Pumpkin Bars

These easy pumpkin bars are super moist, perfectly spiced, and slathered in tangy cream cheese frosting. What more could you want in a fall treat?

Pumpkin Bars

If you’re looking for a fun, festive, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet treat to make for Halloween this weekend, this easy pumpkin bars recipe is just the thing for you! It’s based on the pumpkin bread recipe that I make every fall. Like the bread, these bars are moist, tender, and filled with pumpkin spice flavor. UNlike the bread, they’re topped in a rich, tangy cream cheese frosting, which really highlights the warm spices inside them. On cool fall afternoons, they’re the perfect treat to pair with a coffee or tea. But heads up: these pumpkin bars are seriously addictive. Eat one, and you’ll have finished a second (or third) before you know it!

Pumpkin Bars Recipe ingredients

Easy Pumpkin Bars Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy pumpkin bars recipe:

  • Ground flaxseed and water act as an egg replacer in this recipe – they thicken the batter and help it rise.
  • All-purpose flour and almond flour make these pumpkin bars super moist and tender. I love using this combo in baking – find it in my blueberry muffins and banana bread, too!
  • Pumpkin pie spice fills these bars with warm autumn flavor. I like to use this homemade pumpkin spice blend, but if you prefer, you could substitute 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom.
  • Baking powder and baking soda make them light and fluffy.
  • Coconut oil adds moisture and richness.
  • Maple syrup sweetens them up.
  • Vanilla extract deepens the flavor.
  • Pumpkin puree adds essential pumpkin flavor and moisture. Find it in a can, or make your own with this recipe! If you have leftover puree, use it to make pumpkin pancakes or French toast.
  • And a dash of salt highlights the sweet, spiced flavor. Yum!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Spreading batter in a baking pan

Combine the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another. Then, pour the wet pumpkin mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into a baking pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350º for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Now for the hard part: letting the bars cool! It’s tempting to slice them or frost them right away, but they must cool to room temperature before you add the frosting. If they’re still warm, the frosting will melt!

Spreading cream cheese frosting on pumpkin bars

Pumpkin Bars Recipe Variations

Below, I list 2 options for the frosting. The first option (pictured here) is a traditional cream cheese frosting made with powdered sugar, cream cheese, and butter. (Vegan cream cheese and vegan butter work here too!)

The second option is a delicious cashew-maple frosting with a tangy touch of apple cider vinegar. It tastes great on these pumpkin bars, but it’s a little thinner (like a thick glaze), and the color is a not-as-photogenic light brown. This option is a tad healthier, while the cream cheese frosting is more indulgent – so the choice is yours! If you have any leftover frosting, it would be fantastic on my carrot cake (see here for a vegan version).

Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting

I love chocolate with any pumpkin dessert, so I topped my bars with chocolate chips. Some chopped pecans would be a delicious seasonal topping as well.

Happy snacking! I’m off to finish the last bar that’s still in my fridge 🙂

Easy pumpkin bars recipe

More Favorite Fall Desserts

If you love these pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, try one of these delicious fall desserts next:


5.0 from 7 reviews

Pumpkin Bars

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the ultimate fall treat! They're moist, tender, and filled with pumpkin spice flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • ¾ cup (90g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • vegan chocolate chips, optional for sprinkling
frosting option 1: Vegan Cream Cheese (pictured):
  • 4 ounces vegan cream cheese (I used Kite Hill plain)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons vegan butter, slightly softened
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
frosting option 2: Cashew Maple Frosting: (makes extra)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk, more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed and the water and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and the flaxseed mixture.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread into the baking dish (the batter will be thick) and bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting or slicing.
  6. Frosting Option 1: For the cream cheese frosting: In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and softened butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, and mix until smooth.
  7. Frosting Option 2: For the maple cashew frosting: In a high-speed blender, combine the cashews, maple syrup, almond milk, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, vanilla, and sea salt. Blend until completely smooth. If necessary for blending, add more almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, adding as little as possible so that your frosting will not be too thin. Chill until ready to use.
Notes
note: if you're not vegan, you can use regular cream cheese and regular butter.

The cashew frosting (option 2, not pictured) while very delicious, will not look as white and fluffy on your cake. The consistency is bit thinner, more like a thick glaze.

*You can also use 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon cardamom in place of the pumpkin pie spice.

 

43 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Colleen
    10.11.2018

    can you use all almond flour so it is gluten free?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.11.2018

      Hi Colleen, I haven’t tried it that way, so I can’t say for sure. I think it might be too dense and not cake-like without altering the other ingredients as well.

      • Wendy
        10.12.2018

        You might try replacing Bobs Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend. It works really well for things like this. 😊

      • Ellen
        10.16.2018

        Hi, I made this gluten free by using the stated amount of almond flour and using Bob’s Rrd Mill gluten free for the other flour, and it was terrific!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          10.17.2018

          Hi Ellen, thanks for sharing! I’m happy they worked out with Bob’s GF flour mixed in.

  2. Mari Barnes
    10.11.2018

    I love the photos, especially the ones in which you label the ingredients. Thanks for beautiful pictures and recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.17.2018

      thanks Marni!

  3. Natalie from workovereasy.com
    10.12.2018

    We unfortunately don’t really have pumpkin puree here in the UK, is it just what it sounds like (cooked blitzed pumpkin) if I had to make my own or is there something more to it? Thanks!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

    • Christine
      10.12.2018

      I used a baked sweet potato i had in the fridge and it turned out great!

    • Jaclyn
      10.21.2018

      In the UK any large Tesco or Sainsbury’s will stock it in the American section of the world food aisle, or you can buy online from Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose or Ocado.

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        10.21.2018

        thanks Jaclyn, that’s great to know!

  4. sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    10.12.2018

    great recipe, fun to make too, also a great recipe to share, thank you for sharing it!

  5. Colin Matthews
    10.14.2018

    Hard to believe this is really vegan! It looks soo amazing.

  6. .abby.
    10.14.2018

    Would the consistency be thrown off if I used only all-purpose flour? I’ve never worked with almond flour before since we have nut allergies in the house.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.17.2018

      Hi Abby, I would probably add more oil so that they don’t turn out too dry (since almond flour is fatty). I can’t say for sure without trying it myself, but I think 2 additional tablespoons coconut oil might do the trick.

  7. Leah from leahgauthier.com
    10.15.2018

    This is cake is super yummy. I made it gluten free by substituting the regular flour with Minimalist Baker’s diy gf flour mix. Came out perfect. Thank you so much!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.15.2018

      I’m glad you loved it! Thanks for the gluten free tip!

  8. CSB
    10.15.2018

    If we’re an egg eating household, is it safe to assume I can sub in 4 eggs for the flax?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.15.2018

      Hi, I would try 2 eggs… but know that I haven’t tested this with eggs so I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out. It’s not always a direct swap. Hope that helps!

  9. Ellen
    10.16.2018

    So good, but so hard to cut into 24 squares and eat just one! And why did I never think of making a vegan cream cheese frosting? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.16.2018

      Ha, ha, I’m glad you loved them!

  10. Terri
    10.20.2018

    I love your website and recipes! I’ve never used as many recipes from one site as I do from yours. I’m a fairly new follower, about 2 months now.
    This pumpkin snack cake sounds amazing.
    I sincerely hate to be one that can’t eat something in a recipe, but I seem to be allergic to all seeds (hemp, flax & sunflower are the worst). So weird and I’m not liking this at all. Nuts are fine.
    Is there a substitute for flax seed? I really want to make these snack cakes and will if I can find a way around the flax seeds.
    Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.21.2018

      Hi Terri, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been loving the recipes! I haven’t tried making this with an egg, but I’m sure it can be done. I would probably try 1 egg with 2 tablespoons water (omitting the 1/4 cup flax and 1/4 cup of water). I can give it a try sometime later this week and let you know!

      • Terri
        10.21.2018

        Now that you mention it, it seems that I have heard you can sub an egg for flax seed and vice versa. Sorry I didn’t think of that. Thank you for the suggestion of adding 2 T of water with the egg also. I wouldn’t have thought of that. I’ll try it too and let you know!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          10.21.2018

          Yep, exactly, the reason for the flax is to substitute the egg… it’s not always a 1:1 swap, although it’s usually easier to go from flax to egg than vise versa. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Laurina
    10.23.2018

    I made this cake the day the recipe showed up in my inbox. It was delicious. Light, not to sweet, easy to make and stayed fresh tasting for days. I didn’t have any canned pumpkin so substituted some winter squash purée I had cooked up earlier. Thank you for your great recipes.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.27.2018

      Hi Laurina, I’m so happy to hear that it worked so well with the fresh squash puree! Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  12. Bridget
    10.27.2018

    This recipe is so good, Jeanine! I’ve already made it twice and have no plans to stop.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.27.2018

      Ha ha, I love hearing that! Thanks for taking a sec to come let me know 🙂 xo

  13. Amy
    10.28.2018

    Planning to make this today, looks delicious. Can I sub whole wheat all-purpose four for the white or will that change the consistency?

    Thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.28.2018

      Hi Amy, it’ll be a little bit more dense but I think it’ll still be tasty. I often like to use whole wheat pastry flour over regular whole wheat because it’s a bit lighter. Hope that helps!

      • Amy
        10.29.2018

        Didn’t have ww pastry flour, so used white all-purpose flour per the recipe, came out great! Easy and delicious.

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          10.29.2018

          ooh, yay, I’m so glad you loved it!

  14. Andy
    11.15.2018

    Hi,
    Came across your site recently and thought I’d give this recipe a try. Followed instructions to the letter and it worked a treat. Loving this site. keep up the good work.
    Andy

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.17.2018

      Hi Andy – welcome!! I’m so glad you loved the recipe.

  15. Katie from simplybykate.com
    12.21.2018

    Love this recipe! I need to try this out.

  16. Kiara
    01.05.2019

    I’ve made this twice now, and it’s SO delicious! Cake is super moist, and the cashew maple frosting has the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. Loved it, thanks for the amazing recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.06.2019

      Hi Kiara, I’m so so glad you loved the cake!

  17. Ashton
    11.24.2019

    This is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. My husband and I make it almost every week right now. Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  18. Rae & Athene
    09.03.2020

    These were delicious! They were the perfect start-of-Autumn treat! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.12.2020

      I’m so glad you loved them!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.