Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to make something with cream cheese swirled through it. The problem was, I couldn’t choose a recipe. After looking through a bunch and reading reviews, I decided to go with Swirled Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars from Sunset.

With only 6 tablespoons of butter, the bars were moist and cakey and stiff enough so that you could stack them. I liked that the pumpkin batter wasn’t too rich because the cream cheese topping balanced it out.

I modified the recipe a bit by using unsalted butter, adding salt, and a bit of vanilla. If you have some, a bit of orange peel added to the pumpkin might be good as well. Also, if you need to halve this recipe, a 9×9 inch pan works perfectly.

NOTE: If you do not use the pan size indicated (15×10 or half batch in a 9×9), you will probably need to adjust bake time! For instance, if you use a 13×9 inch pan instead of a 15×10 inch pan, you’ll have thicker bars which will probably need more time in the oven.

cream cheese pumpkin bars


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pumpkin flavored brownies with cream cheese swirled throughout
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (288 grams)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (240 grams)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (220 grams)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (48 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 15x10 inch pan with non-stick foil or just spray with cooking spray.
  2. Pumpkin Batter: Mix together the butter and sugar. With a mixing spoon or whisk, beat in eggs, pumpkin, and water until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg together; stir into batter. Spread all but a few tablespoons batter evenly in prepared pan. Reserve the few tablespoons of batter
  3. Swirl: In a second bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add egg and beat just until it’s mixed in. Drop tablespoons of cheese mixture over pumpkin batter, then drag a knife through to make marbles. Drop reserved tablespoons of pumpkin batter over top. The reason for this is, there’s a lot of white batter, so putting a few tablespoons of pumpkin batter on top gives more of a contrast.
  4. Bake on center rack until pumpkin batter springs back when touched, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan, then chill for an hour or more. Cut into 24 bars.

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  1. Judy says

    Looks yummy. I’m going to try it with either splenda or agave nectar – I’m haing problems with sugar lately. Glad you’re feeling better.

  2. says

    YUM! I love all things pumpkin and these look SUPER. It seems nearly every recipe calls for one cup of pumpkin puree, but there is no can that is just that amount. Someone could make a killing by inventing a one cup sized can to sell pumpkin in.

    There’s no canned pumpkin in Poland, but you’d better believe that as soon as I get my hands on a pumpkin and cook and puree it I’ll be storing it in one cup increments in the freezer!

  3. Rina says

    I just picked up canned pumpkin from Trader Joe’s yesterday – can’t wait to try these!

  4. Amanda says

    They look wonderful! I’v done that many times. Know exactly what you want then spend hours going through recipes to find the right one. LOL

  5. says

    Those look much better than the pumpkin swirl brownies I made the other day. I’ll be posting it tomorrow on The Brownie Project.

    I think I’ll try these instead.

  6. Sara says

    Do you think this would work with ricotta in place of the cream cheese? I love pumpkin but not cream cheese (or cheesecake for that matter, weird right?)

  7. says

    These look so good! I LOVE pumpkin and have been getting in the mood to bake now that it’s finally cooling off a little here in CA. I even have a can of pumpkin in my pantry. 🙂

  8. Sara says

    I will have to experiment with a really small portion….maybe adding some greek yogurt to the ricotta would make it smoother.

    Have you thought about making a pumpkin pie with a meringue crust? I have been making a lot of pavlovas lately, and I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea of making mini pumpkin pies in a meringue crust. I can’t find anything online except lemon meringue pies upside down with the crust being the meringue. I’m wondering how you would bake them to get the meringue to cook without getting soggy from the filling. Any thoughts?

  9. Jenn says

    Holy Hannah these look amazing!!! One question – the pan I have is 15.5x10x1″ is that going to be deep enough or should I just halve the recipe into a 9×13? I really, really, want to make these, especially since the hubby saw the picture and started drooling!

  10. says

    Hi Hannah,

    I think 15x10x1 is fine. In fact, I think most 15 inch pans are about an inch deep. You shouldn’t have any problems. The pumpkin batter spreads on really thin.

  11. Jenn says

    Thanks so much Anna! I’m running home to try these now! The perfect treat for mid-terms! Okay, and the season too…but really, mid-term stress baking is about to get even tastier!

  12. Brandi says

    my dad loves pumkin. the only problem is he cant stand cream chesse. is there any way to modify this? something to put in place of the cream chesse?

  13. crare says

    has anyone made these with agave? they look great but I wonder what the proportions would be substituting agave? i make pumpkin muffins with agave and they are fabulous…

  14. vivian hill says

    I need & want the fruit pizza recipe, can’s seem to find it on this website, can you e-mail it to me.?????

    thanks, vivian hill

  15. vanessa says

    I tried out this recipe for the football dinner. Usually I do not try to make a new recipe, but I was determined to find a pumpkin recipe.
    It should cook for an extra 5 minutes. I added food coloring to make a orange hue for the frosting.
    My son loved it and he is a picky eater. I wasn’t too sure because I had nothing to compare it too. I will have my husband try it. I do like it but I need to add some more spice. Any suggestions?

  16. Amie says

    I made these exactly as the recipe called for and they were delicious! Everyone loved them. Thanks for a great recipe.

  17. says

    These look great. Funny, just before I saw your recipe, I bought 3 cans of pumpkin, so I’m in the mood already. Now I can’t decide whether to make these or my pumpkin drops with cream cheese frosting. Such hard decisions…..

  18. Laura says

    I made these last week for guests…they were amazing! I’m making them again today for a party. (The only thing I altered is the amount of water. Since I boil my own pumpkin, there is typically a little more water in it than canned.)

  19. Denise says

    I made these this year instead of the pumpkin roll. They are really good, a nice change and I think the kids will enjoy them as well as the adults. Look forward to one with a dollop of cream tomorrow.
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  20. Brandy says

    I just made this, following the directions exactly & it is very yummy… It is just that it’s like a cake instead of like a brownie. Any advice on how to make it more dense like brownies?

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