Fudgy Pumpkin Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

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Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they’re like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Ultra Fudgy Pumpkin Bars

First I made these bars using lemons, then bananas, now pumpkin. Why not? Everything is better after it’s been pumpkin-ified.

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.

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Bars

To make these moist pumpkin bars, you’ll need: 

  • White chocolate chips 
  • Unsalted butter
  • Egg
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Pumpkin puree 
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • 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. 

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

How to Make Glazed Pumpkin Spice Bars 

These really are the BEST pumpkin bars I’ve ever eaten. Here’s an overview of how they’re made: 

  1. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, then stir in the egg, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Add the pumpkin and spices, followed by the dry ingredients. 
  3. Turn the batter into a greased and foil-lined 8×8-inch baking dish. B
  4. ake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. 
  5. In the last 10 minutes of baking, make the vanilla browned butter glaze. The glaze can be poured onto the bars 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! 

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

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.

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Recipe Variations to Try

  • Sub the glaze: Try frosting the pumpkin spice bars with cream cheese frosting instead of the browned butter glaze. 
  • Adjust the spices: I wasn’t shy with the pumpkin pie spice in this recipe, so feel free to add less (or more!) as you see fit. 
  • Use homemade pumpkin puree: Just note that homemade puree is sometimes thicker than the canned stuff, so you may need to tweak the ingredients slightly if the batter is too thick. 
  • Add mix-ins: These spiced pumpkin bars are perfect as is, but I imagine mini chocolate chips or finely chopped nuts could be stirred into the batter if desired. 

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

Tips for Making Fudgy Pumpkin Bars

Browning the butter: 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: Vanilla extract is okay, but won’t be as flavorfully intense as paste or seeds.

White chocolate: 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. 

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars — Moist pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! The glaze is ahh-mazing!!!

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4.53 from 19 votes

Fudgy Pumpkin Spice Bars with Vanilla Bean Browned Butter Glaze

By Averie Sunshine
Dense pumpkin bars so soft they're like biting into pumpkin fudge!! These bars are made from scratch and are topped with a vanilla glaze!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12
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Ingredients  

Bars

  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste

Glaze

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, browned (how to brown butter tutorial
  • 1 heaping cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 1/4 cup cream or milk, or as necessary for consistency

Instructions 

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. 

Notes

To store: Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Adapted from Fudgy Banana Bread Bars and Lemon Lemonies.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 346kcal, Carbohydrates: 41g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 60mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Pumpkin Spice Desserts:

ALL OF MY PUMPKIN RECIPES! 

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.

Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie by Averie Sunshine

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!!

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! 

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — Moist pumpkin cake is topped with a creamy homemade cream cheese frosting. This easy fall dessert is perfect for Thanksgiving, Halloween, and more!

4.53 from 19 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. Silly question…I see we are to line the pan with aluminum foil, is this for a specific reason? I tend to use parchment in my baking processes & want to make sure my pumpkin treats turn out as wonderfully fudgy as yours!

    1. Only because it helps with cleanup, as does parchment, neither are 100% necessary and can be skipped if you desire.

  2. 5 stars
    It’s so crazy to me that I’m the first person to rate this recipe. (I see that there’s a lot of comments, but no actual ratings yet.) It is AMAZING. I’m, like, *known* for these bars; I’ve made them for years. The texture is so dense and fudgy. I do top them with a traditional cream cheese frosting instead of the glaze.

    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad that you think the recipe is amazing and thanks for being the first person to leave some stars!

  3. 5 stars
    It’s so crazy to me that I’m the first person to rate this recipe. (I see that there’s a lot of comments, but no actual ratings yet.) It is AMAZING. I’m, like, *known* for these bars; I’ve made them for years. The texture is so dense and fudgy. I do top them with a traditional cream cheese frosting instead of the glaze.

    1. If you double it, you can make in a 9×13. There are baking conversion websites for the volume equivalent of an 8-inch square pan and what other sizes/shapes are approximately the same.

  4. I am anxious to try the stuffing recipe. My family has always liked my stuffing which sounds alot like yours but I always made it with half cornbread and half bread cubes. Do you see a problem with my way?

    1. I think half and half would be fine. I have never done it that way though so I can’t say for sure, but probably fine.

    1. Possibly you could if you were to re-adjust the sugar ratios and experiment with things, but as written, no the two aren’t interchangeable.

  5. The glaze on these is too sickly sweet for me with the whole cup of confectioners sugar. The bars themselves were all right and easy to make but I probably would not make again, especially not without changing the glaze. I’ll probably just throw them away. 

    1. I’m sorry you found the glaze too sweet. We all have different tastes. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  6. I used vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean (on-hand, and cheaper!) so my glaze came out brown instead of white, which is okay with me! My concern is that the glaze was pretty thin/runny, so if I let these set to cool, will the glaze thicken up?  I don’t want it to stay sticky! 

    1. The extract (liquid) probably thinned out the glaze. You could have added more powdered sugar to thicken it up. It will harden/set-up in time but not necessarily as thick or stiff as you want, hard to say. Just a touch more powdered sugar would do the trick until it’s comfortably thick enough, for your tastes.

  7. I love these bars! My daughter made the recipe for Thanksgiving and I love that they are so moist and dense. Taste fabulous, too. My guy does not so much like pumpkin or pumpkin pie, so when I made these today I made a couple substitutions. I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin, and I used cardamom instead of pumpkin pie spice. Different flavor but still had the wonderful texture that I love so much. I’ll definitely be getting your cookbook soon. I am positive I will be liking your recipes!

    1. Thanks for trying this recipe and great tweaks with sweet potato and cardamom. And thanks in advance for picking up my book – please LMK what you make from it!

  8. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made them today as a test for one of my Thanksgiving desserts. They are ahhmazing! That glaze is to die for. The vanilla bean paste was worth every penny. I cannot wait to make the other versions as well. I’m not sure i want to share them.

    1. Thanks for trying the recipe, Maryann, and glad the glaze is to die for and that you felt the paste was worth it$$. I totally agree and so glad you’re happy and that you can check one Thanksgiving dessert off your list now :)

  9. Hello! I am in the process of making the pumpkin fudgy bars and I just have a quick question. I see that you wrote to leave these out overnight, but since there is milk in the glaze does this create a problem? Please let me know, thank you!

    1. I personally don’t have an issue storing glazed items at room temp (think of all the glazed donuts that sit out!!…for days in some places!) but if you do, you can put them in the fridge. They will dry out more and lose softness, but do what you prefer.

  10. Since I found your site yesterday and printed out the lemon bar recipe, then came across the punkin bar recipe today, I have officially declared your website lethal to my waist line!

    Luckily, my baking challenge this year (1000 cookies in memory of my late mother and my cat) will see 99.8% of all baked goods leaving our home *whew*!

    However, being a fiend for lemon and pumpkin, I cannot wait to make these and incorporate them into this years Holiday baking extravaganza.

    Must check out your cookbook too and of course pin this :)

    1. Thanks for pinning, finding me, wanting to get my book, and for wanting to make so many of my recipes!

      I totally understand about making things and then making sure that 99% leaves the house! I would say 70% leaves our house just because we don’t need 5 cakes/5pans of bars/5 batches of cookies etc on any given week :)

      LMK what you make & how it goes!

  11. I made these and subbed egg nog for the milk in the glaze recipe – a tasty substitution! In my oven, I should have cooked them even less than the recommended time to make them fudgier, but they were still delicious!

  12. I just made these and I am trying my best to let them cool! My glaze turned out a bit darker than yours. But I snuck some off the spoon and it was a beautiful thing. Can’t wait to try these :-)

    1. You know what, in photos with all the lights, things can look very reflective and light so I wouldn’t be surprised if in real life ours was the same color. And if yours is darker, that just means you got your butter even browner than I did…good job!! :)