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Magic Cookie Bars Recipe

magic cookie bars on a white plate with a blue print napkin in the background
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This Mag­ic Cook­ie Bars recipe is sim­ple. I made it for our fam­i­ly often, in the days when our grand­chil­dren were small. As time has passed, though, sev­en lay­er bars seem to have slipped to the back of the recipe box with no rea­son­able expla­na­tion. I brought the chewy, gooey, bar cook­ies to the fore­front, again, this past week. And, we’re not look­ing back.

Mag­ic Bars are a fab­u­lous mix of tex­tures and fla­vors that every­one seems to love. After all, who can resist gooey choco­late and but­ter­scotch with coconut and pecans over a gra­ham crack­er crust? Encase those delec­table fla­vors and tex­tures in a chewy, caramelized blan­ket of sweet­ened con­densed milk and these EASY bar cook­ies are pos­i­tive­ly irresistible!

Whether you know them as mag­ic bars or as 7 lay­er bars, this easy bar cook­ie is one you have prob­a­bly enjoyed at some point over the years. The recipe seems to have been around, in var­i­ous forms, since at least the 1960’s. If you nev­er knew how sim­ple they are to make, or if like me they just slipped to the back of your recipe file, it’s time to fill your house with the sweet aro­ma of fresh­ly baked mag­ic cook­ie bars, again.

You’re going to love them. And, so are the peo­ple you bake them for. Wel­come to mag­ic cook­ie bars heaven!

magic cookie bars on a white plate with a blue print napkin in the background

So, What’s With the Name?

This is a bit of puz­zle to me, too. And I’ve done the research. It appears that I’m not alone in my con­fu­sion. The Inter­net has many names for the recipe and just as many the­o­ries of how the name came to be. The only thing we are in com­plete agree­ment about is that: 1) We don’t real­ly know. And, 2) it sim­ply does­n’t mat­ter. We just want to eat them. 😋😋😋

The Sev­en Lay­er Bars recipe floats all around the Inter­net with many vari­a­tions and sev­er­al names. You may see them as Hel­lo Dol­ly Bars. (Appar­ent­ly, that has some­thing to do with the release of the movie with that name, star­ring Car­ol Chan­ning.) Though, I’ve deter­mined that those par­tic­u­lar bar cook­ies usu­al­ly have a short­bread crust rather than one made with gra­ham crackers. 

I’ve seen them as Coconut Dream Bars, too. Mag­ic Bars or Mag­ic Cook­ie Bars is the most com­mon name, how­ev­er, for the lus­cious cook­ie bars. So, if you see any of those names, you can be fair­ly cer­tain you are look­ing at some vari­a­tion of this pop­u­lar recipe.

bar cookies on a white plate with a blue print napkin in the background

The Ingredients

It’s a sim­ple sev­en ingre­di­ent list. 

Gra­ham Crack­er Crumbs. Buy them already “crumbed” if you like. How­ev­er, I just use my rolling pin to crush my own. One sleeve of gra­ham crack­ers seems to be per­fect. (At least with the store-brand gra­hams I buy. You will need 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.)

But­ter: Just a lit­tle bit, melt­ed. It’s the binder to hold your gra­ham crack­er crumbs togeth­er to form a crust and cre­ate the sev­en lay­er bars.

Semi-Sweet Choco­late Chips

But­ter­scotch Chips

Coconut. Buy sweet­ened shred­ded coconut in the bak­ing aisle.

Pecans. Nuts of some vari­ety. I use pecans because I LOVE them, but you could choose wal­nuts, almonds, pis­ta­chios, etc. If you have aller­gies, you could cer­tain­ly leave them out. It’s just a tex­tur­al com­po­nent that you might want to find a crunchy replace­ment for.

Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk. It’s impor­tant to note that this is NOT the same as evap­o­rat­ed milk. You will find canned sweet­ened con­densed milk in the bak­ing aisle. Sweet­ened Con­densed milk is made by reduc­ing milk with heat. Added sug­ar cre­ates a thick, carame­ly ingre­di­ent. Care­ful­ly read labels. Be cer­tain you’re buy­ing Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk.

baking pan of magic bars
Can Mag­ic Bars (7 Lay­er Bars) be made with­out nuts?

Sure. Almost every recipe can be altered to meet your dietary or aller­gy needs. How­ev­er, the nuts are the “crunch” tex­ture in these yum­my bars. If you leave them out, I would sug­gest adding some­thing in their place. Maybe crum­bled pret­zel pieces, pump­kin seeds or sun­flower seeds would be a tasty alter­na­tive for you.

Can I sub­sti­tute some­thing else for the Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk in Mag­ic Cook­ie Bars?

The short answer is, “No.” Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk is the “glue” that holds your bars togeth­er. It caramelizes in the oven and melds the ingre­di­ents into a sol­id, but chewy struc­ture. That being said, most stores are com­mon­ly car­ry­ing Sweet­ened Con­densed Coconut Milk, now, if you are avoid­ing dairy. Look for it in the bak­ing aisle with the reg­u­lar sweet­ened con­densed milk.

Are Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk and Evap­o­rat­ed Milk the same thing?

Again, no. Both are con­densed ver­sions of reg­u­lar dairy milk. But, Sweet­ened Con­densed Milk is a sweet­ened ver­sion where about 60% of the water has been evap­o­rat­ed out before sug­ar is added. It is thick, sticky, rich and sweet. It has a carame­ly col­or. It can also just be called Con­densed Milk. It’s com­mon­ly used in desserts and baked goods, and in some cul­tures it’s com­mon­ly used to sweet­en cof­fee.

Evap­o­rat­ed Milk is heat­ed to evap­o­rate the water, too. And like con­densed milk, about 60% of the water is removed. How­ev­er, no sug­ar is added. So, the result is a dense, super creamy, ultra-pas­teur­ized milk. It’s thick­er than reg­u­lar milk you would drink, but much thin­ner than con­densed milk. It adds creami­ness to recipes with­out adding sweetness.

7 layer bars on a white plate on a concrete countertop

For a com­plete pic­to­r­i­al tuto­r­i­al of assem­bling this easy recipe, check out the video in the recipe card.

  1. Pre­heat the oven to 350° and light­ly grease a 9x13 bak­ing pan.
  2. Melt the but­ter. Mix the gra­ham crack­er crumbs into the melt­ed butter.
  3. Pour the but­tered crumbs into the bot­tom of your pre­pared cake pan, then press down to cre­ate a thin, but sol­id lay­er that cov­ers the entire bot­tom of the pan.  Be sure to get it all the way to the edges.
  4. Sprin­kle but­ter­scotch chips even­ly over the crumbs, after that.
  5. Next, sprin­kle the choco­late chips over the but­ter­scotch.  Again, be care­ful to dis­trib­ute them even­ly across the sur­face of the entire pan. It won’t be a sol­id lay­er, but you want them even­ly check­ered across the entire pan.
  6. The fourth lay­er is coconut.  So, sprin­kle that even­ly over every­thing already in the pan.
  7. Addi­tion­al­ly, sprin­kle an even lay­er of pecans over the coconut.
  8. Next, driz­zle the con­densed milk in a zig-zag pat­tern across the full length of the cake pan, try­ing to get even amounts of the thick liq­uid across the whole pan.  Driz­zle into cor­ners and along edges, too.  You can use a spat­u­la to smooth it into areas you might have missed.
  9. Last­ly, bake the cook­ie bars at 350° for 25 to 30 min­utes. Look for browned edges and a set center.
  10. Cool on a cool­ing rack for 15–20 min­utes.  Cut into bars and serve.

The Recipe

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Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie Bars


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 30 min­utes
  • Yield: 18 bars 1x

Description

Mag­ic Cook­ie Bars are a fab­u­lous mix of tex­tures and fla­vors that every­one loves. Who can resist gooey choco­late and but­ter­scotch with coconut and pecans over a gra­ham crack­er crust? Encase those delec­table fla­vors and tex­tures in a chewy, caramelized blan­ket of sweet­ened con­densed milk and these EASY bar cook­ies are pos­i­tive­ly irresistible!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups gra­ham crack­er crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup but­ter­scotch chips
  • 1 cup semi sweet choco­late chips
  • 1 cup sweet­ened, shred­ded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweet­ened con­densed milk

Instructions

  1. Pre­heat oven to 350° and light­ly grease a 9x13 bak­ing pan.
  2. Melt the but­ter and mix with the gra­ham crack­er crumbs until all the crumbs are moistened.
  3. Pour the crumbs into the bot­tom of your pre­pared cake pan and press to cre­ate a thin, but sol­id lay­er that cov­ers the entire bot­tom of the pan.  Be sure to get it all the way to the edges.
  4. Sprin­kle but­ter­scotch chips even­ly over the crumbs.
  5. Next, sprin­kle the choco­late chips over the but­ter­scotch.  Again, be care­ful to dis­trib­ute them even­ly across the sur­face of the entire pan.
  6. The fourth lay­er is coconut.  sprin­kle it even­ly over every­thing already in the pan.
  7. Add an even lay­er of pecans over the coconut.
  8. Driz­zle the con­densed milk in a zig-zag pat­tern across the full length of the cake pan, try­ing to get even amounts of the thick liq­uid across the whole pan.  Driz­zle into cor­ners and along edges, too.  You can use a spat­u­la to smooth it into areas you might have missed.
  9. Bake at 350°  for 25 to 30 min­utes, until the edges are browned and the cen­ter is set.
  10. Cool on a cool­ing rack for 15–20 min­utes.  Cut into bars and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 min­utes
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Desserts, Cook­ies, Bar Cookies
  • Method: Bak­ing
  • Cui­sine: Amer­i­can

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20 thoughts on “Magic Cookie Bars Recipe”

  1. How good are these? Yum­my! Easy to make — the only prob is we devoured them too quick­ly! I’ll make a sec­ond batch ssoon!

    Reply
  2. These def­i­nite­ly are mag­ic!! I love the taste of your mag­ic cook­ie bars and they were so easy to make!! My com­pa­ny enjoyed every last piece!!

    Reply

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