Gingerbread pumpkin bars

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Gingerbread pumpkin bars

If molasses had a season I’d say it’s Autumn.

There’s something about the tangy, warming flavour of molasses that makes it the perfect partner for all sorts of Fall baking.

I have already gone on and on about what a lovely couple apples and molasses make, so now I’ll move along to the decidedly October vegetable, pumpkin.

Pumpkin + Spice +Molasses. Big name coffee chains are making a mint on that trio of flavours with their pumpkin spice lattes. (Or the pumpkin-spice combo anyway. Too bad for them they don’t go with a natural sweetener like molasses. Here’s a recipe for a homemade version — just substitute molasses for the white sugar).

I’m actually new to baking with pumpkin.

Pumpkin pie is one of my favourite Thanksgiving desserts but my mom always makes the pies and I just eat them.

Gingerbread pumpkin bars

These squares are a bit like a rich version of pumpkin pie with a delicious crumbly topping. They’re also super easy and even a little impressive looking if you’d like to take them to a friend’s house.

These gingerbread pumpkin bars are one of our older Grandma Molasses recipes, clipped from our old recipe database. We have oodles of recipes over there too so take a look if you’re really in a molasses mood.

If you’d like the gluten-free version of this recipe visit our friend Jeanine at The Baking Beauties

Gingerbread pumpkin bars


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats

Pumpkin Filling

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 250 g cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 2 eggs

*Substitute ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg and 1/8 tsp ground cloves.

Glaze (optional) 

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp milk


For the bar:

  1. Combine sugar, butter and molasses in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. Beat until well mixed.
  2. Place ¾ cup of the mixture in small bowl, add oats and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Press remaining mixture into un-greased 15″x10″x1″ jelly-roll pan (sided cookie sheet).

For the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients in medium bowl except the eggs. Beat until well mixed. Add eggs and continue beating until well mixed.
  2. Spread mixture over the pressed bar mixture to within ¼” of edge.
  3. Crumble reserved oat mixture over filling.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is light golden brown. Cool completely.

For the glaze:

  1. Combine powdered sugar, butter and vanilla in small bowl. Beat at medium speed, gradually adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency.
  2. Drizzle over cooled bars.

Recipe Tip:
– Bars are best made no more than 1 day ahead as the crust starts to soften.
– Store in loosely covered container in refrigerator.

If you’d like the gluten-free version of this recipe visit our friend Jeanine at The Baking Beauties

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

Here’s to eating well, everyday,

Bridget signature

24 thoughts on “Gingerbread pumpkin bars

  1. Susan King says:

    just wondering if 30 mins was enough or if more time was needed for some mine seemed kinda soft after 30 mins?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Susan, Were they still wet in the middle when you cut them? Sometimes you need to go by touch to determine if they’re ready in the middle.

  2. Joan Kovats says:

    Why can’t pumpkin pie filling be substituted if I don’t have the pumpkin puree on hand? Will I have to add a bit more flour to the base? Please reply.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Joan, Pumpkin pie filling has additional ingredients in it (sugar, salt & spices) whereas pumpkin puree is just pumpkin. The recipe should still turn out if you used the pie filling, but the flavour would be off… You’d need to adjust the spicing and the sugar content. I hope that this helps.

  3. Melanie says:

    Could one substitute honey for the sugar? My hubby can’t do the sugar and I know he would be upset looking at these and not being able to try them.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Melanie, You could substitute honey, but likely not the full 1/4 cup for the filling (I’m not sure if it would cook properly). I can’t think off hand how you might replace the sugar in the base, since it calls for a full 1 1/2 cups. Sorry.

  4. Cindy says:

    Alice I read the recipe as 3/4 cup not 3/4 of the batter. They sound tasty!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Thanks for pointing that out Cindy…I think that was the problem.

  5. Alice says:

    Is there a mistake with this recipe? I could not spread the 1/4 of the bar on the bottom of the baking sheet so I used a smaller Pyrex. The 3/4 left behind that was mixed with the oats was way too much. After baking, there hardly exists a bottom. Should that be the other way around? 3/4 for the bottom and 1/4 for the top mixed with the oats?
    Thank you,

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Alice, This recipe was created for us by a local chef so I haven’t made it yet. I’m going to bake them this afternoon and will let you know how it goes.

    2. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi again, As Cindy, another reader, pointed out perhaps the problem was in how you divided the base mixture. Only 3/4 of a cup is reserved for the topping, leaving a good amount for the bottom of the pan. I will rewrite the instructions because it is a little confusing.

  6. Lisa says:

    Do you know if these will freeze well? I would like to make them for Thanksgiving to take away but I need to make them now and freeze them.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Lisa, I have never frozen them so am not sure. Cheesecake type desserts often freeze well though so you never know.

  7. Linda says:

    Can you substitute canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) for the cooked pumpkin? Sounds wonderful and I already have the ingredients if I can use canned pumpkin.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Linda, yes, canned pumpkin is perfect. I’ll update the recipe to specify that. Thanks and enjoy.

  8. sandy says:

    these look ahhh-mazing! Can you substitute a can of pumpkin for the “2 cups cooked pumpkin”?

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Sandy, yes, canned pumpkin is perfect. I should specify that in the recipe. Enjoy!

  9. Myrtle says:

    These squares sound good, and the thought crossed my mine as a replacement for pumpkin pie, maybe but I surely will save and try this recipe.
    I love anything with molasses in it.

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Myrtle, yes, these squares are a lot like pumpkin pie only richer. They feed a crowd too.

  10. Abby Ang says:

    Hi Bridget!

    Thank you very much for sharing this great recipe. I will definitely try this at home.


  11. Dina says:

    they sound yummy!

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Dina, They are dangerously yummy!

  12. Luise says:

    Wow these sound really good. Sounds like a good alternative to your regular pumpkin pie for thanksgiving .

    1. Bridget Oland says:

      Hi Luise, I was thinking the same thing. And for a big crowd the recipe goes a long way.

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