Pumpkin Bars ♥

Pumpkin Bars ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, quick & easy, filled with fall spices.
Quick and easy pumpkin bars, moist and filled with fall spices. These simple bars are a fall favorite in my kitchen, just a thin layer of cake topped with a thin-thin layer of icing. The icing isn't really necessary although a little drizzle adds a sweet counterpoint that many people like. Celebrate the glory that is October! PS All that thinness? And only 100 calories per square? More cause for celebration.

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Greetings, Fellow Bakers.

I love-love-love to bake. You too?! My baking efforts lean toward "simple" which is my own definition of "spectacular" – that means cakes and cookies and bars and desserts baked on a whim with pantry ingredients.

Enter these extra-simple but somehow-perfect Pumpkin Bars. (1) Yes, pumpkin is a "vegetable" so the recipe does qualify for a food blog 100% obsessed with focused on vegetables. (2) Yes, you can really put vegetables into desserts. And I do, every so often, just look!

As Pumpkin Bars, these stand about an inch tall, with just the right cake-iness, just the right sweetness, just the right mix of fall spices. Then drown them in a sickly sweet icing – no wait! don't do that! A mere drizzle of icing is perfect, just a bit of sweet to contrast with the spices. Who needs all that frosting heaviness? Not me!

Pumpkin Bars, here as Tea Cakes ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, quick & easy, filled with fall spices.

Bars or Tea Cakes? Baker's Choice.

How does a baking pan just disappear? One year I couldn't find my 8x8 pan so instead of making bars, I baked the batter into the six cups of a giant-size muffin tin – that yielded six small cakes, not muffins, real cakes, what I like to call "tea cakes" – that looked pretty and tasted oh-so-good. I love recipes with this sort of easy adaptability!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Today's Pumpkin Bars are dedicated to my Canadian family and all the many Canadian readers who will soon celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving and are already beginning to search for Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes plus even more recipe ideas for a traditional Thanksgiving. Don't miss out on the World's Best Green Bean Casserole and its very own love story. So thank you, subscribers and visitors from Canada. It's so nice to see so many from my mom's home country!

"These are soooo good." ~ Rachael
"... these bars were GREAT." ~ Cordelia
"... soooo yummy! " ~ Randi
"... they are to DIE for." ~ Anonymous
"... they were delicious." ~ Gayarithi

Pumpkin Bars ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, quick & easy, filled with fall spices.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes About 12 bars (baked in an 8x8 pan) or 6 tea cakes (baked in muffin pans)

1/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup (80g) canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 63g
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon milk or cream
Powdered sugar to thicken

BARS Preheat oven to 350F/180F. Spray an 8x8 pan with baking spray. If making tea cakes in a giant-size six-cup muffin tin, spray extra well.

Cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute, adding air. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and beat until well mixed.

Stir together the remaining ingredients and mix into the wet mixture just until barely mixed. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes (25 for 6 tea cakes). Remove from oven, let cool.

ICING In a small bowl (or go ahead, use the same bowl as the batter), stir together the butter, vanilla and milk. Stir in the powdered sugar until icing reaches desired consistency. To drizzle the icing across the bars, transfer the icing to a small freezer bag, then seal, snip a corner and squeeze .... otherwise use an offset spatula across the cake.

Cut into pieces and serve.

PAN SIZE No 8x8 pan? Hmm. You'd think that a 9x9 would work out just fine. But I don't think so, here, because how thin the cake is already and a 9x9 actually has more than 25% more surface area than an 8x8. Me, for a 9x9, I'd double the cake batter (not the icing) and then bake a little longer. For a 9x13, double both the cake batter and the icing since a 9x13 pan is very close to double the surface area of an 8x8. Remember when your math teacher told you you'd use math your whole life? Here we are!
CANNED PUMPKIN works beautifully, so does Homemade Pumpkin Purée.
FLOUR The cake texture changes a little but 100% whole wheat pastry flour works really well in these Pumpkin Bars.
ADD-INs Get creative! Once I threw in some black walnuts, other times dried currants or some dried cranberries (the cranberries should be run through a mini food processor first, otherwise they're too large for these thin bars). This recipe is begging for your own inspiration, let it fly freely!
TEA CAKES The tea cakes are tender and delicate, that makes them slightly fussy to remove from the muffin cups. Be sure to grease the muffins cups really well and to let the tea cakes cool completely before removing. Even then, use a gentle touch, slipping a knife down the sides to loosen, then gently lifting out of the muffin cup.
SPICES If you have pumpkin pie spice, go ahead, use it instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Or better still, try my version, it's included here with other DIY Spice Blends.

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Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2007, 2011, 2013 (repub) & 2020 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I made pumpkin blinis (alas yeasty pancakes) at my cookery course tonight, and obviously I chose a recipe using a vegetable that's hip at the moment - given that the Queen of Vegetables has been posting about pumpkin as well:)
    I love your garden shots, Alanna!

  2. What, no sweet tooth? My kids love the icing so I always scrape mine off for them. The bars look great!

  3. Those sound delicious! I'd love to have one right now, what a nice fall food.

  4. I've always used canned pumpking for baking, instead of fresh pumpkin. If you were to use fresh in this recipe, would the quantity be the same? And what about the moisture content? I've always wondered...

  5. Great question, Lydia - and one I don't (yet!) know the answer to. Last year I roasted a pie pumpkin and it was wishy-washy enough in flavor I don't even remember what happened to it, soup, maybe? But I have a pumpkin on the counter that can be the next guinea pig ...

  6. Yay! Reasonable amounts of butter, sugar and even flour. Where's that can of pumpkin? (Can I use sweet potato? That always seems so much more manageable.)

  7. Susan G ~ Sweet potato? Yes, for sure. But there will be a consistency difference (maybe a good one!) from canned pumpkin which is very fine and moist and canned sweet potato which is dense if still moist but sweetened (I think, I've never bought canned sweet potatoes) or cooked sweet potatoes, still dense. If I were you, I'd steam the sweet potatoes for moisture, then mash or purée them.

  8. These are soooo good. I made them this morning and did the drizzle version of the icing. I used whole wheat pastry flour and added some chopped candied ginger. There are fabulous!!! My boyfriend is a huge pumpkin fan and gobbled up several already :-)

  9. Rachael ~ That was quick!! (Perhaps we have the same definition of spectacular -- "baked on a whim with pantry ingredients"? So glad they worked for you too -- and love your idea of candied ginger. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know!

  10. Hi Alanna,
    Thanks for the reply -- I just love your site and am passing it along to others. It's so refreshing to have someone list calories, etc. - very, very helpful. And so good to provide a yummy venue that encourages eating more veggies :-)

  11. I really love pumpkin baked goods, so these sound pretty great to me. Being a total sucker for browned butter, I can't quite give up that idea either. What I'm hoping is that someday we can get golden icing sugar (an unrefined, golden-colored version of confectioners' sugar) in this country. I've never seen it yet, but the reason I want it is that Nigella Lawson's been using it as an ingredient for years, especially to enhance brown-butter frosting. I have a hunch that it would make the difference...

  12. Alanna, I have to tell you your photographs are getting amazingly good. This one with the bars in the foreground, and the autumnal scene in the background (your yard, right?) is right out of a magazine! I saw cans of pumpkin displayed prominently yesterday, and had to buy some!!

  13. i think that pumpkins are technically fruit and not vegetables. does that matter? not to me. i'm going to try the recipe out tomorrow!

  14. Alanna, these bars were GREAT. I used whole wheat pastry flour, and am thinking about making another batch today, and trying to sub applesauce for the butter. My friend just emailed me demanding your link, since I gave her some to try. Such a simple recipe - thanks for posting it!

  15. Hi Cordelia ~ Thanks so much for taking a minute to let me know how they turned out for you, I'm so glad you liked them too! Please let me know how the applesauce substitutes for the butter. I think I wasn't cooking that much during the 80s when that practice was de rigeur so have little/no experience. I'd love to learn from you!

  16. soooo yummy! we had your roasted fennel with our meal and these yummy bars for dessert (eek i used can frosting! just a dollop)
    i'll make a full meal on all your recipes one day.

  17. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    Today is July 4 and instead of the same apple pie routine I made these...they are to DIE for. Two of us ate the whole square pan in minutes! So, I've gotta run and make more for the company. It really doesn't need any icing but I did the drizzle. Here's the only thing I did different:

    Instead of butter (100 cal/TBSP), I used 1 TBSP Brummel & Brown yogurt spread (45 cal/TBSP); 1/4 cup powdered sugar instead of 1/3 cup; vanilla soy milk instead of milk; and after drizzling the mixture over the bars I sprinkled natural oats over the top.

    THANK YOU ALANNA...so yummy!

  18. Hi Alanna,

    I got here from One Hot Stove. This is an amazing blog! I started browsing randomly and have bookmarked a few recipes. Also, loved the way you seem start with some stories... I tried the Pumpkin Bars last night and they were delicious:) Plan to try a version with WW Flour/Applesauce etc as suggested by other readers the next time around... Thanks for the recipe and the lovely blog!

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  20. Ginger GriffinOctober 01, 2013

    These look wonderful! Hope to be making them soon.

  21. I have never thought to use pumpkin for a cake! I always associate it with savoury foods - not sweet. I can't wait to try these myself!

  22. Hi, I recently started a diet and for breakfast I have an English muffin everyday, I think I am just going to switch over to these delicious pumpkin cakes! Thanks for sharing these!

  23. There's no better way to welcome the fall than with pumpkin cakes!

  24. I have 2 pink banana squash that I need to do something with. I might try this recipe!!! Looks delish :)


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna