These pumpkin gooey bars are the ultimate pumpkin dessert! A chewy, buttery spice cake bottom is topped with a tangy, gooey pumpkin filling. Perfect for a Halloween party or the Thanksgiving table, these are sure to be a huge hit.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
You know pumpkin desserts are the heart of fall, and these pumpkin gooey bars are no exception! Here's a few reasons why we love them:
Easy - this recipe couldn't be more simple and all bakes up at the same time. It's much easier than a traditional pumpkin pie, but will still please pumpkin pie lovers.
Flavorful - these bars are filled with rich pumpkin flavor, with a tangy background from the cream cheese. The combination of pumpkin pairs perfectly with the pumpkin pie spice flavors in the bottom layer of cake, making this a new, exciting fall recipe!
Midwest classic - if you're from the midwest, you're more than familiar with a gooey cake. Also known as butter cakes or ooey goey cakes, this is the bar version of those recipes, making it the perfect pumpkin dessert. These bars have a much softer and gooier top layer than a pumpkin pie layer, which is what is so great about them.
Here are some ingredients of note to make the pumpkin gooey butter bars. See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients and quantities.
- Unsalted butter. A stick of butter is used in melted form.
- Pumpkin pie spice. For the delicious pumpkin layer. Ground cinnamon goes into the cake base.
- Cream cheese. Be sure to use full fat cream cheese for this recipe for best results.
- Powdered sugar.
- Pumpkin puree. Look for pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). You'll have some pumpkin leftovers, so save the extras to make these pumpkin spice soft pretzels!
If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, use the following mix to replace it (use all ground spices): ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ⅛ teaspoon allspice, ⅛ teaspoon cloves.
How to Make This Recipe
Begin by lining an 8x8" pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃.
One: Whisk together the sugar, salt, egg yolk and melted butter.
Two: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then pour it into the wet ingredients.
Three: Use a rubber spatula to mix together the batter until thick and smooth.
Four: Press the spice cake into the bottom of the pan.
Five: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then add the remaining ingredients.
Six: Pour the pumpkin batter over the cake batter, then bake until set. Cool at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving and cutting.
Hot tip! Take care not to over bake the bars. They should still be slightly jiggly in the center (but not sloshy). Gently tap the side of the pan to check for doneness. They will continue to set as they cool, and will finish setting in the fridge.
- Press the cake layer the whole way into the corners of the pans. This way, the filling doesn't fall down the sides.
- Allow the cake to fully cool at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge. The more fridge time, the better.
- When cutting the bars, use a large, thin knife. Completely clean off the blade of the knife in between each cut.
Due to the cream cheese in the filling and to keep the texture of the bars, the pumpkin gooey bars should be refrigerated.
This is likely due to underbaking, so the filling was not able to set completely. When properly baked, the pumpkin layer will be gooey, but will remain intact when cut.
Store the pumpkin gooey bars in the fridge, covered, for one week. It's best to store them in the pan so the covering does not touch the bars. The bars should be enjoyed cold.
More Pumpkin Recipes You'll Love
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Pumpkin Gooey Bars
- 8x8" pan
- Stand mixer with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer
- Mixing bowls
- 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour 160g
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup granulated sugar 150g
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted (113g)
- 6 ounces full-fat cream cheese room temperature
- 1½ cups powdered sugar 180g
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ cup pure pumpkin puree 114g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside.1⅓ cups all-purpose flour, 1¼ teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolk and melted butter.¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg yolk, ½ cup unsalted butter
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and use a rubber spatula to fully combine the batter until no streaks of flour remain and it becomes thick.
- Transfer the cake batter into the pan and press it evenly onto the bottom, getting it the whole way to the corners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar on low until combined, then increase the speed to medium for about a minute.6 ounces full-fat cream cheese, 1½ cups powdered sugar
- Scrape down the sides, then add the egg, pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and beat until combined and smooth.1 large egg, ½ cup pure pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Pour the pumpkin batter on top of the spice cake and spread evenly.
- Bake the bars in the center rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are set, but the center is still slightly jiggly (but not sloshy).
- Remove the pan and cool on a wire rack for one hour, then transfer the pan to the fridge (uncovered) for 3-4 hours.
- Cut the bars with a large sharp knife, wiping off the blade in between each cut to get very clean slices.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to dust the tops of the bars with powdered sugar (optional).