These pumpkin pie bars have a brown butter shortbread crust, a creamy spiced pumpkin filling, and fluffy whipped cream! They’re much easier to make than pie and have the perfect 1:1 crust to filling ratio. The brown butter adds a toasty and cozy layer of flavor, pairing perfectly with the pumpkin filling. Sweetened condensed milk makes the pumpkin filling ultra creamy, rich, and smooth. And you can’t have pumpkin pie without whipped cream!
These pumpkin pie cookies are the cookie version of these pie bars. They have even more crust to filling ratio than the bars in case the crust is your favorite part.
- 🥧 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- 📝 Key ingredients
- 👩🍳 How to make pumpkin pie bars
- ✔️ Expert tips
- 🥄 Make ahead and storage
- ❕ Why adding brown butter into shortbread is my new favorite thing!
- 🥧 Pumpkin pie bars over pumpkin pie any day!
- ❔ How to get the perfect pumpkin pie filling bake?
- 📖 Recipe FAQs
- 🍂 More related recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
🥧 Why you'll LOVE this recipe
- Brown butter shortbread crust: The addition of brown butter into the shortbread crust adds a nutty flavor without the nuts!
- Pumpkin: They are made with a creamy traditional pumpkin pie filling.
- Easy: These pumpkin pie bars are super easy to make! If you are in a pinch, you can also top with store bought whipped cream.
📝 Key ingredients
Read through for all the tips you will need for success!
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below.
- Pumpkin puree: Pure canned pumpkin purée will give you the most consistent results! It should have the consistency of hummus or thick Greek yogurt. Use leftover pumpkin puree to make these creamy pumpkin cheesecake bars.
- Pumpkin pie spice: A mixture of spices typically used in pumpkin pie - cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. You can purchase it pre-made or make pumpkin pie spice yourself.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Not to be confused with evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk adds sweetness, creaminess, and richness to the pumpkin pie filling.
- Butter: Unsalted butter gets browned to create the beautiful, buttery and melt in your mouth crust. I don’t recommend using salted butter because it has a metallic and bitter aftertaste after browning. If you want to skip the browning, I recommend using softened unsalted butter and omitting the milk in the crust.
- Heavy whipping cream: It’s a given fact that pumpkin pie is just so much better with whipped cream! Make sure to use whipping cream so that it whips up to stiff peaks. I used 35% whipping cream.
- All purpose flour: Weigh the flour to get the most accurate results. If you don’t have a scale, measure properly by stirring the bag and spooning gently into a measuring cup. Scrape the excess off the top with the flat edge off a knife without packing it into the cup.
👩🍳 How to make pumpkin pie bars
Brown butter crust step by step
Step 1: Line an 8” or 9” square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving handles on the outside to be able to lift out the bars after baking. Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).
Step 2: Melt butter on medium-low heat. Continue cooking it, stirring frequently while it foams, foam will subside. Once you see brown specks, remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe container or bowl to cool down and stop cooking. Make sure to add all of the brown bits in. Let cool to room temperature.
Step 3: Combine the cooled brown butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Mix together until it thickens slightly.
Step 4: Sift the flour right into the same bowl and fold to make a cookie dough.
Step 5: Spread the cookie dough into the lined pan. Press the dough up the sides to create a thin border all along the outer edge.
Step 6: Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the top and edges are golden brown. Work on the filling while it bakes.
Pumpkin pie filling step by step
Step 1: Add all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk together to combine.
Step 2: Remove the crust from the oven once baked. Pour the filling on top and return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the edges are set and the center is still a little wiggly.
Let cool completely.
Assembly step by step
Step 1: In a large chilled bowl, whisk together cold cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Transfer into a piping bag with a star tip (I used a Wilton 1M).
Step 2: Once cooled, remove the pumpkin pie bars from the baking pan. Trim all of the edges with a sharp knife. Cut it into 9 or 16 square bars, making sure to wipe your knife between each slice for clean cuts.
Step 3: Pipe whipped cream swirls on top of the bars and sprinkle with a pinch of pumpkin spice!
Step 4: Serve and enjoy your pumpkin pie bars!
✔️ Expert tips
- Brown butter: Don’t forget to stir the butter or it will burn! Keep an eye on it and reduce the heat if needed.
- Get all the brown butter flavor: Make sure to scrape all of the brown specks out of the pan and into the bowl for the cookie dough. That’s where all of the flavor is.
- For a shortbread crust that isn’t gummy: Bake the crust until the top is slightly puffed and golden. This ensures that the crust is fully baked through and won’t be gummy.
- For the perfect set texture: Bake the filling until it’s set and firm around the edges but still a little wiggly in the center.
- For the perfect whipped cream: Use cold whipping cream (35%) and chill the bowl and whisk for the best results! This helps the fat in the cream stay as cold as possible while it whips up, making an exceptionally thick and creamy whipped cream.
🥄 Make ahead and storage
These bars are perfect to make ahead! They will taste the best the day they’re made, but will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The crust will get softer as it sits in the fridge because of the filling. I recommend whipping and piping the whipped cream right before serving because it doesn’t keep well for a long time without melting and deflating.
You can try these bars chilled right out of the fridge or at room temperature and see what temperature you prefer!
❕ Why adding brown butter into shortbread is my new favorite thing!
Using brown butter gives the shortbread a wonderful toasty flavor! It really deepens the flavor and changes the texture, giving it more of a buttery texture. It tastes nutty and toasty, without the addition of any nuts. It’s the perfect fall flavor paired with pumpkin - I used this combination in my pumpkin gooey butter cake.
🥧 Pumpkin pie bars over pumpkin pie any day!
If you’re like me and love pumpkin pie but find it to be too creamy, then I recommend trying pumpkin pie bars! They have more crust and less filling than pie. I aimed for about a 1:1 ratio of crust to pie so that you can get the perfect even bite.
And this brown butter shortbread crust is so much tastier than a regular pie crust! If you love a traditional pie crust these pumpkin hand pies are more like traditional pies.
❔ How to get the perfect pumpkin pie filling bake?
Since you can’t do the toothpick test with pumpkin pie filling, it’s a little hard to tell if it’s ready and perfectly baked. The cues that I look for are set edges and a wiggly center when I give it a shake.
The filling shouldn’t be runny but it should still be a little liquidy. If you’re uncertain, bake the pumpkin pie bars a little longer. If you underbake them, they won’t set at all but if you overbake them they won’t be as smooth and creamy. It’s better to overbake if you’re unsure.
I use this same concept in my graham cracker crust lemon bars and these
📖 Recipe FAQs
I don’t recommend using salted butter for browning because it tends to get a bitter, metallic aftertaste.
Yes you can - omit the two tablespoons of milk and just use 1 cup of softened butter.
I don’t recommend this because they’re two completely different products. Evaporated milk is unsweetened and condensed milk is sweetened.
You need to keep the cream as cold as possible in order for it to whip up and hold its shape. Cream has a lot of fat in it, and if the fat is warm then it melts.
No, I don’t recommend using pumpkin pie filling because it’s a premixed filling with spices and sugar. If you add more sugar and spices, it will be too overwhelming.
🍂 More related recipes
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Pumpkin Pie Bars
Brown Butter Crust
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour 240g
Pumpkin Pie Filling
Brown Butter Crust
- Line an 8” or 9” square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving handles on the outside to be able to lift out the bars after baking. Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).
- Melt the butter in a saucepan. Heat on stovetop on medium-low heat until it melts. Continue cooking it, stirring frequently while it foams and then when the foam subsides. Take it off the heat as soon as you see brown specks and pour into a heat-safe container or bowl to cool down and stop cooking. Make sure to add all of the brown bits in. Let cool to room temperature.1 cup unsalted butter
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the cooled brown butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Mix together until it thickens slightly.2 tablespoons milk, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- Sift the flour right into the same bowl and fold to make a cookie dough.2 cups all purpose flour
- Dump and spread the cookie dough into the lined pan, pressing the dough up to create a thin border all along the outside.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until the top and edges are golden brown. Work on the filling while it bakes.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- Add all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk together to combine.2 large eggs, 1 cup pumpkin purée, 2 teaspoon cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- As soon as the crust has baked, pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is still a little wiggly.
- Let cool completely. For extra firm bars - I recommend chilling them for a few hours.
- Pro Tip: Pop your bowl and whisk attachment into the freezer 5 minutes before getting started for a very thick whipped cream. I recommend whipping the cream the day of serving.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine cold cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip together with a whisk attachment until thickened and holds its shape. Transfer into a piping bag with a star tip (I used a Wilton 1M).½ cup cold heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Remove the cooled pumpkin pie bars from the baking pan. Trim all of the edges with a sharp knife. Cut it into 9 or 16 square bars, making sure to wipe your knife between each slice for clean cuts.
- Pipe stars and swirls of whipped cream on top of the bars, sprinkle with pumpkin spice, and serve! I recommend topping the bars off with whipping cream the day of serving because it will melt the longer it sits.1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- Don’t forget to stir the brown butter or it will burn!
- Get all the brown butter flavor by using ALL of the brown specks.
- Bake the crust until the top is slightly puffed and golden.
- Bake the filling until it’s set and firm around the edges but still a little wiggly in the center.
- Use cold whipping cream (35%) and chill the bowl and whisk for the best results!