Pumpkin bars are a tried-and-true favorite! These bars are light, moist, and a perfect dessert for fall. My brother Nolan loves them so much that we make them throughout the year. What’s not to love about a perfectly spiced pumpkin cake base with a luscious layer of cream cheese frosting?! They are simple to make but big on flavor!
My Grandma Frances
The recipe for these pumpkin bars came from my Grandma Frances. As the mother of five boys, you can imagine she did a lot of cooking and baking! She was also the sweetest lady and loved by everyone for her generous and compassionate nature. I will always remember frequent visits to see her in the nursing home while we were kids. Her memory always stayed sharp, and she loved sharing stories of her younger days. She often sent us home with small toys, stuffed animals, or snacks whenever we visited.
This recipe always evokes special memories of my grandma. Each fall, the nursing home hosted a Halloween parade for trick or treaters. We always left with bags full of too much candy, which we loved. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my grandma loved having her grandkids there to make the event extra special. She really was so proud of us and liked showing us off!
About these Pumpkin Bars
If you love moist and tender pumpkin bars, these are for you. The texture is absolutely delightful, especially paired with the silky cream cheese frosting. In addition to cinnamon, there is also some pumpkin pie spice to give the bars the perfect balance of warming spices without overpowering the pumpkin. Even though this recipe makes a very large pan, the pumpkin bars never last long.
I always bake these bars in a baker’s half sheet pan, which measures about 12 x 17 inches. However, you can use a pan with slightly different dimensions. Just make sure to adjust the baking time, if necessary. The other advantage of the large pan is that the bake time is fairly short and they cool quickly too. Make sure the bars have cooled completely before adding the cream cheese frosting.
This recipe is one that kids can help with. Mitchy is two years old and enjoyed whisking the batter and helping pour it in the pan.
Our little pumpkin Natalie is just over a week old! She wasn’t really wanting her photo taken at this moment, but I look forward to taking some newborn pics of her soon! I bet she will love pumpkin bars someday!
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Bar Ingredients
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
Pumpkin Bar Instructions
- Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare a baker’s half sheet baking tray (approximately 12 x 17 inches). Line with parchment paper (recommended) or grease with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix until smooth and add pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Gently stir all dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and mix until incorporated and smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread so the batter is even. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20-22 minutes or until center is baked.
- Let bars cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions
- In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter. Using a mixer, beat for about 3 minutes until smooth, light, and fluffy. Add the vanilla and gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined for about a minute. Frosting should be smooth but thick. Spread onto cooled bars.
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