Pumpkin Dessert Bars Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Pumpkin Dessert Bars

9 reviews / 4.2 average

Time for a quick poll.

Pumpkin Pie: yes or no?

How To Make Our Pumpkin Dessert Bars:

Pumpkin dessert bars in a tin dish.

For me?

Pumpkin: Yes.

Pie: No.

But it feels like pumpkin pie is the right thing to do at Thanksgiving, so I usually take a piece and just eat the pumpkin filling, because hi, I'm 8 years old and I pick my food apart. And then even though I don't love pie in general, I like the apple pie better than the pumpkin pie, which gets confusing because then which piece should I take? And then Grandma sometimes takes us all for a ride by bringing a chocolate French silk pie, which is so overwhelming and wonderful that usually I just end up with multiple slices of pie and the significance of pumpkin pie is lost somewhere between the caramel apple pie filling and the whipped cream with chocolate shavings.

I am totally in love with the idea of pumpkin pie, but I am not totally in love with pumpkin pie.

But this.

Pumpkin dessert bars  in a tin dish.

This golden brown buttery pan of glory is a staple at our house during Thanksgiving, and no, it's not a pumpkin pie. It's a soft, sweet pumpkin-pie-esque base (see the bottom?) topped with a dense buttery yellow cake topping that's part crumbly, part cakey, part buttery. Oh, wait. Did I say buttery already?

Side note: this weekend I had a phone call with my best friend back home and at least three minutes of our long-distance conversation was spent talking about BUTTER. I.am.not.kidding. This is my life.

But these pumpkin dessert bars. It satisfies every pumpkin-loving bone in my body, and also every butter and cake craving I've ever had in my life. It takes Thanksgiving nostalgia to new heights.


Two pieces of pumpkin dessert bars on white plates.

If you're going to make this, you have to be ready to not have any leftovers. In theory that would be a good thing, but for this, not so much. My Filipino neighbors, who are usually the recipients of my baked goods, are only moderately excited about the taste and texture of pumpkin. That means there's a lot of individual pumpkin dessert bar hoarding happening right now, right here, in this very apartment.

Even with the palm trees and the hot sun staring me down from the window, I knew it was fall as soon as I had a bite of this in my mouth.

This year I'm thankful for desserts that are easy and insanely good.

Two pumpkin dessert bars on white plates.
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pumpkin dessert bars

Pumpkin Dessert Bars


These pumpkin dessert bars are so easy! A yellow cake mix makes this a fast, simple, and totally addicting alternative to pumpkin pie.


  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 15-ounce box yellow cake mix with pudding
  • 2 sticks butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the pumpkin, evaporated milk, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture into a 9 X 13 pan.
  2. Sprinkle dry cake mix over top and pour melted butter evenly over the top.
  3. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until the middle is set.


If you notice the top is browning more than you want during baking, just cover the pan with foil, making a tent shape so that the foil doesn't touch the topping.This time, I just used a regular cake mix (not one with pudding) and it was still delicious!

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 90 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pumpkin dessert bars, pumpkin bars, easy pumpkin bar recipe

One thing I forgot to acknowledge: the aluminum cake pan that I've been using (for this AND the chocolate cake) since I'm too cheap to buy a real cake pan that I would only use for 6 more months before we move back home.

So, there's that.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    That dense buttery yellow cake topping is where it’s at for me! Looks fabulous! I will always choose pumpkin bars of some sort over pie – more diverse and more going on, which I like!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ll eat pumpkin anything. Well, as long as it’s dessert. I don’t get down with pumpkin in real food. That’s just wrong, man.

    But, this? This cake? Yes. I will eat every last piece.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks yummy, I hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving. I know what it’s like not being around family during the holidays. Glad you are making delicious recipes that remind you of home. I’m not a pumpkin pie lover myself, actually I’m only used to having pumpkin in savory dishes but I am embracing the American pumpkin desserts and trying a variety of recipes. Thanks for the post and I’ll come back and let you know how it turns out.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    This dessert is definitely a YES!
    It reminds me of a Pumpkin ooey gooey butter cake! Yummy!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    this is one of my favorite thanksgiving recipes – we call it pumpkin crunch instead though. it’s also amazing with a little dollop of whipped cream too. yum!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Anything with pumpkin and 2 sticks of butter is good in my book! I’ll have to make this for a large group or I would also eat the entire pan 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have the exact same feelings towards pumpkin pie! Especially the whole “multiple slice” phenomenon it seems to cause on my plate.
    I love the idea of keeping pumpkin dessert (it IS Thanksgiving after all), but choosing your favorite pumpkiny treat. Who said it had to be pie? Pumpkin cheesecake is my pick this year!
    Great recipe and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m really loving this! Pumpkin pie is good, but I’m actually thinking this is better!! May have to change things up this year (which seems to be the trend for my fam this year)

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    ooh man, the poll question. tough one. i love the IDEA of pumpkin pie, and i truly love pumpkins, but… i don’t know, i’ve never been crazy about pumpkin pie. maybe the portions are always overwhelming? these dessert bars are more appealing to me. though!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Lol – I meant to call myself out on the foil pan and then forgot. I don’t have a rectangular baking pan here and I’m too cheap to buy one! 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    this sounds like one of my recipes.nice spending time with the family for Romao and seeing your pics. G’ma R .

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I pretty much love anything made with pumpkin. What a great dessert!