Magic Cookie Bars

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Magic Cookie Bars start with a thick graham cracker crust and are loaded with milk and white chocolate chips, M&M’s, caramel bits, and oats. Sweetened condensed milk makes the “magic” happen by holding everything together and making these bars ultra gooey, sweet, and tasty!

Try our other variations on Magic Cookie Bars next time — these 7 Layer Bars or these 7 Layer Pumpkin Bars.

Magic Cookie Bars, cut into squares

Magic Cookie Bars

These Magic Cookie Bars are every sugar lover’s dream — basically a mash-up of a ton of candy with even more sugar enveloping everything in a thick gooey coating.

Fair warning — these bars are ridiculously sweet and rich. If you aren’t a total sugar lover, you may be more drawn to these Chewy Granola Bars. They’re still sweet with chocolate and M&M’s, but more balanced with oats and peanut butter. They’re also naturally sweetened with honey and won’t leave you in a total sugar coma like these magic bars might! Just trying to be transparent!

Process shots: making graham cracker crust

Graham cracker crust tips

  • Add salt. The salt in the crust helps cut through and balance the sweetness in these bars. While you can decrease the amount, I don’t recommend leaving it out entirely.
  • Blend crumbs thoroughly. To be sure there aren’t large chunks of graham crackers in the crust (which will affect how nicely you can cut these Magic Cookie Bars), thoroughly blend the graham crackers until they are in fine crumbs. Add any large chunks back into the blender and keep on blending. Depending on the type of blender you have, you may want to blend the crackers in batches.
  • Measure the crumbs. While it’s easy to just count graham cracker sheets to throw 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 to be sure you have the correct amount.
  • Press down firmly. I like to use the bottom of a one-cup measuring cup to compress the crust and press it into a nice even layer. The tighter and more compact the crust, the better the bars cut.

Process shots: adding sweetened condensed milk and quick oats to the crust.

Magic Cookie Bar Toppings

After the crust, here’s what we add on top and a few notes about the ingredients:

  • Quick oats. While you can use old-fashioned oats, we do like quick oats best in these bars — they soften better and are less over-powering than old-fashioned. Don’t use steel-cut oats.
  • Milk chocolate chips. We love milk chocolate’s richness and sweetness, 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.
  • White chocolate chips. We love white chocolate in these bars, but if you aren’t a fan, use butterscotch or even peanut butter chips instead.
  • Caramel bits. These miniature caramel balls are a unique magic cookie bar addition, and we love them! These caramel bits are typically found on the baking aisle among other baking chips or caramels. They can also sometimes be found in the candy aisle with similar caramel candies.
  • M&M’s®. I don’t recommend large ones– peanut, peanut butter, or some of the special flavors– because they don’t hold in the bars as nicely.
  • Sweetened condensed milk. This is the “magic” ingredient that holds everything together and makes these bars gooey and sweet. Be sure to get the full-fat variety and avoid sugar-free cans. Be sure evaporated milk and/or dulce de leche don’t accidentally make their way in your cart — these cans all look so similar!

Process shots: adding the toppings to the Magic Cookie Bars.

Magic Cookie Bar Tips

  • Line the pan with parchment paper. These magic cookie 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.
  • Add your favorites. Feel free to swap out some of the candies/baking chips for the ones you prefer. As long as sizing and overall quantities remain consistent these bars should work great. You could even try swapping graham cracker crumbs for Nilla® Wafers or Teddy Graham® crumbs for a unique crust.
  • Gently press in the toppings. After all the candies are on piled on top of the sweetened condensed milk, gently press everything into an even layer. This ensures that the toppings will stick into the sweetened condensed milk nicely and the Magic Cookie Bars look nice.

Magic Cookie Bars up close overhead view

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.

A stack of Magic Cookie Bars

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Magic Cookie Bars

These Magic Cookie Bars start with a thick graham cracker crust and are loaded with milk and white chocolate chips, M&M's, caramel bits, and oats. Sweetened condensed milk makes the "magic" happen by holding everything together and making these bars ultra gooey, sweet, and tasty!
Print Recipe

Magic Cookie Bars

These Magic Cookie Bars start with a thick graham cracker crust and are loaded with milk and white chocolate chips, M&M's, caramel bits, and oats. Sweetened condensed milk makes the "magic" happen by holding everything together and making these bars ultra gooey, sweet, and tasty!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Magic Cookie Bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 36 bars
Calories 180kcal
Cost $6.12

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (12 tbsp; 170g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 cups (288g) graham cracker crumbs (measure when crushed into crumbs; about 20-22 crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 can (14 oz.; 396g) full-fat sweetened condensed milk Note 1
  • 1/2 cup (48g) quick oats
  • 2 cups (325g) chocolate chips Note 2
  • 1/2 cup (90g) white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup caramel bits Note 3
  • 1 cup (215g) M&M's

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 return 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 stir to create a thick mixture. Press this mixture into the prepared pan and use the bottom of a flat measuring cup to firmly press the crust into an even layer.
  • TOPPINGS: Pour the entire can of sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker crust. Spread it into an even layer with the back of a spoon. Evenly top the condensed milk with quick oats, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, caramel bits, and finally the M&M's. Gently press everything into an even layer.
  • BAKE: Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden brown, about 23-28 minutes. In my oven, the bars are 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. Using the overhang of parchment paper, 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 cookie 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: It’s easy to pick evaporated milk or a similar product by mistake, but only sweetened condensed milk works in this recipe. Be sure to get the full-fat variety and avoid sugar-free cans. I personally use and love Eagle Brand® (not sponsored).
Note 3: Caramel bits are typically found on the baking aisle among other baking chips or caramels. They can also sometimes be found in the candy aisle with similar caramel candies. You can replace these with 1/2 cup additional white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | 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.

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2 Comments

  1. I love these but I don’t care for the taste of the caramel bits. Do you think I could replace them with chopped Kraft caramels?

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