7 Layer Bars are an easy bar dessert that everyone loves! They’re made with just 7 ingredients and you can make them in a little over 30 minutes.
My family has made these sweet bar cookies for generations. They’re also known as Hello Dolly Bars and Magic Cookie Bars, but we call them 7 Layer Bars.
They’re made with seven ingredients (hence the seven layers) and they get gobbled up so quickly. They’re a must-have for us at Christmas time, though you can usually find a pan on the countertop a few other times per year, too.
Best of all, they take less than 10 minutes to assemble, and less than 30 minutes to bake. Here’s how to make them.
- Graham cracker crumbs and butter form the crust of the bars.
- Sweetened condensed milk caramelizes in the oven to hold together all of the delicious toppings.
- You can use either sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut.
- A combo of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips is classic for these bars.
- I like to add the walnuts last, so they toast in the oven! Pecans work here, too.
How to make 7 Layer Bars
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Then, grease a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. This will help the bars release from the sides of the pan after they’re baked.
Place one stick of butter in the pan, and place it in the preheated oven for 3–5 minutes, or until the butter is just melted.
You may be able to hear the butter sizzle in the pan as it melts. Make sure that it doesn’t turn brown or burn in the pan—remove the pan from the oven just when the butter is just melted. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top.
Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the top. The milk is what holds all of the toppings on to the graham cracker crust.
It doesn’t have to be perfect—it will spread more evenly in the oven. That said, make sure that it reaches the sides of the pan so that the toppings will stick!
Top the mixture with the shredded coconut, then the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, and then finally the nuts. I like adding the nuts last so that they toast in the oven (YUM).
Press the mixture down lightly with your hands.
Bake the bars for 25–28 minutes in the preheated oven. You want the edges to be golden brown but not burned.
Let the bars cool. Then, run a knife around the edges to release them from the pan. Cut the bars into squares and serve!
As with any cookie/bar that has been made for generations, there are a number of variations that you can make with these. Here are a few ideas:
– Substitute white chocolate chips for either the chocolate chips or the butterscotch chips.
– Use chopped pecans instead of chopped walnuts.
– If you prefer not to use nuts, you can just leave them out (keep the rest of the recipe the same).
– You can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes. I’ve made them both ways and they taste similar.
How to make your own graham cracker crumbs
If you don’t have graham cracker crumbs, you can make your own using whole graham crackers. There are two methods: pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground, or crush them in a resealable plastic bag with a rolling pin.
There are approximately 10 full sheets of graham crackers in 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs. A full sheet is defined as the rectangle shape in a box of graham crackers. The square shape is a half sheet.
Tips and tricks
- Make sure to spray the pan with cooking spray first. It seems counterintuitive because there is a fair amount of butter in the bottom of the pan, but it’s more for the sides. Spraying the pan will ensure that the bars will easily release from the sides of the pan.
- Before putting the bars in the oven, press the bars lightly with your hands or a spatula. This ensures that all of the toppings will stick.
- You can make this recipe in two 8×8 inch square pans instead of a 13×9 inch pan.
- The bars freeze beautifully. To freeze, bake the bars and let them cool. Cut into squares, then wrap the bars in plastic wrap. Place the bars in a resealable freezer bag, and freeze for up to 2 months. To defrost, let sit overnight at room temperature.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the cooked and cooled 7 Layer Bars.
More family cookie recipes
I come from a family of dessert lovers, and there are plenty more cookie recipes that we’ve been making for generations! Some of these are for the holidays in particular, but truthfully they are delicious any time of year!
Grandma’s Rum Balls (a MUST if you like booze + chocolate!)
Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread (so festive around the holidays)
Special K Bars—chocolate + peanut butter lovers adore these
Cocoa Drops (chocolate on chocolate—perfection!)
Snowball Cookies (shortbread covered in powdered sugar—enjoy with a glass of milk)
7 Layer Bars
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 can (15 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Place the butter in the baking dish. Put the dish in the oven for 3–5 minutes, or until the butter is just melted. Take care not to let the butter turn brown.
- Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the butter in an even layer (it doesn't have to be perfect).
- Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker crumbs. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect—the milk will spread out in the oven.
- Sprinkle the coconut evenly on top, then top with the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.
- Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top, then press the bars lightly with your hands or a spatula. This ensures that the toppings will stick to the crust.
- Bake for 25–28 minutes, or until the bars are golden brown on the edges. Let cool, then run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the pan. Cut into squares and serve.