These bar cookies 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 are always on my list of things that I can quickly make for gatherings, picnics, baby meals, potlucks, or other times when cookies are a must but I’m short on time.
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! Here’s how to make them:
- 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 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.
Should I use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?
The choice is yours! I’ve made them both ways, and they are equally as delicious. Use whichever one you have on hand.
Can I make this in a different size pan?
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 more of Grandma’s cookie recipes!
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 9x12 inch pan (a 9x13 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.