The quintessential fall flavor stars in this family favorite recipe for Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.
We’re jumping into fall with a tried and tested recipe that’s been in my family’s dessert rotation for more than a decade: Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Whether you call these sliceable sweets Pumpkin Bars or Pumpkin Sheet Cake, one thing is certain: It’s hard to beat the pairing of pumpkin and tangy cream cheese frosting.
This recipe originally appeared in a 1976 issue of Better Homes and Gardens under the title of “Paul’s Pumpkin Bars.” But year-after-year as trays of the bars were served up at my family functions, we adapted the dessert to be our own by spicing it up with plenty of ground cloves and ginger.
If you’re craving that classic pumpkin dessert flavor but don’t want to go the extra mile for DIY pie dough, this is the autumnal sweet for you.
Chopped toasted pecans add a bit of nutty crunch in each bite while swirls of tangy cream cheese frosting complement the spiciness of the pumpkin cake batter.
Best of all, if these pumpkin bars are part of your holiday menu (when oven space is scarce and time is even more scarce), feel free to prep them a day in advance, keeping the bars and frosting separate, then assemble them before serving.
Additional chopped toasted pecans and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon are a final festive touch to this guaranteed crowd-pleaser of a sweet.
For more fast and flavor-packed pumpkin desserts, don’t miss Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispies Treats, Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies and Pumpkin Dip with Pie Fries!
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For the bars:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 large eggs
- 1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
For the frosting:
- 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Make the pumpkin bars:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Set it aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil.
- Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix well then add the chopped pecans.
- Spread the mix into an ungreased 15x10x1" cookie sheet. Bake the pumpkin bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely while you prepare the frosting.
Make the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla.
- Gradually add the sifted powder sugar to the cream cheese mixture until well-combined.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled bars and sprinkle with the remaining chopped pecans. Slice and serve.
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This was really good. I used Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of the spices called for. I agree, I think it needs a little more icing.
I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Barb! And feel free to double the frosting next time ;)
I also did not have canned pumpkin on hand but roasted some slices of winter squash that we had growing in our garden
( a Kuri squash but a butternut would also do ) on parchment paper in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes and it was fantastic! If the squash seems a little wet just roll it in some paper towels to dry it out a bit!
Great recipe! Thank you!
Awesome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Thomas!
So delicious! I think next time I’ll double up the (amazing) frosting recipe just cause I like a little extra
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Kate!
Moist and flavorful, and the cream cheese frosting is perfection.
Thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Becky!
Hi. I live in Brazil and we don’t have canned pumpkin here. Could I use homemade pumpkin puré ou mashed pumpkins? I would be the same amount – 16 oz?
Hi Lis! The fresh/homemade versions contains a lot more liquid than the canned version so you’d have to really drain it well. Hope that helps!