7-layer bars (aka magic cookie bars) have a butter graham cracker crust that’s loaded with gooey layers chocolate and butterscotch chips, pecans, and coconut. They really are seven layers of magic!
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Old Fashioned 7-Layer Cookie Bars
We’ve been making this classic treat every Christmas since I was a little girl. They’re one of my mom’s specialties and are one of the top holiday desserts requested by family and friends along with Christmas crack and gingerbread bars.
Pure chocolate and coconut heaven. Yes, please!
These are also known as magic cookie bars or hello dolly bars and are loaded with layers of graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and butterscotch chips, pecans, and coconut. Sweetened condensed milk blankets them with perfect gooey texture!
7 Layers of Ingredients
Each layer comes together with a sweet and salty taste! Start with the base layer and work your way up to the top!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Crust: The base of the dessert is a delicious graham cracker crust made of graham cracker crumbs and butter.
- Chocolate chips: Feel free to use milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate chips depending on preference.
- White chocolate chips: Because one type of chocolate is definitely not enough!
- Butterscotch chips: I love adding these in to create more variety and depth of flavor.
- Pecans: Use raw pecans, chopped into pieces.
- Sweetened condensed milk: This helps makes the bars super gooey and delicious.
- Coconut: Make sure to use sweetened shredded coconut. You can always leave this off if you’re not a coconut fan.
TIP: Feel free to get creative with your seven-layer bars! Swap pecans for chopped walnuts or peanuts, or use peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch. You could even use Christmas M&M’s in place of chocolate chips for a fun boost of color.
How to Make 7-Layer Bars
There are 7 layers but only three steps to make these amazing bars! Make these when you need a quick and easy dessert to share with friends and family. Layers of deliciousness!
- Crust. Melt butter and combine with graham crumbs in a medium bowl with a fork. Then press the crumbs into a lined baking dish.
- Assemble. Next layer magic bars with the semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chips, butterscotch chips, and nuts.
- Pour. Then pour the condensed milk evenly over top. Sprinkle with coconut.
- Bake. Place in the oven at 350°F for 20 to 25 mins, until the top is lightly browned. Let cool then transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares.
Cutting: If you’re wondering how to cut them into diamonds, simply use a sharp knife and make horizontal cuts across the pan about an inch and a half apart. Next, make diagonal cuts across the pan about an inch and a half apart. Then gently lift out of the pan and serve. I find using a plastic knife works best.
Baking Tips + Variations
7 layer dessert bars are perfect just the way they are! If you need to substitute or perfect these layers in any way, follow these helpful tips and ideas to still keep the layers delicious.
- DIY graham cracker crumbs. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can add them to a zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin. To make 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, it takes about 7 to 8 graham crackers. So to make the 1 1/2 cups for this recipe, use about 10 graham crackers.
- Crust. You could also use a salty crushed pretzel crust, similar to the crust in my raspberry jello pretzel salad. Or a gingersnap crust would also taste delicious.
- Line your pan. Make sure to line your pan with parchment paper or foil so that the bars don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. I like to leave enough parchment over the edges so that I can easily grab it and remove the bars from the pan.
- Let set. As tempting as it is, let the bars cool completely before serving. The condensed milk needs time to set or else the bars may be runny. You can stick the pan in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
The Broadway musical “Hello Dolly” from the mid-1960s was around the time 7 layer bars were created.
Making these bars are super easy but do take 7 layers of ingredients and storing these is very important so they stay fresh the longest. Make sure the bars are completely cooled before storing. See below all the tips and ways to store the 7-layer dessert bars.
Yes! You can absolutely make this magic cookie bars recipe without coconut if preferred. If you’d still like to add a 7th layer, try adding pretzel pieces, mini marshmallows, or more nuts on top.
The 7-layer bars come from 7 layers of flavor to them. It starts with butter, cookie crust, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, and coconut, then drizzled overtop is sweetened condensed milk.
5 star review
Sooo gooey and delish AND super easy (which may be my favorite part!). Perfect to make to accompany all the labor intensive cookies on a cookie tray for gifts because this one will save you time. :)– Jenna
Storing and Freezing
These dessert bars are perfect for storing, making ahead, and even freezing to share later on. The layers can store in an airtight container and even stack using parchment paper. When ready to enjoy, set out at room temperature.
- To store: This dessert will last about 3-4 days if stored at room temperature in an airtight container or bag. If stored in the fridge, they will keep for a few more days.
- To freeze: Wait until the pan has cooled completely, then cut into squares or diamonds. Then add to a freezer container or bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or on the counter for a few hours until no longer frozen.
More Desserts You’ll Love
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper or foil. Lightly grease with nonstick cokking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter with a fork. Press crumb mixture into baking dish.
- Spread even layers of chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans over the crumb mixture. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the top. Sprinkle with coconut.
- Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Let cool completely befote cutting into bars or diamonds.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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