Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts

From football to potluck, these Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts are the perfect sweet ending for a Fall get-together.

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts on White Plate with a Fork

I’m sort of a pumpkin whiner…as in I whine when I see pumpkin recipes start to appear on the interwebs in August. I guess I’m simply not cut of the cloth that sharing non-seasonal recipes so that I can get maximum traffic works for me or this blog.

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While we love these Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts, in August I’m still knee deep in tomatoes and peaches and prefer my pumpkin when real orange orbs are available at the market.

Once I started using real pumpkin for my fall pumpkin dishes there was no going back and I heartily suggest you try it too. The color and flavor of ‘real’ pumpkin is amazingly different from the product most often found in cans at the supermarket. It’s a bit more work for sure but I think worth it.

I use some when I first cook a batch but then I also freeze several 16-ounce packages so I’m ready to start using pumpkin the next year prior to seeing a bounty of them for sale. Or like this year when I haven’t gotten around to it yet; I usually buy a big pumpkin meant for cooking, use it for Halloween decorating and then get to work after the goblins have fled the neighborhood!

If you’re interested in trying it yourself; it’s simple and I’ve got the ‘how-to’ in this recipe for Pumpkin Butter (another have to have this time of year!)

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts Served for Company on White Plates

OK, so now after waxing poetic about fresh pumpkin puree; I have to admit I used a can of Sprouts brand organic pumpkin for this recipe! That’s right…and how could I? Well a couple of things. I sort of let the end of October creep up on me as I mentioned and was gobsmacked the other day when the host of this month’s Progressive Eats, Susan from the Wimpy Vegetarian, reminded us that today was the day and all things squash was the theme.

Oh My, how on earth did October fly by so quickly? So I knew I had to get on it. Honestly, shortly after that discovery, my neighbors contacted me last minute (we do that to each other a lot!) and invited me over for dinner. I offered to bring dessert so it only took a nanosecond to figure that I should make these Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts so it could do double duty…dessert and my recipe for Progressive Eats!

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts on a Plate with a Bite Removed

The only pumpkin I had on hand was a frozen packet or a can that a neighbor had spied at Sprouts on sale last year and bought each of us a couple of cans. Sprouts works in a pinch; it’s actually pumpkin.

Libbey’s is just whatever squash they feel like throwing into the mix and if I’m using a can of pumpkin at the very least I want the real deal. So that’s the route I took to avoid having to thaw a frozen package first.

This was pretty easy. From start to finish out of the oven in less than an hour. My hosts had a bunch of kids at their house and had made cupcakes for them; saving this delicious treat for the adults.

Want to know what my litmus test is for success? When people are clamoring for the last piece. Even my friend Sherry who eats like a tiny mouse had two servings. Ah…I LOVE that; to see her really enjoy the fruits of my labor in the kitchen.

I squirreled away a couple of pieces so I could take photos for this post and then gave the rest to another neighbor who wasn’t feeling well. Her son was visiting; he’s young and a Marine. I’m going to have to make some more for her; I think that boy wolfed down the half dozen small bites I had cut out of the piece I had brought home and I’m not sure Mom got any. It’s all good…they are definitely worth a second batch!

The base is sort of cake-like but a bit more dense and that frosting it simply good enough to eat with a spoon. I tested it just to be sure. Brown sugar AND maple syrup with a hint of cinnamon. The nuts could be called optional but I love them. Toasted walnuts are not only delicious but the added crunchy texture made these simply irresistible. Just ask Sherry.

Progressive Eats
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month features a bunch of recipes for winter squash, and one for a perennial favorite of summer squash that’s good to have in your back pocket all year long. Our host this month is Susan who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious fall dishes!

Comforting Squash Dishes







  • Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts – Creative Culinary (You’re Here!)

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Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts on a White Round Plate with a Fork with Wooden Handle Closeup of Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts Served on a White Plate

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts on a Plate with a Bite Removed

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts

4.92 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Cookies, Brownies and Bars


For the Pumpkin Bars

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

For the Frosting

  • 1 stick 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp milk plus more if needed


  • To make the Bars
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make the Frosting
  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth. Add the cinnamon and salt and mix in. On low speed gradually add in the powered sugar until incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla and milk and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until very light and fluffy. If too runny, add more powered sugar, If too thick, add more milk. Spread evenly all over the pumpkin bars.
  • Top the bars with the chopped walnuts and cut them into squares.


Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin Bars with Maple Frosting and Toasted Walnuts
Serving Size
1 grams
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This is a great recipe. It was easy to make; it turned out beautiful AND delicious. When I first tasted it, I wondered how I could make it into a cake, so I could get multiple layers of this deliciousness. Definitely a keeper at our house.

  2. Beautiful, Barb! I love the combination of pumpkin and maple together in a dessert! Love that it’s so easy, too as I’m not much of a baker. Definitely going to keep this in mind for the holiday season!

  3. Can I just have a couple of tablespoons of that frosting right now please? I mean I want the cake and all too but dang that just sounds like exactly what I want right this second!

    1. A woman after my own heart! I had a little bit leftover and it was great on graham crackers and an English Muffin for breakfast the next day. SO yummy. Should I say OMG Yummy? I know, I do that a lot. 😉

  4. What a totally decadent dessert! I cannot wait to make this for my family and friends. And it might just make an appearance at this year’s Thanksgiving! Thanks Barb!

    1. So would you just substitute GF flour in equal proportions Jane? I just did that recently with Lemon Bars and it was a real leap of faith and they were perfect. My neighbor and pal Amy eats GF and I hate that she always has to pass on my desserts. I had some flour that I bought to test something for her and that substitute make it easy and unnoticeable by anyone else. I’m not making everything that way because it’s pricey but I’m going to do more if I can so she can join in. She’s not celiac and will indulge occasionally but pays the price the next day with itching!

  5. I knew that most canned “pumpkin” was really squash, but I haven’t seen the Sprouts brand and will have to look for it. In any event, I’m not usually a pumpkin cake person, but with maple frosting and toasted walnuts I could definitely go for this. Plus the recipe looks so easy, I could almost make it as a midnight snack tonight:)

    1. Easy was key…by the time I got home from errands; I had an hour to get something made; this was done in 45 minutes! I’m not ‘usually’ a pumpkin cake person either but really loved this. I have no doubt it was the frosting and toasted nuts that made it a winner.

  6. I love it when non-eaters go for seconds! These are gorgeous and sound delicious. I’m going to have to get a pumpkin for the porch this years so I can make my own puree!

    1. She was here for my Christmas party last year and almost singlehandedly devoured a dip I had made. It was then I knew it was as good as I thought it was. 🙂

    1. Someone left a comment on a pumpkin sauce I made for pasta the other day alluding to the fact that they could not imagine pumpkin in a savory dish. Oh what they are missing! I’m OK with pumpkin pie but it’s not my favorite unless I spike it and put a topping on it…but these were really good. I’ve got another bar recipe I’m going to try soon too; they were sure a hit at dinner the other night so maybe I’ve been missing the boat on not doing more sweets with pumpkin? Next up is a cheesecake type bar…sounds good!

    1. I’ve found what works for me Liz is to make it after Halloween; that way I can use pumpkin I had sitting on my porch for Halloween. I never carve pumpkins anymore; I buy them for cooking! So I’ve got some to cook with for Fall but also enough to freeze and use the following year for things I might make in September or October. Wish you were closer, I would give you some!

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