Meet your new favorite fall dessert - vegan pumpkin pie bars! These would be perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whenever you have a pumpkin craving!
These vegan pumpkin pie bars will become your new favorite treat! How do I know? They’re so much easier than making a pumpkin pie, but just as good if not better!
In essence, these vegan pumpkin pie bars are like individually sized slices of pumpkin pie with only thirteen ingredients and an easy baking process. Share these with friends and family and they’ll be hooked! Thanks to the pumpkin pie spice and other fall-friendly ingredients, these will have you in your autumn feels no matter what time of year you make them. And since they’re so yummy, I have a feeling you might want to make them year-round!
Graham Cracker Crust vs. Shortbread Crust
I decided to test both graham cracker crust and shortbread crust for this recipe. Ultimately, I thought the shortbread won out. It had a bit more of a classic feel to it in my opinion and showed the layers of the bar more beautifully as well!
That said, if you prefer a graham cracker crust option, I’ve included that in the recipe card as well. The baking process and steps are identical for both options, so just go with whatever you prefer!
A lot of these ingredients are ones you might already have in your pantry!
- Vegan butter – Vegan butter has come a really long way since I went vegan in 2018! For this recipe, it might be best to find a vegan butter in stick form. Luckily, there are several brands that offer this now, including Miyoko’s and Earth Balance. There’s also Country Crock plant butter, which I’d recommend only if you can’t find the others as it contains palm oil. Any vegan butter should work okay, though.
- Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar is actually a combination of finely ground sugar and cornstarch (which helps prevent caking). As long as the original sugar is vegan-friendly, then you’re good to go. You can also make your own powdered sugar if you have finely ground sugar and cornstarch (which is always vegan-friendly as far as I know) on hand.
- Vanilla extract – While not the end of the world if you don’t include it, vanilla extract definitely helps take this recipe to the next level!
- All-purpose flour – Any kind of all-purpose flour should do the trick just fine. If you want to experiment with other types of flour or go gluten-free, I can’t vouch for them as I haven't tested the recipe with other flours! Please do let me know though if you try another type of flour and how it turns out in the comments 🙂
- Salt – It can be tempting to skip or reduce the salt, especially if you’re health-conscious like me, but a little salt really helps bring out the other flavors.
- Graham cracker crumbles – If you opt for the graham cracker crust option, you’ll need some graham cracker crumbles.
- Brown sugar – Just be aware that many white and brown sugars (at least in the U.S.) are not vegan-friendly. This is due to bone char. Luckily, you can find vegan-friendly white and brown sugar online if not in your preferred grocery stores.
- Pumpkin puree – Don’t get confused—pumpkin puree and canned pumpkin are the same thing. You can also find recipes for how to make your own if you’re feeling adventurous!
- Maple syrup – Maple syrup is a delicious sweetener, as we all know from pancakes. That said, it’s a great vegan sweetener in general, and its unique flavor is especially well-suited (in my humble opinion) for fall/winter recipes such as these vegan pumpkin pie bars!
- Cornstarch/arrowroot – Cornstarch and arrowroot are both starches. In essence, they work to help absorb and trap liquid. They also swell when heated. Cornstarch is better at the beginning of the baking/cooking process, whereas arrowroot powder is better at the very end of baking/cooking. This is because root starches such as arrowroot powder don’t hold up at high temperatures. Arrowroot is great for pie filling and sauces, although it may not be enough of a thickener for pies like coconut cream pie.
- Pumpkin pie spice – This is essential for really capturing that classic pumpkin pie flavor!
- Coconut milk – Coconut milk is a rich and creamy liquid made from coconuts. Did you know it’s actually a mix of coconut flesh and water? It’s usually about 50% water, whereas coconut water is about 94% water. Coconut milk is high in calories, yes, but it also contains a ton of nutrients. It also brings the perfect level of richness to these pumpkin pie bars.
Why this Recipe will be your New Go-To Fall Treat
These vegan pumpkin pie bars will be your new go-to vegan fall dessert because they’re so easy to make, so tasty, fairly nutritious, and incredibly versatile!
- They’re easy – Compared to whipping up an entire pie, this recipe is a piece of cake—or should I say piece of pie??
- They’re fairly nutritious –Thanks to the pumpkin, this recipe is loaded with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, an important nutrient for our vision and immune systems. Plus, it contains protein, fiber, and fat (from the coconut) that will help keep you full!
- They’re versatile – You can eat them on their own or load them up with toppings and pair them with ice cream!
- They’re fall in bar form – Thanks to the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice flavors such as nutmeg and cinnamon, this dish has a cozy warmth to it and really bursts with fall flavor!
How to Make Pumpkin Pie Bars
- Preheat oven to 350° and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Make the crust – If making the shortbread crust, beat together the sugar, butter, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer until fluffy. Slowly add flour and salt and beat on low just until the mixture is combined. Be careful to not overmix, the dough will be crumbly. Spread the dough evenly into your prepared pan and prick with a fork several times. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Let it cool completely before adding the pumpkin layer on top. If making the graham cracker crust, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt with a hand mixer until fluffy. Fold the graham cracker crumbles into the mixture until well combined. Spread the dough evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Make the pumpkin filling – Whisk together all ingredients. Pour the mixture over the baked crust. Bake for an additional 35 minutes.
- Remove and let cool completely. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Cut into bars and serve. Serve with whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, or crushed pecans over top.
- Store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
How do I keep the pumpkin pie bars from sticking to the baking pan?
Your best bet is to line the pan with parchment paper. I like to have the parchment paper go all the way up the sides of the pan so you can easily lift the bars out after baking them.
How do you cut the bars?
I like cutting 9, square bars, but you may prefer smaller or bigger bars. Just be sure to let them cool first before cutting!
What do you top these with?
These bars are full of fall flavor so I like to add toppings like whipped cream, chopped nuts, vanilla ice cream, etc.!
How do I know when they’re done baking?
The pumpkin pie bars are done when the edges just start to set. The middle will look a little undone, but don’t worry! It will continue to cook as it cools. The top will be slightly browned right after you remove it from the oven, but it will lighten in the refrigerator.
Do pumpkin pie bars need to be refrigerated?
Yes, but allow them to cool first if possible! Then place in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours or overnight. Doing this will allow them to set properly.
Can these be frozen?
Yes! Simply slice them into bars and place them in an airtight container in the freezer for a month. Let them thaw in the refrigerator for about a day (~24 hours).
How do you make homemade pumpkin pie spice?
If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice from the store, don’t worry! It typically consists of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves! Try the following mix:
- 3 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
You can also add a touch of sugar if you’d like it a little sweeter!
What substitutions work well for this?
You can substitute the brown sugar with coconut sugar, and cornstarch or arrowroot powder also work well as the thickener.
I just know these vegan pumpkin pie bars will become a fall staple dessert for you because they're:
- Deliciously spiced
- A great holiday dessert option
Let me know if you try out these vegan pumpkin pie bars, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! These would make a perfect addition to any holiday meal - Thanksgiving or Christmas. Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
Try Other Fall-Inspired Recipes Below:
- Sugar-Free Apple Crisp
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta
- Vegan Compound Butter
- Apple Pancakes
- Baked Apple Oatmeal
- Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Millionaire Shortbread Bars
- Baked Matcha Glazed Donuts