These pumpkin spice seven layer bars are appropriately autumnal yet hearken back to the classic with graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and chocolate. Lovely any time of year.
You’re probably familiar with the traditional version of these pumpkin seven layer bars that are popular at bake sales and potlucks. They go by many different names, including Hello Dolly Bars, Seven Layer Bars, and Magic Bars. This version includes pumpkin and spice for a twist on a familiar favorite. No mixer, no fuss, and they’re fast and easy to prepare, making them a great choice when you’re pressed for time but still need to deliver a chewy-and-gooey dessert that’s sure to please a crowd. [Editor’s Note: As one reader said after making these, “Like pumpkin pie with magic in it.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.]–Averie Sunshine
Pumpkin Spice Seven Layer Bars
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted, plus more for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker or cookie crumbs (gingersnaps or speculoos)
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
- One (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon store-bought or homemade pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup butterscotch chips (or substitute more chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (or substitute more chocolate chips)
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang on at least 2 sides. Lightly butter the foil.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the stick of butter, about 90 seconds on high. Add the graham cracker crumbs and stir until well combined. Dump the buttery crumb mixture into the prepared pan and use your fingers or a spatula to press the crumbs into an even layer.
- In the same bowl (no need to wash it), combine the pumpkin, half the sweetened condensed milk (just eyeball it), cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the cookie crust and smooth it lightly with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin layer evenly with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and coconut—in that order.
- Evenly drizzle the remaining sweetened condensed milk on the chips and coconut. Bake the seven layer bars for 30 to 35 minutes for slightly gooey bars or 42 to 48 minutes for somewhat firmer bars. You'll want to start checking the pan around 30 minutes and watch them quite closely from there, as you want the coconut to turn golden brown around the edges but not burn.
- Let the bars cool completely in the pan, which will probably take at least 2 hours. (Yeah, good luck with your willpower and waiting that long. You can hasten the cooling process by letting the pan cool for a few minutes at room temperature and then shoving it in the fridge, which will also help to set the sorta mushy pumpkin layer, although we recommend the cheater's fridge tactic only if using a metal baking pan.)
- Use the foil edges to lift out the solid chunk of seven layer goodness and slice it into squares or rectangles. The bars will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or on the counter at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Good luck, too, with the bars—and your willpower—lasting that long.)
Pumpkin Spice Seven Layer Bars VariationPumpkin Seven Layer Bars With A Little Bling If you’d like to make these sing with a little extra bling, sprinkle the bars with 1/2 cup any of the following after adding the chips and before adding the coconut: diced candy-bar pieces, chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans), pumpkin seeds, toffee bits, chopped cream-filled sandwich cookies, or anything else you dream of sprinkling on.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This pumpkin seven layer bars recipe is not for the faint of heart in regards to sugar. It delivers on the long-standing promise of traditional seven layer bars being a sweet, gooey, scrumptious, not healthy delight. This version is a sweet crowd-pleasing dessert that is VERY easy to make.
The pumpkin makes the bottom layer bake up into something with more of a cookie-like consistency than the classic. This version also had more height and felt a bit more substantial. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle. If you’re looking for something with an intense pumpkin presence, this won’t be your recipe. But if you want a version of seven-layer bars that has more of a fall feel to it, given the cinnamon and the pumpkin pie spice, this fits the bill. I can imagine that adding a few more spices—nutmeg and maybe even some ginger—would add even more flavor to this recipe. I used semisweet chocolate instead of white chocolate chips.
I would make these again!
Every year I bake the traditional seven layer bars. I don’t know if I’ll ever make those again, as these pumpkin seven layer bars are so wonderful. I was so excited to make these, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the instructions and baked mine in a 9-by-13-inch pan. I thought the layers were a bit thin, but that didn’t deter my enthusiasm for these bars. After I baked them, I reread the recipe and, realizing my mistake, I was nervous to try the finished bars. They were still really good. I decided to make them a second time using the correct pan. I used gingersnaps for my crust for both batches. I found the entire stick of butter to be a bit too much the first time around, so I cut it down to 6 tablespoons of butter for my second batch, which was more than adequate. The first batch I made with white chocolate, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. The second batch I made with just the butterscotch and chocolate chips. Both batches took about 42 minutes to bake in my oven, so in about an hour, I had a unique pumpkin treat everyone loved. I’d eat either version any time, any place. They’re amazing.
I wasn’t prepared to like these pumpkin seven layer bars as much as I did. They sounded over-the-top sweet and a bit busy with all the different chips and spices at work, but in the end, I decided to make them because I needed a nosh to feed a bunch of teenage girls convening at a sleepover in my basement. I must say, these bars got the job done nicely. They’re exceedingly simple to pull together, especially if you keep graham cracker crumbs in your pantry as I do.
As a fan of graham cracker crusts, I loved the nice thick base provided in this recipe for the bars, and while these are a sweet and rich treat, if you cut them smaller than recommended, they are a pretty tasty nibble that will satisfy even the most ferocious sweet tooth. I cut my pan of goodness into 20 bars and felt good about my choice.
I didn’t have any butterscotch chips so added a full 1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips instead. In addition to the white chocolate chips, I added 1/2 cup Heath bits and 1/2 cup slivered almonds that I had in the fridge. Both added a nice crunch to the otherwise soft texture.
These pumpkin seven layer bars are a very rich dessert, but all things in moderation, right? Loved the addition of pumpkin puree in this to complement the fall weather. Instead of using white chocolate chips, I added Nestle’s Pumpkin Spice Chips. I loved the semisweet chocolate with the pumpkin pie spices.
This makes 12 very generous servings. The crust was on the crumbly side, making it difficult to cut and serve without a plate and spoon. It still tasted great but was a little messy. I had packed the crumbs firmly, but then compared it to my recipe for regular Hello Dolly bars, noticing that it explicitly says to NOT pack the crumbs firmly to allow the milk to soak into the crumbs, and I think this allows the crumbs to hold together better.
The flavor of these pumpkin seven layer bars is amazing, and the family loved them.
The pumpkin doesn’t completely set, so it’s a little bit difficult to eat because it’s mushy. It’s also difficult to tidily pack them in a lunchbox. (One person’s flipped over and made a mess in the container.) The bar is easy to make, though, and I will likely make them again using add-ins. I used all the types of chips listed but would likely not use all of them again unless I happened to have them on hand.
My family loved this autumnal twist on a classic. I often make seven layer bars and was skeptIcal about the addition of the pumpkin, but oh boy! The pumpkin layer really tastes like pumpkin pie and brings a nice balance to what’s otherwise a really sweet, rich cookie. I can’t wait to make them again this weekend for a neighborhood party!
Though the extra-thick bottom cookie layer was delicious, I don’t think it was necessary for a good bar. My regular recipe for 7 layer bars calls for the same amount of graham crackers (1 sleeve = 1 1/2 cups crumbs) and 1 stick butter for a 9-by-13-inch pan. So I would roughly halve the graham crackers and butter the next time I make these OR double the other ingredients to make it in the full pan if I need to feed more people. Also, for what it’s worth, I missed the step to line the pan with foil and found the cookies came out easily enough with all that butter!
Originally published October 26, 2020