Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting

Yield: 9 large or 16 small bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting are the perfect fall crowd pleasing treat! Spiced thick & soft pumpkin bars and a thick layer of brown sugar frosting will have everyone begging for seconds.

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Spiced sweetness that isn’t cloying or overwhelming.
Texture: The bars are thick and soft without being overly cakey. The frosting is luscious and creamy with a slight crunch from the brown sugar. It’s kind of like cookie dough!
Ease: Super easy, just dirties a few dishes.
Appearance: Beautiful!
Pros: Easy and crowd pleasing fall treat.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Absolutely!

SO GOOD. Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting is the perfect fall crowd pleasing treat! Spiced thick & soft pumpkin bars and a thick layer of brown sugar frosting.

In staring at the screen trying to decide what I want to say about these incredible Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting I got lost down a black hole.

I totally just fell into the internet trap. Suddenly I found myself drowning in a 10 minute Facebook abyss. Please tell me this happens to you too. I swear time stops when I find these distractions! I can be staring at the screen trying to work on something for a few minutes and it feels like an eternity passed. Then what feels like a few minutes on Facebook, Pinterest, or any celebrity gossip rag and an hour can pass like NOTHING. It’s actually kind of alarming.

Luckily I caught myself this time and forced my computer mouse to close out of all extra tabs. Well, except maybe one or two. I had to get back to this pumpkin recipe because I just gotta tell you how bad you need to make these. Firstly, they make your house smell like autumn on crack. Secondly, they are a total crowd pleaser. So much so that I can pretty much guarantee everyone will want seconds. You may need to double the recipe!

SO GOOD. Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting is the perfect fall crowd pleasing treat! Spiced thick & soft pumpkin bars and a thick layer of brown sugar frosting.

SO GOOD. Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting is the perfect fall crowd pleasing treat! Spiced thick & soft pumpkin bars and a thick layer of brown sugar frosting.

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Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting

Yield 9 large or 16 small bars     adjust servings
Prep Time 15 minutes Cook Time 40 minutes Total Time 55 mins

Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting are the perfect fall crowd pleasing treat! Spiced thick & soft pumpkin bars and a thick layer of brown sugar frosting will have everyone begging for seconds.


For the bars

  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) pumpkin puree

For the frosting

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk, plus more if needed


  1. To make the bars:

    Preheat the oven to 350Β°F. Line a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang.

    In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.

    In another medium bowl whisk together the butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

    Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the frosting:

    In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add in the cinnamon and salt. On low speed gradually add in the powered sugar until incorporated. Add in the vanilla and milk and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until very light and fluffy. If too runny, add more powered sugar, If too thick, add more milk. Spread evenly all over the pumpkin bars.

    Cut into squares before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Recipe Notes

This recipe is easily doubled for a crowd!

About Tessa...

Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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32 Responses to “Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting”

  1. #
    Kristina — September 25, 2015 at 4:27 am

    That frosting looks so fluffy. And I am already dreaming about it’s taste. The bars sound delicious!

  2. #
    Rachel Cooks — September 25, 2015 at 4:35 am

    I need to make these, like, yesterday. They look so amazing! Also – a 10 minute FB suck is nothing! Ugh – it’s so bad! I’ll go on FB to look something up and 20 minutes later I don’t know what I came there for anymore!

  3. #
    Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie — September 25, 2015 at 6:32 am

    That brown sugar frosting is to die for, especially paired with the pumpkin! As for FB thankfully I tend to resist getting sucked in too often but Instagram is slowly taking over my life.

  4. #
    Kate — September 25, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Have you tried to make the bar base with browned butter instead of melted butter? I’m wondering, with all the autumnal spices, if you can still taste the difference from browning the butter instead? Either way, these bars will be happening in my kitchen tonight!

  5. #
    Eve @ Baking the Day — September 25, 2015 at 8:11 am

    These bars look so good! I love the use of brown sugar in the frosting, it must add such a nice flavour especially paired with the pumpkin in the bars.

  6. #
    Kristen @ The Endless Meal — September 25, 2015 at 8:21 am

    For some reason I’ve always liked dessert best at breakfast. It’s breakfast time now and I’m totally craving these! That frosting!!

  7. #
    Annie — September 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Tessa – What size pan would you use for a doubled recipe to keep the same thickness? I want to bring these to work and KNOW they will be inhaled instantly, as I work in a hospital unit. “Autumn on crack”, too funny! Love your site!

  8. #
    Gaby Dalkin — September 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    haha autumn on crack! perfect description for these warm spices starting to fill our houses! these look delicious!

  9. #
    Erin M. — September 26, 2015 at 5:02 am

    These look absolutely delicious! And yes, I am a sucker for a good, trashy gossip magazine….it’s a vice.

  10. #
    Deb — September 27, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Will this pumpkin bar recipe work in cupcakes.?

    And is it possible to make brown sugar frosting in Swiss buttercream style?
    Cant wait to try the fall recipes….thanks.

  11. #
    dynnamae — September 27, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I made these for church today. Had a request for the recipe and there were no leftovers! Definitely a keeper recipe. Thank you for sharing this.

    • #
      Tessa — September 28, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Love to hear that! Thanks for your wonderful comment.

  12. #
    Katrin — September 28, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Ah, wonderful! I just finished baking and my colleagues will be very happy. Husband is not so happy, because geht gets nothing. Poor husband.

    • #
      Tessa — September 28, 2015 at 3:28 pm


  13. #
    Sue — September 28, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I made these on Sunday and my hubby LOVES them. My only challenge was the frosting was a bit crunchy. Did I not beat the brown sugar and butter long enough? I will be making these again!!!!!

  14. #
    Patty K — September 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    That frosting will be a must this season! And yes, I’ll tell myself I’ll just be on fb for a few seconds, but then I get sucked in and half an hour has passed!

  15. #
    Erica — October 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t know if you didn’t list an ingredient or I did something wrong, but these didn’t turn out for me at all. They are dense and more like a pancake texture. Trying a new recipe – sad face πŸ™

  16. #
    Denise — September 14, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Can recipe be doubled to use a 9 x 13 pan?

  17. #
    Kayla — October 20, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Do you think I could omit the 1 egg? Or should I maybe try replacing it with apple sauce? My son is allergic to egg & ive been looking for a pumpkin bar recipe. Most of them contain 3/4 eggs.

  18. #
    TessaC — October 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I made these and the texture of the cake was amazing! I didn’t make the frosting. The cake didn’t have enough spice for me, I think I will add more next time… Maybe it’s the brand I’m using. Also the cake cooked lumpy on top, I would have to smooth it out perfectly to make sure it was even and smooth. Other than that, great and easy recipe that I will make again.

    • #
      Tessa — October 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      I’m glad to hear that! Sometimes spices lose their intensity over time, so if they were a little older that could explain it. Or, it’s just a matter of preference πŸ™‚

  19. #
    Mary Ann — November 6, 2016 at 7:14 am

    It looks delicious. What size pan would you use to double it? 9 Γ— 13? Thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2016 at 9:45 am


  20. #
    Julie — November 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Has anybody doubled this recipe successfully? πŸ™‚ I read in another comment that you can use a 9 x13 but I’m wondering if a half sheet would work ir if that would make them too thin. Also, do you bake for the same amount of time if you double it? Help! Thank you.

  21. #
    Liz — November 12, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I just made this today and I double the recipe with no problems! I baked it on a 9Γ—13 for 27 minutes and it turned out great!!

    • #
      Tessa — November 14, 2016 at 11:29 am

      Happy to hear that, Liz!

  22. #
    Mrs.Marsh — November 22, 2016 at 5:53 am

    I just made these yesterday. I accidentally broke it in half before icing, so the portion that didn’t become bars were mixed with the icing and dipped in chocolate. My husband went crazy over it! So far, Tessa, every recipe I’ve tried from you has been golden!

    • #
      Tessa — November 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

      What a happy mistake!! I’m so happy to hear you’ve been enjoying the recipes πŸ™‚

  23. #
    Caralee — November 30, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I made them tonight and turned them into cupcakes. Baked for 14 minutes.
    They turned out terrible. Maybe just my taste but they were not sweet at all and pretty gross.
    But, to answer the question, YES you can bake them as cupcakes.

  24. #
    [email protected] — December 10, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Can you double the recipe for a 9by13 or a jelly roll pan?

  25. #
    Andrea — December 18, 2016 at 12:07 am

    I made these today. The flavor is perfect and the frosting is great. However, the cake needs to bake for much longer than 25 minutes. I baked it for almost 30 and the toothpick was still coming out pretty wet, but because of the warning I decided to take it out anyway – big mistake. The only edible part was the outside edges. Disappointing after all of that effort.

  26. #
    Linda — May 4, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Excellent and great icing!

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