Pumpkin Gooey Bars

Pumpkin Gooey Bars

A Fall Favorite With a Twist!

Ah, the aromas of autumn! The scent of freshly fallen leaves, crisp air, and, of course, the sweet and spicy fragrance of pumpkin desserts wafting from kitchens everywhere. While there’s no shortage of pumpkin recipes to try, the Pumpkin Gooey Bars holds a special place in our hearts—and today, we’ll share why!

Why is Pumpkin Gooey Bar Superior?

True confessions: I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin – especially pumpkin pie. This isn’t easy to admit online given that some people might have strong feelings about this declaration. I’m just being honest. But when I tried this recipe I’m now singing a different tune.

When you have a dessert named ‘gooey cake’, it sets a deliciously high bar. However, our version doesn’t just aim to be good; it strives for perfection. I adapted this recipe from the amazing Paula Dean but added my twist to her original. This recipe is easy to make and elevates the pumpkin flavor making it a seasonal favorite. Our cake beautifully intertwines the warmth of the fall spices with the creaminess of cream cheese and pumpkin puree, ensuring each bite is flavorful and oh-so-gooey.

Pumpkin Gooey Bars Recipe

The Magical Ingredients

  1. Cream Cheese. Using cream cheese at room temperature is non-negotiable. Cold cream cheese will result in small white lumps in the final product. It doesn’t look appealing and gives the cake an uneven texture. Yes, it takes time and planning to bring ingredients to room temperature but it makes all the difference in the finished dessert.
  2. Box Cake Mix. It might sound surprising, but this will help save you time and it’s just simple. Now we aren’t following the directions for the cake mix here. This will serve as a base for the pumpkin filling that we’re creating on top. 
  3. Pumpkin Puree. This is the heart of this dessert! You can use either fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin whichever you prefer. This will add moisture to this cake keeping it nice and gooey. 
  4. Pumpkin Pie Spices. It’s not just about the pumpkin but a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves that brings out the earthiness of the pumpkin puree to make it stand out. These spices give this cake its autumnal charm.
Bottom Layer
Bottom Layer
Top Layer
Top Layer

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Overmixing. Just like in most desserts with cream cheese, it’s best to mix this on low to medium speeds. Never high speeds. High speeds will add air to the filling and can dry out the cake defeating the gooey nature of this dessert. Just mix until combined.
  • Not Using Pure Pumpkin Puree. Beware of “pumpkin pie filling” which is pre-spiced and sweetened. You want 100% pure pumpkin puree.
  • Failing to sift the powdered sugar. Regardless of whether you buy it in a box or bag, powdered sugar can form clumps over time on store shelves. To guarantee a smooth consistency in the pumpkin filling, it’s essential to sift the powdered sugar.
Pumpkin Gooey Bars Receipe

How to serve

  1. Powdered Sugar Sprinkle – Once cooled, sprinkle a generous amount of powdered sugar on top. It adds a touch of sweetness and gives the cake a gorgeous, snow-kissed appearance.
  2. Serve with Whipped Cream or Ice Cream – A dollop of fresh whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream can elevate the look and taste of your gooey cake.
  3. Garnish with Candied Pecans – For an added crunch and visual appeal, scatter a few candied pecans on top.
  4. Use a Square Clear Dish – When serving, use a clear dish to showcase the layers, letting your guests peek at the gooey goodness inside.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake Recipe FAQ

Can I make this cake in advance?

Yes! You can prepare the cake a day in advance. However, remember to store it in the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

I don’t have pumpkin pie spice. Can I make my own?

Absolutely! Combine 4 parts ground cinnamon, 2 parts ground ginger, 1 part ground cloves, and 1 part ground nutmeg.

Can I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned puree?

Certainly. Just ensure you roast, puree, and strain the pumpkin to achieve a smooth consistency similar to the canned version. My favorite recipe for pumpkin puree you can make at home.

Is the cake supposed to be very soft in the center?

Yes, it’s called “gooey” cake for a reason. The center should be soft but not liquid.


Pumpkin Gooey Bars Receipe

Pumpkin Gooey Bars Recipe

Inspired by Paula Deen
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 22 squares
Calories 312 kcal


Bottom Layer - The Cake

  • 1 box cake mix (yellow or chocolate)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup butter, melted 4 ounces

Top Layer - The Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup butter, melted 4 ounces


  • Bring cream cheese and eggs to room temperature. Melt butter and allow it to cool slightly.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease 13 x 9 baking pan.
  • Starting with the bottom layer, mix together cake mix, egg, pumpkin pie spice, and melted butter until it comes together. It will turn into a cookie dough-like texture.
  • Place the dough onto a baking pan. Use your fingers and press the dough to cover the bottom.
  • Beat together cream cheese until smooth. It’s important to use room temperature so you don’t get these small bits of cream cheese in the final mixture.
  • Add in the pumpkin purée, butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice (here you can play with the flavoring, substitute cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg instead of pumpkin pie spice to your liking).
  • Add powdered sugar to the mixture a little bit at a time until it's all mixed together.
  • Pour the filling onto the cake dough and spread evenly.
  • Bake for about 50 or 60 minutes. This will be a judgment call. You want the center to be a little loose (and gooey) that's normal. Don’t bake past this point.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely. For the best texture and flavor, cover and place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To serve cut into squares. Top with whipped cream and or a single pecan.


Increase baking time by 5-10 minutes if using an 8x8 baking pan.
Cover in a sealed container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Keyword bars, cake, cookies

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