Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect fall dessert. These bars are filled with pumpkin flavor galore, a hint of cinnamon and topped with a creamy and fluffy cream cheese frosting. An easy and perfect dessert bar for any holiday table.
This post was originally posted on 7/03/2014 and updated on 10/24/2022.
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Why We Love These Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- The perfect fall dessert, but it's delicious any time of year.
- Really simple foolproof recipe that bakes up fluffy and soft giving the best texture to these bars.
- Feeds a crowd making them perfect for entertaining, pot lucks and holidays.
- The cream cheese frosting is irresistible and gives the bars the most delightful creamy finish.
- If you love pumpkin desserts, this one is family approved!
Easy Pumpkin Bars Ingredients
- Pumpkin Puree
- Canola Oil
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- Cream Cheese
- Salted Butter
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Powdered Sugar
- Pumpkin Puree: Make sure you are using 100% pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie mix. Pumpkin pie mix is already mixed with a sweetener and spices. If you have your own fresh pumpkin, you can use that too just make sure most of the moisture is squeezed or cooked out.
- Canola Oil: Vegetable oil or coconut oil can be used. Both of them work well. If you use coconut oil, make sure it is melted and don't worry it doesn't make the pumpkin bars taste like coconut.
- Whole Wheat Flour and All Purpose Flour: You can use whichever flour you like best. I like to use half whole wheat and half all purpose because it creates a great texture and nice flavor. You can sub whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour and vice versa. White whole flour is also a good substitute.
- Salted Butter: Unsalted butter may be used, but I would add ½ teaspoon of salt to the frosting.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: Pure extract is the best. It will provide a more natural flavor rather than the imitation vanilla extract that can leave an off putting after taste to the cake and frosting.
- Milk: Any type of milk will work. You can also use water.
These delicious pumpkin bars with rich cream cheese frosting are asked for often. They have become the family's favorite recipe during the fall months.
How to Make Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Heat oven to 350°F and grease a rimmed 15x10 baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Or line it with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large bowl, whisk together the can of pumpkin puree, eggs and canola oil until smooth and a little fluffy.
- To the pumpkin mixture, add the dry ingredients: sugar, baking power, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. Mix on low speed or whisk together just until all the ingredients are combined.
- Pour batter into prepared baking sheet and spread it out evenly, an offset spatula works great.
- Bake the pumpkin bars for 20-25 minutes and until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean. Let bars cool completely before frosting.
This easy cream cheese frosting recipe is decadent and irresistible. It is the perfect finish for the soft pumpkin bars.
How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, cream together the softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
- Add in the vanilla extract, milk and powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well after each cup on low speed.
- Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase the speed on the mixer and beat for about a minute or so until the frosting is creamy and fluffy.
- Evenly spread the frosting over cooled bars, slice and serve!
Storing Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese
Storing: The frosting has cream cheese so it can spoil, so the bars should be kept in the refrigerator when not being served. With that, nobody wants to eat a hard, dried out pumpkin bar with stiff frosting which can happen in the fridge. I usually store my leftover bars in the freezer and take out 2-3 hours before I need them. The freezer will preserve the freshness of the bars and not dry them out.
Freezing: Place individual pieces of pumpkin bars on a sheet pan and freeze them. Once they are frozen you can layer them between pieces of wax paper in a freezer safe airtight container or individually wrap them in plastic wrap and then add them to the container.
Make Ahead Pumpkin Bars
You have a few options with this recipe. You can make the bars 2-3 months or weeks in advance and store them in the freezer. Take them out 2-3 hours before serving them. You also can cover the bars in plastic wrap, very tightly, or store them in an air tight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days. After 3 days the bars really start to dry out, no matter how tightly covered they are. Take the bars out a hour before serving to take the chill off.
Tips for the Best Pumpkin Bars
- Use room temperature ingredients. It helps with even baking along with creating a smooth batter and a lump free frosting.
- Always fluff your flour, then spoon and level to measure. Do this when baking anything. It will help eliminate any extra flour from being added to the recipe. Too much flour will make the bars dry and unpleasant.
- Do NOT over mix the batter. If you over mix the batter the pumpkin bars will turn out dense, rubbery and spongy.
- If your oven tends to bake unevenly, you can rotate the baking sheet a little over half way through the baking time. It helps with even baking and keeping the top level.
- Make it more festive and decorate the bars with fall or halloween sprinkles, candy corn or pumpkins, or mini chocolate chips.
- Slice into 35 smaller bars to serve a crowd.
More Delicious Pumpkin Recipes:
- Pumpkin Crisp
- Easy Pumpkin Bread
- Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins
- Mini Pumpkin Donuts
- Pumpkin Pie Bundt Cake
- Baked Pumpkin Donuts
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones
- Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Frosted Pumpkin Drop Cookies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Homemade Pumpkin Pie
- White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
- Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 15x11 baking sheet.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat together pumpkin pure, eggs and canola oil until smooth and fluffy.
- Add the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, whole wheat flour, and all purpose flour. Mix on low just until fully incorporated.
- Evenly spread batter into greased sheet pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting
- In stand mixer or with hand beater, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Once all is combined, increase speed and beat for 1-2 minutes until frosting is airy and fluffy.
- Frost bars, slice, serve and enjoy!