Vegan Pumpkin Bars Recipe

The awkward thing about Thanksgiving is that it often brings together groups of people who may not have seen each other since last year so may not be up-to-date on each others' new dietary preferences. If you think there's a chance any of your family members may have adopted a vegan diet (and/or a vegan significant other) since your last get-together, or else you yourself are now eating vegan and you want a dessert that even non-vegans might enjoy, then these pumpkin bars are a good bet.

Recipe developer Miriam Hahn notes that these pumpkin bars need not be saved for dessert, however. She says that while they are "similar to pumpkin pie, [they] give ... you a lot more flexibility," suggesting they be used for breakfast or snacks, as well. While she likes to use coconut sugar in these bars, saying it is "less processed than white sugar and also offers a caramel flavor that pairs so well with the pumpkin," she notes that you can, of course, make them with granulated sugar and they will still be just as vegan.

Obtain the necessary ingredients to make vegan pumpkin bars

The filling for these bars includes canned pumpkin as well softened and pureed cashews, maple syrup, plant-based milk, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt, while the crust is made from almond flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and coconut oil plus a bit more salt.

As to why you're using two types of flour (both of them vegan, of course), Hahn says she feels almond flour "has a bit of a buttery flavor" and says it's "also moist and helps the crust bind together," but it's best used in combination with all-purpose flour for the purposes of this recipe.

Soak the cashews to soften them up

First things first: preheat the oven to 350 F, then boil a kettle of water and pour some of it over the cashews. Let them sit and soften for 15 minutes while you make the crust. Hahn points out that "the soaking step is critical, especially if you don't have a high powered blender" as the cashews are going to be pureed. Hahn does note, however, that soaking the nuts overnight is an alternative to using boiling water.

Make the crumb crust

To make the crust, combine the flour (both types), sugar, oil, cinnamon, and salt until they resemble moist crumbs, then press them into an 8x8-inch baking pan. Hahn likes to line her pan with parchment paper, although for a zero-waste option she says you can use a silpat or simply oil the pan. However you choose to prepare your pan, you'll need to bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Make the pumpkin filling

By now, your cashews should be soft, so drain them and dump them in the blender along with the pumpkin, maple syrup, milk, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and remaining salt. Let the blender blend until you have a nice, smooth puree, then pour the pumpkin filling into the crust.

Bake the bars

Put the pumpkin bars into the oven (it should still be hot from baking the crust), then cook them for 35 to 45 minutes. Once they are done, you should be able to stick a toothpick in the middle and have it come out clean.

Let the bars cool in the pan for an hour at room temperature, then cover the pan and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour before you try cutting them. When you do, Hahn cautions that, "The crust on these is pretty delicate and you may ruin the first few trying to get them out," particularly if you haven't lined the pan, but we always see those few broken bars as a lagniappe for the cook and a great excuse to indulge. If you want to dress up your bars a bit, Hahn suggests salting them or topping them with whipped cream, although you may prefer them exactly as they are.

Vegan Pumpkin Bars Recipe
5 from 50 ratings
With these vegan pumpkin bars, you can cater to everyone's dietary restrictions during the holiday season.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pumpkin bars on white plate
Total time: 1 hour
  • ⅓ cup raw, unsalted cashews softened in boiling water
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plant milk
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Optional Ingredients
  • Flaky salt, for serving
  • Whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Add boiling water to the raw cashews and let them sit for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon salt, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and coconut oil. Mix well until the oil is fully incorporated and the mixture looks moist and crumbly.
  4. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  5. Spread the crumb mixture in the baking dish, pressing firmly down to pack it in tightly. Bake for 10 minutes
  6. Drain the cashews and add them to a blender along with the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, dairy free milk, corn starch, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  7. When the crust is done, pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crust in the baking dish.
  8. Put back in the oven for 35-45 minutes. Test with a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean.
  9. Removed from oven and cool for 1 hour. Then cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour before slicing.
  10. Optionally serve the bars with flaky salt and whipped cream.
Calories per Serving 206
Total Fat 11.5 g
Saturated Fat 5.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 24.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 11.4 g
Sodium 221.2 mg
Protein 4.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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