Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars: A Scrumptious, Easy Fall Dessert

Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars will make your heart go pitter-patter. These are the perfect mix of pumpkin spice cake and cream cheese frosting. If this doesn’t make you happy sigh that fall has arrived, we don’t know what will.

Serves: 24    Time: 45    Cookbook: Paula Deen's Southern Baking

You walk into the grocery store and stop. Your heart flutters. Excitement fills you. Pumpkins! Glorious, happy, orange pumpkins! This may or may not be a true peek into how my wife reacts to the first pumpkins of every fall season. And we don’t know any better way to celebrate than with a slice of a down home, southern favorite: Paula Deen pumpkin bars.

Let’s be honest, we’d all love to have Paula Deen to show up at our house with this fantastic dessert but that’s probably not going to happen. The next best thing? Make it yourself by using a tried and trusted Paula Deen recipe. You won’t want to miss this one.

This recipe combines everything we love about pumpkin spice with a rich, warm cheesecake frosting. The smell coming from your oven will make your friends and family drool as they wait to savor the best that fall has to offer.

Jump Ahead:

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Cake-like: These pumpkin bars are very cake-like, so if you love pumpkin cake, you’ll love Paula Deen’s pumpkin bars. Why she calls them “bars” we’re not really sure, other than you can cut them into bar shapes. Whatever you call them, these little squares of pumpkin cake goodness are off the charts.

Fall Flavors: The pumpkin cake and cream cheese frosting pair so well together! They form a perfect slice of southern scrumptiousness that will keep you returning.

Decadent: These may have pumpkin in them, but they are not a healthy food item. These delicious pumpkin bars are a decadent dessert that is enjoyed with coffee after dinner. They’re not too decadent, however, and you’ll find that one slice will leave you wanting another.

Sharable: This makes a large batch that can be shared with a crowd. The easy recipe is perfect for holiday gatherings of family and friends, church potlucks, and other fall festivities where you need to bring a dessert.

Ingredients Needed to Make Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars

Ingredients for paula deen's pumpkin bars
  • Pumpkin: You want pumpkin puree for this, not pumpkin pie filling. One large can (15 oz) is perfect.
  • Eggs: Large eggs are the perfect size. If you have medium or smaller, you might need to add an extra egg to the recipe.
  • Sugar: White or cane sugar works best for this recipe. If you want to incorporate brown sugar, we suggest a 50/50 ratio.
  • Vegetable Oil: You want one cup vegetable oil. Any flavorless oil will work for this recipe.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Regular all-purpose flour works great. You can also use a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat though it will be a bit denser.
  • Baking Powder: Powder works with the soda to give the cake a light texture.
  • Cinnamon: Powdered cinnamon will give this a delicious fall flavor.
  • Salt: The recipe only calls for one teaspoon salt. You can use kosher, sea, or table salt.
  • Baking Soda: This will help the cake to rise.
  • Cream Cheese: One package cream cheese (full-fat or low-fat) is perfect. Either type of cream cheese will work well for most pumpkin recipes that call for frosting.
  • Butter: You want one cup butter, softened. One cup is equivalent to one stick of butter.
  • Confectioner’s Sugar: This is fine powdered sugar that’s perfect for making icing.
  • Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is idea. You only need a teaspoon vanilla extract, so if you only have flavoring, that will work in a pinch.

Equipment Needed In the Kitchen

  • Electric Mixer: As long as you have a large mixing bowl, a hand mixer works great. The batter can tend to splatter a bit, though, so if you have a stand mixer, that’s going to be ideal. We’ve used both mixer types when making this recipe.
  • Baking Pan: A 9×13 baking pan is the size you need for this recipe.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Fine mesh strainers are perfect for sifting ingredients like flour and confectioners’ sugar – both of which are used (and sifted) in this recipe.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll want a medium bowl and a large mixing bowl to mix the cake ingredients as well as the frosting ingredients.

How to Make Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars

paula deen pumpkin bars ready to eat

These pumpkin bars are slices of pumpkin cakey goodness and we know you’re about to fall in love.

Soften the butter and cream cheese

Let the butter and cream cheese sit in room temperature for an hour to soften.

Make the batter

Pre-heat an oven to 350 °F.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add in the salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, add the pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil. Turn the mixer on medium speed and thoroughly combine the pumpkin mixture.

Once the “wet” ingredients are mixed together, add in the dry ingredients and continue to mix until a smooth batter appears.

Bake the batter

Grease a 9×13 baking pan with butter and pour in the batter.

Put the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake until you can put a toothpick into the bars and it comes out clean (about 30 minutes). Cooking time can vary depending on the accuracy of your oven and whether you use a dark baking pan. Begin checking the bars for doneness around 25 minutes.

Let cool all the way down and cut into squares.

Make the frosting

Add the softened butter and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Next, sift the confectioner’s sugar, then slowly add it to the butter and cream cheese mixture while mixing on low speed until incorporated. Finally, add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Frosting Note: We found that this makes a lot of frosting. Depending on how much you like on top of your bars, you might have a bit left over. If you like a thinner layer of frosting, make a half batch, instead. For a half batch, you’ll need a half stick of butter, 4 oz cream cheese, 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Ice the pumpkin bars

With a rubber spatula, ice the pumpkin bars with the cream cheese frosting so that the bars are well covered on top. Sprinkle with a little bit on ground cinnamon for garnish and serve.

Pumpkin Bar Variations

A dessert like this is easy to vary, just change the main ingredient! We would recommend the following:

Sweet Potato Bars: Use 15 oz. of cooked, pureed sweet potato instead of the pumpkin and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Butternut Squash Bars: Use 15 oz. of cooked, pureed butternut squash instead of the pumpkin and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Carrot Bars: This variation would be our personal favorite, with the cream cheese frosting, this is basically a carrot cake. Use 15 oz. of cooked, pureed carrot instead of the pumpkin and continue with the rest of the recipe.

Paula Deen Pumpkin Bar Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

Can I make this ahead?

As long as you keep the bars in the fridge (because of the cream cheese), they will be good for a few days.

Do I need a 9×13 inch baking pan?

A 9×13 inch baking pan is used to get the right consistency in this recipe. If you use a smaller pan you’ll need longer baking time. A larger pan will need less baking time. You’d want to do a poke test to make sure the batter is done on the inside.

Do I need to make the frosting from scratch or can I buy pre-made frosting?

While it is a cinch to make the frosting at home, store-bought cream cheese frosting will still work. You could even use some whipped cream instead of the frosting for a lighter version.

More Pumpkin Recipes

Want even more pumpkin dessert recipes? Try these recipes that are bursting with pumpkin flavor!

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paula deen pumpkin bars ready to eat

Paula Deen Pumpkin Bars: A Tasty Slice of Heaven


  • Author: Matt
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x

Description

These pumpkin bars are slices of pumpkin cakey goodness and we know you’re about to fall in love.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 15 ounce can Pumpkin
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

Soften the butter and cream cheese

  • Let the butter and cream cheese sit in room temperature for an hour to soften.

Make the batter

  • Pre-heat an oven to 350 °F.
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add in the salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  • In a large bowl, add the pumpkin, sugar, eggs and oil. Turn the mixer on to medium and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Once the “wet” ingredients are mixed together, add in the “dry” ingredients and continue to mix until a smooth batter appears.

Bake the batter

  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan with butter and pour in the batter.
  • Put the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake until you can put a toothpick into the bars and it comes out clean (about 30 minutes).
  • Let cool all the way down and cut into squares.

Make the frosting

  • Add the softened butter and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined.
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar slowly to the butter and cream cheese mixture and mix on low until incorporated.
  • Finally, add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Ice the pumpkin bars

  • With a rubber spatula, ice the pumpkin bars with the cream cheese frosting so that the bars are well covered on top.
  • Sprinkle with a little bit of ground cinnamon for garnish and serve.

Notes

These are more like “cake” as opposed to chewy “bars.” 

Depending on how much cream cheese frosting you like on your bars, you could have extra. We found that making a half batch of frosting still provides plenty to go around.

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Baking & Pastry
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American Southern

Keywords: Pumpkin, Cake, Paula Deen

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