Creamy pumpkin filling tops buttery shortbread crust for an easy fall dessert that’s both vegan and gluten-free! Your guests will be amazed that the secret ingredient is Hodo extra-firm tofu, which gives the bars body and helps them set. Bake up a batch to share or hoard them all to yourself.
Thanks to @HodoFoods for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.
Pumpkin dessert season always reminds me of my mom, who would unfailingly bake pumpkin pie each November, served up with cinnamon ice cream. To this day, she goes wild for pumpkin anything and everything.
These pumpkin pie bars are like a cozy hug from mom. They're filled with good-for-you ingredients like winter squash puree (preferably homemade!), warming spices, unrefined sweeteners, coconut milk, and the secret ingredient: Hodo Extra-Firm Organic Tofu!
I used to give side-eye to desserts made with tofu, but Hodo tofu’s trademark nutty taste blends seamlessly into these bars. Take the words of my friend and taste tester Amelia and her chef BF Brandon, both of whom have the most sensitive of palates:
The pumpkin squares were awesome!!! Brandon was impressed and so surprised to learn the main ingredient. *drooling emoji*
Bake up a batch and taste for yourself!
Ingredients and Substitution Suggestions
The secret ingredient
While most vegan pumpkin pie recipes call for silken tofu, here extra-firm tofu, pureed silky-smooth, works beautifully, giving the bars a luxurious texture that's firm enough to slice. I use award-winning Hodo Organic Extra-Firm Tofu, which is artisanally made in the San Francisco Bay Area with high quality organic & non-GMO soybeans.
Hodo is the only tofu that I ever use, and I always have a few blocks in my fridge for cooking up fall tofu veggie bowls, grilled tofu, tofu salad, and spicy tofu sushi burritos. It's a versatile ingredient that's neutral enough to use in both savory and sweet preparations.
- My favorite almond flour shortbread crust forms the base of these bars. I used vegan butter and coconut sugar here.
- For nut allergies, omit the almond flour and use an equal amount by weight of finely ground pumpkin seeds, or try tiger nut flour.
- Winter squash puree gives the filling its signature golden hue and luscious texture. I prefer homemade squash puree, which makes the bars taste extra bright and fresh.
- I used butternut squash, but kabocha squash or red kuri squash would also work. Canned pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree will work too.
- Coconut milk makes the filling custardy and rich. Be sure to use full-fat canned coconut milk that's been well-combined prior to measuring.
- For coconut allergies, try using cashew cream that's roughly the same thickness as coconut milk.
- Maple syrup and coconut sugar or maple sugar sweeten the bars. I used maple sugar in these photos for a brighter color, while coconut sugar will make the bars more brown and add lovely molasses flavor – the choice is yours!
- Feel free to swap any liquid sweetener you prefer for the maple syrup and any granulated sweetener you like for the coconut sugar. It's best to substitute by weight if possible, and you may need to adjust the sweetness to your liking as different sweeteners have different levels of sweetness for the same weight and volume.
- Cornstarch helps the filling thicken and set.
- For corn allergies, you could try using arrowroot flour or sweet rice flour, though I haven't tested it this way.
- Vanilla, salt, and my golden pumpkin spice add loads of flavor that makes these bars sing of traditional pumpkin pie goodness.
These bars are divine on their own, but the toppings really make the bars shine.
- A dollop of something creamy gives it classic pumpkin pie vibes. I like using a rich coconut yogurt that holds its shape. Or use whipped coconut cream or storebought non-dairy whipped topping.
- Toasted pecans add crunch. Or go with toasted pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or buckwheat groats.
- A sprinkle of flaky salt and freshly grated nutmeg (or a pinch of cinnamon) make the flavors pop.
How to Make Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Bars
This recipe makes one 8x8 or 9x9-inch pan of pumpkin bars, which get cut into 12 servings.
Make the crust dough as directed, press it into a 8x8 or 9x9-inch parchment-lined pan, and bake at 350º until it's puffed and golden. While still hot, press the crust down with the back of a spoon – this helps it hold together when cut.
Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in a high-speed blender.
Blend on medium-high until silky smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour the mixture over the parbaked crust.
Bake the bars until the edges are cracked, the bars are puffed, the center is matte, and the filling is set when you give the pan a wiggle, 40-50 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, 1-2 hours, then chill until firm, as least 2 hours and up to 2 or 3 days.
Lift the bar out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife wiped clean between cuts to trim the outer edges away, then slice the bars into 12 pieces.
Serve the bars with the toppings of your choice such as dairy-free whipped topping, toasted pecans, and flaky salt. They keep well for up to 3 days and there are lots of do-ahead options too (see the notes at the end of the recipe card below!)
Vegan Pumpkin Pie or Tart
You can easily dress these bars up for a more traditional holiday dessert.
For vegan pumpkin tart, shape the crust in the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan and proceed with the recipe.
For a vegan pumpkin pie, shape the dough in a pie tin (or use my flaky GF pie crust or paleo almond flour pie crust, parbaked) and proceed with the recipe.
Pumpkin Pie Bars for Everyone
These pumpkin pie bars are:
- dairy-free, egg-free & vegan
- refined sugar-free
- rich and tender
- taste like pumpkin pie, but are way easier
- with an addictively salty-sweet crust that tastes like brown sugar shortbread
No matter how you slice up and serve these creamy gluten-free and vegan pumpkin pie bars, I hope you love them as much as we do!
Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this vegan & gluten-free pumpkin bar recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.
Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bars with a Gluten-Free Shortbread CrustPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 batch gluten-free shortbread crust made with vegan butter and coconut sugar
- ½ block (5 ounces / 140 g) Hodo extra-firm tofu, in large crumbles (about 1 cup lightly packed)
- 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons homemade winter squash puree (or 1 can / 15 ounces / 427 g unsweetened pumpkin puree)
- ½ cup (150 g) maple syrup
- ½ cup (75 g) coconut sugar (or maple sugar for brighter color, shown here)
- 1 cup (235 g) well-combined full-fat canned coconut milk
- ¼ cup (33 g) cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon golden pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- whipped coconut cream, storebought non-dairy whipped topping, or rich coconut yogurt such as Culina or Cocojune
- toasted pecans
- freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon sprinkle
- flaky salt
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square baking pan (or a 9x9-inch pan for thinner bars) with a sheet of parchment paper (shove it in and fold the corners over themselves so that the bottom and all sides are covered).
- Make the crust dough as directed, press it into the bottom of the pan in an even layer, using a flat bottomed glass to make it smooth. Bake the crust until golden and puffed, 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and while it’s still warm, press the crust down with the back of a large spoon (this step helps the crust hold together when cut, so don’t skip it!)
- In the bowl of a high-speed blender, combine the tofu, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut milk, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt.
- Blend on medium until very smooth, 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the filling mixture over the parbaked crust and spread it into an even layer.
- Bake the bars until the edges are cracked, the bars are puffed, the center is matte, and the filling is set when you give the pan a wiggle, 40-50 minutes.
- Cool the bars to room temperature, 1-2 hours, then chill until firm, as least 2 hours and up to 2 or 3 days.
- Use the parchment handles to lift the bar out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife wiped clean between cuts to trim the outer edges away, then slice the bars into 12 pieces.
- Serve the bars with the toppings of your choice.
- The crust dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.
- The crust can be baked up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until needed.
- The filling can be pureed up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until needed.
- The bars can be baked up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated until needed. I actually like them best the day after baking as the flavors have had a chance to meld.