This is a classic Paula Deen recipe that is utterly amazing.

I made these pumpkin bars last fall and loved them instantly.

I recently made them again and decided to substitute applesauce for half the oil in a half-hearted attempt to lighten them up (since they still have plenty of sugar and eggs!). The result? They were still extremely moist and just as delicious as I remembered!

The only difference was they baked up quite a bit higher this time. The first time with the full oil amount, they were a little bit more dense, but equally delicious.

Although this is more a fall recipe than a summer recipe, I will definitely be making these again before “pumpkin season.” The cream cheese frosting is to die for and whether you substitute part applesauce or keep them true to the original, they are sure to please!

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (can substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for 1/2 cup oil)
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Icing:
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.
  2. To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Recipe Source: from Paula Deen

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80 Responses to Pumpkin Bars

  1. SJ says:

    Yum, these were good. I needed to cook them longer because I had a 13×9 pan. The edges were done after 30 minutes but the middle was soggy. I think I’ll try a 10×15 next time to get a thinner bar. And also add some pumpkin pie spice as others commented. I like that they were more cake-y than bar like. I used the applesauce substitition and they were still rich, No need to add the full oil.

  2. IG says:

    How should I store these? I’m making the day before and wanted to know if I should refrigerate or is room temp OF. THANKS

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Mel! I plan on making these (along with your cherry pie and confetti corn) for Thanksgiving! Any thoughts on how these bars would fare as cupcakes? I’m thinking I’d keep everything the same, but wondering how much I should fill up the muffin tins – e.g., if this cake rises a lot?

    • Mel says:

      I believe others in the comment thread have made these into cupcakes, but I haven’t personally. If it were me, I’d fill the liners halfway full (this cake rises a bit).

  4. Jackie says:

    Wonderful! Delicious! Amazing! And that was just the batter with out the frosting! It took all the willpower I had to actually bake the bars- but the were definitely worth it! The frosting put them over the top! Even more amazing the next day- however I’m surprised there was any left!
    I used applesauce and they were more cake like than bar like.

  5. Josh says:

    These are disgusting… AMAZING! My friend introduced them to me a few months back. I have made them three times since. These are my heaven on earth. THANKS!

  6. Ally says:

    Omg the amount of deliciousness is incredible.

  7. Janet says:

    When I first got this recipe from a friend, years ago, I thought they had too much oil and sugar. I’ve always baked these in a large pan, as the 9×13 just makes it a cake in my opinion. So this is what I did to improve recipe:

    4 eggs
    1 c. brown sugar
    2/3 c. sugar
    1/4 c. oil
    3/4 c. milk
    1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. whole wheat flour
    1 c. unbleached flour
    1/2 tsp. cloves
    2 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 tsp. baking soda

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 15x11x1 pan. Mix eggs, brown sugar, sugar, oil, milk, pumpkin, vanilla. Add whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix until smooth. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

  8. Jenn.H says:

    Hi Mel-How much extra flour would you suggest I try for high altitude? Thanks!

  9. Nadia says:

    hi melanie, while i dont think we have canned pumpkin at our grocery store here, do you think we can substitute it with real pumpkin? and how would the substitution be?
    thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Nadia – I’m not sure, although you could try searching on the internet for a fresh pumpkin equivalent to canned pumpkin. Good luck!

  10. Stephanie says: This was amazing! While I consider this to be more of a cake than a bar, it was SOOO delicious – light and fluffy yet dense and moist at the same time. I made it using the 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce variation and I also added a 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (using your recipe for pumpkin pie spice). I frosted it with your whipped cream cheese frosting (from your banana bars with whipped cream cheese frosting recipe) and the result was amazing! I can’t say enough good things about that whipped cream cheese frosting. I’m not an icing person, but I could have eaten this frosting by the spoonful!! (Ok, maybe I did actually eat a few spoonfuls…)

  11. Stephanie says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Going to bake these this afternoon with my two little ones. Do the leftover bars have to be refrigerated due to the cream cheese icing or can they be stored at room temp? Thanks a bunch!

  12. EILEEN says:

    Yet another amazing recipe I’ve found on here that’s currently in my oven. I think for dinner we’re going to have your bourbon chicken. I am totally addicted to your website!
    I made my bars with the applesauce, and since I’m giving some to people with dairy issues, and some to people without, I can’t decide if I should even frost them. Well, the fact that I don’t think I have enough powdered sugar might make that decision for me!
    Anyways, your website is amazing:)

  13. Anna says:

    Love these bars! This recipe is so simple and easy to pull together and the results is delicious. Also they cut up beautifully and serve nicely, I brought to a work potluck and they were a hit.

  14. Mel says:

    Holly – I’ve never baked them that way. I suppose you would just decrease baking time by a few minutes (watch carefully). And yes, they will be thinner bars if the batter is being put on a larger pan. If you double the recipe, make sure the pan is large enough they won’t overflow in the oven (since they are pretty thick bars in a 9X13 pan).

  15. Holly says:

    Have you ever baked this on a cookie sheet before? What would the cooking time be?
    Would you double the recipe or just have thinner bars?

  16. Samantha says:

    When I found this recipe, I had forgotten that I was out of flour….so I took a regular yellow cake mix, made it according to the box, added 6oz of applesauce and used 1lb of fresh pumpkin. After mixing all of that, I added the cinnamon as well as a little nutmeg to the mixture. After baking, I topped it with the icing from this recipe and it was delicious!!! Not as time consuming either….My fiance made a special request to have this as his birthday cake today. Thanks for the inspiration/recipe πŸ™‚

  17. Lauren says:

    Hi! These were great! I added maple syrup (just a little) to the icing and sprinkled walnuts on top. I also substituted wheat flour for white flour and I used the applesauce substitution.

    SO delicious to kill time while we’re stranded in the house for Hurricane Sandy.

  18. Diana says:

    I made these as-is, and when I tried them, they were okay, but I missed the spiciness of the other spices traditionally used in pumpkin desserts. So, I added some pre-mixed pumpkin pie spices on top of the icing. They look so pretty that way and gave it the flavor I was missing!

  19. Elle says:

    Love this recipe! I subsitute all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I also used natural sugar. 1/2 applesauce, 1/2 grapeseed oil. Used a dash of nutmeg and a dash more cinnamon since i love cinnamon. I sprinkled powdered sugar ontop since I didnt use frosty. AMAZING! Sooo moist and fluffy add a scoop of non fat vanilla ice cream and you are in heaven!

  20. Renee says:

    yummy!…thanks for sharing this recipe!

  21. Joey says:

    This recipe has been around for years. My mom made this exact recipe when I was a child so I wouldn’t classify it as a classic Paula Deen recipe. It’s been around long before Paula Deen was cooking. It is YUMMY and my husband’s favorite dessert. I use 2 cups fresh pumpkin that I freeze to make year round.

  22. Deb says:

    Yum, these were so good! I used the half applesauce/half oil method and it was super moist. I also used a 13×9 pan and it was more like pumpkin cake than pumpkin bars, but fine with me. Next time I’d use half white whole wheat flour and use pumpkin pie spice instead of just cinnamon to up the spice factor. Thanks Mel!

  23. […] Tuesday – Preschool Cookout – taking pumpkin bars […]

  24. natalie says:

    I made these yesterday. I doubled the recipe, then realized I was missing one of my sheet pans so I used a 9×13 glass baking dish for the other half. The non-sheet cake took longer to cook (about 5 minutes more), and I preferred the sheet one because of the better cake to frosting ratio, but both turned out beautifully and we ate them up without stopping. thanks!

  25. Jnl2211 says:

    We had a whole dinner of recipes from this site..the lasagna, the rolls and this for dessert! Super yummy, I love how the frosting just melts in your mouth. I will ne making these often πŸ™‚

  26. […] to use than one that I found on the What Megan’s Making blog, which she in turn read about on the My Kitchen Cafe blog. I do not normally scour Paula Deen recipes, but if two bloggers felt it was good enough to […]

  27. Heather says:

    just made this last weekend and used 1/2 cup applesauce . it was absolutely fabulous! will be making this again for thanksgiving.

  28. Kari says:

    How do I print without 14 pages printing? I did not see a printable version for this…please help. πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kari – not all my recipes have printable links yet but I’ve added a printable option to this recipe so you can easily print it out.

  29. Kelly M says:

    I made this today. I also subbed applesauce for some of the eggs and the fat and I used 1 cup white whole wheat flour and 1 cup unbleached flour. I added about 1/3 cup of milled flax seed and a couple tablespoons of milk because it was pretty thick. I used half the batter to make a small bundt cake and the other half for muffins. My guests thoroughtly enjoyed it served with a warm maple cream sauce and the cream chees frosting.

  30. Ren says:

    AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!! My husband and I had to cut ourselves off after we ate 1/2 of the pan in one hour!!! Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Ren – glad you loved these bars and way to go on having self-control. I’m sure I would have just gone for it and eaten the entire pan!

  31. Aubrei says:

    Thanks, Mel. I made it in a 15×10 and scooped out batter for 16 cupcakes- it worked great! I also substituted applesauce for a first, and loved the results! Thank You!

  32. Mel says:

    Aubrei – No, I haven’t doubled it like that but I think it would be too much batter for a 15X10 pan since the original recipe uses a 13X10 pan. However, I’m wondering if you could double it and spread it in a large sheet pan (11X17) size. I’m guessing you still might have extra batter but maybe you could make a smaller pan, too. Sorry I don’t have actual results but I definitely think it’s worth a try!

  33. Aubrei says:

    Have you ever doubled the recipe and put in a 15×10 jelly roll pan? Did they rise too much? I would like to double for a large function, please let me know if you have and how they turned out. Thanks! And I love your site…I have been spreading the word about all your awesome recipes! Thank You for sharing!

  34. Mel says:

    Thanks, Liz! Mostly, I’m glad for your comment to remind me I need to update the picture on this post!

  35. Liz K. says:

    These are heaven. Pure heaven.

  36. Melanie says:

    joyce – glad you liked the flavor and moistness of these bars! Thanks for letting me know. I hope you like the other recipes you try!

  37. joyce says:

    I made these yesterday for a family party. They reminded me of the yummy pumpkin roll (Lion House) recipe I’ve usedβ€”only WAY easier. Loved them, and so did everyone else. So moist. The frosting is divine and so thick… yum! I didn’t dare try the applesauce substitution since it was the first time making this… maybe next time. I LOVE your website. I’m making Basil Chicken with Coconut Curry Sauce for dinner tonight. Yum!!

  38. Melanie says:

    Lisa – thanks for your comment…it was so nice! I have loved reading the comments of those who have subbed applesauce. I’m so glad they turn out well!

  39. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – glad you liked these evne though they were bit lumpy!

    Jessica – your adaptations sound awesome! Way to go on healthifying the recipe…I love it.

  40. Jessica says:

    MMMMmmmmmm! I saw these and immediately had to go make them! I did substitute 1/2 C applesauce for 2 eggs, 1/2 C applesauce for 1/2 C oil and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice for 1 tsp. cinnamon.
    So heavenly! Thanks to you and to my beloved Paula Deen!

  41. Anonymous says:

    I did the same, thanks so much…they are delish!! Even though I tried to smooth the batter before baking, it still came out uneven and lumpy though..oh well it’s still delish.

  42. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – I do not take the cake out of the pan before frosting. I frost and then cut into squares. Hope that helps!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Hi Melanie,

    Do I take the cake out of the baking pan before cutting into the bars and frosting?

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  44. Melanie says:

    Anonymous – yes, I think these would be ok to make the day before because they are so moist. Just keep them well covered and I wouldn’t make them any further in advance than a day before. Good luck!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Hi Melanie, would these hold well if I made them the day before serving?

    Thank you.

  46. Melanie says:

    Hey Liz – so glad you liked these!! Thanks for letting me know.

  47. Anonymous says:

    These were THE BEST. We had several friends over for dinner the other night so I served these for dessert. Everyone asked for the recipe! -Liz K.

  48. Barbara says:

    Those look delicious! I have all the ingredients so will make them tomorrow. I love pumpkin anything!

  49. Melanie says:

    Deb. S. – I smiled at your “jog” comment. That’s probably very true, but at least the taste was worth the calories, right?? Thanks for letting me know you liked these!

  50. Deb S. says:

    WOW WOW WOW!!!!! I made this for my family this weekend, we are all gonna have to go for a jog or two now but this was the BEST!!!! Thanks for posting!!!!!!

  51. Melanie says:

    Megan – I’ll have to check out your post when it comes up but in the meantime, I’m glad you and your husband (and fellow coworkers) liked these! Thanks for letting me know.

  52. megan says:

    AMAZING! πŸ™‚ These got rave reviews from everyone who ate them. I sent half to work with my husband and I took the other half and everybody loved them. So moist and the icing is perfect. I’ll be posting about them on my blog soon. πŸ™‚

  53. Melanie says:

    Charity – ok, if the Pastor liked them, they must be worth making, in my opinion! Glad they worked out. Thanks for letting me know.

  54. Charity says:

    I made these for my bible study group and everyone loved them. Even my extremely picky eater Pastor said that they were great. Thanks for the recipe. Definitely a keeper.

  55. Melanie says:

    Lindy – LOVE all of your substitutions. You are a culinary genius! Seriously amazing. Thanks for the comment.

  56. Lindy says:

    These were delicious! I made them, replacing half the oil with applesauce and using neufchatel in the frosting. The second time I went even further and replaced 2 eggs with egg substitute, used splenda sugar blend in place of part of the sugar and instead of frosting, added 1/2 c. or so of dark chocolate ghirardelli chips. The pumpkin flavor really shone through without the frosting to compete, and they were still incredibly moist and rich tasting. Great served warm with a dollop of light whipped cream.

  57. Steph says:

    Yum! I love anything pumpkin, and these are no exception! They look divine!

  58. Melanie says:

    Danielle – true, true. Paula Deen’s recipes can be hard on the waistline but I’m a sucker for those cause they taste so great. I’m glad you liked these!

  59. Danielle says:

    I love Paula Deen! She is so much fun & her recipes are great. However, they are not always that great for you so your substitution is greatly appreciated. I’ll make sure to use applesauce in the future. I made these for Thanksgiving & everyone loved them. Using the original recipe I had to bake for an extra 10 minutes. The cream cheese frosting is the best frosting I’ve ever had!

  60. Katie says:

    WOW those look good! The bar itself has such an amazingly smooth looking consistency and that frosting…mmmmm….. πŸ™‚

  61. Kevin says:

    Those pumpkin bars sound good.

  62. k's mama says:

    WE made this several times over the past few weeks. SO yummy. We have your site bookmarked and love to try your recipes!!!Mrs v

  63. Beth says:

    These look delicious – will have to give these a try – perhaps for the Cricket Tea Ive got to prepare next month for my Husband!

  64. Melanie says:

    Mrs V – well, thank you! I’m curious to know if you used the applesauce in the pumpkin bars or the oil (or both). You’ll have to let me know. Thanks for commenting!

  65. amisparky says:

    Delicious! The entire thing is yummy but love, love, love the frosting.

  66. Deborah says:

    I’m with Grace – I don’t care what time of year it is – send some over my way!!

  67. grace says:

    “cream cheese frosting” and “to die for” are phrases that belong together for eternity. and the applesauce is definitely a great substitution. i don’t give a hoot what season it is–i’ll eat these and i’ll eat ’em good. πŸ™‚

  68. Lauren @ Parsnips Aplenty says:

    Yes, please! I’ll bookmark any Paula Deen recipe that’s been made calorifically sane.

  69. Angie says:

    These look YUMMY!! My grandma used to make amazing pumpkin bars and I have yet to taste any that are close to what she made. I’ll have to try this one to see how they match up!

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