These pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the best ever fall dessert bars! The pumpkin cake has a tender crumb, the cream cheese frosting is perfectly sweet, and the fall flavors of the homemade pumpkin pie spice are truly amazing.
Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting
No matter the time of year, I’m always a fan of pumpkin spice! These Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are the ultimate fall dessert that will leave you craving more.
This pumpkin cake is so soft, moist, and flavorful. I love that there’s lots of cinnamon flavor with a hint of ginger. The cake pairs perfectly with a thick layer of sweet and tangy cream cheese icing. I bet you won’t be able to have just one!
They’re surprisingly easy to make, and they’re the perfect dessert to make for a crowd. I love bringing a batch to any autumn gathering or holiday celebration.
Whether you’re attending a potluck, hosting a cozy dinner at home, or simply indulging in some fall baking, these pumpkin bars are sure to become a go-to recipe in your collection.
While you’re here, be sure to check out our pumpkin pie bars with a shortbread crust! They’re one of my favorite desserts and I make them several times every fall.
Pumpkin: I chose to use canned pumpkin for this recipe because it’s convenient and has a consistent texture. Make sure to use pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
Flour: All-purpose flour is the base for the pumpkin cake, providing the structure needed for the bars.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda: These leavening agents help the pumpkin bars rise and create a tender texture.
Seasonings: The combination of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg create the perfect pumpkin spice blend for these fall dessert bars.
Vegetable Oil: This keeps the pumpkin cake moist and rich, making it absolutely irresistible.
Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar: These sugars add sweetness and a touch of molasses flavor from the brown sugar, enhancing the pumpkin flavor.
Eggs: They provide structure and moisture to the cake, ensuring a tender crumb.
Vanilla: Adding vanilla extract to both the cake and frosting enhances the flavors and adds a subtle depth.
Cream Cheese: The star of the frosting, cream cheese adds a tangy flavor and creamy texture that pairs perfectly with the pumpkin cake.
Butter: Adding butter to the cream cheese frosting gives it a rich and smooth consistency.
Powdered Sugar: This sugar sweetens the frosting. It also helps it set properly and makes it easy to spread on the pumpkin bars.
How To Make Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting
Prepare the baking dish: Start by greasing a baking dish and lightly dust the bottom and sides of the dish with flour. Preheat the oven. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)
Combine dry ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
Mix wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until just combined.
Combine wet and dry ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, alternating with the pumpkin puree. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
Bake the pumpkin bars: Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Prepare the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth. Add the vanilla extract halfway through beating.
Add half of the powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
Cool and frost: Allow the bars to cool before spreading the cream cheese frosting on top. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.
Alternative Ingredients / Recipe Variation
- Spices: Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking or add in extras like ground cloves or allspice for a more complex flavor profile.
- Nuts: For added crunch and a nutty flavor, mix in chopped walnuts or pecans into the pumpkin cake batter.
Pumpkin Spice Bars Pro Tips
- Measure your ingredients accurately: This will ensure the best texture and consistency in your pumpkin bars and frosting.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Mix until just combined to avoid a tough or rubbery cake texture.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting: This will prevent the frosting from melting and ensure clean, even layers.
Alternative Cooking Methods
- Muffins: Divide the batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake 5 minutes at 425°F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Frost once cooled.
- Layer Cake: Divide the batter between two greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and frost each layer.
Is Canned Pumpkin The Same As Pumpkin Puree
Yes, canned pumpkin is essentially the same as pumpkin puree. Just be sure to purchase plain pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which has added sugar and spices.
How Many Cups Is 15 oz Of Pumpkin?
A 15 oz can of pumpkin is just shy of two cups. It’s technically 2 1/2 Tablespoons less than two cups. In terms of measuring, that would equate to a scant 1 7/8 cups.
If you’re using homemade pumpkin puree, I’d recommend using a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Measure out the first 3 half cups evenly leveled, then fill the last one approximately 3/4 full. That should get you roughly the correct amount of pumpkin puree.
Why Is My Pumpkin Cake Too Moist?
If your pumpkin cake is too moist, it could be due to a few factors. Make sure you are measuring your ingredients accurately, especially the flour and pumpkin puree. Additionally, be sure to bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Underbaking can result in a cake that is overly moist.
What Flavor Is Pumpkin Spice?
Pumpkin spice is a blend of warm, aromatic spices typically used in fall desserts, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices complement the earthy, sweet flavors of pumpkin, creating a comforting and delicious taste.
Do Pumpkin Bars Have To Be Refrigerated?
Yes, since these are topped with a cream cheese frosting, they need to be refrigerated. Alternatively, you could store the pumpkin bars in an airtight container at room temperature without the frosting on top and store the frosting in an airtight container in the fridge. Then you could frost them just before serving.
How Long Do Pumpkin Bars Last In The Fridge?
Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Be sure to keep them in an airtight container to maintain their freshness.
Keep In Touch
I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime
- Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting: This luscious frosting is perfect for adding a pumpkin twist to your favorite cake or cupcakes. Its rich, creamy texture and delightful pumpkin flavor are sure to be a hit!
- Pumpkin Pie Bars with a Shortbread Crust: If you love pumpkin pie, you’ll adore these pumpkin pie bars! With a buttery shortbread crust and creamy pumpkin filling, they’re a delicious and easy-to-make alternative to traditional pie.
- Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: These soft and tender pumpkin cookies are sandwiched with a creamy, spiced buttercream filling, making them the ultimate fall treat that’s perfect for sharing.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (240 grams), plus extra for dusting the pan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 6 ounces cream cheese (3/4 brick), at room temperature
- 1/4 cup butter (56 grams)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Lightly dust the bottom and sides of the dish with flour.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). Whisk to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well blended (about 3 minutes).
- Add 2 eggs to the sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and mix again on high speed for about 30 seconds.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in thirds, alternating with the pumpkin puree. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for about 45 minutes.
- While the cake cools, prepare the cream cheese frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract halfway through beating.
- Add half of the powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
- Once the cake has cooled, spread the frosting evenly on top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for about 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.
- Cut the cake into bars and serve. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 12.2gCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 0.9gSugar: 28.6gProtein: 2.7g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
These Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are sure to become a fall favorite in your household. Enjoy these delicious dessert bars and share them with friends and family during this cozy season.