Aunt Mary's Spiced Pumpkin Bars

My Great Aunt Mary was a meticulous and brilliant woman, who also happened to have a stellar repertoire of holiday baked goods. She passed her recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bars down to my mother years ago. I returned to Aunt Mary's recipe after a run of failed pumpkin bar experiments. Aunt Mary's Spiced Pumpkin Bars are a homey old-fashioned bar, with a soft texture, warm spices and gooey cream cheese icing. With only a few minor tweaks from the original, I present to you, the best pumpkin bars you will ever eat. 

Print Friendly and PDF

Yield: 1 sheet pan


     Spiced Pumpkin Bars:

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

     Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk


  1. For the Spiced Pumpkin Bars: Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and flour a 12 x 17 cookie sheet. 
  2. In a stand mixer (or large bowl and hand mixer), whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, canola oil, brown sugar and vanilla for 2 minutes until light in texture and thoroughly combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg). Stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed. 
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir the ingredients together with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Pour the spiced pumpkin batter into the prepared cookie sheet and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The bars will be done when they appear set, a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set the cooked bars on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely prior to removing them from the cookie sheet.
  5. For the cream cheese icing: In a stand mixer (or medium bowl and hand mixer), whisk together the cream cheese and butter at high speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for an additional two minutes to blend. 
  6. To assemble the bars: You can either cut the bars before or after icing them. Since the bars are so soft, we found that popping the cooled bars in the fridge for a few hours helped in getting them out of the cookie tray and also for icing them.