A perfectly moist, dense, and almost brownie-like gluten free pumpkin bar topped with cream cheese icing. Finish it off with chopped pecans for the perfect fall dessert!
I’ll be honest, fall is probably the only time I make gluten-free pumpkin pie, but other pumpkin desserts like these pumpkin bars are fair game all year long. Like chocolate, there is no bad time for them!
These gluten-free pumpkin bars are a similar in texture to pumpkin bread, but have more moisture, and density reminiscent of a brownie as well. My kids and husband scoop them up and wolf them down any time we make them!
Ingredients for Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars
As gluten-free baking goes, these are really easy and simple.
- Gluten Free Flour Blend. I’ll talk more about what kind of flours to use below.
- Baking powder
- Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- Vanilla extract
- Brown Sugar
- Cream Cheese
- Powdered Sugar
- Pecans or Walnuts
What kind of gluten-Free flour should I use?
For the last few years, I have loved using Judee’s Gluten-Free products. They offer a variety of high-quality ancient grains, starches, and gums.
However, one of my goals with these recipes isn’t just fantastic taste, but also accessibility. So I want my recipes to be able to be used with flour blends you find at any grocery store.
If you’re using either of these, you’re good to use just that flour mix with no additives.
If you want to make your own blend, you’re my person. When you can customize your own flours and tweak each to the needs of every recipe, you’ve got a good thing going.
I recommend a blend of
- 33% superfine brown rice flour
- 33% sweet white sorghum flour
- and 33% arrowroot powder or cornstarch.
If you’re making your own blend like this, or using a blend that does not include a binder of some sort, I also recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of guar or xanthan gum to your flour. You could also use oat flour in place of the sorghum.
One thing I don’t recommend is using coconut flour in this recipe. Coconut flour is a whole different beast. I love coconut flour cupcakes, and many other coconut flour based treats, but you typically need a completely different recipe to use it successfully. On that note, some almond flour is okay, but I would keep it minimal as it also does not have the same characteristics as grain-based flours.
Ingredients swaps and Substitutions
Sometimes you want to make a recipe and don’t have everything in your pantry, or maybe you have food allergies that prevent you from making it as written. That’s okay!
There is some risk in changing a baking recipe, but I can give you a few helpful tips for making a swap or substitute a success.
- Swap white sugar for brown sugar. Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. Sugar is an easy swap. White sugar has slightly less moisture than brown sugar, but you can still swap it and be just fine, or reduce the flour by 1-2 teaspoons to make up the difference. Can you use coconut sugar instead? I haven’t done a lot of baking with it, but in my limited experiences, that would probably result in a somewhat drier bar.
- Use pumpkin pie spice. Add up the amount of spices in this recipe, and use the equivalent quantity of pumpkin pie spice instead.
- Coconut oil. Instead of light olive oil, or another vegetable oil, you can use melted, cooled coconut oil.
- Dairy Substitutes. You’ll notice that the pumpkin bars themselves are dairy-free. The only dairy present is in the cream cheese frosting. If you’re looking for a dairy-free icing, I would recommend using buttercream made with a dairy-free alternative to butter, and flavoring it with maple. For 1/2 cup of butter, I’d add 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, and a teaspoon of maple extract, blending it all together with about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Pumpkin and maple are a delicious combo!
- Chopped nuts. You can add 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped nuts to the batter if desired, as well as on top of the icing. I prefer the flavor of pecans, and the crunch of walnuts.
- Chocolate Chips would also be a great additions to the batter. I’d use 1/2-3/4 cup mixed in just before adding it to the baking pan. You could also top the icing with chocolate chips.
How to make these gluten-free pumpkin squares
This is such an easy, one-bowl recipe.
First, preheat your oven to 350º.
Then, whisk your brown sugar and oil together in a large bowl. It will be pretty thick, so you won’t get much whipping action.
Next, Add the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla, and whisk them together really well.
Lastly, Add your dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, baking powder, salt, and spices, and stir them all together until fully mixed.
Pour into a greased or parchment paper lined 9×9 inch baking pan such as this one.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean
Remove from oven and let cool. As it cools, it will settle somewhat. That’s okay! these pumpkin bars are very moist, so it shouldn’t look like a pumpkin cake.
As the bars cool, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until smooth.
Spread over bars, and sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired.
Remove from pan, cut them into 12 bars, and serve.
How to store pumpkin bars
Before storing, let the bars sit in the open air long enough for the icing to crust. This will make them less fragile during storage.
When ready to store, place them in a single layer in an airtight container for 1-2 days at room temperature, or a week in the refrigerator.
More gluten free pumpkin recipes:
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Cookies
- Gluten Free Pumpkin French Toast
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing
These gluten-free pumpkin bars are super simple to make, and full of flavor in a moist, brownie-like bar with delicious, cream cheese icing on top!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1/3 cup light olive oil
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (see notes above)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1//4 teaspoon ginger
Cream Cheese Icing:
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- preheat oven to 350º and grease, or line with parchment a 9×9 inch baking pan
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk oil and brown sugar together
- Add eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth
- Add in flour, baking powder, salt, and spices
- Stir until fully incorporated
- Pour into prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between the center and edge of pan comes out clean
- remove from oven and let cool in the pan
- When the pumpkin bars are cool, Combine icing ingredients and beat until smooth
- Spread over cooled pumpkin bars and top with chopped pecans if desired
- Cut into 12 bars and serve
Keywords: gluten-free, pumpkin, dessert, cake, brownies, cream cheese,
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