Seven-Layer Bars

seven-layer-bars-main

Seven-Layer Bars, also known as Magic Bars, have a graham cracker-crumb base and are topped with a combination of nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut, and held together by sweetened condensed milk. In other words: Sweet. Rich. Delicious. Grab a tall glass of milk and get your oven ready!

My mom had an evening meeting and was asked to bring dessert, so she asked if I’d like to make something for her. I never turn down an opportunity to bake, so I immediately said yes and thought about what I could make that would be a crowd-pleaser. When I have free reign over a dish, I often turn to My 100 list to see what I still have left to cross off and if any of the remaining items would work well. And so when I ran down my list, I thought that Seven-Layer Bars would be a great dessert to share with others.

seven-layer-bars-row

This recipe requires very few ingredients, a minimal amount of steps, and the best part – no mixing equipment or multiple bowls, etc. You do need to toast the coconut, but that takes only a few short minutes. As mentioned in the recipe below, please be sure to keep an eye on the coconut. It can brown really quickly and as soon as it starts, it can get too dark very quickly. I recommend taking a peek every minute or so just to be on the safe side.

seven-layer-bars-prep

Many recipes for seven-layer bars are scrutinized for not actually having seven layers. Let me cover my bases and break them down for you:

1. Graham cracker crust
2. Chopped walnuts
3. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
4. White chocolate chips
5. Butterscotch chips
6. Shredded coconut
7. Sweetened condensed milk

There you have it – seven fabulous layers of sweet goodness.

seven-layer-bars-stack

These bars are very similar in flavor to the Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies that I made last month. Many readers have made them and loved them, so be sure to check them out!

Seven-Layer Bars

Yield: 18 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
9 graham crackers (5 ounces), crushed
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with two overlapping pieces of foil or parchment paper, leaving overhang to act as handles for lifting the bars out of the pan. Spray with non-stick spray.

2. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake until the outer flakes just begin to brown, about 4 minutes. (Keep a close eye on it - coconut can go from slightly browned to burnt in a matter of seconds.) Set aside.

3. Melt the butter and combine with graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Toss with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed. Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

4. In order, sprinkle the walnuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut over the graham crumbs. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the entire dish.

5. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.

6. Remove the bars fromthe pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife or bench cutter, cut into 2 by 3-inch bars.

(Adapted from Baking Illustrated)

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116 Responses to “Seven-Layer Bars”

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  1. Kevin on June 17, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Oh MY! I think this will be the kids treat for the weekend. Looks awesome!

    Reply

  2. Tanya on June 17, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I used to make Magic Bars at work about twice a week for six years. They technically weren’t seven layer bars because we only did the crust, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, coconut, and condensed milk. They were one of our biggest sellers though and soooo good! I love the addition of butterscotch chips. That sounds delicious!

    Reply

  3. Liz Brooks on June 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Oh my goodness gracious these look to die for:) Can’t wait to try them!

    Reply

  4. Joelen on June 17, 2009 at 10:07 am

    These are one of my fave childhood treats – yum!

    Reply

  5. Niall Harbison on June 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Wow those look amazing. Great work on the photography too, I think that is half the battle in making stuff look amazing!

    Reply

  6. Heidi on June 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    My mom used to make these and I think the recipe was called something like “Classical Cookie”. Can’t wait to try your recipe, seven is a good number.

    Reply

  7. Michelle on June 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Niall – Thanks for the compliment on my photography!

    Reply

  8. Risa on June 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    These are one of those treats I have always wanted to make and have yet to get around to it. Your photos look great!

    Reply

  9. stephchows on June 17, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    At first glance I thought those were chick peas on top! LOL thankfully no, these look so good!!!!!!!

    Reply

  10. Katrina on June 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    ooey gooey heaven in bar form! sigh!

    Reply

  11. Dana Zia on June 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Oh momma, these sing to me! And the pictures! You having me setting here in a puddle of drool! Thanks for sharing and I love your blog. I will be back.

    Reply

  12. Michelle on June 18, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Dana – So happy to hear you enjoy my blog! Look forward to “seeing” you again soon!

    Reply

  13. Kevin on June 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Those bars look so good! Just look at the partially melted and gooey chips!

    Reply

  14. Annie on June 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Sometimes we are so on the same wavelength. I have been thinking about these in the back of my mind for weeks! I am going to have to make them very soon.

    Reply

  15. Ruchi M on June 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    These look mouth waterlingly delicious!!!!

    I tried a variation of this since I couldn’t get hold of all the ingredients and they were truly sinful!

    Reply

  16. Tracey on June 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    These look terrific!! So many layers of goodness!

    Reply

  17. Michelle on June 24, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Ruchi M – So happy to hear that even with modifications this is a great recipe, glad you enjoyed! :)

    Reply

  18. Jacob on July 10, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I made these to bring into work today. I ended up using peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch since we are peanut butter fiends. Everyone loved them!

    Reply

  19. Jessi on October 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    These are so insanely easy to make and so delicious. Whenever I make them I give a few to each of my friends (a full pan would be dangerous sitting in my house) and they just love them!

    Reply

  20. Eric on November 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I’m going to bake these to send to people for the holidays. But I’m going to use peanut butter chips instead of the butterscotch. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

    Reply

  21. valha on November 24, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    you did it again! I substituted butterscotch chips for some hershey’s cinnamon chips and some peanut butter chips and added extra coconut and WOWWWWWWWW!!!!! A+ goes to you Lady!

    Reply

  22. Bill Leonard on December 19, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    After looking at a bunch of 7-layer recipes, this was great — my first foray into baking as part of my wife’s annual cookie exchange (decided to contribute instead of solely receive the benefits :) ). One thing: the toasting of the coconut. I had lots of trouble w/ this until I found online that I should stir it every 30 seconds. Do people agree with this & should this be an update to the recipe?

    Reply

  23. Jeff on December 21, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I am making htese for christmas and adding (OMG) an 8th layer…putting in some Heath pieces….

    Reply

  24. Jeff on December 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    OK….so these just cooled….just have to say that the 8th layer was a VERY tasty idea. All the heath chips melted into a caramely sweet exlosion that can only be tamed by a tall glass of ice cold milk.

    Reply

  25. Michelle on January 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Hi Bill,

    So glad that you enjoyed the bars! As far as toasting the coconut – I have never stirred it, but just watch very closely to make sure it doesn’t get too dark. Would be interested to hear others’ thoughts on it though!

    Reply

  26. Bill on January 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    It may be because I just started & don’t have the experience so … when I stirred it often I was able to get the coconut toasted better the 2nd time I made them for xmas. The second try came out better. OFF TOPIC: The best part is that now I have an appreciation for the time, skill, effort, and cost that goes into baking (and all cooking) and i no longer take a cavalier attitude when I eato something someone made. The bars are great but this realization is even better :)

    Reply

  27. Amy Lynn on January 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Am going out to buy the ingredients for the seven layers now. Have investigated other websites and receipes and yours is the most appealing…great photos and good, very helpful comments that will be so useful in this fun & delicious endevour.
    Will let you know how mine turn out!
    Later!

    Reply

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  30. linda on December 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I love these bars. I made them because my son home from college says they serve them at his dorm. I had tried a similar recipe years ago and never again because of the mess left in the pan. So I am thrilled with your use of double layer of foil, and the only thing to wash off the pan was the Pam spray! We took them to several holiday gatherings and have shared your website and recipe. Thanks!

    Reply

  31. Amanda on December 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    I have made hundreds of batches of these bars after seeing on your blog.At one point I didn’t have the butterscotch chips, so I substituted with Peanut Butter Chips. AMAZING! I never use butterscotch again because everyone loved them so much more with the peanut butter. Try it!

    Reply

  32. Ty Bolton on December 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I’m definitely going to make the 7 layer bars. They look so delicious.

    Reply

  33. Allison on January 3, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I made these with my grandmother all the time growing up, and they were always a favorite of mine (plus are easy for kids!) We made ours with five layers (only chocolate chips, not white or butterscotch) and she always called them “Hello Dollies” – I don’t know where that name came from, but I’ve never heard anyone else call them that.

    Reply

    • Joelle on December 6th, 2012 at 12:46 am

      So funny you mention that you’ve never heard anyone else call them “Hello Dollies” because that is the only thing we called them growing up! I didn’t hear the terms “magic cookie bars” and “sever-layer bars” until much later!

      Reply

  34. Carrie on January 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Could almonds or pecans be substituted for walnuts?

    Reply

    • Allison on January 29th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Definitely! Some people also use peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch.

      Reply

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  36. trial and error on January 31, 2011 at 1:36 am

    thank you for reminding me about this recipe. i haven’t made it in a long time. i remember using brownie mix for the bottom layer instead of graham crackers. (ghiardelli (sp) chocolate browine mix works well)

    Reply

  37. emmy on February 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    SEVEN LAYER MAGIC COOKIE BARS!!!! My mom used to make these when I was little. They’re SO good! Your website is wonderful. I found it via a link my friend posted on facebook.

    Reply

  38. Pudding Pie Lane on February 23, 2011 at 6:38 am

    More like seven layers of yummyness :)

    Reply

  39. Tori on March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    My grandma makes these, and they are pretty much the ultimate dessert! I love them.. I think she may use less ingredients (making it not 7 layers) But I cannot wait to make these, everyone in my house will be thrilled!

    Reply

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  41. Kristi on June 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I just wanted to say that I found this recipe on your site and made them today. They are A-MAZING! So easy and fast! My co-workers will be happy because I’m taking the leftovers to work tomorrow… I can’t afford to have them around for fear of eating the whole batch!!

    Reply

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  43. aries on August 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I am so mad! I was planning on sending you this recipe for the ramadan competition LOL i have made it a few times in the past, and it was always a HIT!

    Reply

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  46. leana on September 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Questions – can you freeze these bars? thanks

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 6th, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Hi Leana, Definitely!

      Reply

      • leana on September 6th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

        Thank you, I just took a batch out of the oven an hour still cooling until I can cut.

        Reply

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  48. Rachel on September 8, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    These were THEEEEEE best 7 layer bars I’ve ever had. THE END.

    Reply

  49. Corrie on September 13, 2011 at 9:54 am

    My family calls these bars “Hello Dollies”. Not sure why but they remind me of my childhood. Oh so tastey!!!

    Reply

  50. Corrie on September 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

    …the “not sure why” was Not sure why we call them Hello Dollies…I know why they remind me of my childhood! lol. :)

    Reply

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