This Pumpkin Pie Bars recipe is hands down my favorite pumpkin dessert!! They are super easy to put together and have the perfect ratio of pumpkin pie filling to shortbread crust (hint: heavy on the shortbread!!)
Make the shortbread crust. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat 2 cups of butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar. Beat another minute until soft and fluffy. There should be no butter chunks.
Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
Add the 4 cups of flour 1 cup at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides each time. You might think this is too much flour but I promise, it's not! Just use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides and work in all the floury crumbles at the bottom.
Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with butter or nonstick spray. Divide the dough into two, one portion a bit larger than the other. Press the slightly larger portion of dough into the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the pan.
Chill the dough pressed in the pan for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Once the dough pressed into the pan has chilled, bake it at 350 for about 18-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool for a few minutes (it's okay if it's a little warm when you pour on the pumpkin.)
Meanwhile, add 3/4 cup chopped walnuts to the slightly smaller portion of dough. Mix it together, then cover and chill in the fridge. (I transfer this walnut-dough to a new bowl and store it in the fridge, so that I can use the mixer bowl for the pumpkin filling)
Make the pumpkin filling. You can do it in the same bowl that you did the shortbread in if you scrape it out well. No need to wash. Add 2 cups pumpkin puree*, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional). Whisk it all together until smooth.
Pour the pumpkin filling into the baked crust. I spread it to within about a half inch of the edges.
Get the walnutty dough out of the fridge. Use your hands to break up the dough into chunks about the size of a quarter, some bigger some smaller. Cover the top of the pumpkin, it's ok if some pumpkin peeks through.
Make the streusel. In a small bowl melt 3 tablespoon butter. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour and mix together with a fork to create small crumbles.
Sprinkle the streusel over the crumble evenly.
Bake the pumpkin pie bars at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until the streusel it lightly browning and the bars don't jiggle when you shake the pan.
Let cool completely before serving at room temperature or chilled. You can stick it in the fridge to speed this up!
*Pumpkin pie mix is already sweetened and has spices. You want to buy 100% pumpkin puree. ALSO: 2 cups is just a little bit more than a 15-ounce can of pumpkin. I always buy the larger cans, so I measure out 2 cups, but I think you will be fine using one 15-ounce can.