These Pumpkin Bars are a soft, yet sturdy cake/cookie bar hybrid. My recipe is quick and easy to make, with just 20 minutes of prep before baking! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Perfect Pumpkin Bars
If you’ve ever baked with pumpkin before, then you know it contains a lot of water (pumpkins are 90% water!). Introducing water in baked goods tends tends to make them thicker and cakier, and while this isn’t so much an issue when making something like pumpkin cupcakes, it can become tricky when making pumpkin cookies or these pumpkin bars.
Don’t get me wrong, pumpkin bars should be somewhat cakey, but they should really be more dense than a cake, chewy, and handheld…essentially a cookie/cake hybrid! I’m so pleased to share my buttery, pumpkin-y recipe that’s perfectly cakey but that can be enjoyed with or without a fork. This recipe was developed after lots of testing, tweaking, and some help from my Facebook baking club.
What you’ll love about my recipe:
- Carefully designed to be chewy and perfectly cakey!
- Takes less than an hour from start to finish.
- Feeds a crowd with 24 servings!
- Can be enjoyed by hand or with a fork.
What You Need
Since we want a less cakey, more dense, cookie-like bar, we’ll be using carefully selected ingredients:
- Melted butter. Creaming together butter and sugar creates air bubbles that create a lighter, fluffier (and, I’ve found, sometimes dryer) crumb. For a more moist pumpkin bar, we will instead melt our butter rather than cream it with our sugar.
- Pumpkin puree. I recommend blotting your pumpkin puree with paper towels to absorb as much of the water as you can (if you’ve made my pumpkin scones, you’ve done this before!). this keeps the bars from being so cakey that they’d fall apart if you tried to eat them by hand.
- Egg yolks. Even though we are blotting our pumpkin, we’re not going to be able to fully eradicate all of the water in our puree. To avoid adding any additional water, we’ll leave out the egg whites (you can always save them to make meringue cookies!) and just use the yolks for beautifully tender bars.
- Pumpkin pie spice. If you have a batch of homemade pumpkin spice, now is the time to use it!
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch is one of my favorite ingredients to add to baked goods, especially my cookies. Not only does it allow us to cut back on the amount of flour (too much flour could cause our pumpkin bars to come out tough or dry!), it also contributes to tenderness.
- Cream cheese. Nothing pairs with pumpkin quite like classic cream cheese frosting. Use brick-style cream cheese as shown in the photo above, not the spreadable kind often sold in tubs.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t add your sugars while your butter is still hot! Let the melted butter cool until its cool to the touch before proceeding, otherwise you’ll melt your sugars.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Pumpkin Bars
- Combine melted (but cooled) butter and sugars, then stir in your blotted pumpkin puree.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and stir well.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to your wet ingredients.
- Spread the batter into a parchment lined pan and bake for 23-25 minutes.
- Let the pumpkin bars cool completely before frosting.
SAM’S TIP: While you can grease and flour your pan, I actually prefer to just line mine with parchment paper. Not only does it make clean-up easier, but it also makes removing the bars from the pan a breeze–simply lift up the paper and slice!
Frequently Asked Questions
I typically leave mine out of the fridge in an airtight container (for at most 2-3 days), but if you feel more comfortable refrigerating them, feel free to. Just make sure you definitely store them in an airtight container, since the fridge dries out baked goods.
I keep mine at room temperature for 2-3 days, but you can make yours last longer (I’d guess up to 5 days) if you store them in the fridge.
If you’re looking for a truly cakey pumpkin bar (one that’s more like a sheet cake!), you can simply bake my pumpkin cake in a jelly roll pan. It will take about 25 minutes this way 😊
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 cup unsalted butter melted (226g)
- 1 cup sugar (200g)
- ¾ cup brown sugar tightly packed (150g)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree blotted*(see notes for instructions on blotting) 240g
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose (plain) flour (285g)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a 13×9 baking pan** with parchment paper (or grease and flour the sides and bottom of the pan).
- Combine butter, sugar, and brown in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy and well-combined.
- Add blotted pumpkin puree and stir well.
- Add egg yolks and vanilla extract and stir until batter is smooth and all ingredients are well-combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin spice, cornstarch, and salt.
- Gradually add dry ingredients to set, stirring until all ingredients are combined.
- Spread pumpkin bar batter into prepared baking pan and bake on 350F (175C) for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Allow to cool completely before covering with cream cheese frosting
- Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until creamy. Add vanilla extract and salt and stir well.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined. Add corn starch and stir until combined.
- Once pumpkin bars have cooled completely, spread frosting evenly overtop.
- Slice and enjoy! Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
How to Blot PumpkinTo blot your pumpkin, place it in a medium sized bowl or spread it over a cookie sheet and use paper towels to “blot” the pumpkin and absorb as much liquid as you can. Measure your pumpkin puree before blotting. See video for a visual guide to blotting.
Baking Pan NoteI use a metal pan. A glass dish will work instead but keep in mind that your pumpkin bars may take longer to bake.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.