7 Layer Bars

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
The ultimate BEST EVER 7 Layer bars! A super easy and quick ONE DISH dessert! via chelseasmessyapron.com

A classic dessert that is always a hit — 7 Layer Bars with a thick, buttery graham cracker crust, filled with a combination of baking chips, chopped pecans, and coconut flakes. Everything gets drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, which is the secret ingredient holding everything together and giving these bars that classic gooey texture and intense sweetness.

Try our other variations on these bars next time — these Easter-themed Magic Bars or these 7 Layer Pumpkin Bars.

Image of the 7 Layer Bars stacked on top of each other

7 Layer Bars

I’ll start by telling you that this bar recipe *technically* has 8 layers, but I’m calling them “7 Layer Bars” since they are essentially the standard recipe you’ll find peppered over the internet (with my own tweaks of course!) 

7 Layer Bars are another treat my mom made often growing up — especially around the holidays (her other two “famous” treats are these Carmelitas and these Rice Krispie Treats).

My mom often changed out the baking chips and the nuts she’d include in her recipe. One addition that never made it in her bars? White chocolate. That’s understandable since she hates white chocolate. But for me? It’s one of my favorites! And especially when it is paired with milk chocolate.

So that’s how her famous 7 layer bars came to be 8 layer bars — I added in some white chocolate and have never looked back! 🙂

Making the graham cracker crust for 7 Layer Bars: process shots.

What are the Layers in 7 Layer Bars?

  • Graham Crackers. Stick to honey-flavored graham crackers for a traditional flavor, but get creative with cinnamon graham crackers for a spiced bar.
  • Butter. I like to use unsalted butter and then add salt so I can perfectly control how much salt is in the bars. The salt content in salted butter can vary drastically so I like to remove the guesswork and use unsalted.
  • Chocolate chips. Any chocolate chips work here, so use your favorite. We love milk chocolate, but it does make for a very sweet bar. Use dark or semi-sweet to cut down on the richness.
  • Butterscotch chips. Butterscotch chips are a classic in 7 layer bars, but if you don’t love them use more chocolate or white chocolate chips instead.
  • Chopped nuts. We love chopped pecans best in these bars, but here’s where you can get creative and try a different type of nut entirely.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. This is the magic ingredient that holds everything together and makes these bars gooey and sweet. See the “quick tip” below.
  • Coconut flakes. Be sure to get unsweetened coconut flakes so these bars aren’t over-the-top sweet. Sweetened coconut is a lot sweeter than unsweetened and we’ve already got plenty of sugar in these bars!

QUICK TIP

Only sweetened condensed milk works in this 7 Layer Bars recipe, so be sure not to get evaporated milk. Be sure to get the full-fat variety and avoid sugar-free cans. I personally use and love Eagle Brand’s® (not sponsored) sweetened condensed milk.

Process shots: adding the ingredients to the pan of 7 Layer Bars

How do you cut a 7 Layer Bar?

I get it! These bars are gooey, a little crumbly, and overall tricky to serve. But with the tips below I’m confident you’ll have success cutting these out nicely and with a lot less frustration!

  • Line the pan with parchment paper. These bars are nearly impossible to remove without first lining the pan. Don’t line the pan with foil or wax paper for this recipe. Leave an overhang of parchment paper to easily remove the bars and cut into them on a cutting board.
  • These 7 Layer Bars are gooey, sticky, and melty when they’re hot. I recommend waiting for them to cool completely before cutting them.
  • And after they’ve cooled, if they are still too soft to cut into, cover them and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until firm enough to hold together.
  • Use a sharp chef’s knife and make decisive cuts. Run the knife under warm water, dry on a kitchen towel, and repeat for each cut.
  • Get creative with how you cut these bars — you could even try cutting them into wedges for a fancy appearance!

QUICK TIP

This recipe fills a 9×13-inch pan, but these bars are so rich and sweet that you’ll want to cut them pretty small. This is nice because these bars can be fairly expensive to make — with smaller bars you’ll get more bang for your buck! These make a great treat for holiday gifting or sharing at a party with a lot of guests!

How long do these bars keep?

These 7 Layer Bars are best enjoyed within 3-5 days. Store any leftovers in an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment or wax paper. 

Do 7 Layer Bars need to be refrigerated?

There is nothing about these 7 layer bars that requires refrigeration, but if you prefer them to be less gooey and more firm, store them in the fridge.

If the temperature is warm where you’re at, you may want to refrigerate them. For cooler temperatures, storing these bars on the counter is just fine. 

We haven’t personally tried freezing and thawing these bars (there have never been leftovers!), but here’s an article to read for tips on freezing/thawing baked goods.

Process shots: the final steps in making 7 Layer Bars-- adding the coconut and baking it

7 Layer Bar Tips

  • For the crust, measure the crumbs. While it’s easiest to just count graham cracker sheets to throw them in the blender, there can be a good amount of variation from cracker to cracker and brand to brand. For a fool-proof crust, measure the crumbs instead of counting out graham cracker sheets.
  • For the crust, blend crumbs thoroughly. To be sure there aren’t large chunks of graham cracker in the crust (which will affect how nicely you can cut these bars), thoroughly blend the graham crackers until they are in fine crumbs. Add any large chunks back into the blender to continue the process. Depending on the type of blender you have, you may want to blend crackers in batches.
  • Add coconut on top. The reason I put the coconut on top of the sweetened condensed milk (as opposed to underneath it), is because I love the texture and taste of it this way! The coconut gets nice and toasted in the oven and even a tiny bit crunchy — yum!
  • Add your favorites. Feel free to get creative with your bars. As long as quantities remain consistent, add your favorite combination of baking chips and/or nuts. You could even replace some of the chocolate chips with caramel bits for a fun flavor twist,
  • Use good chocolate. Good chocolate chips make a world of difference for flavor. While you don’t need to buy the most expensive brands, I’d avoid the cheapest ones since they do have a more waxy flavor.

Magic Cookie Bars FAQs

1Do you have to refrigerate Magic Cookie Bars?

Store in the fridge if the temperature is warm where you’re at, or on the counter for cooler temperatures. There is nothing about these bars that requires refrigeration, but if you prefer them to be less gooey and firmer, store them in the fridge.

 

2What do you use sweetened condensed milk for?

Beyond these amazing Magic Cookie Bars, here are some other recipes to use sweetened condensed milk in:

3How do you cut Magic Cookie Bars?

  • These bars are gooey and sticky! I recommend waiting for them to cool completely before cutting into them.
  • If the bars are too soft/gooey to cut into, cover them and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until firm enough to cut into.
  • Use a sharp chef’s knife and make decisive cuts. Run the knife under warm water, dry on a kitchen towel, and repeat for each cut.

4How long do Magic Cookie Bars keep?

These bars are best enjoyed within 3-5 days.

We haven’t personally tried freezing and thawing these bars (there have never been leftovers!), but here’s an article to read for tips on freezing/thawing baked goods.

7 Layer Bars

More Amazing Desserts

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

7 Layer Bars

5 from 9 votes
A classic dessert that is always a hit -- 7 Layer Bars with a thick, buttery graham cracker crust, topped with a combination of baking chips, chopped pecans, and coconut flakes. Everything gets drizzled with sweetened condensed milk-- which is the secret ingredient holding everything together and giving these bars that classic gooey texture and intense sweetness.
Print Recipe

7 Layer Bars

5 from 9 votes
A classic dessert that is always a hit -- 7 Layer Bars with a thick, buttery graham cracker crust, topped with a combination of baking chips, chopped pecans, and coconut flakes. Everything gets drizzled with sweetened condensed milk-- which is the secret ingredient holding everything together and giving these bars that classic gooey texture and intense sweetness.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword 7 layer bars
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 24 bars (One 9x13-inch Pan)
Calories 394kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $7.99

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups (288g) graham cracker crumbs (measure when crushed into crumbs; about 20 crackers)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 cup (175g) milk chocolate chips Note 1
  • 1 cup (175g) butterscotch chips Note 2
  • 1 cup (170g) white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup (108g) chopped pecans
  • 1 can (14 oz.; 396g) sweetened condensed milk Note 3
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (105g) unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176C). Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang for easy bar removal. Don't line the pan with wax paper or foil. Melt the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool back to room temperature -- using hot butter makes the crust greasy.
  • GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST: Coarsely break up graham crackers and add to a powerful blender (you may need to do this in batches). Pulse/blend until all crackers are fine crumbs. Measure a level 2 and 1/2 cups (288g) of the crumbs and add to a large bowl, along with the salt. Stir in the melted-but-cooled butter and mix to create a thick mixture. Press this into the prepared pan and use the bottom of a flat measuring cup to firmly form the crust into an even layer.
  • TOP THE CRUST: Evenly layer the top with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the nuts. In an even layer, sprinkle the coconut over condensed milk. Gently press down the coconut on top. (Coconut above the sweetened condensed milk allows it to get toasted and delicious!)
  • BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden brown and the sweetened condensed milk is bubbling at the edges, about 23-28 minutes. My oven is done right at 25 minutes.
  • LET COOL AND ENJOY: Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool completely-- about 1-2 hours. Speed up the cooling process by putting them in the fridge after they've cooled for about 20 minutes at room temperature. Use the overhang of parchment paper to remove the bars and use a sharp knife to make decisive cuts in the bars. Run the knife under warm water, dry on a kitchen towel, and repeat for each cut.
  • STORAGE: Store any leftover bars in an airtight container separated by layers of parchment or wax paper. Store in the fridge if the temperature is warm where you're at, or on the counter for cooler temperatures. (There is nothing about these bars that requires refrigeration, but if you prefer them to be less gooey and more firm, store them in the fridge.) These bars are best enjoyed within 3-5 days.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We love the richness and sweetness of milk chocolate, but any type of chocolate works here. If you like dark chocolate best, use dark chocolate. If you want to cut down on sweetness, use semi-sweet chocolate.
Note 2: If you don't like butterscotch or white chocolate chips, use more of a type of chocolate chip you do enjoy! You could even try caramel bits instead of one of these types of chips! Just keep quantities consistent.
Note 3: Only sweetened condensed milk works in this recipe, so be careful not to get evaporated milk by mistake. Be sure to get the full-fat variety and avoid sugar-free cans. I personally use and love Eagle Brand® (not sponsored).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 394kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 221mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

7 Layer Pumpkin Bars

50 mins

7 Layer Pumpkin Bars

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Apple Crumble Bars

1 hrs 8 mins

Apple Crumble Bars

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

40 mins

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Caramel Cookie Bars

1 hrs 15 mins

Caramel Cookie Bars

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

FREE BONUS

FREE BONUS

EASY MEAL SECRETS:
How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




37 Comments

  1. Seriously LOVE 7-layer bars, but I’ve never made them with white chocolate before. Great idea. Looking forward to trying this.

    Those look like semisweet chocolate chips to me. You used milk chocolate? Also, do you think it matters about the brand of chips? I have a hard time finding milk chocolate unless it is Ghirardelli.

    Thanks!

    1. Yes I used milk chocolate 🙂 You can use semi-sweet if you are worried about sweetness! I love Ghiradelli and Guittard, but I think pretty much any chips (Nestle or Hershey’s) are good in these since there are so many chips.

    2. 5 stars
      Using the semi-sweet chips is better, they are not as sweet, with milk chocolate they are sickening sweet, semi chips tones it done just fine… these are to die for… large milk with a couple, yum, yum…

  2. If the pecans (or other nuts) were finely crushed, would the flavor still be there without the chunks to chew? Have some family with dental issues.

    1. I think these would still be hard to chew with all of the other ingredients; you might want to try a different dessert entirely. (As a whole these are pretty chewy!) Wish I could be of more help!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made these 7 layer cookies every Christmas for years as gifts. One friend refers to them as “7 Layer Crack” cookies. A couple of things I do differently–melt the butter in the pan as the oven heats and then dump the graham cracker crumbs on top–saves a bowl. I also put the nuts on top of the milk. Any way you layer these, they are mighty tasty–and more than a little decadent!

  4. 5 stars
    My sister has a lot of dental issues as well, she has been on meds for years that has really done a number on her teeth. I use fine chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, or the thinly sliced almonds. It depends on what they aren’t sold out of on the type of nuts I choose. She eats them with no problems! They all work geart and taste amazing. Hope this helps.

    1. Unfortunately I’ve never tried freezing these bars so I can’t say for sure, but I think it would be ok!

  5. 5 stars
    My family has made these for years, only they were called Magic Cookie Bars, and did not call for white chocolate chips, just semi-sweet or milk chocolate, and butterscotch. My family has always substituted the butterscotch with more chocolate chips, though. These are my all time favorite bar cookie. I have also used fat free sweetened condensed milk with no problems.

  6. You might consider putting the pecans (or walnuts, that’s what I use) as the top layer so you get a toasted nut taste, So much better IMHO.

  7. 5 stars
    I have made these for quite a while. I put the shredded coconut on top also. One thing I have changed a couple times that really turned out delicious was using peanut butter chips instead of white chocolate chips . Mmmm ! Absolutely
    delicious ! Give it a try and see what you think ..
    Let me know ok ??

    1. This sounds awesome! I’ll definitely have to give the peanut butter chips a try! I’m excited!

  8. 5 stars
    I use both semi sweet AND milk chocolate, along with butterscotch and white chocolate. Believe it or not, this chip combo actually makes for a killer chocolate chip cookie as well (I use browned butter which makes for an insanely good cookie).

  9. Is it a half stick of butter or a stick for the seven layer bars the recipe says 1/2 stick but reading what you wrote it says the delicious graham cracker crust gets a full stick

  10. Oh my goodness, I just made this recipe since my husband and I were craving something sweet but easy and boy did it deliver. I’m definitely going to be making this again – not only for us but probably as potluck dessert as well.

  11. 5 stars
    I get these odd impulses to experiment in the wee hours & I decided to make my husband’s all-time fav dessert, so here I am! ????
    But..! I split the ingredients in half and made two 8×8 glass pans, lined with foil. The first one was to the letter for your recipe. The second one was tweaked into my “Sugarbomb” version by adding a layer of the little caramel bits, a layer of chopped walnuts and mixing the regular shredded coconut with some toasted & dried large coconut flakes. Both baked for 24 mins @ 350.
    Neither will make it more than a few days! Thank you so much for your recipe!

    1. Haha, you sound just like me! Late night baking impulses. So glad you enjoyed these 7 layer bars! Thanks for your comment Cheri! 🙂

  12. Never made them, but I have tasted & eaten them when my mother made them. I loved them. So delicious. So sweet.

  13. 5 stars
    I love these bars and love that you put the coconut on the top! I use Heath chips instead of butterscotch and macadamia nuts. I usually can’t get a 9×13 pan of dessert to go without throwing some away, but with these that’s never a problem. There gone long before they would ever have a chance to get old!!

Never Miss a Recipe

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.