Soft Pumpkin Bars (with Cake Mix!) — SUPER soft pumpkin bars studded with chocolate chips, candied pecans, and plenty of pumpkin pie spice!! A FAST and EASY pumpkin dessert that feeds a crowd for your fall and winter celebrations!!
Pumpkin Bars… Made with Spice Cake Mix!
If you’re looking for super soft pumpkin pecan bars, these are the ones to make. They’re fast, easy, and the little bit of chocolate tastes so decadent along with the richly spiced pumpkin and the crunchy candied pecans I used.
This is kind of an odd recipe, which you’ll see in the recipe instructions below. But just follow the directions as specified and you’ll be wowed by this dessert!
Buttery, soft pumpkin spice bars dotted with pecans and chocolate chips. Delish!
Ingredients in Pumpkin Cake Mix Bars
To make these pumpkin bars with cake mix, you’ll need:
- Pumpkin puree (and you use the whole can, which is nice)
- Evaporated milk
- Vanilla extract
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Spice Cake Mix (or yellow cake mix)
- Melted Butter
- Candied pecans (or regular pecans or walnuts)
- Chocolate chips
How to Make Cake Mix Pumpkin Bars
This is an incredibly easy pumpkin bar recipe with cake mix … but things get a little weird in the baking process. I’ve gone into detail in the section below (as well as in the recipe card at the end of this post), but just trust the process!
Here’s how to make pumpkin bars with spice cake mix:
- Whisk together the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon. Pour that mixture into a 9×13-inch pan and set it aside.
- Mix together a box of spice cake mix with melted butter. The mixture will have the consistency of very wet sand. This is where this recipe gets weird. As a baker, this feels very wrong, and I was thinking this is not going to work out, but it did and it does, so have faith.
- Take the buttery spice cake mixture and drop golf ball sized blobs of it into the pan with the pumpkin puree. You won’t see where they are landing because the pumpkin mixture is very obscure, and you will drop in lots, so just scatter them around the pan as best as you can.
- To add some more weirdness, now sprinkle the pecans over the pan. Again, you likely won’t see where they land after they sink, so sprinkle them as evenly as you can. Same with the chocolate chips.
- Bake the bars until they are very well set, for me that was 45 minutes.
A note on the bake time: If you are in doubt as to whether the bars are done or not, this is a dessert where I would err on the side of overbaking rather than underbaking since if you underbake you could end up with bars that are so soft they will just fall apart. I adapted the recipe from another and the original website suggests baking 50-60 minutes, although in my oven they would have been burnt by 60 minutes.
Can I Use Another Kind of Cake Mix?
If desired, you can make these pumpkin bars with yellow cake mix instead of spice cake mix.
Can I Use Gluten-Free Cake Mix?
Yes! You’re welcome to use your favorite gluten-free spice cake mix if desired. The texture of the bars will of course be slightly different, but pumpkin desserts are always a bit denser and moister so I don’t think the different will be huge.
Can I Make These Bars From Scratch?
If you’re not a cake mix person and want a delicious 100% from-scratch pumpkin bar recipe, make these Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bars instead.
These cake mix pumpkin pecan bars are very straightforward so there’s not a ton of wiggle room in the recipe. However, you’re welcome to try the following variations:
- Use a gluten-free cake mix if that’s necessary for you.
- Use plain pecans if you can’t or don’t want to buy candied pecans.
- Use different mix-ins altogether, if desired. Any combination of baking chips and nuts will work!
- Use all nuts or all chocolate chips, noting that the bars will have a different texture and depth of flavor depending on what combination of mix-ins you choose.
- Use yellow cake mix if you can’t find spice cake mix.
How to Store Pumpkin Cake Mix Bars
Because my bars were very soft and because it was still in the low 80s during the day in San Diego when I made these, I stored these in the fridge.
However, depending on the softness level of your bars, your preference for chilled desserts, and your climate, you can store them at room temp if you prefer.
Tips for Making Pumpkin Bars with Cake Mix
Nuts: I used candied pecans (thank you, Trader Joe’s) but you can use regular pecans or even walnuts. However, for me, a praline dessert means pecans not walnuts, although I know there is some debate on that.
Pumpkin: Note that this recipe calls for pumpkin puree, which is NOT the same thing as canned pumpkin pie filling.
Spice levels: Feel free to adjust the cinnamon in these pumpkin dessert bars. I like quite a bit in my bars, but you may prefer more or less.
Pin This Recipe
- one 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
- one 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, or to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
- one 15.25-ounce box spice cake mix (yellow cake mix may be substituted)
- 3/4 cup unsalted melted butter
- 3/4 to 1 cup candied pecans (I leave them whole or in large pieces; plain pecans or walnuts may be substituted)
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F, line a 9x13-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil for easier cleanup if desired, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared pan; set aside.
- To a large bowl (same one you already used is fine), add the spice cake mix, melted butter, and stir to combine.
- Drop buttery spice cake mixture in golf ball-sized amounts over the pumpkin mixture in the pan. You won't see where they are landing because the pumpkin mixture is very obscure, and you will drop in lots, so just scatter them around the pan as best as you can.
- Evenly sprinkle the candied pecans and then the chocolate chips.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bars are very well set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If in doubt, this is a dessert that overbaking by a bit is better than underbaking by a bit. If the bars are underbaked, they will be too soft to hold together or cut. The site from which I adapted this recipe suggests baking 50-60 minutes, although in my oven 60 minutes would have burned the bars; bake until done given your oven, climate, and ingredients, whatever that means on the clock.
- Allow bars to cool, in the pan, for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.
Storage: Bars may be stored covered for up to 5 days either in the fridge or at room temp, however for these bars I prefer the fridge (read the blog post).
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 294mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 29gProtein: 4g
More Easy Pumpkin Dessert Recipes:
My FAVORITE PUMPKIN RECIPES on my blog!
My cookbook, Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie is my second cookbook and 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 to check it out!
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