Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Bars

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Pumpkin gooey butter cake bars are the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert to replace pumpkin pie. It travels well if you're heading to someone else's house for the holiday.

The sliced pumpkin gooey butter cake bars are on a white plate. There's a dusting of powdered sugar over the top for garnish.

If you love pumpkin flavor and all things pumpkin spice but crave a more interesting texture than you get from pumpkin pie, this easy pumpkin gooey butter cake bars recipe is for you!

This amazing dessert has a wonderful crisp chewiness but the bars are still soft and gooey. 

If you want to add variety to your Thanksgiving table, these pumpkin gooey butter bars are the perfect choice. You can slice them into small bite-sized servings. Since they are so rich, a little goes a long way anyway!

They'd be just perfect on a dessert buffet table mixed with a variety of homemade or even store-bought desserts to keep it easy.

Jump to:

What is Gooey Butter Cake?

If I lost you at "gooey butter cake," don't worry.

Gooey butter cake is an old-fashioned American dessert where you turn a whole lot of butter and a boxed cake mix into a decadent layered dessert.

It traditionally comes in a wide variety of flavors including both vanilla and chocolate. 

Why This is the Best Recipe

I've tried both vanilla and chocolate gooey butter cakes and they are ok, but I think this is the best pumpkin gooey butter cake bars recipe because:

  1. Make Ahead Friendly: You can bake these the day before Thanksgiving and just keep them in the fridge.
  2. Travel Friendly: Keep the gooey butter cake bars in the baking pan if you're planning to take them on the go. They are very portable.
  3. Better Texture than Pumpkin Pie: If you have family that doesn't like the regular texture of pumpkin pie, this is a fantastic alternative! The layer of cake adds a delicious chewy texture.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make the gooey butter cake are on the counter.

This is always such a popular recipe to bake at the holidays because all you need to make it is:

  • Boxed Yellow Cake Mix
  • Salted Butter
  • Egg
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Pie Spice
  • Vanilla Extract

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Prep the Crust

Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. You may wish to spray it with cooking spray so your bars come out neatly.

Add the cake mix, butter and egg to a large mixing bowl. Mix them together with a hand mixer until smooth.

Set aside ¼ cup of the mixture to add to the filling.

Use your fingers to pat and press the remaining crust mixture evenly in the baking pan.

The step by step photos show how to beat the butter and cake mix together to form the crust and pat it into a baking pan.

Prep the Pumpkin Butter Filling

Add the cream cheese and butter to the mixing bowl with the reserved ¼ cup of crust mixture.

Beat them together with your hand mixer until smooth.

Beat in the powdered sugar and pie spice.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Finish by adding the canned pumpkin puree and beat them all together until smooth.

The step by step photos show how to mix together the butter, powdered sugar, spices, and pumpkin puree to form the pumpkin filling.

Pour the filling over the crust in the prepared pan and spread it out into an even layer.

The pumpkin filling has been spread over the cake crust.

Baking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the pumpkin gooey butter cake bars for 40 minutes.

You'll know they are done when the filling will begin to crack and is completely set but may still jiggle slightly.

Cool the cake bars completely in the pan before serving.

TOP TIP: Don't try to test them with a knife, it will not come out clean.

The pan has just come out of the oven so you can see the texture of the finished top. It has a few slight cracks and barely jiggles when it is pulled.

How to Slice the Bars

The plate of sliced pumpkin bars sits in front of the baking pan so you can see how neatly they slice.

I love how neat and clean you can slice the dessert bars for presentation.

Once the pumpkin gooey butter cake bars have completely cooled, place them in the fridge to chill.

Use a sharp knife to slice the dessert bars. It helps to rinse it in hot water after each slice.

Use a spatula to lift the bars from the pan.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and then place them on your dessert plate.

Serving Suggestions

The finished pumpkin bars are on a white plate with powdered sugar on top.

These delicious and rich pumpkin gooey butter cake bars would make a delicious fall treat any day of the week but I think they fit right at home on the Thanksgiving dessert table.

You can slice them into small pieces to add to a dessert tiered tray or in more generous size squares for a full serving dessert by themselves.

Don't forget a sprinkle of powdered sugar for garnish!

More Easy Thanksgiving Desserts

The best part of Thanksgiving is having a variety of treats.

Try mixing in some of our family favorite easy Thanksgiving desserts for your dessert buffet table:

More Pumpkin Desserts

If you love pumpkin season, you definitely won't want to miss these delicious easy pumpkin recipes:

📖 Recipe

The sliced pumpkin gooey butter cake bars are on a white plate. There's a dusting of powdered sugar over the top for garnish.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Bars

5 from 45 votes
These rich and delicious pumpkin gooey butter cake bars are the perfect make-ahead Thanksgiving dessert. They travel really well if you're in charge of bringing the pumpkin dessert!
TOTAL TIME 45 minutes
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOK TIME 30 minutes
YIELD 12 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Cakey Crust:

  • 1 boxed yellow cake mix
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter softened
  • 1 egg

For the Pumpkin Butter Filling:

  • 1/4 cup crust mixture saved from the crust mixture above
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese softened
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter softened
  • 16 oz container of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pie spice or 1 tsp cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Prepare the Crust

  • Add the cake mix, butter and egg to a large mixing bowl. Beat them together with a hand mixer.
  • Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture to add to the filling.
  • Use your fingers to pat and press the remaining crust mixture evenly in the baking pan.

Prepare the Pumpkin Butter Filling

  • Add the softened cream cheese and butter to the mixing bowl with the reserved 1/4 cup of crust mixture. Beat them together until smooth.
  • Beat in the powdered sugar and pie spice.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  • Finish by adding the pumpkin and beat to combine until smooth.

Baking Instructions

  • Pour the filling over the crust in the baking pan. Use a spoon to even it out and then bake for 45 - 50 minutes. You'll know it is done when the filling will begin to crack and is completely set but may still jiggle slightly. Don't try to test the bars with a knife, it will not come out clean.
  • Cool completely in the pan before serving.
  • Cut the dessert bars and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar for presentation.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Tips

These travel-friendly pumpkin gooey butter cake bars can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the fridge in a covered container. 
COURSEDessert
CUISINEAmerican

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The photo collage shows the sliced bars on a white plate next to the baking pan where they were made.
The photo collage shows the serving platter of gooey butter cake on a white tray on the Thanksgiving dessert table.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Moist and chewy Hello Dolly bars recipe for beginner bakers
5 from 45 votes (45 ratings without comment)

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