canned pumpkin puree is 100% pumpkin and does not have the added sugars and spices that are found in canned pumpkin pie filling. In this recipe, the spices are added separately for better flavor control.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. Mix the ingredients just until they are fully combined. Overmixing will make your bars dense and chewy.
  • Add nuts. Of course this is totally optional, but adding some nuts to this pumpkin bar recipe really takes it to the next level. You can try adding chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter before baking or sprinkling them on top of the cream cheese frosting.
  • Let the bars cool before frosting. As tempting as it may be, don’t frost your pumpkin bars until they have cooled to room temperature, otherwise, your frosting will melt and become thin and runny instead of thick and creamy like you want!
pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

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Pumpkin Bars: FAQ's

Can I use a sugar substitute instead of sugar in this recipe?

Absolutely. I personally have made this recipe with Splenda before and it turned out great! Most sugar substitutes (i.e. Splenda or Stevia) can be used at a 1:1 ratio for regular granulated sugar. Be sure to double-check the baking instructions for your sugar substitute to ensure you are using the correct ratio.

Can I make these pumpkin bars in a smaller pan?

Yes. We use a half sheet pan (18×13) for this recipe but you can use a smaller pan for thicker pumpkin bars. Keep in mind that bake time may need to be increased slightly if using a smaller pan to ensure the bars are cooked all the way through. Just be sure to check them with a toothpick before taking them out of the oven.

Can these pumpkin bars be served without frosting?

Yes. These bars are delicious with or without frosting! You may also consider dusting the tops with powdered sugar and cinnamon instead of frosting.

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Of course! You can easily substitute the flour in this recipe for your choice of gluten-free flour. Just be sure to double check the substitution ratio for gluten-free flour.

Can I substitute the canola oil for another kind of oil?

Yes, you can use any baking oil of your choice. Some substitutions that work great with this recipe are vegetable oil or unflavored liquid coconut oil. Another great substitution for oil in this recipe is applesauce.

Can I substitute the evaporated milk in the cream cheese frosting?

Yes. I like to use evaporated milk because it makes the frosting more rich and velvety. However, if you don’t have any evaporated milk handy or you just prefer a different product, you can use heavy cream or milk in your frosting.

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

Before You Start

  • Remove the butter and cream cheese from the fridge so they can soften. Check out this post all about how to soften butter quickly.
  • Remove the eggs from the fridge so they’re room temperature when you start.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 25 min / Cook Time: 25 min / Cool Time: 15 min /Total Time: 1 hr 5 min

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

These pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the best fall dessert ever!

pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

What You’ll Need

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsp evaporated milk

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F, and prepare a greased half sheet pan (18×13).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices, and mix just until the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.

FOR THE FROSTING

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and evaporated milk, and mix until fully combined.
  3. Once the pumpkin bars are cooled to room temperature, spread the frosting evenly across the top. Serve and enjoy!

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