These easy Pumpkin Bars are incredibly moist and soft with the ideal ratio of creamy cheesecake frosting spread over perfectly spiced pumpkin cake. This makes a good amount of bars perfect for serving a large crowd or at any gathering!
Table of Contents
I love all things fall and welcome pumpkin season with open arms. I don't know who invented the combo of pumpkin and cream cheese but it really is the perfect fall treat. These classic Pumpkin Bars are another big hit with the best combo of pumpkin and tangy cream cheese frosting. Some of my other favorite pumpkin desserts are Starbucks Pumpkin Scones, Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Bread, and these soft Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting.
If you have a pumpkin lover in your life or are a fan of anything with pumpkin flavor then these bars are for you. These best pumpkin bars are so good and have such a smooth flavor and so incredibly soft that I would be pretty shocked to find anyone that didn't want seconds. Really, they are that good.
I have come across pumpkin bars that are pretty lack luster or dry and the flavors were just off. But when our friend Brian brought these to our house one night, I knew I had to have the recipe! Brian is the master of sheet cakes and he also shared his banana bar recipe, which is equally incredible.
These pumpkin bars are so soft. And lucky for you they are so easy and quick to make. They're basically foolproof which makes these pumpkin bars the perfect dessert to feed a crowd or bring to a social gathering. You can deliver some to a neighbor or share with your family. I must warn you though, when you make these you must have every intention of sharing or giving some away or else you will eat the whole pan and you will not be able to stop.
How could something so easy to make, be so good? I mean, it's just a simple sheetcake, right?! And my answer to that is yes, it is so simple but it has the perfect combination of flavors with a rich cream cheese frosting that make these bars so irresistible.
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Canned Pumpkin - One 15-ounce can of canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) will be enough for these bars. I like using Libby's pure pumpkin or my homemade pumpkin puree.
- White sugar - There is no doubt about it, this is a sweet treat and you will need sugar.
- Oil - This is necessary for having a soft, moist, cake.
- Eggs - help bind the cake together and give it some of its rise so it is light and fluffy.
- Flour - Some regular all-purpose flour holds up well with the added moisture in this recipe.
- Baking Powder - A leavening agent to lift the cake.
- Baking Soda - This works as the leavening agent to lift the cake for a soft, light texture.
- Salt - To help balance the sweetness.
- Cinnamon - A wonderful addition to add a little bit of spice and warmth to the cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream Cheese - Cream cheese makes the best creamy frosting for the cake.
- Butter- I always use salted butter when making frostings.
- Vanilla - A touch of vanilla helps round out the flavors.
- Powdered Sugar - Helps sweeten the cream cheese and butter in the frosting.
How to Make Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a large, rimmed 13x18-inch baking sheet (aka a half sheet pan).
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, and eggs with a stand mixer or a hand mixer for about 5 minutes.
- Into the same large mixing bowl, add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix together until combined. Spread the batter into a greased half sheet pan in an even layer. My favorite half sheet pan is this one. This is our most commonly used pan and it measures 18x13-inches with 1-inch sides. It's perfect for sheet cakes and cookies! I especially love this pan because it comes with a lid which is the ideal way to store these bars or if you need to transport them in the pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake springs back lightly to the touch and the edges have barely started to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake!
- Remove the cake from oven and let cool. Do not frost the cake until it has completely cooled or else the cream cheese frosting will melt right off.
- While the cake cools mix together the frosting ingredients.
- Make the cream cheese frosting by beating the softened butter and softened cream cheese on medium-high speed in a medium bowl until creamy and smooth.
- Next add the vanilla and powder sugar to the cream cheese and butter mixture. and continue mixing until it is creamy and combined.
- Once the cake is cool go ahead and frost it. You can add a little sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or festive sprinkles on top to add a little color or you can slice it and add a cute pumpkin candy to each slice for some fun decoration. Slice and enjoy!
The easiest way to store or transport pumpkin bars is to get a lid for your half cookie sheet like this one. This makes transporting the bars a lot easier and also if you need to store the bars in the fridge, the lid makes it easier to place items from the fridge on top so it doesn't interrupt your fridge space quite as much.
The short answer is yes, they should be refrigerated. With the cream cheese in the frosting they should not be left out for more than two hours. Storing in the fridge will ensure they stay fresh. They also freeze quite well!
Yes, canned pumpkin and pumpkin puree are the same thing and can be used interchangeably. Just make sure both are made of 100% pumpkin. Do not mistake them for pumpkin pie filling, which is something completely different.
Tips for Success
- Don't overbake! You want to have moist, soft bars and overbaking will dry them out.
- Be sure to use softened cream cheese. For smooth frosting without lumps, you need to make sure to let the cream cheese come to room temperature before mixing.
How to Store
Once frosted, store your Pumpkin Bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Because the frosting has cream cheese in it, it is advisable to store these bars in the fridge, although they will be okay kept out on the counter for about a day. But they will stay nice and moist and will not dry out if stored properly in the fridge.
Can I freeze Pumpkin Bars?
Yes! You can! They actually freeze quite well. There are a couple of different options here. You can freeze the pumpkin bars in individual pieces or just freeze the whole baking sheet. You can also freeze the bars unfrosted or frosted. Whichever way you want to freeze them, make sure they are wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or tin foil and place in freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn.
If you are freezing frosted bars, I would stick them in the freezer for a bit to let the cream cheese frosting harden so it will be easier to wrap the bars. When ready to eat, take the individual pieces or whole pan out and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours to thaw.
More Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
- Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
- Pumpkin Roll
- Pumpkin Muffins
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (282g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 (8-ounce) package full-fat cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large, rimmed 13x18-inch baking sheet (aka a half sheet pan).
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, canned pumpkin, and eggs.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake springs back lightly to the touch and has barely started to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake!
- Remove cake from oven and let cool.
- In a mixing bowl add the softened cream cheese and softened butter.
- Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed in a medium bowl until creamy and smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat until creamy and combined.
- Frost the cooled cake and sprinkle a little bit of pumpkin pie spice or festive sprinkles on top for decoration.
- Storage: Once frosted, store your Pumpkin Bars in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Because the frosting has cream cheese in it, it is advisable to store these bars in the fridge, although they will be okay kept out on the counter for about a day. But they will stay nice and moist and will not dry out if stored properly in the fridge.