Magic Pumpkin Bars is an easy yellow cake mix recipe with a gooey pumpkin sweetened condensed milk center, topped with pecans, cranberries, white and dark chocolate chips, and coconut. Perfect pumpkin dessert for the holiday season or any time of year.
If you're into magic bars, or 7 layer bars, or hello dolly bars -- or whatever you prefer to call them -- you're among friends. They're definitely a family favorite of ours.
The OG recipe for Hello Dolly Bars has inspired the creation of Blueberry White Chocolate Magic Cookie Bars, Carrot Cake Mix Cookie Bars, and these Magic Pumpkin Bars -- a pumpkin version of 7 layer bars.
It's a super easy pumpkin bars recipe with yellow cake mix that's loaded with all the fall flavors.
The yellow cake mix jazzed up with pumpkin spice creates a soft base for a decadent sweetened condensed milk pumpkin layer that's topped with pecans, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and coconut.
These easy pumpkin bars are thick, soft, and gooey, with loads of toppings and perfectly toasted coconut.
So next time the craving strikes for a decadent pumpkin bar, just reach for a box of cake mix!
Try these pumpkin recipes next
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread - super soft and moist
- Pumpkin Pancakes with Pancake Mix - big, thick, and fluffy
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins - pumpkin muffins with cinnamon streusel topping
- Pumpkin Angel Food Cake - easy pumpkin cake recipe from a box mix
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
Easy pumpkin puree and yellow cake mix recipe with simple ingredients
Soft cakey bars with decadent pumpkin filling, layers of chocolate, nuts, cranberries, and toasted coconut
Perfect fall dessert with warm and cozy flavors
Please refer to the recipe card for the full list and quantity of ingredients.
Box of yellow cake mix. Yellow boxed cake mix and a little pumpkin spice create a soft, cakey base for these thick and luscious bars. Feel free to use any kind of cake mix like white cake mix or chocolate cake mix. If you go with a spice cake mix or carrot cake mix, skip adding the pumpkin spice to it.
Softened butter. One stick of softened butter helps turn the yellow cake mix into a soft dough.
Sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk holds all the layers together in the most delicious way.
Canned pumpkin. One cup of fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree mixed with sweetened condensed milk and pumpkin spice creates a gooey layer for these pumpkin bars.
What to do with leftover canned pumpkin
If you open a fresh can of pumpkin for this recipe, you'll have about ½ cup leftover. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, freeze it for up to a year, or use it in one of these tasty pumpkin recipes.
Pumpkin pie spice. You can use store-bought pumpkin pie spice or make your own with this easy recipe.
Pro Tip: To make a small batch of pumpkin spice for this recipe, stir together 2 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon cloves and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Use 3 teaspoons in the cake mix and 1 teaspoon in the pumpkin mixture.
Pecans. Pecans add earthy flavor to these pumpkin bars. You can substitute your favorite nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts. or almonds.
Dried cranberries. Dried cranberries add bursts of sweet, tart flavor.
White chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips. Two kinds of chocolate chips add contrasting colors and flavors. The white chocolate chips caramelize in the oven and take on a rich flavor. The dark chocolate chips add a slightly bitter contrast to the sweet ingredients. You can substitute milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, or any kind of baking chips you like.
Coconut. Many 7-layer bar recipes call for pouring the sweetened condensed milk over the coconut. Not this one. The coconut goes on top. Gently pressing it into the sweetened condensed milk adheres everything together.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry cake mix and 3 teaspoons of pumpkin spice. Add the softened butter and egg and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low to medium speed until it forms a soft dough.
Using wet fingers or a silicone spatula, evenly press the dough into the pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Pour the pumpkin mixture over the cake layer.
Add the toppings in this order: pecans, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and coconut.
With a fork, gently press the coconut layer down into the sweetened condensed milk. This will help adhere all the layers together.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean and the coconut is dark golden and toasted.
Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into small squares.
These yellow cake mix pumpkin bars are equally good warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Store pumpkin magic bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze these bars in a freezer-safe container or ziptop freezer bag.
Use store-bought pumpkin spice for this pumpkin dessert with yellow cake mix recipe or make your own with spices you might already have with this easy recipe.
Wet your fingertips to make pressing the cake mixture into the pan super easy.
Gently press the coconut into the sweetened condensed milk layer to adhere the layers together.
If you have less than a full can of pumpkin leftover, you can refrigerate it for up to a week, freeze it for up to a year, or use it to flavor your oatmeal, pancakes, maple syrup, pumpkin lattes, chili (yes), smoothies, cakes, cookies, muffins, or even your favorite hummus recipe.
It's easy to make your own pumpkin pie spice with a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Here's my recipe for pumpkin pie spice that I use all the time.
Canned pumpkin, which is also called pumpkin puree, is made from cooked and pureed pumpkin or a blend of pumpkin and squash. of squash. Pumpkin pie filling includes cooked pumpkin or squash and has sweeteners and spices added as a time-saver for making pumpkin pie.
I don't have a stand mixer, so this little hand mixer from KitchenAid gets a workout in my kitchen. It also has handy a whisk attachment for whipping cream for no-churn ice cream and egg whites for macaroons.
This Anchor Hocking 3-piece mixing bowl set was a wedding gift (over 20 years ago!) and I use all three sizes all the time.
More Easy Cake Mix Recipes
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Magic Pumpkin Bars (with Yellow Cake Mix)
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 egg
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, divided
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, stir the yellow cake mix and 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice together. Add the softened butter and egg and mix with an electric mixer until it comes together into a stiff dough, almost like cookie dough.
- Using wet fingers or a silicone spatula, evenly press the dough into the pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of pumpkin puree, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice together until smooth.
- Pour the pumpkin sweetened condensed milk mixture over the cake layer.
- Add the layers of nuts, chocolate chips, cranberries, and coconut in this order: pecans, dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and coconut.
- Use a fork to lightly press the coconut layer down into the sweetened condensed milk. This will help the toppings adhere together during baking.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the coconut is dark golden brown, the center is firm. It takes exactly 40 minutes in my oven, but yours may be different so start checking it a bit early.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. They are exceptional when warm — and still gooey and delicious when cool.
Storage & Freezing
- Store pumpkin magic bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze these bars in a freezer-safe container or ziptop freezer bag.
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