These easy pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting were one of my mom's “go to” recipes for fall gatherings. The bar is rich and moist, and the frosting adds just the right touch of sweetness.
Pumpkin Bar Recipe Baking Tips and Q&A
My youngest son made this recipe the first time through with no fuss, so I'm sure you can, too. Before we get baking, I'll cover some tips for maximizing the pumpkin-y goodness.
What's the difference between cooked pumpkin and pumpkin puree?
Most years we have plenty of homegrown pumpkins and winter squash, so I use homemade pumpkin puree for baking. (See “How to Cook Pumpkin or Winter Squash” for cooking instructions.) Once the pumpkin is cooked, I process the flesh in the food processed until smooth to make pumpkin puree.
You can use cooked pumpkin scooped straight into your recipe, but odds are it will be quite lumpy. I usually cook the pumpkin, puree, and freeze in packages sized for the recipes that I make the most. We prefer winter squash over pumpkin for baking, because the flesh is sweeter, denser and more flavorful.
If you're buying pumpkin puree, you'll find it's smooth and ready to go right out of the can. Home canned pumpkin and freeze dried pumpkin (rehydrated) work fine, too.
Do pumpkin bars need to be refrigerated?
Sugar inhibits spoilage, so it's okay to make them a day ahead and not store them in the refrigerator overnight. For longer storage, refrigerate up to one week, or freeze. (See below.) If you have a hot kitchen (over 80°F), it's better to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Can you freeze pumpkin bars?
You can freeze the bars with or without the cream cheese frosting, for up to three months. For neater bars, I'd frost after freezing. If you frost the whole batch and don't think you'll be able to eat them within a few days, go ahead and freeze the extras.
What about Pumpkin Pie Spice?
If you are a die hard pumpkin spice fan, go ahead and substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon in the pumpkin bars. You can even add a sprinkle in the cream cheese frosting if you like.
To make your own pumpkin spice blend, try 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger.
Can I use Gluten Free Flour to Make the Pumpkin Bars?
I regularly substitute Namaste gluten free flour blend in my cookie, bar and quick bread recipes with good results. When using gluten free flour blends, odds are you'll need to increase baking time by 5-10 minutes.
Can I make these dairy free?
It's okay to swipe out melted coconut oil for the butter in the bars. (The original recipe used vegetable oil, but I prefer to avoid that in my kitchen.)
The cream cheese frosting is trickier, as vegan “cream cheese” handles a little different. I haven't tried it yet, but palm shortening and vegan cream cheese may give acceptable results. You can also substitute apple sauce for up to half of the fat in the bars.
Skipping the frosting or using a dusting of confectioners sugar (powder sugar) on top is another way to work around the dairy in the recipe.
We have laying ducks, so we sometimes substitute three duck eggs for the four chicken eggs. If you like a stronger molasses flavor, substitute brown sugar for one cup of the granulated sugar.
Let's bake some pumpkin bars!Print
Mom's Best Pumpkin Bars
These easy pumpkin bars were one of my mom's “go to” recipes for church potlucks and other fall gatherings. The bar is rich and moist, and the frosting adds just the right touch of sweetness.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 2 dozen bars 1x
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- 4 eggs
- 1 – 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups pumpkin puree (1 16-ounce can)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream cheese frosting:
- 1 3–ounce package of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer), combine eggs, sugar, butter and pumpkin until light and fluffy.
Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture, blending thoroughly.
Spread batter in ungreased, 15 x 10 inch baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
To make cream cheese frosting, cream together cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add confectioners sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. Frost cooled bars.
Sugar inhibits spoilage, so it's okay to make them a day ahead and not store them in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.
Although mom used to cut them in bigger pieces (24 squares), I usually cut them smaller now (6×9, 54 pieces), since many folks are cutting back on sweets.
Keywords: pumpkin, fall, cream cheese, easy, for a crowd
More Pumpkin Recipes
Need more ideas for what to make with pumpkin? Check out:
- Pumpkin Spice Scones and Muffins
- Pumpkin Spice Waffles with Maple Cinnamon Whipped Cream
- Easy Pumpkin Fruit Leather – Tastes like portable pumpkin pie
- Pumpkin Wine