Pumpkin bars with a cheesecake-like filling and a crunchy streusel topping. Makes the perfect make-ahead dessert for football parties or Thanksgiving!
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 45 minutes
- Cooling time: 1 hour
- Yield: 15 to 18 bars
The first glimpse of an orange pumpkin means it’s officially fall. In Seattle, we hit 95 degrees one day, and then the next, it was sweatshirt weather! And I am all for sweatshirt weather.
Let’s just keep this train rolling, shall we?
These pumpkin bars have a cheesecake-like filling and a crunchy streusel topping. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to make them – they’re a great dessert all season long.
I love adding a streusel topping to my dessert bars whenever I have the opportunity. This streusel is so simple and adds another layer of texture to the smooth pumpkin and cream cheese filling.
Make sure to let your cream cheese soften to room temperature. This helps it to blend smoothly with the other ingredients. If your cream cheese was still a little cool and you notice some lumps in the filling, push the mixture through a mesh strainer before you pour the mix over the graham cracker crust.
For more information on graham cracker crusts, see this post!
If you are feeling extra decadent, top these with caramel sauce. The bars are great on their own, but the caramel takes them up a notch. Enjoy!
Make sure to let your cream cheese soften to room temperature before mixing the filling to avoid lumps.
Prepare graham cracker crumbs by pulsing the crackers in a food processor, or placing the crackers in a zip-top bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Graham cracker crust:
- 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (See recipe note)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 6 tablespoons regular salted butter, melted and cooled slightly so no longer hot
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 4 tablespoons regular salted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- Caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought, optional
- Whipped cream, optional
1 Heat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the pan. This will help remove the bars for slicing and keep the crust intact.
2 Make the graham cracker crust: Combine all the ingredients for the graham cracker crust in a bowl. Stir the mixture together until it looks like wet sand. If it still looks dry, add an another tablespoon of melted butter. Transfer to the lined baking pan and press with your hand or the bottom of a drinking glass to form an even crust.
3 Make the streusel topping: In the same bowl used to make the graham cracker mixture, combine the ingredients for the streusel topping. Mix the ingredients together, using your hands if needed, to ensure the mixture comes together evenly. The mixture should resemble large crumbles. Set aside.
4 Make the pumpkin filling: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds in between. Scrape the bowl down again. Add in the pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, and mix until completely combined.
5 Assemble the bars: Pour the pumpkin filling into the pan on top of the graham cracker crust. Smooth out evenly. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the pumpkin filling.
6 Bake the bars for 45 to 50 minutes: Check the bars at 40 minutes to see how quickly they are baking. When done, a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out cleanly.
7 Cool the bars completely and refrigerate: Let the bars cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cool, place in the fridge to chill completely.
Slice and serve with caramel sauce drizzled over the top and whipped cream, if desired. Bars will keep, refrigerated, for about a week.