Delight your guests this holiday season with these irresistible gluten free pumpkin pie bars! The easy small batch recipe starts with a flavorful gluten free gingersnap crust, topped with a spiced apple layer and creamy pumpkin pie filling. The bars are a delightful twist on traditional pumpkin pie that everyone will love!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Bars
Move over pumpkin pie, there is a new treat in town! Not that I would ever want to replace a delicious pumpkin pie, but if you find yourself craving the creamy pumpkin pie filling without the intricacies of making a pie crust, these pumpkin bars are for you!
Why You’ll Love These Bars
- Just Like Pumpkin Pie – The bars should taste like pumpkin pie, because the filling is pumpkin pie! So, all the creamy spiced goodness we love with pie, sans the crust.
- Sweet and Tart Spiced Apple Layer – We give the pumpkin bars a little texture with a spice apple layer. Similar to a delicious apple pie, but in bite-size chunk form!
- Spicy Gluten Free Gingersnap Crust – The crust holding the bars together is made with butter-infused gluten free gingersnap cookies. Delightfully spicy and crunchy!
- Pretty Holiday Dessert Bars – These bars join the other festive holiday bars – pumpkin bars, cranberry crumble bars, and cranberry gingerbread bars. And they make the prettiest bars when you pipe on whipped cream!
Everything You Need To Make Pumpkin Pie Bars
- Gingersnap Cookies – To keep the bars gluten free, select a gluten free gingersnap or graham cracker. Or, you can try another spicy cookie – the Biscoff! The cookie I use in the cranberry mousse cheesecake.
- Butter – Unsalted butter is my preference because we add our own salt. The butter is to bind the cookie crust.
- Apple – 1 apple that is firm – like a Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith. And, we only use about half of the apple, so the remainder can be used to make soft apple cookies or apple spice cupcakes!
- Canned Pumpkin – This is one pumpkin recipe that I suppose you could use actual pumpkin pie filling. Though, my recommendation is canned pure pumpkin so we can flavor it ourselves!
- Cane Sugar – My go-to granulated sugar for its rich flavor and less-processing. However, granulated white sugar will work.
- Brown Sugar – I recommend dark brown sugar for a rich flavor, but light will work. And the brown sugar goes in the apple and pumpkin layer.
- Egg – I large egg is all we need for the pumpkin pie filling.
- Cream or Milk – The cream or milk in the pumpkin pie filling will give the bars texture. I prefer heavy cream for an extra creamy bar, but any milk-fat will work.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – The key ingredient (besides pumpkin!) in pumpkin pie! Or you can opt for all cinnamon if you like.
- Cinnamon – A little extra cinnamon to give a little extra spice in the apple and pumpkin layer.
- Vanilla – For flavor!
- Salt – Salt is wonderful at balancing and enhancing flavors.
Helpful Baking Equipment
- Food Processor – I do pull out the food processor to prepare the cookie crust. Just makes getting the gingersnap cookies into uniform pieces exceptionally easy.
- Small Saucepan – This is optional, but I like to heat the apples slightly so the sugar will melt and caramelize.
- Mixing Bowl – Yes, only 1 mixing bowl! Unless you count one for the whipped cream …
- 6-Inch Cake Pan – A small cake pan makes 4 to 9 bars. Or, you can use a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Tips For Success
- Don’t overbake the crust with the pre-bake – When we pre-bake the crust, we are just wanting it to heat to where the butter and sugar melt to help hold the base together. If you bake too long, chances are the cookie crust will be very crunchy.
- Heat the apples to caramelize – I like to warm the apples for these pumpkin pie bars so the sugar melts and gets caramely. However, you can certainly just toss the apples with the cinnamon and sugar.
- Let the pumpkin bars cool completely – We want the filling to set, so the bars need to cool completely at room temperature, then go into the refrigerator for about an hour.
- Store leftover bars in the refrigerator – The bars will last longer if they are stored in the fridge.
Gluten free gingersnap cookies make a delicious cookie base for the bars! The cookies already have all the warm spices that pair beautifully with pumpkin pie. Plus, they have an extra snappy texture which makes a great base.
Any cookie will work: graham crackers, Biscoff cookies, sandwich cookies, Vanilla Wafers, and even shortbread.
To make the cookie base for the pumpkin pie bars is very easy:
- Pulse the cookies to crumbs in a food processor.
- Add the melted butter and sugar.
- Pulse again until the crumbs are moistened.
- Pre-bake for 8 minutes.
For the tart and sweet apple layer, we use about half of a firm apple. I like to chop them into small chunks to make them perfect bite-size pieces.
To bake with apples, I recommend a firm apple like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith. Though, any apple can work. Just keep in mind how long the bars bake as we don’t want a softer apple to get too mushy!
How To Make Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Bars
You will want to refer to the complete recipe card below. But, I’ll give you the highlight-reel of how the pumpkin bars come together!
- Make the cookie crust – Grind the cookies to crumbs and mix with butter and sugar. Pre-bake for 8 minutes.
- Prepare the apple layer – Peel and chop the apples to bite-size chunks. Heat with brown sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
- Make the pumpkin pie filling – Mix all the filling ingredients together in a mixing bowl. That’s it! No special steps for the pumpkin!
- Assemble the bars – Spread the apples over the crust, then top with the pumpkin pie filling.
- Bake – The bars need to bake until the center no longer jiggles – about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let the bars cool! – An exclamation point, because the bars need time to set up!
Yes, the recipe is easily doubled and made in an 8-inch square pan. Adjust the bake time to 40 to 50 minutes – or until the center does not jiggle.
You do not. I did for this recipe so the apples bake a little softer. Though, you can keep the skin on the apple for a little more texture. Just like my caramel apple cheesecake bars.
Keep the bars covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Yes, you can freeze baked and cooled bars. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Apple Pie Bars
Apple Filling Layer
- ½ cup apple, peeled and chopped into small chunks (about 1/2 an apple – I use Honeycrisp)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a 6-inch square cake pan with two strips of parchment paper – cut long enough to hang over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease any corners where the parchment didn't cover.
- In the work bowl of a food processor, add the gingersnap cookies. Pulse to small crumbs. Add the melted butter and sugar, and pulse a few more times to combine and all the crumbs are moistened by the butter.¾ cup gluten free gingersnaps, 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
- Pour the crust into the prepared cake pan and press evenly into the pan using your fingers, or the back of a small measuring cup.
- Bake the crust for 8 minutes, then set on a wire cooling rack to cool while you make the filling. Keep the oven on.
Apple Filling Layer
- Peel and chop half of an apple into 1/4 inch cubes. I use Honeycrisp apples, but any firm apple will work.½ cup apple, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- Add the apple chunks to a small saucepan. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the top and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the apples soften slightly. Note – Heating in the saucepan is optional. It will soften the apples and caramelize the sugar. If you opt not to, simply toss the apples with the sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Set aside while you make the pumpkin filling.1 tablespoon brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pumpkin Pie Filling
- In a small mixing bowl, add all of the pumpkin pie filling ingredients. Use a whisk and mix until ingredients are fully incorporated and smooth. Note – I like to use heavy cream to make the filling creamy. Though any milk-fat will work.3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar, ¼ cup milk, or heavy cream, 1 large egg, room temperature, ½ cup pure canned pumpkin, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Assemble the bars – Spoon the apples evenly over the pre-baked crust. Then pour the pumpkin filling over the top. Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly.
- Cool the bars completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack. Once cool, cover and transfer to the refrigerator and let the bars chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- When ready to serve, carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang. Slice into desired slices and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!
- Serving Size – This recipe is easily doubled and made in an 8-inch square cake pan. Your bake time may need to be increased by 5 or 10 minutes.
- Yield – You can get 4 to 9 bars – depending on how large you make your slices.
- Gingersnap Cookie Crust – Any cookie will work to make the crust – like graham crackers or Biscoff cookies (not gluten free).
- Pumpkin – You can use pumpkin pie filling instead of pure pumpkin. Follow the instructions on the can for how to prepare. However, I recommend pure pumpkin since we add our own flavors.
- Apple – You can chop more apple to make a thicker apple layer if you like. For the apple, I recommend a firm apple like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Granny Smith.
- Storing Pumpkin Bars – The bars will keep for up to 3 days covered in the refrigerator.
- Freezing Pumpkin Bars – Baked and cooled pumpkin bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap tightly in plastic and place in a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator.
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!