Pumpkin baked oatmeal is filled with warm spices and just enough sweetness for a real breakfast treat! This pumpkin oatmeal bar recipe is easy to make-ahead for the week and can be customized with your favorite fruits and nuts.
I’m not one to rush the seasons, but this year I’m making an exception. 2020 just feels like the year to do it. Who cares if it’s still hot and humid outside?? Let’s crack open a can of pumpkin puree and get started on all those pumpkin recipes we try and cram into the fall time.
The first pumpkin recipe I’ve made this year is pumpkin baked oatmeal. It’s a riff on my healthy baked oatmeal bars, which continue to be a household favorite for a filling and better-for-you breakfast.
Like its inspiration, this recipe is quick to mix together and produces baked oatmeal that has an excellent texture. It’s not mushy or too chewy, and the squares can even be picked up and eaten on-the-go. With just a few ingredient swaps, this version, featuring pumpkin puree and lots of cozy spice, will have you all ready for fall.
Old-fashioned oats are my pick for making baked oatmeal. Also called rolled oats, they’re hardier than quick or instant oats and hold up well to the liquid content and bake time without becoming mushy. They soften perfectly without any overnight soaking or lead time.
Real deal pumpkin is used here in the form of pumpkin puree. One whole cup (not can!) is responsible for the seasonably-appropriate orange hue and flavor.
Here’s where we deviate a bit from the base recipe, which uses mashed ripe bananas. While the texture is just about the same, one big difference between mashed banana and pumpkin puree is the natural sweetness. Bananas have it and pumpkin, well, doesn’t. There’s much less sugar in pumpkin puree.
This brings us to the next ingredient: maple syrup. Love that it provides natural sweetness and a hint of complementary flavor. While it’s all my regular oatmeal bars need, I tested out a few versions of this pumpkin baked oatmeal and prefer an extra bit of sweetness in the form of coconut sugar. Just one-quarter cup took the savory edge off of the pumpkin puree and made up for what we’re missing from the bananas.
(If you don’t have coconut sugar, brown sugar works great – or whatever sweetener you prefer).
We also have milk to soften the oats (use your preferred variety, I usually do 2%), two eggs for binding, baking powder for rise, a variety of mix-ins, and a pumpkin pie-esque spice blend to bring home that classic pumpkin-y flavor.
Cinnamon makes up the bulk of the spices, with ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves rounding out the mix. You could substitute in pre-made pumpkin pie spice if you have that on hand, though I haven’t used that in testing this recipe. Perhaps between one-and-a-half and two teaspoons would do it? I’d probably add a little extra ground cinnamon for good measure, too.
As for what to mix in, many fresh or dried fruit and nut combinations would work. Pecans or walnuts (or both) and raisins or dried cranberries are all great here.
One more thing to love about this pumpkin baked oatmeal is that it comes together in one bowl, and you don’t even need an electric mixer. First grab a large-ish mixing bowl and whisk together the liquid ingredients: milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Once those are smooth, add the coconut (or brown) sugar, baking powder, salt, and the spices. Whisk again to combine evenly.
All that’s left is to stir in the oats and whatever fruits/nuts you’d like, then prep the pan. This recipe uses an 8″ x 8″ square baking dish. For an easier time lifting the cooked oatmeal bars out of the pan and slicing, I like to line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving enough overhang along two opposite ends of the pan for grabbing and lifting, then give it a quick shot of cooking spray.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the edges have browned and the center has set. While it may be tempting to dive right in, resist the urge and let the slab of oatmeal cool completely before slicing, serving, and storing. This helps it hold together better and be less crumbly.
You can likely keep these bars stored at room temperature for several days without issue, but I prefer to refrigerate them as they’re fairly moist. Just be sure that they cool completely before sealing in an air-tight container so condensation doesn’t get stuck in there with them. A quick spin in the microwave to take the chill off and breakfast is ready.
This baked oatmeal also freezes very well! Wrap your bars in foil and place them in an air-tight container or bag. Then either transfer the bars to the refrigerator to thaw overnight, or simply give them a bit longer in the microwave in the morning and they’re as good as freshly-baked.
For another twist on baked oatmeal, I always have a few squares of peanut butter baked oatmeal in the freezer. Just enough PB flavor with an extra boost of protein.
It’s all but mandatory to make at least one loaf of pumpkin bread every fall, right? This naturally sweetened pumpkin bread has become my go-to recipe. It’s super moist, spiced up, and leans on maple syrup to bring all the sweetness. A few tweaks to this recipe result in healthy pumpkin muffins, too.
If you open a can of pumpkin puree for this recipe you’ll have about three-quarters of a cup leftover, which is just the amount called for in this Instant Pot turkey chili. I don’t make chili any other way now! It’s the best mix of healthy and hearty for dinner.
- Be sure to use pumpkin puree here, and not pumpkin pie filling. They’re both canned and will likely be next to one another on the store shelves. Canned pumpkin pie filling is already spiced and sweetened.
- While the coconut (or brown) sugar isn’t 100% necessary (I’ve tested this oatmeal without), I found it added a welcome sweetness boost to the maple syrup as pumpkin puree isn’t sweet at all. If you don’t think you’d need extra sweetness you can leave it out without issue.
- That said, drizzling maple syrup over top for serving is another way to bump it up if needed if you’d prefer to omit the coconut sugar.
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
- 1 1/2 cups milk (12 oz), your preferred variety
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (8 oz)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts
- 1/4 cup raisins or craisins or fruit of your choice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8" x 8" baking dish with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang out along two opposite sides to more easily lift the bars out of the pan later on. Spray parchment-lined pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Add milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl and whisk well until smooth and combined.
- Add coconut/brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt and stir/whisk to break up the sugar and mix everything evenly. Stir in oats, nuts, and raisins or whatever other fruit you're using.
- Pour out the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the center has set and the edges are turning golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing into bars. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup (if you like)!
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.