This Pumpkin Bars recipe is the ultimate autumn dessert for sharing. It is easy to make and tastes even BETTER than pumpkin pie!
There is a local gift shop that has a cafe with some of the best desserts and one of them is pumpkin bars. After enjoying them at the cafe for several years, I decided to make my own recipe so that I can have them whenever I want.
These pumpkin bars feature a graham cracker crust and a substantial layer of homemade whipped cream for frosting! Everyone will be asking you for the recipe.
Where is the pumpkin bars recipe? In this post, I will share step-by-step photos for how to make the recipe, as well as answer FAQs about the recipe and share a short video showing the recipe in motion. But you can go directly to the recipe by scrolling down to the bottom of the post.
What’s the easiest way to make graham cracker crumbs?
The easiest way is to buy ready-made graham cracker crumbs! But other than that, use whatever you have available. I usually make the crumbs in my food processor. Another easy way is to crush the graham crackers in a gallon-sized ziptop bag with a rolling pin.
How many graham crackers do I need to make a crust?
This recipe calls for 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs for a 9×13 inch pan. One sleeve of graham crackers typically has 9 full sheets of crackers in it and makes about 1 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs. So you’ll need about 15 graham cracker sheets to make 2 cups of crumbs.
Why beat the cream cheese separately?
This recipe starts out with two blocks of softened cream cheese that need to be beaten until smooth and creamy. Beating the cream cheese separately allows other ingredients, especially liquids, to combine smoothly with the cream cheese.
When you try to combine cream cheese and a liquid ingredient without beating the cream cheese first, the cream cheese will form little clumps that are almost impossible to beat out.
To make it easier for the eggs to incorporate, beat them slightly before adding them to the bowl.
What is the difference between pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling?
Both pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling have pumpkin in them but they are not interchangeable. Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin contains 100% pumpkin and can be used in countless recipes including this pumpkin bars recipe.
On the other hand, pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie mix has additional ingredients including water, sugar, and spices. It is specifically made to make pumpkin pies.
How can I make gluten-free pumpkin bars?
The main things that contain gluten in this recipe are the graham crackers in the crust and the flour used in the batter. To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free graham crackers and gluten-free flour. In addition, be sure to check that your other ingredients are gluten-free.
Can I make these pumpkin bars in other size pans?
Yes, you could make them in other pans but you’ll have to adjust the baking time depending on the size of the pan. To make mini-sized bars in a muffin pan as I did in this recipe, it will only take 20-25 minutes to bake them.
If you use two 9-inch square pans, the crust and the pumpkin layer will be thinner. Using two 8-inch square pans is closer in size to one 9×13 inch pan.
What frosting should I put on my pumpkin bars?
I love these pumpkin bars with homemade whipped cream! You can find my whipped cream recipe here. In addition to the whipped cream, I sprinkled ground cinnamon over the top for added flavor and color.
Can I make these bars ahead of time?
Yes, these pumpkin bars can be made ahead of time and are perfect for bringing to holiday dinners, parties, and potlucks. Bake the bars, allow them to cool, frost the bars and then cover and store them in the fridge.
Can I freeze pumpkin bars?
Yes, pumpkin bars will hold up in the freezer. First place the bars in the freezer uncovered to allow the whipped cream to harden. Then, wrap tightly with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil.
How can I make these healthier?
To make these pumpkin bars a bit healthier, try using low fat graham crackers, a sugar alternative, and a butter alternative in the crust. For the pumpkin layer, use Neufchatel low-fat cream cheese and a sugar alternative. And for the frosting, you can use light cool whip.
Want more pumpkin recipes? Try these next:
This Pumpkins Cake recipe is so easy to make with a cake mix, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice! Top with cream cheese frosting for the ultimate treat.
Maple Glazed Pumpkin Coffee Cake with a walnut streusel topping is the MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH amazing! Enjoy a warm slice of pumpkin coffee cake with a cup of coffee.
Try this Caramel Pumpkin Cake Roll from Crazy For Crust that is filled with caramel ganache and cream cheese whipped cream!
With this Pumpkin Mug Cake recipe, you are only 60 seconds away from a warm, delicious cake for one.
Pumpkin Magic Custard Cake is like pumpkin pie without the crust. It has a custard layer topped with cake. Try it for Thanksgiving dinner!
Graham Cracker Crust:
- Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
- Press into a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.
- Beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.
- Beat in the sugar.
- Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs and mix well.
- Mix in the pumpkin puree and vanilla.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture onto the graham cracker crust.
- Bake at 375˚F for 33-38 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack to allow the bars to cool completely at room temperature.
- Top with whipped cream (find my recipe here) and sprinkle with cinnamon
- Store in the fridge.