Pumpkin Magic Bars Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Pumpkin Magic Bars Recipe

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

I know sweets aren’t good for me or you or anyone. And believe me, I have tried to break up with them many times over. But then it’s a special occasion or a friend’s dessert cookbook launch party or it’s Friday, and I just can’t help myself. So you know what? Whatever. Sweets can hang out with me, but on my terms and not too much.

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

I have always been one to embrace more natural sweeteners, like fresh and dried fruit, and minimally processed ingredients like honey and coconut sugar. And I like to think that the desserts I make just use less sweetener altogether, which is another way to lower the glycemic index of anything. My latest strategy involves smaller sized desserts, ones that can be cut to be bite-sized. I especially love making small desserts when I am entertaining or for the holidays because I usually have prepared more than one dessert and it’s nice to be able to taste everything.

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

These pumpkin magic bars are perfect for a Halloween dessert buffet or even Thanksgiving. It’s basically a 7-layer bar, sometimes referred to as a Hello Dolly Bar, but with the addition of pumpkin and warm spices. Those bars, however, use sweetened canned condensed milk which is where I draw the line. I have my limits and I try to avoid cans, pasteurized cow milk and sugar. I can’t avoid all three 100% of the time, but you can bet if they’re all in one product, it’s a no.

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

We can still make a delicious layered treat and dare I say even better than the original? Typical 7-layer bars are sickeningly sweet and usually layered with different types of chips, e.g. chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch. I do add chocolate chips, but I also add a layer of diced dates which I could swear is like caramel when I sink my teeth into a square. Plus I love adding other healthful ingredients like shredded coconut and pecans. I also take coconut milk and simmer it with coconut sugar until it is reduced and thickened slightly to act like condensed milk.

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

These bars feel super decadent and they are by no means low calorie.  But as far as refined and processed ingredients, this recipe is pretty good.  Last October, I ate one of these every day after class and I didn’t feel like I needed a nap or like I just guzzled a soda.  Of course, I had cut these pretty small.  So if you cut these up and start evening out the edges and eating all those slivers, it all adds up.

Pumpkin Magic Bars | Pamela Salzman

You can make these now if you’re having a party next weekend.  They stay in the fridge (as long as they’re covered well) for at least a week.  They also freeze really well and unfortunately, they even taste great straight out of the freezer.  Ask me how I know that. #shameful

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Magic Bars
Serves: 9 medium or 16 Small Squares
  • 1 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk, about 1⅔ cups
  • ½ cup coconut sugar, cane sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 14 crackers pulverized in a food processor)
  • 6 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, Grade A or Grade B
  • 1 cup dried dates, pitted and diced (or omit dates and increase sugar to ⅔ cup)
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (coconut oil is fine) an 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking dish and line it with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Prepare condensed coconut milk. Pour coconut milk and coconut sugar into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat at a low simmer. Do not allow to boil over. Simmer on medium-low heat for 12-14 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly. You want it to reduce to about 1⅓ cups. If you reduce it less, no problem.
  3. Once milk is condensed, whisk in pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves until well combined. Remove from heat to cool.
  4. Prepare graham cracker crust. Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press down firmly, making an even layer. The better you press the crust, the better it will hold together.
  5. Pour condensed coconut milk mixture over the crust. Sprinkle on the diced dates and then the chocolate chips, followed by the coconut and then the pecans. Press the mixture down lightly with your hands so that all the toppings stick to the layer underneath.
  6. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack for approximately 30 minutes. Set bars in the freezer for 2 hours or the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. If put in the freezer, bars will need to be defrosted before eating. Store in the refrigerator wrapped well, for up to one week.


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  1. It looks like our grocery delivery is out of these spices. Do you think it would be ok to substitute pumpkin pie spice for all of the others?

  2. Made these last night and O-M-G – so yummy! Thank you for an incredible recipe! I substituted butternut squash because I had no pumpkin on hand and upped the fat content on my low fat coconut milk with coconut cream. Also used 1/4C of sugar in the coconut milk. The final product was decadent and didn’t feel like it was going to send my blood sugar surging. This one is a keeper!

    • Genius substitutions! I tell people all the time that pureed butternut squash is a perfect sub for pumpkin. Good job!

  3. If I can’t have nuts, would it be fine to leave out or would you suggest replacing with something else? Thank you!

    • Just leave out the nuts or add more of the other layers. 🙂

  4. Hi Pamela! I was wondering what brand of chocolate you would recommend?

    • I like anything organic and free-trade. Enjoy Life, Lilly’s, Thrive Market private label, Equal Exchange are all in my pantry!

  5. Pamela – Does it matter if the full fat coconut milk is sweetened or unsweetened?

    • Definitely use unsweetened coconut milk. This is the kind in the can, not coconut milk beverage in the refrigerator case.

  6. So, I am quite the fan of pumpkin and couldn’t wait to make these. I brought these to my mom’s on Halloween and oh my, they did not disappoint. That crust was crazy good. So darn yummy!! Everyone loved them. They were a nice ending to our baked potato and chili bar. I think I may have to bring these to Thanksgiving too. 🙂

    • Perfect Halloween meal!

      • You are such an inspiration in my cooking. So thank you…

        • You’re so kind, Monica. Thank you.

  7. My crust fell apart. Pamela, did you measure out 6 tbl of solidified coconut oil then melt it?

    • Hi Vi,

      I measured the solidified coconut oil, then melted it. But it doesn’t matter if you measure it melted — it comes out to the same amount. You need to make sure your crumbs are fine, like the photo. And the most important step is packing down the crust mixture nice and firm. That will result in a not-crumbly crust, promise!

  8. These look delicious! I am not a fan of coconut, though, so I hope they taste just as good without the shredded coconut on top.

    • I think they’ll be delicious, but it’s possible they may be a little more moist on top since the coconut layer is helping to bind the coconut milk-pumpkin mixture together. Keeping them in the fridge after they’ve been baked should keep them firm, though.

  9. Oh my goodness- I am doing the Clean program right now and this dessert ALMOST qualifies. It is only the graham crackers and chocolate chips that aren’t on the cleanse so I am making this when I get off and start the elimination process. What could I substitute for the graham cracker crust since gluten free even when off the cleanse? Thank you Pamela! I am using a lot of your recipes on the Clean program. They are such a great reference. Love you! VP of your Fan Club

    • just buy gluten-free graham crackers and make 2 cups of crumbs!

  10. Yay! What a treat to get a healthier alternative to a favorite childhood cookie of mine. Thanks for making these and sharing them!

    • i hope you try them!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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