This tender and incredibly moist Pumpkin Bar recipe is gently spiced with the best fall flavors: pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and dried cherries.
Finished with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, these dessert bars are the perfect fall and winter dessert.
While you can use fresh pumpkin, I generally opt for canned pumpkin puree. This one has been my go-to brand for years.
Why This Recipe Works
EASY - The recipe doesn't have too many complicated steps, so it's not too hard to follow. All you need to do is mix the ingredients, bake it in the oven, and then add the frosting.
DELICIOUS - The pumpkin flavor mixed with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg make for a really yummy and unique taste. Plus, the cream cheese frosting is sweet and tangy, complementing the pumpkin flavor well.
SHARABLE - This recipe makes a whole tray of pumpkin bars, so you can share it with your friends and family. It's a great dessert to bring to a party or potluck and a good way to use up any leftover canned pumpkin you might have.
Please check the recipe card below for a detailed, printable ingredient list.
FLOUR - All-purpose flour is perfect.
SUGAR - Use granulated white sugar.
SPICES - Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and a dash of salt create a beautiful spice mix perfect for this dessert.
LEAVENING AGENTS - We'll use both baking powder and baking soda. This creates the perfect balanced light and airy texture.
PUMPKIN PUREE - You can use canned pumpkin puree; make sure you are not using pumpkin pie filling. If you're feeling ambitious, you can, of course, also make your own pumpkin puree.
EGGS - Help to bind and create a velvety texture.
VEGETABLE OIL - Using vegetable oil helps us to make a very moist cake.
DRIED CHERRIES - These work wonderfully with the spice mix.
VANILLA EXTRACT - Vanilla extract is one of these magical ingredients that help other ingredients shine.
CREAM CHEESE - Make sure to soften the cream cheese. It's best to remove it from the fridge before baking. But you can also soften it in the microwave. Most microwaves have a "softened cream cheese setting."
POWDERED SUGAR - Powdered sugar is ultra-fine, pulverized sugar. It's perfect for frosting because it dissolves without using any heat.
BUTTER - Use unsalted, softened butter.
LEMON ZEST - This adds a bit of delicious tanginess.
How To Make Pumpkin Bars
Please check the printable recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
- BATTER - Beat eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar until creamy. Add oil and pumpkin puree and continue to beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and spices and continue to beat until the batter is smooth. Fold in the flour-dusted cherries.
- BAKE - Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool.
- FROST - Combine softened butter, softened cream cheese, lemon zest, and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Beat until the frosting is thick and creamy.
Let's talk cream cheese frosting! Whenever I make this recipe, I halve the amount of frosting because some people in our family like pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, and others prefer it without frosting.
I'm in the ladder group. While I love a good cream cheese frosting, I think the flavors unfold even more for this recipe if you skip it, but you can't go wrong. Either way, it's delicious. 0
But if you can't find any or don't have them in your pantry, try making this dessert with raisins or cranberries! You can even toss a few pecans or walnuts in for an extra bit of crunch.
DRIED CHERRIES - If you've been following the blog for a while, you know I love cherries in desserts. It might be my German upbringing, but we had so many desserts with cherries, such as the German Cherry Crumble or the Cherry Pound Cake. However, for these recipes, I used fresh cherries.
But for this pumpkin dessert, I used dried cherries. I think the sweet and tart flavors of the cherries go exceedingly well with the other flavors in this recipe.
DECORATE - Are you ready for Halloween? Add some of these cute sprinkles to the cream cheese frosting.
STORE - Make sure to put them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. They will last for up to 3-4 days.
TOPPING - Turn your morning breakfast into an extra special treat. You can crumble up the leftover bars and use them as a topping on your morning oatmeal or yogurt. It's a great way to add some extra flavor and texture to your breakfast.
FREEZE - If you don't think you'll be able to eat the leftover bars in time, you can freeze them for later. Just wrap the slices tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Thaw them out in the refrigerator overnight when you're ready to eat them.
TIP - Don't try to thaw the Pumpkin Bars at room temperature or in the microwave, as this can cause the frosting to become watery.
More Simple and Delicious Dessert Ideas
STREUSELKUCHEN - German Crumb Cake
GERMAN CHEESECAKE - traditional German-style cheesecake
WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY BARS - perfect as an anytime sweet treat!
BREAD PUDDING - baked in a delicious custard and topped with a gooey caramel sauce!
BANANA NUT BREAD - incredibly moist banana bread
Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a large baking sheet with baking spray.
- Sprinkle one tablespoon of flour over the dried cherries and shake off any excess. Set aside.
- Beat eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar until creamy. Add oil and pumpkin puree and continue to beat until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients and spices and beat until the batter is smooth. Fold the cherries into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Use a wooden toothpick to check for doneness. Cool in pan.
- Beat softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon zest until creamy.
- Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on top of the cooled cake. Serve and enjoy.