Sheet Pan Pumpkin Bars
Pumpkin bars are literally one of the best pumpkin desserts out there. Not only are they full of pumpkin flavor, but they can also be whipped up in no time. I might even take these pumpkin spice bars over pumpkin pie (or any pie for that matter).
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
These moist pumpkin spice cake bars are made with a delicious combination of warm autumn spices and creamy pumpkin puree. With a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top, these bars are one fall dessert you can’t go without. Here are a few reasons why!
- From start to finish it only takes 45 minutes to make
- You can make the batter with just one bowl
- It’s made in a sheet pan, which means it is incredibly hassle-free
- It’s a pumpkin dessert for when you want something other than pie
- The recipe makes 24 servings – perfect for feeding a crowd!
- It’s topped with rich, velvety cream cheese frosting
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FOR THE CAKE
Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar is essential for achieving just the right texture and sweetness in your pumpkin spice cake.
Canola oil: Adding oil to a cake is what gives you that super moist texture. If you don’t want to use oil, you can also use applesauce as a substitute.
Canned pumpkin puree: Pumpkin puree will provide moisture and of course the delicious pumpkin flavor that is the focus of these cake bars. Make sure you get 100% pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
Eggs: Adding eggs helps give the spice cake bars a light and fluffy texture. Use room-temperature eggs in the batter to ensure they combine evenly throughout.
All-purpose flour: We normally use all-purpose flour when making these sheet pan pumpkin spice cake bars. However, they are also delicious if made with whole wheat flour! You can substitute with whole wheat flour in equal amounts if desired.
Baking soda: The baking soda balances out the acidity of the batter and provides additional leavening for the perfect light and fluffy sheet cake.
Baking powder: A little bit of baking powder goes a long way in helping a cake to rise.
Ground cinnamon: Cinnamon is one of the primary spices in these pumpkin spice cake bars. The flavor pairs perfectly with pumpkin too!
Ground nutmeg: The unique flavor of nutmeg contributes a warm spice and compliments the cinnamon flavor.
Ground cloves: Cloves add an intense spice and slight bitterness that adds complexity and balances out the sweetness of these pumpkin cake bars.
FOR THE FROSTING
Cream cheese: Cream cheese adds rich creaminess and tang to the frosting. Cream cheese and pumpkin are a classic combination!
Butter: We like to use salted butter here but unsalted works great too. Just add a dash of salt to balance out the sweetness if you use unsalted butter.
Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar adds sweetness to the frosting and balances out the flavor of the cream cheese. Sift the powdered sugar to avoid any lumps in the frosting.
Pure vanilla extract: Vanilla extract adds another layer of flavor to the cream cheese frosting. You can never have too much vanilla!
Evaporated milk: The addition of evaporated milk creates an extremely rich, creamy, and velvety cream cheese frosting. If needed, you can substitute regular milk or heavy cream.
How To Make This Recipe
Start by preparing the ingredients. For the best results, make sure all of the ingredients are at room temperature. This allows the ingredients to bind together more easily for extra light and fluffy pumpkin spice cake bars.
Before you get started on the batter, preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a half-sheet pan (18”x13”) by lightly spraying it with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl – I like to use my KitchenAid mixer and paddle attachment – mix together the sugar, oil, and pumpkin.
Then, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Next, add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices and mix just until the ingredients are fully combined.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula.
Place the cake in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick to ensure it's done before removing it from the oven. Set it aside to cool completely.
How To Make The Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Then, mix in the powdered sugar until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Finally, mix in the vanilla extract. Add the evaporated milk as needed to reach the desired consistency. Continue to mix until all of the ingredients are fully combined and the texture is smooth and creamy.
Once the pumpkin bars are cooled to room temperature, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly across the top. Cut the cake into squares, serve, and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
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!
Cake Bar Tools You'll Need: Click To View
How To Store Pumpkin Bars
Sheet pan pumpkin spice cake bars can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days as long as they are covered to keep them from drying out. They can be refrigerated for up to a week. For longer storage, you can freeze these cake bars unfrosted for up to 3-4 months as long as they are kept in a well-sealed container.
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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.
Sheet Pan Pumpkin Spice Cake BarsNovember 5, 2021
FOR THE CAKE
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups pumpkin puree canned
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
FOR THE FROSTING
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- ½ cup butter (1 stick) softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoon evaporated milk
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecan for topping (optional)
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 375°F, and prepare a greased half sheet pan (18×13).
- 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.
- Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices, and mix just until the ingredients are fully combined.
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes.
FOR THE FROSTING
- 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.
- Add the vanilla extract and evaporated milk, and mix until fully combined.
- Once the pumpkin bars are cooled to room temperature, spread the frosting evenly across the top. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecans if desired. Cut the cake into squares, serve, and enjoy!
- Use evaporated milk for a silky smooth cream cheese frosting
- Let the pumpkin bars cool completely before frosting