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An old family favorite, my Pumpkin Pie Bars Dessert gives simple pumpkin pie a makeover for a twist on a traditional favorite. It’s easy to make ahead, too!
The recipe for these Pumpkin Pie Bars is one I originally got from my mom. I have made it many times over the years for parties, teacher luncheons and other events. Every time I make it, it’s a HUGE hit! They are really easy and if I had my way, I’d be making this dessert a lot more often.
These pumpkin bars start with a cake mix bottom layer and then have a delicious pumpkin filling with just the right amount of spices. The filling is then topped with a streusel topping and baked until golden brown.
I like to serve these easy pumpkin pie bars with a dollop of whip cream on top. And even though the recipe title says pumpkin pie BARS, I cut this dessert into larger pieces, kind of like how I would serve a one-layer cake and then eat it using a fork.
You could definitely cut these bars in to smaller squares to serve as little bite-size desserts, easy to eat with your fingers in just one or two bites.
These tasty pumpkin dessert bars are a great alternative for your holiday table or to serve at any gathering (or just because!)
All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found easily at the grocery store but I’ve got some tps about them to help you out.
Yellow Cake Mix – Any brand of cake mix will work in this recipe, just make sure it’s not the kind with pudding in it as the crust is already moist when baked. I usually look for cake mix when they go on sale or buy them at Aldi to save some money.
Unsalted Butter – I use unsalted butter in pretty much all of my baking recipes. Oftentimes, the recipe will call for salt to be added (not this one though!) so I’ll just adjust accordingly. Did you know you can freeze butter? I try to stock up on it when it’s on sale and freeze for up to three months, right in the package! Then I put it in the refrigerator to thaw the day before I plan to use it.
Eggs – Use large eggs for this recipe to achieve the right moisture.
Evaporated Milk – This is canned milk. Make sure it’s NOT the sweetened condensed milk. Usually they are near each other on the same shelf at the grocery store. I have used both original and fat free evaporated milk in this recipe and they seem to both work well so choose what you prefer. Again, I usually buy store brand to save some money (and don’t notice a difference when baking with it).
Canned Pumpkin Puree – This is plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix filling. Usually the filling mix is a in a larger can but make sure you double check the label.
Granulated Sugar – Plain, white sugar (and you guessed it, I choose store brand when I can to save some money!)
Vanilla Extract – Look for pure vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla. The imitation vanilla is less expensive for sure, but can sometimes have an off flavor. I usually buy vanilla in a large bottle from the wholesale club or at Aldi (in smaller bottles) to save some money.
Salt – Use regular table salt in this recipe and not a larger type salt like sea salt or kosher salt.
How To Make This Easy Pumpkin Dessert
For real, this dessert is really so simple to make!
First, you’ll want to reserve one cup of the dry cake mix and set it aside.
Then, in a large bowl (affiliate link) combine the crust ingredients – the remaining cake mix, egg and melted butter (1).
Then spread the crust batter in the bottom of a greased 9”x13” baking pan (affiliate link) and press it into the pan until evenly spread out. (2). I use my hands to do this but sometimes use a rubber spatula (affiliate link) instead.
Next, in a separate bowl (affiliate link), prepare the filling by combining the canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, other eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices (3) and then pour over the crust batter.
In a small bowl (affiliate link), add the reserved cake mix, softened butter, cinnamon and sugar by using your fingers or a dough blender (affiliate link) and combine until crumbly, like little peas. Then sprinkle over the pumpkin filling (4).
Then it’s time to bake it!
Make Ahead Prep and Storage Tips
There are a few ways to make this Pumpkin Pie Bars Recipe ahead. Well, really, it’s prepping some of the ingredients ahead of time.
You can make the filling up to a day in advance and store in an airtight container (affiliate link) in the refrigerator.
Another small step to save time is to measure out the cake mixture ahead of time and store in bowls with airtight lids (affiliate link) until you’re ready to prepare the bars.
These bars can be made ahead and stored in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to four days. Serve chilled or allow bars to come to room temperature and serve.
Is This Dessert Freezer Friendly?
You know I’m all about making ahead and freezing what I can and you CAN freeze these baked pumpkin pie bars but the texture does change a bit. I still find the overall flavor to be delicious but after you freeze the baked bars and then thaw, the crust is a little more “soggy” than when serving from fresh baked.
Knowing that, I’ll still sometimes freeze leftovers of this dessert but realize that the texture might change—but that’s ok!
Pumpkin Pie Bars Dessert
For the Crust
- 15.25 ounce yellow cake mix reserve 1 cup dry mix for topping
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 large egg
For the Filling
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup evaporated milk
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
For Streusel Topping
- 1 cup yellow cake mix (from reserved mix)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
Optional Serving Topping
- 8 ounces whipped topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Using non-stick spray, spray bottom only of 9×13 pan and set aside.
To Prepare Crust
- In a large bowl, add cake mix, saving out one cup dry mix for topping.
- Add egg and melted butter to remaining cake mix in bowl and stir to combine.
- Press mixture firmly in bottom of pan and set aside.
To Prepare Filling
- In medium sized bowl, combine eggs, evaporated milk, canned pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and ground cloves.
- Pour filling mixture over crust, spreading evenly over entire crust batter.
To Prepare Streusel Topping
- In small bowl, add 1 cup reserved dry cake mix, ¼ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ cup butter.
- Using a pastry blender/cutter or rubber spatula to combine all ingredients until crumbly.
- Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over pumpkin filling.
- Bake at 350º for 45-50 minutes.
- Knife should come out clean when inserted in center.
How to Serve It
- Allow pan to cool slightly, about 30 minutes, at room temperature.
- Cut into 12 squares and top with prepared whipped topping if desired.
Ingredient TipsAll of the ingredients can be easily found at the grocery store but here are a couple of tips about a few of them: Evaporated Milk – Make sure you are NOT getting sweetened condensed milk. Usually they are near each other on the same shelf at the grocery store. I have used both original and fat free evaporated milk in this recipe and they seem to both work well so choose what you prefer. Canned Pumpkin Puree – This is plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix filling. Usually the filling mix is a in a larger can but make sure you double check the label. Vanilla Extract – Look for pure vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla. The imitation vanilla is less expensive for sure, but can sometimes have an off flavor.
Storage TipThese bars can be made ahead and stored in a single layer in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to four days. Serve chilled or allow bars to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes) and serve with optional whipped topping.
This recipe was originally published in 2011 and updated in November 2021 with new photos, video and content.
Hi this didn’t work out. The bottom and top layer instructions needs to adjusted. Melted butter or do you mean room temperature butter? The crust had a cake like consistency most likely because I followed the directions to melt the butter. Crust was also the wrong consistency.
Hi Allyson, I’m sorry this didn’t work out like you expected. I double checked the original handwritten recipe (it’s my mom’s recipe) and indeed, the butter is supposed to be melted. One note, the crust is more like a cake because it is made from a cake mix. It’s not like a traditional pumpkin pie and the crust is meant to be like a dense cake. I did update the recipe to clarify a few of the steps but otherwise, I hope you give it another try!
Wonderful recipe! Very easy! Made it to take to work for my boss’s birthday! It is great to have a pumpkin dessert in a month other than November and December. I love pumpkin pie except for the crust so this is extra yummy with the crust made from cake mix. Thank you, Brenda!
Barb, thanks so much for your feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! It really is one of our family’s favorites!
Love this recipe, your instructions are spot on including baking time. It’s a great alternative for pumpkin pie and I will definitely be making this again. Adding a whipped topping like Cool Whip takes it to the next level. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for the feedback DeAnn! It really is a family favorite of ours and so easy too!
Can this be done in a jelly roll pan?
I’ve not tried that so I’m not sure. The main thing is the cake mix base may be a little hard to spread out and cover that much area but it may work! You’d need to decrease the amount of baking time though so they don’t overbake. I’m going to have to give it a try myself now!
So glad you liked it Diane!
The overall result was good. However, the crust got too brown too quickly. Next time I will likely double the crust ingredients. Also, the standard can of Libby pumpkin is 15.2 ounces, not 14, so bakers will need to use caution when adding it in!
Thanks for the feedback and glad you liked it! I did update the canned pumpkin size but what I’ve found is a 15 ounce. Guess I may have had a typo but thankfully it wasn’t too major!