This recipe for healthy sheet pan pumpkin bars is the best fall dessert for a crowd. The moist cake bars are made with canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice and lightened up with ingredients like Greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil, and ground oats. Plus, the cream cheese frosting uses a lot less sugar than other recipes! You can bake this treat on a half sheet or jelly roll pan.
I’m sitting here eating leftover sheet pan pumpkin bars, and all I can think about is how excited I am to share them with you! Pumpkin baked goods, and fall desserts in general, are one of the best parts of autumn. However, it can be hard to find recipes that aren’t jam packed with not-so-healthy ingredients (unless it’s my Banana Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread or Chocolate Cherry Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars).
That’s why I was determined to make healthier, lightened up cake bars! I incorporated ingredients like ground oats (in place of half of the flour), extra virgin olive oil (instead of butter), and Greek yogurt. I also used maple syrup instead of brown sugar. Plus, the cream cheese frosting has less than a cup of powdered sugar, compared to the whopping two to four cups called for in many other recipes.
Believe it or not, all of these changes do not sacrifice flavor or texture. My pumpkin bars are still incredibly moist and flavorful. And the best part? You bake them on a half sheet plan! The recipe therefore yields enough bars for a crowd, making it a great option for fall entertaining, Halloween parties, and even Thanksgiving dinner.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Canned pumpkin: Use pureed pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Melted butter or coconut oil, avocado oil, or canola oil would also work.
- Greek yogurt: I recommend plain, full-fat.
- Maple syrup: You can substitute brown sugar if needed. Use 1 and ⅓ cup of brown sugar to replace the 1 cup of syrup.
- Vanilla extract
- Ground oats/oat flour: You need 1 cup of oat flour. I just grinds oats myself in my food processor. If you do that, start with 1 and ¼ cup of oats to yield about 1 cup of oat flour.
- All-purpose flour: You could try replacing this with 1-to-1 gluten-free flour if you need to (and make sure your oats are certified gluten-free), but I have not personally tried it.
- Pumpkin pie spice: Pre-made pumpkin spice is now widely available, including at Trader Joe’s or at large grocery stores via the McCormick’s brand. If you can’t find it, however, you can make your own! Combine 1 and ¾ teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¼ teaspoon allspice to replace the tablespoon of pumpkin spice used in sheet pan pumpkin bars.
- Baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- Cream cheese: Use the brick kind, not the stuff that comes in tubs. Make sure it has softened at room temperature before making the frosting.
- Powdered sugar
As the name suggests, you will need a sheet pan to make sheet pan pumpkin bars, and specifically a half sheet pan. I recommend the Nordic Ware half sheet pan. Other tools that will make your life easier when preparing this recipe include a mini spatula turner and an icing knife.
The full recipe card, which includes ingredient quantities and the recipe steps, is at the bottom of the post. Here is a preview of the recipe.
Whisk together the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl, then stir them into the wet batter.
Pour the batter onto a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
While the pumpkin bars are baking, beat the cream cheese together with the butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until well-combined.
Let the bars cool completely before spreading the frosting on top!
Leftover sheet pan pumpkin bars can be stored at room temperature for about 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store them right on the sheet pan, covered tightly with a plastic wrap or foil, or in an airtight container. If you have a half sheet pan with a lid, use that! It makes it really easy to store and transport them, especially if you are making them in advance for an event or Thanksgiving
I personally like to store bars in airtight containers in a single layer so that the frosting doesn’t get messed up. If you have a lot of leftover bars, you will probably have to use a few airtight containers. For information on freezing the bars, see the below FAQs.
If you don’t have a half sheet pan (18×13″) for this recipe, you can use a jelly roll pan (15.5×10.5″). Using a jelly roll pan will yield slightly thicker bars. You will also probably need to bake the bars for a few extra minutes.
If you want to store leftover sheet pan pumpkin bars for a longer time, the good news is they can be frozen. After adding the frosting and slicing the bars, let them chill in the refrigerator until the frosting is set. Then, wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap. Gently place the bars side by side in a single layer in a freezer bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
More Pumpkin Desserts
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Sheet Pan Pumpkin Bars
- Half sheet pan (can also use a jelly roll pan, see notes)
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup ground oats or oat flour - if grinding yourself, use 1 and ¼ cup oats to yield 1 cup
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice - see notes for substitution
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree - or sub 2 cups of homemade puree
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt - I use full-fat
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese - softened at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons butter - softened at room temperature
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Review the ingredients list to make sure you have everything you need. Get the cream cheese and butter out of the refrigerator to soften at room temperature before starting the recipe. You may also want to grind the oats beforehand if you are not using pre-made oat flour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides of the pan that are not covered by the parchment.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, Greek yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and stir gently with a rubber spatula until mixed together.
- Pour the batter onto the lined half sheet pan. Spread it out so that it evenly coats the pan. Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- While the bars are baking, prepare the frosting. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and butter. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and beat for another minute or so until well-combined.
- Let the pumpkin bars cool completely. Then, spread the frosting on top. After frosting, cut the bars into squares.
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- You can use a jelly roll pan for this recipe to get slightly thicker bars. You will likely need to increase the baking time by a few minutes.
- If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, use 1 and ¾ teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and ¼ teaspoon allspice.
- Store leftovers right on the half sheet pan if you have a lid for it, either at room temperature if you’re eating them within a few days or in the refrigerator. You can also transfer them to airtight containers. I like to keep them in a single layer in containers so the frosting doesn’t get messed up.
Happy fall, y’all! – Lizzie