I love a good cookie. But you know what's even better? When said cookie comes in the shape of a bar and takes half the time and effort—no scrambling to transfer hot cookies to a cooling rack, no messy portioning of subsequent batches, no devastating cookie Pangaea. It's a one-and-done, no-fuss crowd-pleaser; the low-maintenance, reliable alternative to its more demanding, self-involved, singular counterparts.
A team player at heart, the bar cookie doesn't allow for stragglers, or runts, or misfires. Ultimately, each bar is only as good as its batch. Moreover, bar cookies are fun to bite into—they're soft and gooey, and on occasion surprise us with a pleasing crunch or hidden layer. They're dense and easy to eat, as well as easy to share. Plus, everyone has a favorite: the middles, the two-edged corner, the one-edged side. So I urge you: On your next baking bender, consider the bar. Here are 17 recipes to get you started.
Five-layer bars are a dream. No, they’re magic. Layers of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, nuts, and shredded coconut are a nostalgic combination that I’ll never get tired of.
Kelly, why would I bake cookie bars when I could just make sugar cookies cut into seasonal shapes for Halloween or Christmas? Let’s ask recipe developer Grant Melton. “Regular sugar cookies are already pretty easy to make, but this version is even simpler. No chilling, rolling, or cutting,” he says. An easier version that’s just as delicious? Good enough for me!
Malted milk powder and two kinds of chocolate (cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate) make this cookie bar taste like an old-fashioned candy bar, in the best way possible.
If you’re sick of pies during fall and winter, turn to these festive, seasonally appropriate bars instead. They call for just six ingredients, one of which is leftover cranberry sauce, making it a sweet use of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Two kinds of coconut—coconut flakes and sweetened shredded coconut—are folded into a nutty vanilla custard. The mixture is poured over a layer of pre-baked shortbread dough and then the whole thing is baked again until the filling is set.
6. Nanaimo Bars
These classic Canadian cookie bars consist of three distinct and delicious layers: a chocolate and coconut graham cracker crust, a creamy custard filling, and a layer of chocolate ganache on top.
These festive shortbread cookies combine tahini, dark chocolate, and crumbled marble halva for a buttery, crumbly bar that recipe developer Melissa Clark loves to serve for Hanukkah.
An old-fashioned treat—pecan turtle bars—gets a delicious new addition with the help of a chocolate crumble topping.
“My twist on traditional Scottish shortbread is pretty much the perfect cookie,” writes recipe developer EmilyC. “They’re rich, buttery, salty-sweet, and delightfully crumbly. The malty sweetness and warm spice of the rye and cinnamon up their charm factor considerably.”
Cookie butter is so good, especially by the spoonful. But it’s one of those ingredients that can be hard to figure out what to do with. The solution? Cookie butter cookie bars. The spiced butter, white and dark chocolate chips, and blondie base is a combination I can’t get enough of.
“Topped with fluffy Italian meringue, flavored with port wine, and dusted generously with cinnamon, suspiro de limeña is a rich pudding that tastes like the offspring of dulce de leche and custard,” writes recipe developer Carlos C. Olaechea. The custard is set over a simple shortbread crust for a decadent buttery bite.
This isn’t exactly a cookie bar. Actually, it’s not a cookie bar at all. It’s white chocolate bark with crushed Oreo cookies, but it’s a sweet-as-can-be iteration that everyone will love.
13. Lemon Bars
There’s more lemon flavor than ever—2 teaspoons of grated zest and ½ cup of fresh lemon juice—in these tart bars that taste like pure sunshine.
14. Pecan Pie Bars
Okay technically these may be pie bars rather than cookie bars, but potato, poh-tah-to. A classic, ooey-gooey pecan pie filling is spread over brown-sugar shortbread for the perfect autumn bite.
Five ingredients, no-bake, and make-ahead, these chocolate-peanut butter bars from Emma Laperruque are simply perfect.
Even if you aren’t a fan of some of the cloyingly sweet pumpkin spice treats in grocery stores, you’ll love these nutty spiced pumpkin bars that are closer to cake than cookies (but I don’t hear anyone complaining).
For these not-quite-cookie-bars, carrot cake marries blondie bars, then they take a honeymoon in India and take on the flavors of fresh cardamom seeds.