Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze
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Fudgy Pumpkin Bars — Dense pumpkin bars so soft they’re like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!
Ultra Fudgy Pumpkin Bars
Fudgy is the only word that describes the pumpkin bars. They’re like biting into a piece of super soft pumpkin fudge that’s crossed with the pumpkin equivalent of moist, fudgy brownies.
They’re rich, soft, supremely moist, and tooth-sinkingly dense and satisfying. If you’re looking for a fluffy slice of pumpkin cake, they’re not that. They’re closer in texture to Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars, minus the chocolate chips, yet have an even fudgier texture. Funny how that works.
The bars are packed with rich pumpkin flavor and the glaze makes the bars go from really good to life-changing.
Lately I’ve been topping everything I can with the glaze because it’s just that good. The secrets are browned butter and glorious vanilla bean seeds. They’re such powerfully flavored ingredients, and flavor just explodes from the glaze.
Between the warming spices of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon, coupled with the glaze, I was in fall comfort food heaven. I loved the bars, hoarded them, and was sad to see the last one go.
What’s in the Pumpkin Bars?
To make these easy pumpkin bars, you’ll need:
- White chocolate chips
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Pumpkin puree
- Pumpkin pie spice
- All-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla bean paste
- Cream or milk
Can I Use Pumpkin Pie Filling Instead of Puree?
You could possibly use pumpkin pie filling rather than pumpkin puree if you were to re-adjust the sugar ratios and experiment with things. However, the two aren’t interchangeable as written.
How to Make Pumpkin Bars
Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, then stir in the egg, sugar, and vanilla. Add the pumpkin and spices, followed by the dry ingredients.
Turn the batter into a greased and foil-lined 8×8-inch baking dish, then bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
In the last 10 minutes of baking, make the vanilla browned butter glaze. The glaze can be poured onto the bar while they’re still warm.
After pouring the glaze over the warm bars, it seeps down and soaks in, and makes the bars even moister, softer, and fudgier. As a bonus, they taste even better on the second and third day, if they last that long.
Can I Double This Recipe?
Very easily! Simply double the ingredients and use a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Can I Substitute the Glaze?
A few readers have commented saying they swapped out the brown butter glaze for more traditional cream cheese frosting. While I love the glaze as is, you’re more than welcome to top the pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting if preferred.
I recommend making this cream cheese frosting recipe, if you want to go the homemade route. (You’ll need to halve the recipe!).
How to Store Pumpkin Bars
Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Tips for Making Fudgy Pumpkin Bars
If you’ve never browned butter, read this tutorial. The 5 minutes it takes to do is the best 5 minutes you’ll spend all month. I used vanilla bean paste but scraping the seeds of a vanilla bean works.
Vanilla extract is okay, but won’t be as flavorfully intense as paste or seeds.
Be very careful when melting the white chocolate in the microwave. It’s very prone to scorching and seizing up, so watch it carefully and don’t overheat.
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
Make the bars:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl add the white chocolate, butter, and heat to melt, about 2 minutes on high power. Stop to check and stir after 1 minute, and then heat in 20-second bursts, stopping to stir after each burst, until mixture can be stirred smooth. White chocolate is very prone to scorching and seizing up, so watch it carefully and don’t overheat.
- Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, sugar, vanilla, and whisk until combined.
- Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk until combined.
- Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don’t overmix.
- Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. In the last 10 minutes of baking, make the glaze.
Make the Glaze:
- Brown the butter (click for tutorial). Cook butter over medium-high heat in a small saucepan until it’s amber to brown in color, about 5 minutes depending on pan size, but watch it closely so you don’t burn it. I swirl the pan in the last minute or so to make sure I can really see the color changes. Butter will go through stages of hissing, sputtering, and making noise until the water cooks off at which point the browning occurs. Butter will smell nutty and aromatic.
- Transfer butter, including brown bits at the bottom of the pan (they’re flavor powerhouses, keep them) from pan to large mixing bowl which stops any carryover cooking.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean paste, optional salt, and slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth or beat with a handheld electric mixer. As necessary, add additional cream (or confectioners’ sugar) to reach desired glaze consistency. Glaze should be of medium thickness and easily pourable.
- Evenly pour glaze over bars (they don’t have to be cooled first), smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary, but glaze will likely just slide into place.
- Allow bars to cool in pan uncovered for at least 2 to 3 hours, (or overnight and cover with a sheet of foil) before slicing and serving so glaze can set up.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 60mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 4g
More Easy Pumpkin Desserts:
If you haven’t already pre-ordered it, Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie is my second cookbook. There are over 50 pumpkin recipes including sweets, savory, drinks, and a photo for nearly every recipe. I’d be super grateful if you headed over to Amazon.
Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars — Super soft and are like biting into a piece of rich pumpkin fudge! Loaded with chocolate and crazy good!!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache – The softest, moistest and best pumpkin cake! Easy & everyone loves it!
Cream Cheese-Filled Pumpkin Bread — Pumpkin bread that’s like having cheesecake baked in! Soft, fluffy, easy and tastes ahhhh-mazing!
Soft Pumpkin Praline Bars – SUPER soft pumpkin bars studded with chocolate chips, candied pecans, and plenty of pumpkin pie spice!! A FAST and EASY dessert that feeds a crowd for your fall and winter celebrations!!
Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting – Soft, fluffy and so much better than another loaf of plain banana bread!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies — Between the molasses, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin pie spice extract that I used, these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies beautifully showcase the flavors of fall!
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