Best EVER Pumpkin Bars are moist, soft, and delicious. A perfect dessert for holiday parties.
Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the dessert to make this holiday season. They have the most tender crumb and the swath of frosting on top adds the best finishing touch. They might just be your new favorite holiday tradition.
Reflecting back now onto my childhood, my “foodie” type attitude started a long time ago and I just didn’t know it. So many of the things I love are from my time growing up.
As I went to make these pumpkin bars I started to think about all the times I ate them as a child and can you guess where that was? Camping! My mom’s friend Jean made these every Christmas and for all of our camping trips.
Why I Love This Recipe
They are light and fluffy in texture, yet moist. They’re not as dense as pumpkin bread or other pumpkin cakes. They practically melt in your mouth.
Then with the cream cheese frosting… well, it is making my mouth water even as I type this. It’s flavored with almond extract which gives it a step-up. If you don’t like almond, you can use the same amount of vanilla extract – it’s delicious, too.
This is the perfect pumpkin spice bar for really any occasion and I guarantee you won’t walk away feeling weighed down. Unless you eat the whole pan, that is, like I’m always tempted to do.
The kids love these soft pumpkin bars and Aiden’s first reaction was, “Mom you know I hate frosting, but I just love this, it just has this little yummy kick.” Okay, so I don’t know what he is referring to when he says “kick” but obviously, it’s a winner for him.
They’ll be a winner at your house, too. Make them for the holidays or just because – you won’t regret it, I promise.
Pumpkin Bar Ingredients
- Canola oil
- Pumpkin puree
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
For this recipe, I grease a 13″x18″ half sheet pan, but you can also use a 9×13″ pan if you want thicker bars.
Whisk the eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Sift all of the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and then stir just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Depending on the size of your pan, bake the bars at 350°F for:
- Jelly roll pan: 20 to 25 minutes
- 9×13″ baking pan: 25 to 30 minutes
Be sure to check with a toothpick that the bars are done and then cool them in the pan before frosting and slicing.
Cream Cheese Frosting
While the bars cool, you can make the frosting.
- Softened unsalted butter
- Softened cream cheese
- Powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- Almond extract
- Room temperature milk
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Beat in the almond extract and then it’s ready to use.
Once the cake is cooled, spread the frosting over the top. Slice and then use an offset spatula to easily lift the individual bars out of the pan.
You can add some garnishes to give the bars a special look and more texture and flavor.
- Sprinkle toasted chopped nuts over the top of the frosting. Walnuts or pecans would be delicious.
- A sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice adds a nice touch, too.
- Mini chocolate chips would be a fun decoration.
When these bars are baking in the oven it’s almost impossible to wait for them to finish. They will fill your house with the most wonderful scent. But the first bite is even better – these soft, fluffy pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting won’t last long when you make a batch. Enjoy! XOXO San
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Best EVER Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon milk room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a half sheet pan (13"x18") and set aside.
- Mix eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Sift remaining ingredients and combine with the pumpkin mixture. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly tapped. Let cool while you prepare the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Once the cake is cooled, frost, slice, and enjoy!