The BEST Frosted Pumpkin Bars
Here is the recipe for the best fall dessert bar you will make this season! Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are a super delicious treat that is easy to make from scratch. They are sweet, tender and moist with just the right amount of pumpkin pie spice!
When it comes to pumpkin desserts, I love a good cream cheese frosting on top—just take a look at these frosted pumpkin cookies. I decided to make a similar recipe, but in dessert bar form. These pumpkin spice bars are super tasty and perfect to serve at holiday gatherings this fall!
Why This Recipe Works
The bars are soft, but not super cake-y. Pumpkin purée will always produce a softer dessert bar and this recipe yields a slightly dense, tender texture. Not quite as fluffy as my pumpkin cupcakes, but definitely less dense than my sugar cookie bars. The cream cheese frosting complements the pumpkin spice flavor perfectly (I use it as filling for my pumpkin whoopie pies).
- Pumpkin purée: 100% pure canned pumpkin purée works best for this recipe (I used Libby’s). Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
- Cream cheese: I prefer the block cream cheese for baking because it has less air whipped into it. This makes the frosting thick, creamy and delicious.
- Spices: You can use pumpkin pie spice mix or individual spices included in the recipe card notes.
For ingredient details and measurements, refer to the recipe card.
You can make these pumpkin bars without frosting and enjoy them as is (my fiancé Ben actually prefers them that way!) If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, try a simple vanilla buttercream or maple buttercream Remember to cut the frosting recipes in half or save the extra for another recipe.
If you’re serving a crowd (hello, Thanksgiving!), you can double the recipe and make it in a 9×13 pan. I like making these bars festive by sprinkling some chopped nuts or holiday sprinkles on top of the frosting. For a chocolate moment, try mixing in 1/2 cup chocolate chips into the dough.
How to Make Frosted Pumpkin Bars
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice. Set aside.
- Mix together the wet ingredients: beat melted butter, brown sugar and sugar with an electric mixer until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Bake bars: Transfer dough to an 8×8 baking pan line with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make the cream cheese frosting: Beat cream cheese on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Frost cooled bars and cut into squares. Garnish with a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg if desired and serve.
Weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale for accurate measurements. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, fluff up your flour with a fork and spoon it into the measuring cup. Level it off with a knife (never pack flour down into the cup). Avoid over-mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients otherwise the texture will be tough, not tender.
Let the bars cool completely before frosting them. If they are still warm, the frosting will melt. If your cream cheese frosting is runny or thin, place the mixing bowl back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, mix for 5 seconds and frost.
Storage and make ahead instructions
Good news! You can freeze pumpkin bars with the cream cheese frosting for up to 1 month. To help keep the frosting intact, I suggest freezing the bars uncovered on a plate until the frosting is firm, then wrapping them individually in plastic wrap. Store the wrapped bars in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
The bars can also be made a day ahead and then frosted the day of. Be sure to wrap the bars tightly to preserve moistness. Frosted pumpkin bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve them chilled or at room temperature. They are okay to serve at room temperature for a few hours at a party or gathering.
There was either too much flour or they were over-baked. Make sure you’re measuring your flour properly and your oven temperature is accurate.
It is safe to keep cream cheese frosting at room temperature for up to 2 hours. This is perfect if you are serving these bars on a dessert table during the holidays. For longer storage, keep frosted bars in the refrigerator.
Dark metal pans or glass pans retain heat and cook the bottoms of baked goods more quickly especially if left to cool in the pan. I suggest using a light colored pan (I own this Nordicware 8×8 pan).
I love pairing pumpkin desserts with cream cheese frosting. Here are a few other favorites!
Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.
Get the Recipe: Frosted Pumpkin Bars
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ½ cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¾ cup canned 100% pure pumpkin puree, (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup (4 ounces or 113 g) full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Sprinkle of cinnamon for on top of bars
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients–flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat melted butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and sugar is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add egg, pumpkin puree and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined (avoid over-mixing).
- Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Cool completely.
- For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, then mix until combined.
- Frost cooled bars and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Slice and serve.