Spiced Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing

This fluffy pumpkin cake comes together easily and makes the most delightful low-key afternoon snack or dessert when cut into bars. The pumpkin puree keeps everything wonderfully moist, even several days later.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 10 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 24 bars
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Ingredients

Bars:

Nonstick baking spray, for the baking pan

2 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook's Note)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

Icing:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. For the bars: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13-by-9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick baking spray and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, leaving an inch of overhang on the sides.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a large bowl until evenly combined. In another bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs and pumpkin puree until smooth. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until the batter just comes together. 
  3. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack. 
  4. For the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed with a handheld mixer until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt and beat until evenly combined and smooth. Spread the icing on the top of the cake in a smooth and even layer. Cut the cake into twenty-four 2-inch squares and serve.

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

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