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”

  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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  54. Angela on December 14, 2011 at 12:13 am

    My kids love these! Since I’m allergic to walnuts, I use pecans instead and they are delicious too. :)

    Reply

  55. Cathy J. on December 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I made these for my Christmas Party baking contest and took home 2nd prize. These guys are delicious, I’ll make another batch for the co-workers who didn’t get a taste tomorrow.

    I have one question, I baked these guys for about 40 minutes before they turned golden brown. I don’t normally have any oven issues. Are they suppose to be moist at all?

    Thanks for helping me win today!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 am

      Congrats on your win! They should be a bit moist, yes.

      Reply

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  57. Meg H. on January 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    These bars are delicious. We found that the longer you let them cool, the easier they are to cut and they don’t fall apart. We left them in the pan for nearly 24hrs before cutting and they were fantastic!

    Reply

  58. Gigi on January 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Just made two batches to take to my meeting in Dallas next week. Yummy goodness!

    Reply

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  61. RM on February 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    These turned out beautifully! Very sweet, of course, but perfect with black coffee or milk. I used semi-sweet chunks instead of chips (probably did not melt as much as the chips) which left these wonderful chocolately pockets in the bars. I also let the bars sit overnight before cutting.

    Reply

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  63. Zainub on March 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Any suggestions of what to use in place of walnuts if, like me, you are allergic to nuts? I was thinking maybe cocoa nibs, any other suggestions?
    I made them without any nut substitute and they were still divine, but I think that extra crunch would really take it over the top.

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 31st, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Zainub, Would cocoa nibs stay crunchy when baked, or would they soften like chocolate chips? I’m racking my brain, I’ve thought of something like Rice Krispies or Special K, but they would probably soften when baked.

      Reply

    • Leah on October 7th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      My husband is allergic to nuts, so I used pretzels for some crunch and substituted peanut butter chips for the butterscotch – they turned out great!

      Reply

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  65. Corinne Rossignol on April 14, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I looove 7-layer bars and grew up eating them at family gatherings and miss them so!! I live in Australia and want to make them for a party this weekend so my friends here can try BUT… they dont have Graham Crackers in Australia (or peanut butter chips or funfetti and lots of other things :( ). Any recommendation what to use other than graham crackers? Would be super helpful, Aussies must experience the magic bar amazingness…thank tou!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 16th, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Hi Corinne, I’m not sure what’s readily available in Australia, but I suppose any type of cracker or cookie that you typically would use the crumbs of for things like cheesecake crusts, pie bars, etc.

      Reply

    • April on September 16th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      I would use digestive biscuits as a substitute for the graham crackers.

      Reply

  66. Marsha on April 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve used chopped up pretzels instead of nuts. They worked well and the added salt made for a yummy salty sweet combo!

    Reply

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  70. Kelly on September 2, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I made these yesterday. They are very tasty. I would love to try them with the peanut butter chips rather than the butterscotch chips next time, I think they would be better. It’s a very rich tasting bar.

    Reply

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  74. khaytlen on October 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Michelle, you’ve done it again. This is another amazing bar recipe you have here. I made it on Sunday and they’re so yummy!!! Unfortunately, I’m from Australia as well and we can’t get Butterscotch Chips. So, I made my own (unsuccessfully) and used it in this recipe. Can’t taste it. Next time, I’ll just use caramel chips instead. But thank you again. With so many tasty recipes on your website, I’m a frequent visitor. Hope Pittsburgh is far enough inland that you’re safe from Hurricane Sandy. And hoping everyone on the east coast will be safe.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 30th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the bars, even without the traditional butterscotch chips! Thank you for the well wishes; we are far enough inland that we haven’t been affected very much by the hurricane – rain and wind yesterday, but everything has seemed to calm down today. It looks like we’ll be wet for the remainder of the week though!

      Reply

  75. Franny Grosso on December 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Please specify how you would like thew two pieces of foil to be placed I overlapped them and it didn’t turn out well

    Reply

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  77. Sooze on February 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    How do you think these would be with cinnamon chips instead of butterscotch? I ask because a) I have a bag of cinnamon chips to use; and b) it is so cold, I don’t want to run to the store just for a bag of butterscotch chips! thoughts?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 2nd, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Sooze, It won’t taste the same, but I think that’s a perfectly good substitute!

      Reply

      • Sooze on February 2nd, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        thanks for the quick response. I’ll let you know how they turn out :)

        Reply

  78. Sarah on February 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    i followed the directions, but the graham cracker bottom is very soggy. is this normal for this recipe? i have eaten magic bars before and they have never been soggy, but have never made them myself so i am not sure what happened.

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 10th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Sarah, The crust bottom should not be soggy.

      Reply

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  82. Tamara Dainis on September 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Made these last night. I am not the best baker, but the recipe looked simple enough. I was so happy with the results!!!!! Looks just like the picture and tastes sooo delicious. A perfect combination of flavors. Kept a few bars for myself and taking the rest to work for my coworkers to enjoy!

    Reply

  83. Toni Fazzio on December 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I love thus recipe. A friend and I made them a few years ago and I finally found the recipe! So excited, I bought all the ingredients. They are so good! Now if can make them look as good as the picture i will be happy. = ) Thank you.

    Reply

  84. Amy on December 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I make these every year if I can, ever since my mom taught me how to make them. I have fond memories of bringing them to school at age 7 and sharing with friends. I think I made up my own name for them, because they asked what they were. I called them something like “ultra mega deluxe bars”. :-) I am from Georgia, so of course we always used pecans. Went to the store yesterday for my ingredients and pecans – well, I heard it was a bad year for them since we got so much rain this year, and they were $19 a pound. I may end up supplementing with walnuts! Oh, and my mom calls them seven layer bars, with semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch chips. Oh, and to those who scoff at calling them seven layer, they actually are because butter is an ingredient!

    Reply

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  86. Nadine on December 21, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Can these be frozen? Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 22nd, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Yes, definitely!

      Reply

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  90. Rebecca on January 31, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Hey was wondering the same thing about the soggy bottom. Mine just came out of the oven and was thinking we never toasted the gramcracker. Most recipes you do…. I guess I’ll see. Also I made these bars tonight for Super Bowl Sunday, do you think they will still taste just as good in 2 days???
    Thanks love your site too!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 1st, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Rebecca, Yes, these should be just fine as long as you cover them tightly or store in an airtight container.

      Reply

  91. Kate on February 24, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I made these as well, and the graham cracker base was soggy for me, too. Is there way around that? They tasted very good (but also very sweet). Thank you!

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 24th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Kate, You might try using less butter if you found the base to be too soggy.

      Reply

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  93. Mai on April 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    These were awesome. At first I was hesitant to pour an entire 14oz can of condensed sweetened milk on this!! So my first batch I only used about 1/2 the can–7oz instead. They turned out just fine too. But I also made one batch with all 14 oz and they were held together better but the flavors were still the same–very delicious!
    Warning–!!! Wax paper is not the same as parchment. Even if you spray wax paper these bars still get stuck! I waited until they cooled and then flipped then out right side down. It was much easier to peel off the wax paper! Next time spring for real parchment paper for the nonstick!

    Reply

  94. Susan Rogers on May 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Is there anything I can substitute for the coconut? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Hi Susan, You can omit the coconut or replace it with another ingredient of your choice.

      Reply

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  97. Angie M on September 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Hello there,
    Many thanks for the recipe as well as the pictures. I just made the bars and baked them for about 30 minutes but they are not brown on the top! I sure hope they turn out okay, will let you know. I’m taking them to a potluck tomorrow (maybe). Again, thanks for the recipes. Oh yes, my oven has the correct temperature. Any suggestions? Should I have left them in longer?

    Reply

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