Grandma’s recipe for Chewy Coconut Bars taste like a coconut-laden pecan pie! They’re perfect for picnics, potlucks, or simply enjoying with a cup of coffee or tea.
I love a good bar cookie, and Grandma’s old fashioned Chewy Coconut Bars are no exception. These in particular are easy to make and way too easy to eat.
Bar cookies, like these Toll House Cookie Bars, are always on my list of things that I can quickly make for gatherings, picnics, baby meals, or potlucks. They’re quick and easy, and a hit with all ages.
The recipe is from my late Grandma Cay’s recipe binder. It’s a small black leather binder, filled with recipes typed on her typewriter, recipes clipped from magazines, and recipes handwritten by Grandma or her friends.
I stumbled upon these Chewy Coconut Bars from way back when, and I knew they would be a gem. Grandma actually called them Chewy Coconut Cookies, but bars are just square cookies anyway!
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- Butter, flour, and powdered sugar make up the crust of the bar cookie
- Eggs and brown sugar form the topping
- We’ll add coconut and nuts (either walnuts or pecans) to the topping for lots of crunch
- Baking powder helps the cookies rise a bit
- Salt and vanilla enhance the flavors of the cookies
How to make Grandma’s chewy coconut bars
Combine melted butter, flour, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Mix gently with a spatula until combined.
Using clean hands, spread the dough into a 13×9 inch pan lined with parchment paper. The dough will make a very thin layer that just covers the bottom of the pan.
Bake the crust for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. This step of par-baking the crust ensures that the crust gets crisp in the oven once the topping is added.
While the crust is baking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl (use the same bowl as the crust for easier clean-up).
After the crust par-bakes, spread the coconut mixture on top.
Bake for another 18–20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
You’ll start to smell the brown sugar, nuts, and coconut as the bars bake—it is heavenly! You want the top to be deep golden all over, but keep an eye on the bars after about 18 minutes to ensure that they don’t burn.
Grandma’s Chewy Coconut Bars are like a coconut meets pecan pie. They’re quick to make and you can easily double or triple the recipe for a big crowd.
They’re delicious as an after-school snack, dessert, or as an afternoon treat with a cup of coffee or tea.
Can I make coconut bars in advance?
For best results, Coconut Bars can be made 1–2 days in advance of serving them.
Store any leftover bars tightly covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Frequently Asked Questions
Freeze coconut bars in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Place parchment paper, wax paper, or plastic wrap between the layers if you stack them to prevent them from sticking together.
The choice is yours! I’ve made them both ways, and they are equally as delicious. Use whichever one you have on hand.
The original recipe calls for a 12×9 inch pan. If you have a pan that size, use that. You can also use a 13×9 inch pan, but the bars will be a little thinner, and you’ll have to work a little harder to make the dough stretch to all of the corners of the pan. I’ve made them in both a 12×9 and a 13×9 inch pan with good results.
Here are a few ideas to make this coconut bar cookie your own.
- Substitute more coconut in place of the pecans/walnuts.
- Use pecans instead of walnuts (or a mix of both).
- Add ½ cup mini chocolate chips.
- Add the zest of one orange to the batter (add it when you whisk the eggs).
More bar cookies
Here are a few more of Grandma’s bar cookie recipes!
- 7 Layer Bars
- Toll House Cookie Bars (3 ways!)
- Special K Bars (this one is a must for chocolate/peanut butter fans)
- Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread (love this one for Christmas)
Also, these aren’t bars, but they are Grandma’s MOST famous recipe: Grandma’s Rum Balls. Yes, you can taste the rum!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Grandma’s Chewy Coconut Bars
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1½ cups brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
- ¾ cup coconut (sweetened or unsweetened is fine)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place the melted butter, 1 cup flour, and ¼ cup powdered sugar in a large bowl. Stir until just combined.
- Pat into a 9×12 inch pan (a 9×13 inch pan works, too). Bake in the preheated oven for 12–15 minutes, or until just golden brown.
- Meanwhile, place the remaining ingredients in the same large bowl. Stir just until combined.
- Spread the mixture over the partially baked crust, and return to the oven. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until golden all over the top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
- Cut into squares while still slightly warm.