November 20, 2021


"This is the best heritage recipe you've ever made!" -- Jerry, as he's eating his third bar in a row.

Jerry and the kids LOVED these (as did I). I knew that they were great when Jerry said he liked them better than pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is his favorite! And honestly, these bars really are the perfect dessert (not just for Thanksgiving, but any time). I had told Jerry he could take them to work tonight (so I don't eat them all) and the kids said, "No! Keep them here." 

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Joan Pickens. I searched, but found absolutely NOTHING about her online; usually, I'll find a relative or obituary or something and then go searching that way. But I just can't find anything about her, unfortunately. 

I chose this recipe simply because I wanted to make something festive for Thanksgiving-time, as long as it wasn't pumpkin pie. I love cream cheese frosting, so that's what pulled me in. It was actually the bars, however, that had me saying WOW.

As always, when I make these recipes I don't alter or substitute anything--I try it exactly as-written. Here, I am writing it word-for-word, but in the "printer-friendly" version, I've typed it out to include my own notes.

I don't normally write "You have to make this!" on my recipes posts, but I am going to state that here: YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS. The bars have this perfect texture that is hard to compare with other foods. It's dense and spongy, kind of like a very moist spongy pound cake. The cinnamon gives it the festive-pumpkin taste without being too "pumpkin spice-y". (Yes, I'm making up words.) And I don't even have to describe the cream cheese frosting--YUM.

Just make these bars--you will be so glad you did!

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Pumpkin Bars

2 c. sugar
2 c. pumpkin
4 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix by hand in a large bowl the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil. Add flour, mixed with soda, cinnamon, and salt. Grease and flour a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Pour in mixture and bake 25 minutes at 350 F. (Do not overbake.)

Grease and flour a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Pour in mixture and bake 25 minutes at 350 F. Do not overbake. (I did mine for exactly 25 minutes and it didn’t look “done” to me—but I pulled it out anyways and it was PERFECT.) Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

6 oz. softened cream cheese
2 sticks softened butter or oleo
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Mix with mixer.

My Notes:

All of the ingredients are very self-explanatory. I used canned pumpkin in the bars since it didn't specify that. For the frosting, I used butter (just because it tastes better).

The mixture had the texture of a thick cake batter when I poured it into the pan.

It was interesting--I set the timer for 25 minutes, because it said not to overbake, and it definitely didn't look "done" to me when the timer went off. However, I pulled it out anyways, and later, I learned that it was perfect just the way it was. So, set your timer for 25 minutes and pull it out no matter what you think when you see it. It won't look much different than when you put it in!

Just trust the recipe!

The frosting was easy to make--I just threw the ingredients in the mixer and let 'er rip until it was the fluffiest, most delicious cream cheese frosting ever.

I put (most of) it on the bars (I'm embarrassed to say how much frosting was "leftover" in the mixing bowl, hahaha).

(Yes, that is a skeleton hand in the background. He's sitting at the snack bar.)

I cut it into 20 pieces; the bars are pretty thick, so each piece is pretty satisfying. Except you'll still want more because it's just so good! Seriously. Go make these!


  1. These look amazing! I made my mom's pumpkin bread yesterday and we've already almost polished off the first loaf. It's really good with cream cheese, but I don't have any right now. I'll have to get some and then try your recipe.

  2. you sure have me convinced. They look perfect.

  3. OMG! I don't even like pumpkin, but these look so good. Now I just need to get someone who actually bakes to make them. On a side note, I need to search your posts for a crisp one. I'm dying for a good batch of berry crisp.

  4. Okay. I don't see an "apple crisp" or "berry crisp" or "peach crisp" (the kind with oatmeal, not to be confused with cobbler) so I'm pitching for that. Maybe you're not a crisp fan?

    1. I actually do make apple crisp! I just use the Betty Crocker recipe--I leave out the nutmeg because I don't like nutmeg, but this is so good with ice cream! Apple Crisp

  5. I'm pretty sure this is almost the exact recipe that my mom has been making since we were kids and they are AMAZING!! I know exactly what you mean, they are super addictive! Even when you're full you're like, well ok maybe one more small piece ;) I love a great pumpkin dessert!


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