There is just something about pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting during the fall. My grandma’s sheet pan sized recipe is perfect for parties, family gatherings and more.
Sheet pan pumpkin bars are the perfect fall dessert. This recipe makes a nice big batch of cakey pumpkin bars topped with tangy cream cheese frosting that is a perfect way to end an autumn party.
Table of Contents
Our History With This Recipe
This pumpkin bar recipe has been in our family for as long as I can remember. It just wouldn’t feel right to go through the month of October without making a batch.
I originally shared this recipe the recipe back in 2015 on my grandma’s birthday. It is her recipe after all, so it seemed like a great way to celebrate her.
That picture is one of her as a young woman by a pier in Lake Michigan. Isn’t she a beauty?
My family put together a book of favorite recipes when I was a kid. This recipe made the book as grandma’s frosted pumpkin squares.
I changed the name to pumpkin bars because that is what most people in our area call them. But the recipe is still the one straight from grandma, so you know it has to be good.
What Makes This Recipe Special
First I love the size of the recipe. We aren’t making a little 9×13″ pan, no we are going for the full 13×18″ half sheet pan full of goodness so there is plenty to share.
That is good when you come from a large family of dessert lovers. It also makes them perfect for potlucks, parties and more.
Even better, the recipe is super simple to make. All you need is a couple of bowls and whisk.
Grandma’s recipe relies on just cinnamon to let the pumpkin shine. This also makes the ingredient list easy and uses something you are likely to have on hand.
If you like your pumpkin recipes with more spice, feel free to use your favorites. A little bit of nutmeg or ginger would be tasty.
Or use pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon to give it a more complex flavor without having to empty out your cabinets. You can even double the spices if you really like that kick with your pumpkin.
We like to keep them just the way grandma makes them though. A bit of cinnamon and lots of pumpkin and a tangy cream cheese frosting.
You can whip up the batter in just a few minutes. It bakes into a sturdy but cakey bar that is hard to beat.
The soft frosting makes them creamy and irresistible. Pumpkin bars are the perfect autumnal treat!
I had a very good helper for this recipe. He loves to dump things in the bowl and help stir. I love having him help, even if it does mean a bit of extra mess!
More Recipes from Grandma
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t have a half sheet pan?
Don’t worry, you can still make delicious pumpkin bars. Just grease two 9×13-inch pans and put half of the batter in each. Check them for doneness a couple of minutes early. They are done when the tops spring back after being lightly touched with your finger.
Can I half this recipe?
You sure can! Cut all of the ingredient measurements in half and then put them in a greased 9×13-inch pan. Check the bars for doneness after about 20 minutes.
Can I add nuts to this recipe?
Sure! Toss in some chopped walnuts or even some chocolate chips if you want. My family prefers them plain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jazz them up.
Can I add more spice?
Of course. A little bit of ground cloves, ginger or nutmeg would be delicious in these bars if you like pumpkin spice. But we tend to stick to just cinnamon like my grandma makes them.
If you like pumpkin bars, there is a good chance you are going to love applesauce bars as well. They are similar in a lot of ways, but filled with apple goodness instead of pumpkin.
Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!
Grandma’s Frosted Pumpkin Bars
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup vegetable oil or other neutral cooking oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup nuts optional
- 3 oz cream cheese softened
- 6 Tablespoons butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon milk or more, as needed
Sheet Pan Pumpkin Bars
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a half sheet pan (13x18x1-inch).
- Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl.4 large eggs, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup pumpkin puree, 2 cups granulated sugar
- In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder.½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
- Cool completely, then make frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.3 oz cream cheese, 6 Tablespoons butter
- Add the vanilla, milk and powdered sugar. Stir until combined and then beat for a minute or two to make fluffy. You can add more milk a few drops at a time if you’d like to thin it out. You want a nice spreadable consistency.1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 3 cups powdered sugar
- Spread over cooled bars and enjoy!