Fresh Family Meals Made for Everyday Life

Never Fail Magic Cookie Bars

Finished cookie bar close up on parchment paper.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Favorite Dessert40 min
These never-fail magic cookie bars, also known as Seven Layer Bars, are super easy to make, have a rich chocolate flavor, and freeze well.

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It’s hard to beat a baking recipe that is barely more complicated than just layering a few ingredients in a pan—and that’s what makes these Seven Layer Bars so magical! You layer a bunch of tasty ingredients together, pop it in the oven, and out comes magic cookie bars that are delicious, rich, and hold their shape beautifully!

These cookie bars are SO easy to make that this would be a great holiday baking project for the kids in your life. Let’s get baking!

Close view of a gooey magic cookie bar held in a hand.

What do I need to make magic cookie bars?

The beauty of these seven layer bars is their simplicity. You only need a handful of ingredients—and about five minutes—to make a quick, easy holiday dessert.

  • Butter and graham crackers: Melted butter combined with crumbled up graham crackers makes for a super simple crust.
  • Coconut flakes: There’s nothing like chocolate and coconut!
  • Chocolate and butterscotch chips: Not only do these add sweetness, but they also help to contain the coconut and nuts.
  • Pieces of pecans and walnuts: To add a nutty crunch to every bite, we have a layer of buttery pecans and earthy walnuts.
  • Sweetened condensed milk: This serves as the base for a creamy, easy topping that holds all the other ingredients together.

Can these magic cookie bars be made nut-free?

Sure can! You might end up with fewer layers, but these 7 layer bars can definitely be made nut-free by just omitting the nuts and sticking with the chocolate, butterscotch, and coconut.

If you’re looking for nut-free Christmas desserts, you should check out my collection of the best Christmas cookies. You’ll find plenty of nut-free desserts, including my time-tested rolled sugar cookies and my delectable chocolate candy cane gooey butter cookies!

Two hands pull apart a finished bar with gooey chocolate in the center Overhead of ingredients for magic cookie bars in a baking dish ready to be baked.

What if I’m not a fan of coconut?

The coconut flakes in this recipe are a pretty important component in the “glue” that holds the entire bars together—so we wouldn’t recommend leaving it out. So if you are anti-coconut, instead try some cookie bars that are coconut-free, like our Bourbon Chocolate Chip Blondies.

Wholefully Protip

There are definitely other substitutions you can try! Try using caramel pieces, M&M’s, peanut butter chips, or even chunks of peanut butter cups in place of the chocolate chips or butterscotch chups. The key to these seven layer bars holding together is the graham cracker crust, coconut, and the sweetened condensed milk topping. Everything else is just delicious, substitutable filling.

A hand pours sweetened condensed milk over ingredients in a baking dish. A hand holds up a magic 7 layer bar.

Can I use evaporated milk in place of sweetened condensed milk?

Nope! Trust me, you’re not going to want to use evaporated milk. I know these two are often confused because they sit close together on grocery store shelves, but they’re not the same thing.

Evaporated milk is very liquidy, and it would make a mess of your seven layer bars. Sweetened condensed milk, on the other hand, is thick, creamy, and super sweet. This makes it the perfect pourable topping for these bars.

I have whole graham crackers. How do I prepare them for this recipe?

The easiest way to turn your graham crackers into graham cracker crumbs is to stick them in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, then another option is to toss them in a zip-top bag and crush them with your hands or a rolling pin until they’ve turned into crumbs.

Overhead of three magic cookie bars on a cutting board.

I could only find whole nuts. How do I chop them up?

A food processor is the simplest way to create pecan and walnut pieces—just pulse a few times until they’ve reached your desired size. If you have a coffee grinder, you could use that as well. Just make sure you pulse for a few seconds, and then check the size of your nut pieces. You want sizeable chunks, not nut powder!

You can also skip the appliances entirely, and use a chef’s knife to chop up the whole or half nuts.

Cutting gooey cookie bars on parchment lined cutting board. Three seven layer magic bars stacked up on a parchment paper lined cutting board.

Can I make magic cookie bars ahead of time?

Absolutely! Magic cookie bars are perfect for making ahead. They take less than 10 minutes to whip up, and they’ll last for a week on the countertop and even longer in the fridge.

If you want to freeze your magic cookie bars, let them cool, slice them into squares, and pop them in a freezer-safe container. They’ll last in the freezer for three months.

Wholefully Protip

Magic cookie bars taste great cold, so I’d recommend sticking them in the fridge. When your guests arrive, all you have to do is pop them on a plate and serve!

Two gooey seven layer bars stacked on parchment paper.

How do I store magic cookie bars?

As mentioned above, magic cookie bars can be stored cold, frozen, or at room temperature. Just make sure they’re in an airtight container, and they’ll last a week in the refrigerator or on the counter. If you want to store them for longer than a week, I recommend freezing the bars.

 
Finished cookie bar close up on parchment paper.

7 Layer Magic Cookie Bar Recipe

Yield: 12 bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

These never-fail magic cookie bars, also known as Seven Layer Bars, are super easy to make, have a rich chocolate flavor, and freeze well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full size crackers)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch morsels
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or a combination of both
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9” x 13” baking dish with two sheets of overlapped parchment paper, making sure to overhang the edges on all sides for easy removal later. Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until well-combined.
  3. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. You can use the bottom of a metal measuring cup to press it firmly into the dish.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over top of the crust in one even layer. Follow with the butterscotch morsels, coconut, and the pecans and/or walnuts.
  5. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the bars, using a spatula to spread evenly, if needed.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 
  7. Cool the bars completely. Then using the parchment overhang, remove from the pan and slice into 12 3” squares.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 464Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 202mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 2gSugar: 53gProtein: 6g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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Meet Cassie
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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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