This easy vegan pumpkin cake is extra fluffy and topped with vegan cream cheese icing. It’s baked in a large sheet pan, then cut into bars for a sweet and nicely spiced fall treat you can feed to a crowd.

3 vegan pumpkin cake bars stacked on top of each other.

When you need a crowd-pleasing dessert for the holidays, turn to these Vegan Pumpkin Cake Bars! They’re fluffy, soft, moist, and packed with delicious pumpkin spice. 

As a finishing touch, the vegan pumpkin cake is decorated with the same “cream cheese” frosting used on my Vegan Pumpkin Cookies. It’s just as easy to make as vegan buttercream but contains one secret ingredient to help it taste exactly like the real thing.

This is the best vegan pumpkin spice cake because it’s:

  • Incredibly fluffy and moist: The pumpkin cake bars have a light crumb, are full of warm pumpkin spice flavors, and taste deliciously moist and fluffy. This to-die-for texture is all thanks to the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and other simple baking staples in the batter!
  • Decorated with vegan cream cheese frosting: This magically sweet and tangy frosting tastes like a real cream cheese icing, but isn’t made with any vegan cream cheese. The secret? Apple cider vinegar. It’s incredible!
  • A tasty fall and winter dessert: This recipe makes 20 cake bars. That’s a lot! Thankfully, this means you’ll have enough treats to bring to the Thanksgiving, Christmas, or holiday party.
a pumpkin cake bar with cream cheese frosting on top with a bite taken out of it.

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Ground flaxseeds – You’ll need these to make the flax eggs, which will help bind the batter together. Chia seeds can be used as an alternative.
  • Water
  • Canned pumpkin puree – Make sure you buy canned pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. The latter is better suited in a pumpkin pie
  • Coconut oil – Make sure to use refined coconut oil to avoid a coconut flavor in the pumpkin cake. If you don’t have coconut oil, use canola oil, avocado oil, or melted vegan butter instead.
  • Granulated sugar – White sugar, cane sugar, and coconut sugar are all great options.
  • All purpose flour – I always end up with a light and fluffy cake when I use all purpose flour. I haven’t tested this recipe with a gluten free flour, but a quality Gluten Free Flour Mix should work just fine. 
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Vegan butter – This is the base of the vegan cream cheese frosting.
  • Powdered sugar – Don’t leave this out. Without the powdered sugar, the cream cheese icing won’t taste sweet enough or be sturdy enough for frosting. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – Adding vinegar to the frosting produces that tangy flavor you’d find in a traditional cream cheese icing. Apple cider vinegar is the best option because it’s mild and pairs well with the warm spices, but lemon juice would also make a suitable substitution.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Non-dairy milk – Any unsweetened non-dairy milk can be used to thin out the frosting.

How to make vegan pumpkin cake

Find the complete printable recipe with measurements in the recipe card below. 

Make the flax eggs by whisking the ground flaxseed and water together in a small bowl. Set it aside to thicken.

Next, whisk the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, sugar, and flax eggs together in a large bowl. Sprinkle the flour on top. Then add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until just combined.

Pour the cake batter onto a greased jelly roll pan. Spread it out to touch the edges of the pan and smooth into an even layer.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let it cool while you make the icing.

Use a handheld or standing mixer to beat the softened vegan butter until it’s creamy and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla and beat until the icing is smooth and creamy. You can add one tablespoon of milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Once the cake is fully cool, spread the frosting on top. Cut the cake into bars, then enjoy!

overhead view of vegan pumpkin cake bars with cream cheese frosting on top.

Pumpkin cupcakes

I haven’t tested it but the batter should be able to be used to make pumpkin cupcakes too! Make the batter as normal and pour it into a lined regular-sized cupcake tin. Bake at 350ºF for 15 to 20 minutes.

Frequently asked questions

  • What size cake pan do I need? This sheet cake is baked in a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan, which holds a lot of batter. If you don’t want to make as many cake bars, cut the recipe in half and bake the batter in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
  • Can I make a layered cake instead? Yes. This recipe makes enough batter for two round 9-inch cake pans.
  • How do you store the cake bars? The frosted pumpkin cake bars can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
  • Can you freeze the cake? Yes, the cake freezes well with or without the frosting.
a vegan pumpkin cake bar with cream cheese frosting on top.

Want more vegan pumpkin desserts?

3 vegan pumpkin cake bars stacked on top of each other.
4.95 stars (55 ratings)

Vegan Pumpkin Cake Bars

This easy vegan pumpkin cake is extra fluffy and topped with vegan cream cheese icing. It’s baked in a large sheet pan, then cut into bars for a sweet and nicely spiced fall treat you can feed to a crowd.
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Cooling time: 30 mins
Total: 1 hr 10 mins
Servings: 20 slices

Ingredients 
 

Pumpkin Cake

Frosting

  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk, as needed

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 inches). Set aside.
  • Mix the ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl and set aside to make your flax eggs.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, coconut oil, sugar and flax eggs until smooth.
  • Now add the flour to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt on top of the flour and mix with a large spoon until just combined.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  • Make the Frosting: Using a hand mixer, beat the softened vegan butter for about 2 minutes until creamy, then add the powdered sugar, apple cider vinegar and vanilla and beat everything together until smooth and creamy, adding a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time as needed. If you add too much milk and it gets runny, you will need to add more powdered sugar.
  • Once the cake is cooled completely, frost the cake, cut into bars and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Use refined coconut oil if you don’t want a coconut taste. May also substitute canola oil, avocado oil or melted vegan butter. You could probably use 1/2 applesauce and 1/2 oil to cut down on the fat but it will affect the overall flavor and taste of the cake.
  2. I haven’t made these gluten free, but like most of my cake recipes a quality Gluten Free Flour Mix would likely work just fine. 
  3. This recipe makes a lot of bars (20) so if you want less feel free to cut the ingredients in half and make it in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
  4. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting so it doesn’t melt. You can speed up the process by placing the cake in the refrigerator. 
  5. Store leftover cake bars on the counter for 2-3 days, covered, or in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. They can also be frozen with or without the frosting. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 189mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 3309IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. How have I not known that apple cider vinegar is the key to that cream cheese taste?! You are amazing. My whole family loved this recipe, and my son gave me the “Paul Hollywood handshake.”

    1. Live and learn, right! Isn’t it delicious!? I’m so glad your family loved the recipe! Thanks for sharing your positive feedback and review!

    1. Hi Bo. Oh, I just love these! They are great for gatherings as they are delicious and make a lot! I’m so glad they are a hit at your family potlucks! Thanks for your wonderful feedback!

  2. These were amazing! Another great recipe! I brought these to share with the teachers at my school and they were gone in an hour! Yummy!!

  3. I’m gonna make this weekend for first time. I wanted to possibly make in pumpkin shaped tins. Is the dough easy to work with to get into individual cupcake tins? I guess I’m asking if it’s somewhat runny. If not, then I’ll just do as sheet pan. Obviously I’d have to adjust the cooking times if I did differently

    1. Hi Diana. I’ve never tried this, however, I think it could work. The dough is thick, however you could spoon and spread into the tins. They would need to bake around 15-20 minutes to be done in cupcake form. I hope this helps!

  4. My son has a flaxseed allergy as well as egg. Do you think another egg substitute would work? Maybe Bob’s red mill egg replacer? Has anyone tried any other replacement?  Thank you so much!

  5. In the oven baking right now.
    I know it will be excellent becuz everything I have made from your site is ex excellent.
    Why wait til the Fall to enjoy something pumpkin…..I want it now….in June!

    1. Hi Deb. I agree, pumpkin is good any time of the year! I hope you enjoy the pumpkin cake bars! Thank you for sharing your positive words!

  6. This was absolutely amazing. I used Bob  1:1 gf flour, and I added sprinkled pecans to the topping. Absolutely delicious.

  7. Hello,

    I am making your carrotcake recipie for Easter and would love to use the icing from here. I would like to know if you think it would work with palm shortening instead of the butter. I have never used shortening before so i am just courious if it will still taste like ” cream cheese”. Unfortunatelly the only safe vegan butter is not available around us anymore.

    1. I haven’t tried using shortening in this particular frosting but I think it will work pretty well and still taste a bit like cream cheese icing. Sounds like a good idea, hope you enjoy the carrot cake!

  8. Completely agree that the 9×13 dimension was far too thin (alas) and feel like it would be perfect doubled.

  9. Cant wait to try this recipe! Instead of apple cider vinegar in the frosting I’ll use fresh squeezed orange juice & orange zest. Like my mom used to make. Orange & pumpkin go wonderful together. Thank you for creating a vegan version for us! ?

  10. I did a test run first according to the recipe. I found that the finished product albeit delicious was too thin.  So I doubled the recipe and used a larger sheet pan, perfect.  They were a hit with the Trick or Treater’s of all ages.

  11. Delicious! I don’t normally rate recipes but having a daughter will egg, dairy and peanut allergies, good desserts are hard to find. These nailed it!!! They will definitely be on the list for Thanksgiving!

    1. Hi Chelsea. These are definitely one of my favorite dessert treats! I’m glad that you loved them, and that your daughter can enjoy them as well! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review! Happy holiday cooking!

  12. THE BEST PUMPKIN BARS EVER!
    i am dairy and egg free because my daughter has food allergies.
    It is fluffy and light and moist. I will be making this again for Thanksgiving .
    I used canola oil and baked the whole recipe in a 9×13 pyrex but baked it a little longer and made half the icing. Perfect!

    1. I am thrilled that you loved the pumpkin bars! They are wonderful for Thanksgiving and holidays! I appreciate you taking time to share your wonderful review and comments! Thank you!

  13. Yum!!! I was a little nervous taking it out of the oven because it was light in color, but toothpick came out clean. Turned out excellent. So delicious, the entire family loved it. I substituted with veg oil and no issues.

    1. I’m so glad you guys loved the cake bars! They are just so perfect this time of year! Thanks for taking time to share your wonderful review and comments!

  14. Is this cake texture supposed to be really wet after baked
    ?i baked for 30mins,toothpick test came out clean ,but the cake taste overly wet and doughy,is the next day already,can i second bake it?

    1. No, it should be just like cake, not wet. Moist and fluffy. It sounds like something went wrong, did you make any substitutions? Make sure to follow the recipe exactly for best results.

  15. I AM A HORRIBLE BAKER! I have never in my life baked a cake, let alone a vegan cake, that I felt fully satisfied with! This cake came out so perfect, I feel like making another one tomorrow. Just WOW! Even the icing… I was highly skeptical of it actually tasting like cream cheese, but it came out just like real cream cheese icing! No more buying tons of expensive vegan cream cheese for icing! This is life changing! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Jessica, for your kind and heartfelt comments and words! I’m so thrilled that you loved the cake bars and they turned out perfect and delicious for you! These pumpkin bars are definitely one of my favorites! I appreciate you taking your time to share your wonderful review!

  16. My family isn’t big on pumpkin dessert and they loved these.  The only problem is we can’t stop eating them. The icing is the perfect pairing.  You make the best desserts, Nora. 

    1. Thank you so much, Lauren! I appreciate your kind words! I’m thrilled the pumpkin bars are a hit with your family! I appreciate you taking your time to share your wonderful review and comments!

      1. I have not made the entire recipe in a 9×13 pan, however, I’d say about 35 minutes. Keep an eye on them to be sure they do not overcook! Hope this helps!

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