Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bars

I spend every Sunday morning in the kitchen. It’s a routine that’s as calming as meditation to me. I get up early and take the dog for a long walk on the beach, eat a little breakfast, and then start cooking the week’s breakfasts, lunches and prep ahead for a couple of dinners so that I’m not pressed for time during the week. When the top shelf of the fridge is loaded up with storage containers bearing the fruits of my labor, I know I’m ready to face the next week at work.

As I was cleaning up from round 1 of cooking and prepping for round 2, I noticed the pie pumpkin that had been sitting on the counter from a CSA box two weeks before and had quickly turned into decor after I had forgotten about it. I didn’t feel like making pie, or pudding, so I went in search of a pumpkin bread that I could make with what I had on hand.

I settled on Karina’s recipe for pumpkin spice bars, and turned the volume way up on the spice – shooting for a pumpkin-gingerbread kind of vibe. Let me tell you, these bars are perfection. They’re lighter than I expected, and the addition of the extra spices and crystallized ginger just scream FALL. If you’re smart, you’ll cut these bars up and stash them in the fridge right away, out of sight…Mark and I ate 4 pieces between the two of us, standing at the kitchen counter, between shooting the pics for this post. I know I’ll be making this recipe again the next time a pumpkin shows up in our weekly produce box. And if you’re not a fan of frosting or want to trim a few calories, the bars are 100% delicious without the creamy frosting.

What’s your favorite treat to ring in the Fall? Share your love of seasonal Fall food below in the comments…

Pumpkin Spice Bars
Adapted from Gluten Free Goddess
Makes 15 bars.

2 large free-range organic eggs
1/3 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin puree* (canned is fine)
1 T vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if already included in your flour blend, omit)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice- or a blend of nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan or line the pan with greased parchment.
  3. Beat the eggs till blended; add the oil and beat to combine. Add the brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add the pumpkin, beat till smooth; add the vanilla, beat to combine. Add the baking mix, baking soda & powder and spices; beat just until the batter is smooth. Add in the crystallized ginger and stir by hand to combine.
  4. Dump the batter into the baking pan and spread the evenly. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the bars are firm, and a wooden pick inserted into the center emerges clean.
  5. Cool on a wire rack. Frost when cool.
  6. Other options: in place of ginger, finely dice a medium sized tart apple and add it to the batter with pecans.

*Pumpkin puree note: If you’re roasting the pumpkin yourself, cut the squash in half, ppoke the shell with a fork a few times, scoop out the guts and roast it cut side down for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. When the pumpkin is cool, scoop the flesh into your food processer to make the puree. My puree was a little more moist than I wanted, so I scooped the puree into a fine sieve and let it sit over a bowl to drain for a few minutes while I gathered my ingredients.

Brown Sugar and Spice Cream Cheese Frosting
(half of Karina’s recipe, with the addition of cream cheese – I don’t like thick layers of frosting – a skim will do)

2 tablespoons butter
2 T packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoons apple cider
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 cups powdered sugar, as needed

  1. Spoon the butter, brown sugar and cider into a small saucepan; and heat through on medium heat, stirring as it heats. When the mixture is smooth and hot, and begins to bubble, remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Pour the brown sugar mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, cream cheese and spices, and beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Begin adding the powdered sugar, a little at a time and beat until smooth; add more sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.
  3. Frost the bars.

18 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bars

  1. Jenn – These look delicious! And especially WITH the frosting! 🙂 We love crystallized ginger, usually we just eat it straight out of the bag – I haven’t baked with it yet. Sounds like it is time!

    • It is definitely time to bake with crystallized ginger! We love to eat it out of the bag too…this time there were threats upon sneaky fingers so that there would be enough for the bars!

  2. i’m hoping for some pumpkins to show up in our box! i’m very impressed with your ‘cooking for the week skillz’. i do a little here and there, but you’re right – being in the kitchen on sunday morning is the best!

    • Oh, I’m sure you’ll get a pumpkin or two before the season is out! Yeah, I’m pretty OCD about cooking ahead for the week, but it just makes the week less stressful, and with celiac, on the go meals are rough so its best to be prepared!

  3. WOW! I just made these, and they are delectable! I decided to go with an orange glaze as I can’t have the yummy cream cheese frosting, but it is so delicious. For some reason my ‘bars’ turned out to be the moistest cake I have ever made from scratch – I mean, they are cakey and super moist (I added a few more tablespoons of pumpkin). I will make this recipe again in a couple of weeks for a friends birthday. Just wanted to say thank you for posting such a scruptious (again) recipe!

    • Teresa – Glad you liked the bars!! They are definitely the most moist, cakey GF cake I have ever made, too – amazing! And I made another batch of the bars yesterday too, and have enough pumpkin puree leftover for another batch – YUM! And the orange glaze option sounds genius!

  4. It’s Canadian Thanksgiving up here in these parts and I just wanted to tell you that ALL of my cakey-goodness lil’ cakes were entirely snaffled up! Like, I’m talkin’ finger lickin’ snaffled. Oh, and I’ve never ever baked with crystallized ginger before – I have been missing out! You have def made me a better cook (plus you’ve saved me quite a number of times along the way on my path to figuring out what I can actually eat – except for some sad reason, with being preggers and all, my tummy will not accept quinoa anymore BOO – not even your yummy cinnamon quinoa dish). That’s cool we made them on the same day… I’m excited to make these again – I like when my kitchen smells like Christmas!

    • Oh Teresa, I am so THRILLED to hear that everyone loved the pumpkin bars! And I think “finger lickin’ snaffled” may be my new favorite phrase. I’m gonna start using that one!

      Bummer on the quinoa-upset! I hope that once your beautiful, healthy bebe has arrived, that your tummy will be more forgiving…for now, you’re giving your body and immune system quite a workout, and you’re right to listen to what your tummy tells you!

  5. Ha, I figured you’d like it – plus, it suits your style of writing!

    It’s been hard to see all this lovely organic quinao just sitting in my pantry. LOL I think there’s about 6 lbs of it!!! But you’re right, the ol’ tums will come around once the little girlie gets here! Thanks again for your support and advice.

    Yes – just so you know, those pumpkin bars were still being talked about yesterday, ha! Don’t worry, I give you all the credit! =)

    • Oh please, take all the credit you like in making the pumpkin bars! We just finished the last of the latest batch this morning for breakfast, and I’m already wanting more…good thing I have more pumpkin puree sitting in the fridge! Might have to do an orange glaze on this batch – YUM!

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  10. I made these tonight and they were amazing! We used Sucanat for the brown sugar and did not use the crystallized ginger b/c we didn’t have any! These were moist and delicious and could stand alone without frosting even.

    The frosting would be too much sugar for us, so I just whipped a package of cream cheese, about 1/4c. OJ concentrate, and 1T honey and spread on there. Next time we may add spices as well. That was sweet enough for us!

    We are new to the gluten free lifestyle and I am so glad we found this site!

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