These pumpkin cream cheese bars are an easy dessert bar recipe that’s big on fall flavor! Every bite is filled with festive spices and silky sweet cream cheese swirls.
Why You’ll Love These Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
These gooey pumpkin and spice-filled bars are the perfect fall dessert that you can make from a box of cake mix.
- Easy. You don’t need to make a whole pumpkin cheesecake to enjoy delicious and creamy pumpkin cheesecake flavors. Unlike cheesecake, these bars don’t require any water bath or extended oven time.
- Lightened up. A few simple tweaks to the ingredients make these bars a bit lighter than other pumpkin cream cheese bar recipes.
- Swirls of cream cheese. Pumpkin cream cheese bars are swirled with decadent sweetened cream cheese filling and packed with pumpkin spice, so you get a burst of creaminess and spice in every bite.
Can’t get enough pumpkin recipes? Check out my pumpkin cobbler recipe, this classic homemade pumpkin pie, or this easy pumpkin bread. You can also find inspiration in my best pumpkin recipes for fall!
There are a few simple ingredients needed to make festive pumpkin bars swirled with sweet and tangy cream cheese. Scroll to the recipe card below the post for the full amounts and details.
- Cream Cheese – You can use full-fat or reduced-fat brick-style cream cheese. Cream cheese spread will not work in this recipe.
- Powdered Sugar
- Cake Mix – A box of angel food cake mix makes this recipe extra convenient, and also deliciously light and fluffy.
- Pumpkin – Make sure that you buy real pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. See below.
- Pumpkin Spice – Pumpkin spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. You can make your own, or buy it pre-mixed from the store.
What Is Pumpkin Puree?
Pumpkin puree is pure pumpkin that’s been steamed, pureed, and canned, with nothing else added. It’s sold near the canned pumpkin pie filling in the grocery store, yet pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling are not the same thing. Pumpkin pie filling has extras and add-ins that make it a shortcut for filling pies, but not a suitable substitute for pumpkin puree.
How to Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
These pumpkin cream cheese bars are a cinch to make. All it takes is a few quick steps:
- Make the cream cheese filling. Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar with a bit of water to make the smooth filling.
- Make the pumpkin batter. In a separate bowl, stir together the cake mix with pumpkin puree, more water, and spices.
- Assemble. First, spread the pumpkin batter into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Drizzle over the cream cheese filling, and use a toothpick or a knife to swirl the cream cheese into the batter.
- Bake. Bake the bars at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes, or until they’re set in the middle. Afterward, leave the bars to cool completely before cutting them into squares.
Tips and Variations for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
Making these rich and creamy fall dessert bars is even easier when you keep these tips in mind:
- Adjust the thickness of the cream cheese. This recipe uses 3 tablespoons of water to thin out the cream cheese mixture to a swirl-able consistency. If you find that your filling is a bit runny, you can adapt the amount of water as needed.
- Don’t add too much pumpkin. Pumpkin puree = moisture, so do your best to measure your pumpkin correctly so that your squares don’t come out looking underbaked.
- These bars will bake faster in a metal pan. If you’re using a glass or ceramic baking dish, they’ll need to bake for longer. Check them for doneness as needed (see my next tip).
- Test for doneness. Stick a toothpick into the middle of the bars (try to avoid the cream cheese swirl). If the toothpick comes out clean, the bars are ready to come out of the oven.
- Add praline. Try these cream cheese pumpkin praline bars for a delicious variation topped with a buttery pecan praline crumble.
- Add chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips are a delicious addition to these pumpkin cream cheese bars.
- Make muffins instead. For a variation that you can take on the go, make pumpkin cream cheese muffins. They taste even better than the pumpkin muffins from Starbucks!
This recipe for pumpkin cream cheese bars is perfect for fall gatherings and parties, Thanksgiving desserts, or taking along to potlucks. The creamy, spiced squares pair nicely with a warm mug or coffee after dinner (or any time of the day, really), or you can wash down slices with homemade hot chocolate. Top your bars with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of something gooey and delicious, like Nutella hot fudge sauce or homemade caramel sauce. For even more fall flavor, try drizzling your squares with this apple cider caramel sauce or pumpkin spice caramel sauce.
How to Store Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
Once your bars have cooled, store them airtight in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. You can also freeze these bars after they’ve cooled completely. Wrap them tightly or store them airtight for up to 3 months, and defrost the bars in the fridge before serving.
More Easy Pumpkin Desserts
Pumpkin cream cheese bars are an easy dessert that’s big on fall flavor! Every bite is filled with festive spices and sweet cream cheese swirls.
- 1 (8- ounce) block 1/3 less fat cream cheese
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons, plus 3/4 cup water, divided
- 1 (16 oz) package Angel Food Cake Mix
- 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of water, mixing on medium high for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine box of dry cake mix, pumpkin, remaining 3/4 cup water, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until smooth and combined.
- Spread pumpkin mixture into your prepared pan.
- Drizzle your cream cheese on top of the pumpkin mixture and swirl it in with a butter knife.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set and toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool completely and cut into squares.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Refrigerate if desired
- Serving Size: 1 Bar
- Calories: 172
- Sugar: 18.4 g
- Sodium: 258.6 mg
- Fat: 2.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 33.2 g
- Protein: 4.7 g
- Cholesterol: 0.3 mg
Keywords: pumpkin cream cheese bars
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*This post was originally published in October 2012. It was updated in September 2023 with new images and tips. The recipe remains the same.