Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue

Fluffy, moist pumpkin bars smeared in easy homemade caramel sauce and topped with thick layer of marshmallow meringue. Both the cake + caramel can be made ahead of time. This is a super easy, delicious fall recipe -- enjoy!
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Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

Where to start on the deliciousness of Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue?!

This pumpkin base is pulled from the pages of The Cookie Book. I had forgotten how delicious it was/is…and it is beyond words. Soft, airy, beautiful crumb. Everything you’re looking for in a bar cookie that’s really a cake…if we’re being honest here.

Next up is a nice layer of salted caramel smeared over the top of the cooled cake. It’s not too thick, so the bars aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. But just the right amount of, well, caramel…in all its glory.

Not to be too casual about anything these days, we couldn’t stop there. We had to add a THICKKKKKK layer of marshmallow meringue to the top.

The crowning glory is the toasted-ness of it all. Have we talked about how much fun a kitchen torch is? 

If you love baking with pumpkin as much as I do, I hope you’ll also check out these Easy Moist Pumpkin Bread, Chocolate Chip Pumpkin MuffinsPumpkin Streusel MuffinsPumpkin Cupcakes with Chai FrostingPumpkin Bourbon Cake with Brown Butter Frosting (what?!), my favorite Pumpkin Scones and these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And don’t forget to check out the pumpkin cookies and cakes in The Cookie Book and The Cake Book!

The Baker’s Guide to Measuring Flour

One of the biggest (and most common) mistakes in baking is how we measure flour. If you find yourself without a scale, see my top tips on how to properly measure flour for the perfect amount every time!

Why You Should Make These
Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue

  • These bars are BEYOND delicious! Stella, Gavin and I could not stop eating them. Stella said, ‘we have to get these out of the house’ because we couldn’t stop taking bites every time we walked through the kitchen.
  • They have all of the delicious flavors of fall crammed into one, heavenly treat. Pumpkin, fall spices (think cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) and caramel. 
  • None of the components are that difficult to throw together and (BONUS) the bars and caramel can be made ahead of time and assembled before serving. AKA Best life living!! 

Let’s make some bomb Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue, shall we?

A slice of caramel pumpkin bars with toasted meringue.

About These Caramel Pumpkin Bars

I wanted a super simple pumpkin bar base so I grabbed the one from The Cookie Book. It’s easy to throw together, you can use a stand mixer (or don’t!) and they comes out perfect every time. Start to finish, they’ll be done in under an hour. Here are some quick notes:

You Don’t Need A Mixer for These Bars

Like I said, you can use a mixer or don’t. Either way, make sure that your butter and sugars are mixed together until light and fluffy. This will help your cake get a nice rise.

The Best Pumpkin Puree for Pumpkin Bars

When grabbing canned pumpkin from the store, make sure you pick up pure pumpkin purée and not pumpkin pie filling. In terms of brands, Libby’s is HANDS DOWN my favorite…and I’ve tried a lot of them.

A note on making your own pumpkin purée… If that’s your jam, knock yourself out. One thing to keep an eye on is the thickness and amount of moisture in your homemade pumpkin purée.

If it seems on the thin side, drain on several layers of paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture that might keep the bars from baking properly.

Make Sure Your Ingredients are at Room Temperature

When assembling treats that are light and fluffy like these bars, you need to make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature. If you introduce cold eggs or water to the happily creamed butter + sugar you run the risk of curdling (or breaking) your batter.

Which, to be honest, you can still forge ahead with your bars, but they won’t have as much lift and lightness as they would have if made with all room temperature ingredients. 

A hand smearing caramel on top of a pumpkin cake.

Let’s Chat About That Brown Sugar Caramel

This is my favorite, OG, caramel recipe. It’s been perfectly scaled down so that it will give a nice, thin layer over the pumpkin bars.

There won’t be so much that it’s oozing out all over the place. Which is actually pretty nice because these bars are surprisingly (SHOCKINGLY) not too sweet.

A quick word about this caramel…whisk whisk whisk when you’re making it to fully emulsify the butter and the sugar.

Don’t let the heat get too hot or you run the risk of traumatizing the caramel and it won’t be the flavor party that it is.

How To Store Caramel

To store the caramel, place it in an airtight container and stash in the fridge. If you’ll be using it within several hours of assembling the bars just let it hang out on the countertop until ready to use.

How to Use Your Caramel

If you stashed the caramel in the fridge, it will set up. You can let it sit on the counter to bring it to room temp (this will take awhile) or you can give it a quick 10 second blast in the microwave.

Whisk until smooth and silky again. It’s ready to smear over the pumpkin bars when it’s still slowly pourable, but not too runny.

A close up shot of marshmallow meringue.

Let’s Talk About Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

This heavenly concoction falls somewhere between actual meringue and a Swiss meringue buttercream. But it commits to neither and she truly has forged her own path in the world.


The egg whites, sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar are whisked over a water bath until opaque, smooth and you no longer feel any grit when the mixture is rubbed between two fingers. This seems like an annoying step, but it’s super easy, doesn’t take long and the results will KNOCK. YOUR. SOCKS. OFF.


Then you whisk on high speed until the mixture has tripled (at least!) in volume and is no longer warm to the touch. Then it’s ready! You’re going to carefully scoop it on top of the smeared caramel. You don’t want to press down or pack it in there. Be gentle. Be kind. Your marshmallow meringue thanks you.


Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, you’ll want to make swirls and swoops and peaks and valleys in your meringue. The more peaks and valleys you have, the more contrast you’ll have in the color of the marshmallow once you use the torch on it. 


Ideally you’ll use a kitchen torch for this — you’ll get the prettiest results for toasting up your marshmallow meringue. If you don’t have one, you can put it under the broiler with a watchful eye to make sure nothing burns. I highly recommend the former…I promise you’ll use it all the time!!


I don’t like to make marshmallow meringue ahead of time. I highly recommend you make it the same day you are serving for best results. 

Marshmallow on top of cake that hasn't yet been toasted.
An overhead shot of toasted meringue.

My Favorite Tools for Making Fabulous Sheet Cakes

My absolute favorite tools for making this Fluffy Banana Oat Snacking Cake are:

My favorite whisk and heat-safe nesting glass bowls that I really need everyone to own.

My trusty scale for precision.

My favorite spatula meets spoonula  for mixing (I love this soft blue). FYI the spatula in the video is no longer being made..RIP.

This is my favorite 8 x 11–inch (20.3 x 28–cm Staub Baking Dish to bake this cake in. 

Three pieces of caramel pumpkin cake.







A piece of pumpkin cake with a bite out of it.

If you love baking with pumpkin as much as I do, I hope you’ll also check out these Brown Butter Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, Pumpkin Streusel MuffinsPumpkin Cupcakes with Chai FrostingPumpkin Bourbon Cake with Brown Butter Frosting (what?!) and these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And don’t forget to check out the pumpkin cookies and cakes in The Cookie Book and The Cake Book!

Enjoy your Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue!

Rebecca Firth

Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

Caramel Pumpkin Bars With Toasted Marshmallow Meringue

Fluffy, moist pumpkin bars smeared in easy homemade caramel sauce and topped with thick layer of marshmallow meringue. Both the cake + caramel can be made ahead of time. This is a super easy, delicious fall recipe — enjoy!
5 from 2 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Cake, Pumpkin, Caramel, Fall, Meringue, Snacking Cake, Sheet Cake
Servings: 15 Servings


For The Quick Homemade Caramel

  • 1 batch Quick Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel

For the Pumpkin Bars

  • 12 tablespoons (172 g) unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 cup (183 g) 100% pure pumpkin puree (more details in NOTES below)
  • 1 cup (210 g) light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) water (room temperature)
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons (13 g) real vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (238 g) all-purpose flour (how to measure flour)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

For The Marshmallow Meringue

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract


For The Quick Homemade Caramel

For the Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease an 8 x 11–inch (20.3 x 28–cm) baking dish and line with parchment, letting the excess fall over the sides.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, granulated sugar, water, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with the back of the spoon.
  • Bake for 40 minutes on the center rack. Let cool completely in the pan.

For the Marshmallow Meringue

  • Add the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt to the clean bowl of an electric stand mixer and nestle it in a saucepan of simmering water over medium-high heat. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk until the mixture is opaque, frothy, the sugar is melted (rub some between two fingers, if it feels gritty, keep whisking) and warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer it to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff and glossy and cool to the touch, about 3-5 minutes. Add the vanilla and run the machine for 30 seconds more.

To Assemble

  • Smear half of the caramel evenly over the top of the cake (reserve remaining caramel for serving). Let the caramel set for 5 minutes. Scoop the meringue over the top and use a torch to char the meringue using a circular motion, focusing on the peaks.
  • Thank you so much for making Pumpkin Bars with Salted Caramel and Toasted Marshmallow Meringue — I hope you love them!



Caramel Recipe

You will have extra caramel sauce. Serve with the pumpkin bars or reserve for other uses (it’s great on vanilla ice cream!).


Store in an airtight container, at room temperature. If it’s especially hot and humid, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Want more cake tips/ideas/recipes?! Check out my 10 Favorite Easy Tips for Perfect Cakes! xx

Thanks for baking with me! Please rate + comment this recipe and tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo


Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

I love your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot, I look forward to chatting with you!

Rebecca xox

Recipe Rating


  • Christine October 10, 2021 at 1:21 PM

    I am having major difficulties with this caramel. I’ve made it twice- both times, it separated and became grainy and lumpy. Any suggestions? Can I just put the meringue on top without the caramel? The cake is cooked and smells delicious, I’m so disappointed.

    • Rebecca Firth October 10, 2021 at 1:29 PM

      Hi Christine! The graininess would suggest that the sugar crystallized. Stirring more gently can help. It’s important to make sure all of the sugar is melted and liquid before adding the cream. Also make sure it doesn’t get too hot, as that can cause separation. You can totally skip the caramel and just put the meringue on top—it will still be delicious!!

      • Christine October 11, 2021 at 6:01 AM

        Thanks! I ended up reducing the butter by 2tbsp, and not cooking for the 5 minutes you suggest after the boil, and it came out perfect. What a great cake!!

  • Lindsey Constance December 14, 2020 at 1:09 AM

    Your recipe ingredients don’t have allspice quantity, but your instructions mention it.

    • Rebecca Firth December 14, 2020 at 1:46 AM

      Hi Lindsey! Thank you so much for the note, it’s been inserted now. It must have been accidentally omitted when I transferred this recipe to the new recipe card — I really appreciate the message to add it! xoxo

  • Lori southerngirleats November 10, 2020 at 9:40 PM

    5 stars
    I am so loving these. All the flavors of the season.

    • Rebecca Firth November 11, 2020 at 6:51 PM

      Thank you so much Lori! I think you would love them!!! xoxo

  • Jacinta November 6, 2020 at 10:30 PM

    Just making these, yeah, and noticed that you have 2 tablespoons of cinnamon written above. I checked the book though..

    • Rebecca Firth November 6, 2020 at 11:26 PM

      Hi Jacinta!! Thank you so much for the note — I edited it!! I hope you love them!! xoxo

  • Sam October 31, 2020 at 8:30 PM

    I can’t wait to make these!

    • Rebecca Firth October 31, 2020 at 8:34 PM

      I hope you love them as much as we do!! xox