Pumpkin Bars

5 from 12 votes

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These Pumpkin Bars are the ultimate Fall dessert! A simple and tender pumpkin spice cake, topped with warm brown butter icing that you pour over the top of the warm cake once it comes out of the oven! It’s addicting and will become your new obsession. It’s *THAT* good.

I’m so thrilled to be sharing my favorite, family-friendly pumpkin bars recipe with you today! Man oh man how much do I love Pumpkin Bars? Um, a lot. Never before have I met a pumpkin bar I didn’t like, but if push comes to shove THESE are my ultimate be-all-end-all-forevermore favorite. I love pumpkin chocolate chip bread and pumpkin cobbler as much as the next person, but these pumpkin bars might just take the cake.

pumpkin bars with fork

Pumpkin Bars, how I love thee

There are so many reasons these pumpkin bars reign supreme over other similar recipes! This recipe is made in one bowl with super simple ingredients. It stays moist because I use oil and greek yogurt. It bakes in no time at all because I use a sheet pan. The final texture is soft with a moist crumb. I love the warmth of the cinnamon and the nutmeg.

But the best part is the browned butter glaze situation that you make on the stove and pour overtop of the hot cake. That is what makes this taste so darn good and helps keep the cake so so moist and soft. In the dessert world, this is like the hotter, more popular cousin of a Texas Sheet Cake. That is what this is.

wet ingredients pumpkin bars recipe

Main Ingredients Needed

Odds are you have all these ingredients in your pantry. This is a truly *from scratch* recipe, but couldn’t be simpler. For specific increments and directions, be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card below.

  • Canola Oil– this adds moisture to the cake. Vegetable oil or another light tasting oil will also work.
  • Sugar & Brown Sugar– I like using both obviously for sweetness, but the brown sugar adds color, depth of flavor and moisture because of the molasses.
  • Eggs– our binders for the cake.
  • Pumpkin– I use plain, unsweetened pumpkin puree (Libby’s is a great brand). Please don’t confuse this with pumpkin pie filling which comes sweetened.
  • Vanilla– adds great flavor.
  • Greek Yogurt– another extra ingredient to keep things moist. Low fat sour cream works well in a pinch as well.
  • Baking Soda– our leavening agent.
  • Salt– helps to bring out the sweetness and the spices in this cake.
  • Cinnamon & Nutmeg– our spices that adds that classic warmth and flavor to the cake. If you have pumpkin pie spice, feel free to use that in place of these two individual spices.
  • All Purpose Flour– brings structure to the cake! I use unbleached flour (personal preference), but bleached is perfectly fine to use too.

mixed batter

How to make Pumpkin Bars

Here’s a quick run down on how to make this pumpkin bar recipe. It’s easier to make than you think! Scroll to the bottom for more detailed directions and increments. If you’re making this for a potluck or larger gathering, I would recommend lining your half sheet pan with parchment paper for easy serving. Not necessary, but still helpful.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, measure every single ingredient EXCEPT THE FLOUR and whisk until smooth. Oil, two kind of sugar, eggs, vanilla, greek yogurt (or sour cream), pumpkin puree, salt, spices and baking soda.
  3. Stir in the flour until *just* combined.
  4. Pour into a half sheet pan and smooth the top.
  5. Bake 15 minutes or until cooked completely.
  6. Brown butter in a medium sized pot or high sided skillet.
  7. Whisk in milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and spices.
  8. Pour hot glaze over warm cake.
  9. Cool before cutting into bars and serving.

brown butter glaze

Cream Cheese Frosting vs Brown Butter Glaze

Classic Pumpkin Bars call for Cream Cheese Frosting as a topping, and while I love cream cheese frosting, I feel like the pumpkin flavor and warmth of the cinnamon and nutmeg are brought out more if you pour over a brown butter icing. The toasted milk solids in the butter (the speckles that turn brown when you toast it) taste almost like a sweet buttery maple syrup when whisked together with powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Plus, pouring over the warm glaze locks in moisture.

Obviously, if you prefer cream cheese frosting, use this recipe and frost your Pumpkin Bars with that. Honestly, its a fabulous sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well, too. It’s just my personal preference to use the warm glaze. To each her own!

Pumpkin Bars recipe

Storing Pumpkin Bars

I find the easiest way to keep these fresh is cooling completely with glaze over top and covering well with plastic wrap on the counter. Cut into bars when you are ready to serve. As long as the bars are covered, they should last 3 days on the counter. No need to refrigerate.

If you frosted with this cream cheese frosting recipe, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Love Pumpkin bars? Try these other Pumpkin recipes:

pumpkin bars

Whether you are making pumpkin bars for a crowd or just want a sweet treat this Fall, this recipe will hit the spot. Be sure to pin/print/bookmark/save this recipe so you don’t lose it. She’s a good one you will want to make again and again.

Have a great day, friends!

5 from 12 votes

Pumpkin Bars

These Pumpkin Bars are the ultimate Fall dessert! A simple and tender pumpkin spice cake, topped with warm brown butter icing that you pour over the top of the warm cake once it comes out of the oven! It's addicting and will become your new obsession. It's *THAT* good.
servings 20
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Ingredients

For the cake:

For the icing:

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a lightly colored half sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin, yogurt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla until mostly smooth. A few small lumps of brown sugar is fine.
  • Pour in flour and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared baking sheet and smooth the top as best as you can. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean after being inserted.
  • After cake has come out of the oven, make the glaze/icing: melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. As it continues to cook, it should start to foam, smell nutty and you should see little brown specks appear. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in milk, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts if desired. Pour hot icing over warm cake and spread to smooth the top.
  • Let cake come to room temperature or cool at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. I mean, you can totally eat this hot, but I prefer it lukewarm or at room temp.

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 167mg | Potassium: 91mg | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 0.6mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pumpkin bars, pumpkin cake, pumpkin dessert
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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Recipe Rating




24 Responses
  1. Leanne

    You say to use a can of pumpkin. You didn’t mention if this is the large or small can but I am assuming you meant to say small can. Look forward to making this.

  2. Lorraine LeBerthon

    Thank you for a delicious looking way to put on more weight!! I didn’t know what a half pan was either. Thank you for clarifying that. Just a regular sheet pan around here. I’m in So.Cal. and I have a killer recipie for pumpkin bread that was sold by an order of Nuns in Hollywood. This was their main source of money for the year…so you know it’s good! Kary Perry is now trying to buy that convent. Anyhow, the recipie was published years ago in the LA Times. I’ll share if you ever want.

  3. Tamara H

    5 stars
    Yum! Thinking that this will be perfect to take for dessert to a bbq with friends this weekend. I am praying that it turns out as beautifully as yours! Do you think that I could make this a day ahead and keep it covered on the sheet pan?

  4. Karen

    5 stars
    Gah. These are TO DIE FOR. That frosting… oh my. I may or may not have had a spoonful before I put it on the bars. I need to send these to work with my husband tomorrow or I’ll eat the whole pan!

  5. Autumn Vigil

    5 stars
    Lauren, I love so many of your recipes, but this one is my FAV!!! I made these for a charity bake sale and totally regretted giving away the majority of the pan. Going to make them again soon. Oh and for the record, that frsoting/icing/glaze (whatever you want to call it) is THE BEST 🙂

  6. Becky

    5 stars
    These are amazing and so easy. The best part is that I already had a majority of the ingredients in my pantry. I made these for a large pot luck gathering and they were snatched up almost immediately. The nice thing is that I was able to make them the night before and cover them up since the glaze hardens a bit. They were perfection. I can’t wait to make them again, and again, and again! Thank you Lauren!!!

  7. Ying

    5 stars
    Lauren, I made these for Canadian Thanksgiving and they are soooo good. Everyone loved it. The icing is to die for! They were so easy to make too. Thanks for creating these bars.

  8. Jane

    5 stars
    This is my new favorite recipe!! The cake was so easy to make and had such a great texture. So light and tender. And the icing was just so delicious! The brown butter made such a difference! There were rave reviews all around and requests for seconds! The perfect cake for Fall!

  9. Sarah

    5 stars
    This is really great cake! I made it for my daughter’s teacher’s birthday and took enough for the whole class to eat. After school, I had a parent come up and say that her daughter, who won’t eat pumpkin things, loved the cake! I dropped the oil to 3/4 c. and upped the pumpkin to 1 1/4 c. for a little more pumpkin flavor, but otherwise, I followed the directions. Oh – I used parchment paper, and I needed more milk to make the glaze pour. It is on the sweet side with the icing, so be aware. I’m making it again right now, on my kids’ snow day, and I can’t wait. Thanks for this great recipe!

  10. Leah Fillekes

    5 stars
    These were so delicious!! That Brown butter icing really makes them stand apart from other pumpkin bar recipies. I got so many compliments when I brought them to work. Thank you for sharing!

    Leah

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