Magic Cookie Bars are easy to make and always a hit! The bars are layered with a graham cracker crust, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk. Basically, dessert heaven!
Magic Bars (aka 7-Layer Bars or Hello Dolly Bars) are the ultimate bar treat. I have been making these famous bars ever since I started baking, years and years ago. They are a classic dessert that everyone loves.
So what are Magic Bars? The name really says it all. Magic bars are a rich, delicious dessert bar with a buttery graham cracker crust and layers of chocolate, butterscotch, pecans, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk to make everything gooey and extra sweet.
I love putting them out on a dessert table and watching kids and adults alike grab firsts…and seconds…and thirds! These bars are perfect to take to a potluck, party, picnic, or to make for your family.
I believe in magic! Do you? You will after one bite:)
- Butter – I use unsalted butter. Melt the butter in the microwave for about 60 seconds. You can also melt the butter on the stove top.
- Graham crackers – To crush the graham crackers, you can use a food processor or put the graham crackers in a sealed Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin. Make sure you smash them until they are in fine crumbs. The kids can help with this step! You can cheat and buy graham cracker crumbs. You will need 2 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs.
- Chocolate chips – I prefer semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you can use milk chocolate or dark chocolate.
- Butterscotch chips– The butterscotch flavor is SO good in these bars!
- Pecans – I like to use chopped pecans, but walnuts will work too.
- Sweetened condensed milk – To drizzle over the bars. It may seem odd, but it’s SO right! It binds all of the ingredients together and makes the bars super sweet. You can find sweetened condensed milk in the baking aisle. I recommend regular sweetened condensed milk and not fat free and don’t use evaporated milk! The cans look similar but are very different.
- Vanilla extract– I add a little to the sweetened condensed milk for extra flavor.
- Shredded coconut – You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut, both work well.
- Flaky Sea Salt– Optional, but SO good with all of the sweetness going on!
Tips for Making Magic Cookie Bars
The bars are really EASY to make because you just layer everything in a pan. You don’t have to mix, stir, or cream butter and sugar together. The bars really are MAGIC!
Here are a few tips for making the BEST magic bars!
- Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. This will make it easy to get the bars out of the pan after they are done baking.
- Stir the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together with a fork until crumbs are well moistened.
- Press them tightly into an even layer with your fingers. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press down on the crumbs to make sure they firmly in the pan.
- Layer the semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans evenly over the graham cracker base.
- Carefully stir the vanilla extract into the sweetened condensed milk. You can do this right in the can, no need to dirty a bowl. Just stir gently so you don’t spill.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the chips and pecans. You can spread with a spatula to make sure it’s even.
- Top with shredded coconut. I like to add the coconut LAST so it is on top and can get nice and toasted in the oven. Toasted coconut is the BEST!
- Bake until the edges of the bars are golden brown and the coconut is slightly toasted.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, about 1 teaspoon. This step is optional, but it shouldn’t be, ha! The sweet and salty combo is SO good! Just do it:)
How to Cut
Since the bars are made with sweetened condensed milk as well as melted chocolate and butterscotch chips, cutting them while warm is not a good idea. You will end up with a gooey mess. These bars are easiest to cut when they’re completely cooled. I know it is hard to wait, but worth it!
If you want to speed up the process you can refrigerate the bars for a few hours.
You can carefully lift the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper and slice with a sharp knife or you can cut the bars in the pan.
I like to cut these into 24 small bars since it’s a pretty rich treat…but I usually end up eating two bars. They are addicting!
Storing and Freezing
Once baked and cooled, Magic Bars can be kept in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you live in a hot or humid climate, you can store them in the refrigerator.
The bars also freeze really well, I love having a secret stash in my freeze. They will keep for up to 2 months. And FYI-they are also good eaten right from the freezer.
Mix it Up
Because these bars are so easy to make, it’s easy to make swaps too. If you want to play around, here are a few ways to mix things up!
- Use chocolate graham crackers instead of regular graham crackers
- Try Biscoff cookies or gingersnap cookies instead of graham crackers
- Use white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch chips
- Add chopped toffee or Heath toffee bits
- Use chopped candied pecans instead of regular pecans
- Serve with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce
More Bar Desserts
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Peanut Butter S’mores Bars
- One Bowl Blondies
- One Bowl Brownies
- No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Magic Cookie Bars
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling on bars, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place the butter in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 60 seconds or until butter is melted. Remove from the microwave and add the graham cracker crumbs to the bowl. Stir with a fork until crumbs are well moistened with butter.
- Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan. Press them tightly into an even layer with your fingers. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press down on the crumbs to make sure they firmly in the pan.
- Sprinkle the semi-sweet chocolate chips evenly over the graham cracker crust. Next, add the butterscotch chips and then the chopped pecans.
- Add the ½ teaspoon of vanilla to the sweetened condensed milk can and carefully stir. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the chips and pecans. You can gently spread with a spatula to make sure the bars are covered.
- Top with shredded coconut and gently press down with the palms of your hands to make sure the coconut sticks. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges of the bars are golden brown and the coconut is slightly toasted.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, about 1 teaspoon. Let the bars cool completely in the pan.
- When cool, cut into squares and enjoy!
Have you tried this recipe?
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Photos by Molly from Yes to Yolks