These pumpkin swirl brownies are outrageously rich thanks to pumpkin spice cheesecake swirled through chewy chocolate fudge brownies. They taste just as autumnal as they look, although honestly, we wouldn’t think twice about making them any day of the year.–Eliza Cross

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies FAQs

Can I use frozen pumpkin instead of pumpkin purée in pumpkin swirl brownies?

No, we would advise against it. You’re going to find that frozen pumpkin is just too wet and you won’t get that lovely definition in your swirls. If you’re determined to use frozen pumpkin, then you’ll have to drain it really, really well. Like, in a sieve lined with cheesecloth overnight.

How do I make my pumpkin swirl brownies easier to get out of the pan?

Baked goods can be tricky, especially in the corners. Sometimes just greasing the pan is enough but if you want to ensure that you’ll be able to get it all out in one piece, you can go a step further. Grease the pan, line it with parchment paper, and grease that, too. Leave an overhang of parchment over the side to act as handles and you’ll be able to lift your swirled sweets right out.

Pumpkin swirl brownies, uncut, in a large rectangular baking pan.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

5 / 4 votes
These pumpkin swirl brownies are made with cream cheese and taste as if pumpkin spice cheesecake swirl collided with chocolate fudge brownies.
David Leite
Servings24 bars
Calories233 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time55 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


For the pumpkin cheesecake swirl

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) butter, softened, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin or cooked mashed pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the chocolate brownie batter

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the pumpkin cheesecake swirl

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33 cm) baking dish.
  • In a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Beat in the egg, pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. Stir in the flour.

Make the chocolate brownie batter

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate and butter and warm until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. Gradually add the sugar, beating just until combined. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the milk and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  • Spread the chocolate brownie batter evenly in the baking dish. Spoon the cream cheese mixture in mounds on top of the chocolate brownie batter and use a table knife to swirl it into the chocolate batter. Bake until the center is just set, 55 to 65 minutes.
  • Remove the brownies from the oven and let them cool in the baking dish. Cut into squares.
Pumpkin It Up! Cookbook

Adapted From

Pumpkin It Up!

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 233 kcalCarbohydrates: 32 gProtein: 3 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 58 mgSodium: 80 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 24 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Eliza Cross. Photo © 2016 Susan Barnson Hayward . All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These pumpkin swirl brownies were richer than expected and oh-so-good!

These do take a little longer to make than regular brownies, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. I love the swirling of the pumpkin in the brownies, though take care to not do it too much and mix the cheesecake completely into the brownie batter. (If you’re really worried about it, I would reserve a spoonful or two of brownie batter and put it on top to make the swirling a little easier.)

I was also hesitant about adding the ginger, but it turned out to be just fine and definitely not overpowering. I baked mine for an hour and five minutes and the ones on the outside were good but the middle ones were still a little bit underbaked, which makes them a little denser and richer.

This pumpkin swirl brownies recipe produced an excellent brownie that was also pretty. The pumpkin spice taste complemented the chocolate instead of overwhelming it. An easy recipe that makes an attractive dish to take to work or a party.

For me, the recipe made 24 brownies, but I tend to cut my brownies in a more generous 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches. None of my volunteer testers complained.

Pumpkin with fudgy chocolate is a fantastic combination. Although my pumpkin swirl brownies didn’t have the swirled effect, the flavor more than made up for the lack of a fancy finish. (I used puréed pumpkin that was previously frozen and I think this is what made my pumpkin cheesecake layer watery. It wouldn’t swirl because of how liquidy it was, but the brownies came out fine!) Although mine lacked the pretty swirl, the taste, and texture were great.

I loved eating these straight from the fridge with a cold glass of milk. Make sure not to overbake them or the edges will dry out. I would start checking them after 45 to 50 minutes. I would say more like 24 servings, but I like big brownies!

Initially, we thought these pumpkin swirl brownies might be just okay, but they’re actually surprisingly good. The pumpkin cheesecake swirl balances the chocolate brownie quite well.

In some places where the globs were larger, the cheesecake mixture didn’t swirl well into the brownie mixture, but this is a small issue. I’d make a lot more little blobs. My yield was 30 brownies but you could easily cut the pieces smaller or larger.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. One of my grandsons is chomping at the bit for me to make this for Thanksgiving! I like that it’s from scratch and makes a large pan. 🙂 Our family doesn’t eat much sugar, however, so I’m wondering if I could decrease the sugar in the brownie portion from 2.25 cups to 1.75 cups and still come out with an acceptable, but lightly sweet, brownie. Thank you.

    1. Miranda, I like your grandson’s taste! We didn’t test this with less sugar, so I’m hesitant to say yes. Sugar does many things besides offer sweetness. It tenderizes by inhibiting gluten development. It holds onto liquid, making baked goods moist. And it helps to foods to brown. As you can see it’s complicated. If you do reduce the sugar, please write back and let me know how it turns out!

      1. 5 stars
        Hi, I reduced the sugar in the brownie part to 2 cups–thought it best not to reduce any less than that. They were superb! Thank you very much for the recipe.

        1. Miranda, that sounds fantastic! Thank you for getting back to us. That way, anyone who’s interested in using less sugar can follow in your footsteps, you pioneer

  2. 5 stars
    I made these last night for a party. I came home with an empty pan. They were gobbled up in seconds. Moist, rich, not overbearingly sweet (I was hopeful when I saw the amount of sugar to use), and very relevant for this time of year. The pumpkin cheesecake swirled effortlessly into the brownie batter and the finished bake was puffed up and well risen. They didn’t sink in the middle. I am making these agin tomorrow for work on Monday.

    Two images of sheet pan of orange and brown pumpkin swirl brownies fresh out of the oven

    1. Carlin, lovely to hear how magnificently these brownies worked for you! We’re always relieved to hear when a recipe works as well for readers as it does for us in our home kitchens. Grateful beyond words that you took the time to let us know. Thank you. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  3. Another one I want to try for my Friday workplace cookie extravaganza. This would be perfect for them — a hundred or so of them — closer to Thanksgiving!

    Any particular tips about sizing the recipe up to fit a quarter sheet pan (13″ x 17 1/2″ x 1″ just to make sure I’m using the right expression)? My inclination is to double the recipe even though they’ll be thinner.

    When I make my increases I do it a day before I bake so I have time to check and recheck the math when I’m not under pressure. But if there are any other tips anyone would like to pass along I’m all (grateful) ears!

    Thanks for the interesting recipe and thanks in advance for the help adapting it.

    1. Hi Rainy, I’m always reluctant to double baking recipes. To get a rise, these brownies depend on heat and the chemical reaction provided by the baking powder. In a half sheet pan (18×13), the edges could dry out and overcook before the center rises and is completely cooked. It could also fall once it cools as the heat penetrates the batter unevenly in the larger pan. You would be better served by using 2 quarter sheet pans (9×13).

      1. I hear ya. But I’m baking for 100 or more people and I have a grand total of ONE 9″ x 13″ pan.

        I have done brownies in a half-sheet pan before. The large horizontal mass is mitigated by the decreased density.

        I’ll admit that baking for the masses from a conventional home kitchen with home scale equipment is not for the timid. And I’ll also admit I’ve had my share of (expensive) disasters too. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.

        I’ll do a trial run with 1 half-sheet pan for the fam (and immediate neighborhood) before I attempt 4 half-sheets for my husband’s staff.

        1. Rainey, do let us know how it turns out. We’re always reticent to offer suggestions when it comes to making large-scale adjustments because we don’t want to cost a reader money if it doesn’t turn out. I hope you understand.

          1. Yes, of course. I actually came on just now (as my trial batch batch bakes) to say thet I doubt that the light fun spirit in which I wrote that translates to the page. I wish I had your sense of whimsy and writing skills!

            It makes perfect sense that no (responsible) one could give the advice I was asking for without having done it. So I will share as soon as I know because this recipe seems perfect for Fall and someone else may want to take a large batch to a church group or some such.

            I can say from making a water test for the volume that a 9″ x 13″ x 2 1/4″ pan and a 13″ x 17 1/2″ x 1″ pan are approximately equivalent (the 9 x 13 being slightly larger volume). So I went with the recipe as written. There was still enough chocolate batter to spread for an adequate bottom layer. And the cream cheese layer (considering that mine was a tad more liquid-y than moundy) also had good coverage.

            The final results when they exit the oven and get a good sampling….

          2. Rainey, yes, so much can be lost in a message, right? Glad that you’re keeping a twinkle in your eye about it all. Keep me posted, as I’m curious how they turn out.

          3. 5 stars
            So I’m sorry to say I have no one here to taste them yet and I’m on a diet so I won’t but I don’t doubt for a moment that they’ll be yummy.

            I baked them 50 minutes at 325˚ on a pan lined with a parchment sheet. They slid out very easily. The top was well set in the center. The brownies are about 1/2″ high and have a crumb I’d describe as close to a lemon bar. The edges are a bit more cake — possibly because they are more consistently chocolate without much swirl effect.

            I took pix and I’ll try to upload them so you can see how they’d compare to your thicker version since I didn’t do a 9 x 13 batch and can’t make that comparison. I will go ahead and make the larger batch of these by preparing 4 separate pans with 4 separate batches of batter. I’m sure everyone will enjoy them.

            The top:

            Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

            The edge:

            Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

            The crumb (that’s 1 half split into quarters):

            Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

          4. Wow, Rainey! You’re as thorough as our testers. The brownies look great. And from your follow-up email, I’m delighted to learn your tasters really enjoyed them. Thanks for all the excellent input.