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.
With just a few ingredient swaps, this version, featuring pumpkin puree and lots of cozy spice, will have you all ready for fall.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Oats are a beneficial addition to a healthy diet, featuring fiber and a host of other nutrients.
- This is a one bowl recipe, minimizing the number of dishes that need to be washed.
- The texture is great! It’s not too mushy or too chewy, as the oats soften just right with this amount of liquid and the length of the bake time. And a spoon is not required as you can even pick up a bar and eat it on the go.
- Old-fashioned oats: Also called rolled oats, old-fashioned oats are 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.
- Pumpkin: 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.
- Maple syrup: This provides natural sweetness, moisture, and a nice hint of complementary flavor. Honey can be used in a 1:1 substitution if you prefer.
- Coconut/brown sugar: When I make baked oatmeal with bananas or applesauce I find they don’t need any extra sweetness besides maple syrup, but with pumpkin? I tested out a few versions and think pumpkin’s almost savory nature needs a bit more sugar. Just one-quarter cup of coconut or brown sugar takes the savory edge off without tipping it over into too sweet territory.
- Milk: Any variety will do. I usually use 2%, though I’ve used oat milk no problem (non-dairy milk would make this recipe dairy-free).
- Spices: Cinnamon makes up the bulk of the spices, with ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves rounding out the mix. If it’s more convenient you can use a pre-made pumpkin pie spice blend in place of everything but the cinnamon, still adding the cinnamon separately for a nice and warm flavor.
- Nuts: Pecans and/or walnuts are favorites of mine in pumpkin baked oatmeal, but you can also leave them out.
- Fruit: Dried fruit such as raisins or craisins are great, but you can also use something like fresh small-dice apple pieces.
- Add the wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl: milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk everything well until combined and smooth. I do this by hand — an electric mixer isn’t necessary for this recipe.
- Next add all of the dry ingredients (except the oats, nuts, and dried fruit) to the bowl: coconut or brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and salt.
- Give everything a good whisk to disperse everything evenly. It’s especially important to make sure the baking powder is evenly distributed and not clumped together.
- Pour in the oats and any nuts and dried fruit you’re using.
- Stir to moisten the oats well and mix in the nuts/dried fruit, making sweeping passes along the bottom of the bowl to really make sure the oats and liquid are combined evenly.
- Now prepare the pan. Line an 8″ x 8″ square baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper, then give the parchment paper a quick spritz of cooking spray. Leave enough overhang along two opposite ends of the pan so you can more easily grab and lift out the pumpkin baked oatmeal for slicing once it’s done. Pour the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out the top so it’s in an even layer.
- All that’s left is to bake it. Bake in a 350°F/177°C oven for about 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 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 (thirty seconds or so) in the microwave to take the chill off is all you need and breakfast is ready.
Freezer: This pumpkin 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.
- 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/brown sugar.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
- 1 ½ cups milk (12 oz), your preferred variety
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (8 oz)
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts
- ¼ 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 the parchment-lined pan with a brief spray 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) until evenly combined.
- 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 the baked oatmeal cool completely before slicing into bars. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup (if you like)!
- Be sure to allow the baked oatmeal time to cool completely before slicing into bars. If it’s still warm it may crumble/mush too much.
- These bars can be eaten chilled from the refrigerator or warm. My favorite way to eat them is to heat them in the microwave, then serve with a drizzle of maple syrup over top.
- Storage Instructions: Once the bars are completely cool, store in an air-tight container or bag. While they are okay at room temperature for a few days, they’re fairly moist so I prefer to keep them in the refrigerator.
- Freezer Instructions: Wrap cooled bars in aluminum foil and then place in an air-tight container or bag. Then transfer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight, or microwave them just prior to serving.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.