But it feels like pumpkin pie is the right thing to do at Thanksgiving, so I usually take a piece and just eat the pumpkin filling, because hi, I’m 8 years old and I pick my food apart. And then even though I don’t love pie in general, I like the apple pie better than the pumpkin pie, which gets confusing because then which piece should I take? And then Grandma sometimes takes us all for a ride by bringing a chocolate French silk pie, which is so overwhelming and wonderful that usually I just end up with multiple slices of pie and the significance of pumpkin pie is lost somewhere between the caramel apple pie filling and the whipped cream with chocolate shavings.
I am totally in love with the idea of pumpkin pie, but I am not totally in love with pumpkin pie.
This golden brown buttery pan of glory is a staple at our house during Thanksgiving, and no, it’s not a pumpkin pie. It’s a soft, sweet pumpkin-pie-esque base (see the bottom?) topped with a dense buttery yellow cake topping that’s part crumbly, part cakey, part buttery. Oh, wait. Did I say buttery already?
Side note: this weekend I had a phone call with my best friend back home and at least three minutes of our long-distance conversation was spent talking about BUTTER. I.am.not.kidding. This is my life.
But these pumpkin dessert bars. It satisfies every pumpkin-loving bone in my body, and also every butter and cake craving I’ve ever had in my life. It takes Thanksgiving nostalgia to new heights.
If you’re going to make this, you have to be ready to not have any leftovers. In theory that would be a good thing, but for this, not so much. My Filipino neighbors, who are usually the recipients of my baked goods, are only moderately excited about the taste and texture of pumpkin. That means there’s a lot of individual pumpkin dessert bar hoarding happening right now, right here, in this very apartment.
Even with the palm trees and the hot sun staring me down from the window, I knew it was fall as soon as I had a bite of this in my mouth.
This year I’m thankful for desserts that are easy and insanely good.
These pumpkin dessert bars are so easy! A yellow cake mix makes this a fast, simple, and totally addicting alternative to pumpkin pie.
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 beaten eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 15-ounce box yellow cake mix with pudding
2 sticks butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the pumpkin, evaporated milk, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture into a 9 X 13 pan.
Sprinkle dry cake mix over top and pour melted butter evenly over the top.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours or until the middle is set.
If you notice the top is browning more than you want during baking, just cover the pan with foil, making a tent shape so that the foil doesn’t touch the topping.This time, I just used a regular cake mix (not one with pudding) and it was still delicious!
Prep Time:5 mins
Cook Time:90 mins
Keywords: pumpkin dessert bars, pumpkin bars, easy pumpkin bar recipe
Recipe Card powered by
One thing I forgot to acknowledge: the aluminum cake pan that I’ve been using (for this AND the chocolate cake) since I’m too cheap to buy a real cake pan that I would only use for 6 more months before we move back home.