Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Incredibly moist and lightly spiced cake smothered in smooth cream cheese frosting. These Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are absolutely delicious. 

What does pumpkin cake taste like?

If you haven’t tried pumpkin cake before, imagine carrot cake but slightly different. I realise that isn’t helpful but this recipe has the familiar flavourings of cinnamon and the moistness of carrot cake, but the pumpkin provides something slightly different.

Tweaking a friend’s recipe

I hadn’t tried pumpkin until an American friend I used to work with brought in pumpkin bars for Thanksgiving. I’d never had anything like them, they had such a unique taste and of course because it’s an American recipe they had a lovely cinnamon flavour. Becky was kind enough to give me the recipe so I could make them myself. Over the years I have made small changes to the recipe to hopefully make these Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting even tastier. 

These hands down Mr Curly’s favourite thing I have ever baked.  He loves carrot cake but he really loves these Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting and would like me to make them more than the once a year I do.

What kind of pumpkin do you use in cakes?

When I’ve mentioned the Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting before people automatically assume I spend hours preparing the pumpkin from scratch.But the recipe uses pumpkin puree from a tin so it really couldn’t be easier. Libby’s pumpkin puree was recommended to me to be the best to use because it is what American’s use. You can’t get it in every shop so you might have to look around for it. I think Waitrose stock it all year, I have seen it very occasionally in Aldi and I found it the last time in the ethnic food isle in Tesco. It keeps for years so you can always buy a few when you find it. 

You could always make your own pumpkin puree if you would like. When I have made my own in the past it has been wetter than the shop bought puree. I would recommend draining the pumpkin thoroughly in a sieve before adding it to your cake mix. 

When Mr Curly has taken my Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting into work before, his colleagues were surprised that they actually had carrot in them. They then gave me the challenge to see if I could bake with other vegetables and for it to taste good. I knew Mr Curly loved these bars and they were a tested recipe so I decided to make these. No one guessed that they were pumpkin bars but everyone thought they were delicious. I think I passed their test!

Converting the recipe

Becky’s original recipe was in cup measurements as this is the most widely used measurements in America. For years I kept the recipe like this, but I finally took the plunge to convert the recipe to grams. This may sound like an easy thing to do, but I find cup measurements to temperamental and even if you measure correctly, I don’t seem to get any two cups weighing exactly the same. 

So this year, Mr Curly was my sous chef and he made the cake as I was converting the ingredients. I hope this makes the recipe easier to follow for everyone and creates consistent measuring. 

Not only did I update the recipe this year, I also updated the photographs. The only photos were by no means the worst on my blog, but they definitely needed a revamp!

5 from 12 votes

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Incredibly moist and lightly spiced cake smothered in smooth cream cheese frosting. These Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are absolutely delicious. 

Course Cake
Cuisine American
Keyword Cream Cheese, Frosting, Pumpkin, Cake
Servings 18
Calories 164 kcal


For the cake

  • 410 g caster sugar
  • 250 ml sunflower oil
  • 320 g plain flour
  • 425 g pumpkin puree (one tin)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (rounded)
  • 4 eggs

For the frosting

  • 35 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 225 g icing sugar
  • 100 g cream cheese full fat
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC (fan assisted or 170ºC) and line a tray bake tin with baking parchment

  2. Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly and pour into the tin. Use a spatula to spread the mix is level and right to the corners

  3. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Test with a cocktail stick, when it comes out nearly clean the cake is ready

  4. When the cake is completely cool, make the frosting

  5. Mix all of the frosting ingredients together and spread evenly across the cake. Cut into equal sized bars 

Recipe Notes

My cake took 36 minutes to cook. Check yours after 30 minutes to see if it is cooked. You don't want the cocktail stick to come out completely clean, a few sticky crumbs are fine because this is quite a moist cake. 

Nutritional information is given as a guide only.

Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 164 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 84mg4%
Potassium 84mg2%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 60IU1%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 0.9mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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28 thoughts on “Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Pingback: Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Curly's Cooking

  2. Pingback: Easy Homemade Pumpkin Puree | Jo's Kitchen Larder

    1. Cat Post author

      In the last few years it has become far easier to find the tinned puree which does mean I stock up so I can make pumpkin cakes throughout the year!x

  3. Pingback: Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – Curly's Cooking

  4. Pingback: Pumpkin & Sage Soup – Curly's Cooking

  5. Choclette

    Your pumpkin bars look delicious. I assumed it was gingerbread when I first looked. That would have been good too, but pumpkin is definitely the veg of the moment.

  6. Anna

    Love anything pumpkin at this time of the year! These bars look so tasty, not to mention that heavenly cream cheese frosting on top! I can almost taste it!

  7. Jenny Walters

    What a fabulous looking bake Cat! The icing looks absolutely incredible. I love the sound of your cake, moist pumpkin crumb with cinnamon. As far as I’m Concerned cinnamon makes the whole of the colder months bearable! I love it in a cake and I love it even more with cream cheese icing! Thanks for sharing it on #Baking Crumbs

  8. Lucy Parissi

    The texture of this cake looks fantastic and using cinnamon instead of pumpkin spice makes a pleasant change.

  9. esha

    Im obsessed with pumpkins this time around. The cake looks super moist and delicious. And with that icing, I can almost taste it. So tempting and mouthwatering.

  10. Jo Allison / Jo's Kitchen Larder

    This bake is right up my street Cat! 🙂 Every year I get slightly obsessed with pumpkin and use it as a star ingredient in all sorts of bakes! Your delicious pumpkin cake bars sound divine and would definitely be a huge hit in our house. Love the fact that you finished them off with some cream cheese frosting – my favourite! Thank you for sharing with #BakingCrumbs 🙂 x


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