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These pumpkin bars are far from ordinary!! With a moist pumpkin bar base and a creamy browned butter frosting, you’ll FALL in love with these in no time!

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A stack of pumpkin bars. The top one has a bite out of it.

Pumpkin bars are a classic fall treat, and for good reason!! I mean, what’s not to love about a moist cake topped with a dreamy frosting?! Most the time you’ll see pumpkin bars topped with a cream cheese frosting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love cream cheese frosting – it’s the perfect not-too-sweet frosting that’s super smooth and silky. But for some reason, I just couldn’t get the thought of pumpkin + browned butter out of my mind.

Once I tried the combination, I told Zach “I need to get these Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting on the blog ASAP.” It was just too good not to share! (Our coworkers all agreed!)

The base recipe is one that my aunt Cathy always uses. I remember her bringing them to a tailgate when I was a student at Iowa State and loving them! Then a few weeks ago, I was at my sister-in-law’s mom’s home decor and clothing boutique (Jaz It Up!), and she had some pumpkin bars for her fall open house. I thought “wow these are so good, they remind me of Aunt Cathy’s!” Well, it was no surprise when I found out they use the same recipe 🙂

A pan of Pumpkin bars with some slices taken out and others arranged on it.

The base of these pumpkin bars was a no-brainer for me – it simply had to be Aunt Cathy’s recipe. And actually, the frosting isn’t a whole lot different either. Honestly the only difference is that the butter is browned and cooled before being added. There’s still some cream cheese in the frosting, but the flavor from the browned butter really shines!

A bite size piece of pumpkin bar on a fork in front of the rest of the bar.

Do the pumpkin bars need to be refrigerated?

They do – because these Pumpkin Bars with Brown Butter Frosting have cream cheese in the frosting, they should be refrigerated once they’ve been frosted. Be sure to cover the pan in foil or with an airtight lid to keep them moist. I thought that maybe since they were in the fridge, they’d be “out of site, out of mind”….I was wrong! 😉 These are just too good!!!

How do I make browned butter?

Does browned butter intimidate you?? Well, don’t let it. It’s super easy to make – you just need to pay close attention to it so it’s “brown” butter and not “black” butter!

Alright, so here’s how to make browned butter:

  1. Place butter into a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Let the butter melt completely, stirring occasionally.
  3. The butter will start bubbling rapidly. Continue to stir.
  4. The butter will start bubbling higher and get a little foamy looking. Keep stirring and be sure to pay close attention at this point.
  5. The butter will start to turn brown. As soon as you notice the color, pull the saucepan off the stove top so you don’t burn it.
  6. Pour into a bowl or ramekin to stop the butter from cooking in the hot pan. Be sure to use a spatula to get all the brown flecks into the bowl – it adds such good flavor!

And that’s it – you’ve made browned butter! Next, just let it cool in the fridge and you’ll be ready to make the frosting in no time!

Step by step images of butter being browned.
Browned Butter step-by-step photos!

What are the little specks of brown in the frosting?

When the butter is cooking, the milk solids in the butter cook faster than the rest of the butter. Those particles will sink to the bottom and become brown soon before the rest of the liquid portion. These specks add some color to the frosting and ohhh so much flavor!

A collage of three image. The one on the right is pumpkin cobbler. The middle is Salted Caramel Apple Crisp Bars and the one of the right is Pumpkin Churro Mini Muffins.

Other delicious fall sweet treats:

Pumpkin Crisp
Caramel Apple Crisp Bars
Pumpkin Churro Mini Muffins
Carrot Cake Sheet Cake

An over head shot of a stack of pumpkin bars.
Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Author: Kelsey
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
24
These moist pumpkin bars are topped with creamy browned butter cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients
 

Pumpkin Bars

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 4 eggs

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 3 oz pkg cream cheese softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions

Pumpkin Bars

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.
  • Add the oil, pumpkin and eggs and stir until the batter is smooth. (You can mix by hand or with an electric mixer/stand mixer)
  • Pour into a greased jelly roll pan (12 x 17") and baked for 20-25 minutes.
  • Let cool completely and frost with the Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting.

Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Add the stick of butter to a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir the melted butter frequently for 5-10 minutes or until the butter starts turning brown.
  • As soon as the butter starts to turn color, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour before making the frosting.
  • Add the cooled browned butter (and all the brown particles the sunk to the bottom!) and cream cheese to a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth.
  • Beat in the vanilla, 3 cups of the powdered sugar and the milk.
  • Add the additional cup of powdered sugar if it needs to be thickened a bit.
  • Spread on top of the cooled pumpkin bars.
“Dance Around the Kitchen” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe added to the Weekend Potluck and Meal Plan Monday.

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4 Comments

  1. Aimee Enfield says:

    I can’t believe I’ve never tried making brown butter! This frosting tastes amazing!!! Thank you Kelsey for the great recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you loved it, Aimee!! Doesn’t browned butter add such amazing flavor?!

      1. Kelsey what size can of pumpkin should we use?

        1. Hi Amy – I’m glad you asked. I just clarified in the recipe! It’s a 15-oz can. Hope you love these as much as we do!!! 🙂 -Kelsey