The BEST Pumpkin Bars EVER! Exploding with amazing flavor and topped with a dusting of pumpkin pie spice and loads of delicious brown butter cream cheese frosting – perfect for a crowd! Tender, moist and one of those pumpkin recipes you’ll find yourself making again and again.
Pumpkin Bars Recipe
It’s faaaaaaallll! You guys. It’s my all time favorite season and that’s not just because my body hates the heat, it’s because fall marks the beginning of the most amazing weather, joyful spirits, fun decorating and fabulous eats imaginable. And it all starts with this amazing pumpkin bar recipe.
Now, if you follow me on Instagram you know that I’ve been amping up for a big pumpkin season here on the blog. I’ve been working on a number of pumpkin recipes, making them just right, before sharing them with you.
Last week I shared my homemade pumpkin pie spice with you because I want you to be making allthepumkin things with me, all season long! This is the first of many recipes that calls for that awesome blend of spices and while you can, of course, buy it at the store, it’s so much cheaper to make your own. And I loooove being cheap 😉
What Makes These Pumpkin Bars the BEST?
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what makes these the best pumpkin bars ever, right? Let me tell you 🙂
- One. They’re easy pumpkin bars. Like one bowl, no mixer easy. I mean, that’s always a great start to any recipe, am I right?
- Two. They’re fast. I made these pumpkin bars in a jelly roll pan so they bake up fast – like in 25 minutes. Which is juuuust enough time for you to whip up a batch of the brown butter cream cheese frosting that I’m going to tell you all about in just a few…
- Three. The FLAVOR. Oh.my.gosh. Amazing you guys. I could have eaten the whole pan myself they were so good. I used a good amount of pumpkin pie spice so you get all those great flavors of cinnamon and cloves, ginger and nutmeg… they just scream FALL.
- Four. I love that they’re a little bit healthier because I used applesauce instead of oil. The result? Healthy pumpkin bars with ALL the flavor. This was a last minute decision that really paid off big time. I had finally decided YES for frosting and realized that I might need to cut back a bit elsewhere… 😉 You won’t even notice it. Promise.
- Five. Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting made with brown butter. I mean, it’s heavenly!
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting – Kicked Up A Notch
So let’s talk frosting. Brown butter cream cheese frosting my friends. Also knows as I’ve-died-and-gone-to-heaven-frosting. Basically I can’t think of a single recipe this wouldn’t improve, but it is most definitely perfect for all pumpkin recipes.
If you’ve never browned butter before, I’m about to change your life.
How To Brown Butter
It’s a simple process, really, that profoundly changes the flavor of butter making it richer, nuttier, and perfect for both sweet and savory applications. Simply melt the butter in a small saucepan and then, keeping a close eye on it, let it turn lightly golden brown.
Immediately remove it from the heat and pour into a heat proof dish to let cool. Many people like to use cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to eliminate all the browned particles that will invariably settle on the bottom. This is up to you. If you let the butter solidify again, you can easily just scrape that part off the bottom. I like to keep some of the bits and pieces so you can see it just a bit in the frosting. Delish!
This easy pumpkin bars recipe calls for mostly pantry staples and a can of pumpkin. As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need:
For the pumpkin bars:
- all purpose flour
- granulated and brown sugar
- pumpkin pie spice
- baking soda and baking powder
- applesauce or vegetable oil)
- pumpkin puree – NOT pumpkin pie filling
For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- cream cheese
- vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
What Do I Need to Make Pumpkin Bars
- I used a 10x15x1 jelly roll pan. This is a great size for bars because it makes plenty for a crowd.
- Pumpkin pie spice. Buy some at the store or make your own.
- I lined the jelly roll pan with parchment paper. It makes for easy removal of the bars. I am not of fan of cutting bars in the baking pan – it scratches way too easily.
- An offset spatula – one of my favorite kitchen tools. Makes spreading out the batter and frosting the bars super quick and easy.
Leftovers? These bars should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Want to make ahead? Bake the bars and cool completely. Wrap bars in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Prepare the frosting separately and frost before serving.
Need to freeze the pumpkin bars? Bake the bars and cool completely. Wrap bars in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container of freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Let defrost at room temperature and then frost.
Easy Pumpkin Bars Recipe
These pumpkin bars are really so very easy and absolutely divine. I sure hope you give them a try at some point this fall, but the sooner the better 🙂 My boys could literally not keep their hands off of them which brings up a good point. These bars can be eaten with your hands – no fork required. Now, if you want to be all civilized and eat your dessert with a fork, be my guest.
Watch Me Make These Pumpkin Bars
More Must Make Pumpkin Recipes
I’m baking my way through the holidays and pumpkin recipes are the star of the show! Check out these favorites:
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle
- Pumpkin Coffee Cake
- The BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodles
- Pumpkin Muffins
- Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Banana Bread
- Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter
How To Make Pumpkin Bars
The BEST Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 cup applesauce (could also use vegetable oil)
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 15 x10 jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Stir in eggs, applesauce, and pumpkin until combined.4 eggs, 1 cup applesauce, 15 ounces pumpkin puree
- Pour batter into prepared pan and use an offset spatula to evenly spread making sure to get into corners.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate until ready to frost.
Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- Heat butter in a small saucepan over low heat until completely melted. Continue heating, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown in color. Remove from heat and let cool.½ cup butter
- Combine cooled brown butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.8 ounces cream cheese
- Add vanilla extract and continue beating until incorporated.2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Spread frosting on cooled pumpkin bars.5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
- Sprinkle bars with additional pumpkin pie spice, cut into squares, and serve.
Originally published September 15, 2018.