These gluten free pumpkin bars are so buttery soft! They're topped with an easy cream cheese frosting, because everyone knows pumpkin and cream cheese is a winning combination.
Raise your hand if you looove pumpkin flavored anything paired with cream cheese. I never would have thought I'd be as obsessed with this pairing as I actually am, but here we are.
I love my gingerbread bars so much, I wanted to take that concept and turn it into a Fall-friendly treat. Enter: gluten free pumpkin bars. A total no-brainer, right?
Lucky for you, this is a super easy and straightforward recipe. And I have a feeling it's going to quickly become a must-bake for you this time of year. I just know you are going to love them!
So let's get right into it. I'm going to talk you through how to make these frosted pumpkin bars and share some of my best tips.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- The texture on these bars is just SO good. They're soft and more on the dense side, but definitely not dry.
- Three words: cream cheese frosting. Whoever thought to pair cream cheese with pumpkin was really onto something.
- If you didn't want to make bars, you could totally leave this whole and serve it up as a frosted pumpkin cake!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Gluten free flour: My favorite gluten free flour blend is Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1. Unless otherwise noted, this is the flour I use to develop and test all of my recipes. If you are using a different blend, make sure it contains xanthan gum.
- Brown sugar: I really recommend light brown sugar in this recipe, but you can use dark brown if that's what you have.
- Pumpkin: Make sure you're using 100% pure pumpkin puree. We do NOT want to use pumpkin pie filling, which has added ingredients mixed in.
- Cream cheese: You'll need 1 block of full-fat cream cheese for the frosting. Do not use the spreadable kind that comes in a tub.
STEP ONE: Start by whisking the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl until combined. Now set that aside until we're ready to use it.
STEP TWO: Now, grab an electric mixer and cream the butter with the brown sugar until it's smooth and slightly lighter in color.
STEP THREE: Add in the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
STEP FOUR: Now add the dry ingredients in and mix on low speed. That's it!
STEP FIVE: We're going to transfer the batter into a lined square baking pan and bake on 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Allow that to cool completely before removing, frosting, and slicing up into bars.
STEP SIX: To make the cream cheese frosting, simply beat the softened cream cheese with the butter until it's nice and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and keep beating until you have a smooth frosting. And that's all there is to it!
- As always, I highly recommend weighing the flour using a scale if at all possible. This is the best way to ensure accuracy and adding too much (or too little) flour will change the texture of these bars. We'll need 246 grams of flour for this recipe.
- While I've indicated the bake time as 15-18 minutes, all ovens are slightly different so I recommend starting to check at the 15 minute mark. Use the toothpick test to tell if it's ready to come out of the oven.
- You definitely want your bars to be completely cool before frosting and slicing. I actually leave the bars right in the pan to cool, but you can also transfer to a wire cooling rack after about 10 minutes.
- You'll want to use room temperature cream cheese and butter for the frosting. This will not only make it easier on you to beat, it will yield the smoothest (and creamiest!) frosting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, to make these bars dairy free (and vegan), you will need non-dairy butter, and would also need to swap in non-dairy cream cheese if you plan to frost them. I haven't tested it but don't see why it wouldn't work!
Unlike buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting needs to be refrigerated. You can store these bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Did you try my gluten free pumpkin bars? Leave me a comment below or tag me on Instagram @justastastyblog and #justastastyblog! And don't forget to subscribe to get new recipes directly in your inbox.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars
For the bars:
- 1 ⅔ cups (246g) gluten free flour blend
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup (133g) light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup (114g) canned pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (180g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the brown sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out into an even layer. The batter will be thick and slightly sticky. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan completely before frosting.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Spread onto cooled bars before slicing into individual squares.
- Be sure to use 100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, which contains added ingredients.
- For the frosting, I recommend a full-fat block of cream cheese. Do not use the spreadable cream cheese that come in a tub.