21 Easy Bar Cookie Recipes That Are Perfect for Bake Sales, Potlucks, or Just Because

Photo: Bryan Gardner

These easy-to-make and easy-to-eat treats are favorites for good reason. Make lemon bars, chocolate-pecan-pie bars, brownies, peach crumble bars, or any of these irresistible bar cookies soon.

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chocolate-cherry granola bars
Chelsea Cavanaugh

There are so many reasons to love bar cookies. For starters, they're quicker and easier to make than their classic cookie cousins. There's also no need to worry that you haven't portioned them correctly, resulting in some cookies that will brown too much in the time it takes to get others to bake through. There's also no fear that your cookies will melt into one another in a blob-like mess, and there's no transferring hot cookies one by one to a cooling rack. Simply put, bar cookies are a one-and-done solution to your dessert or treat needs. They're a no-fuss crowd-pleaser and a staple of potlucks and bake sales. Consider the bar cookie a the low-maintenance, reliable alternative to its more demanding singular counterparts. Make a batch the next time the urge to bake something delicious strikes.

How would you define bar cookies? Sometimes known as cookie bars, they are generally made from a batter or stiff dough that is poured or pressed into a baking pan or baking dish. Bars can be single-layered (like brownies) or multi-layered, and the base could be shortbread-like, pastry, a crumb crust, or cake-like—the options are truly endless. The Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars shown here are made with an oat crust and are gluten- and nut-free. Layered bars like these often have chewy textures, but the chew can come from caramel, chocolate, nuts or other ingredients. Softer bar cookies could have a lemon curd layer over the dense base, a layer of fruit and a crumb topping, or even a layer of frosting. They're baked, cooled, and then cut; while bars or squares are the most common shapes, bar cookies could also be diamond-shaped or triangular if your brain can handle the Tetris-like math and careful cuts.

The ease of making bar cookies is key, but so is their ease of eating and their delectable, often gooey or chewy texture. They're also easy to share. Some aficionados prefer the softer bar cookies from the middle of the pan while others are fans of the corners which are chewier.

If you're ready to give the bar cookie a try, the 21 recipes here are a wonderful place to start. You're sure to find favorites and we're sure you'll make them again and again.

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Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Caramel Cereal Bars

chocolate-peanut-butter-caramel cereal bars topped with flaky sea salt
Nico Schinco

There are three layers of deliciousness here: crispy, marshmallow-laden rice cereal as the base, a layer of peanut-butter caramel, and a bittersweet chocolate-shell topping.

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Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

snickerdoodle crumb bars
Alpha Smoot

Everything you love about old-fashioned snickerdoodles, but better! A ribbon of cinnamon sugar runs through the middle of these chewy cookie bars and there's a crunchy cinnamon topping, too.

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Zesty Lemon Bars


At once rich and tart, these lemon bars are one of Martha's favorite treats.

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Chewy Brownies


Are you forever in pursuit of the ultimate brownie recipe? We think this recipe strikes the perfect balance between cakey and fudgy.

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Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars
Mike Krautter

A generous layer of cream cheese frosting takes these pumpkin spice cake bars to greatness.

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Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars


The ultra-easy press-in crust and rich, chewy-crunchy chocolate and pecan filling will guarantee this recipe's place in your permanent collection.

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Peach-Pie Crumble Bars

Bryan Gardner

Sometimes simplicity really does equal perfection. The sweet and buttery press-in crust that serves as the base of these luscious peach pie bars doubles as the crumble topping. Don't limit yourself to peaches, either: You can use any stone fruit in this recipe!

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Homemade Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Bryan Gardner

Get nostalgic and whip up a sweet-salty batch of PB&J bars using your favorite flavor of jam.

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No-Bake Chocolate-Almond Oat Bars

Con Poulos

In addition to being egg- and gluten-free, these decadent-tasting treats are also free of refined sugars. They're rich with almond butter and dark chocolate, chopped almonds provide crunch, and honey and raisins bring sweetness. It's hard to have just one.

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Key Lime Bars

key lime bar
Victor Schrager

Just like the pie, but portable! These tart bars are based on the famous Key lime pie recipe from Joe's Stone Crab in Miami.

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Big Almond-Orange-Ginger Cookie

big almond orange ginger cookie
Louise Hagger

Ginger and cardamom add a lively lift to the toasted almond cookie base of these glistening marmalade-topped bar cookies. We cut it into pie-like wedges, but you can certainly go with the more traditional bar shape if you like.

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Elizabeth's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars


Eggnog, freshly-grated nutmeg, and a splash of brandy give warm holiday flavor to these cheesecake bars. This recipe uses a traditional graham cracker crust, but feel free to substitute gingersnaps for extra pep.

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Chocolaty Pretzel-and-Peanut Cookie Bars


A pretzel crust, layer of condensed milk and a topping of cocktail peanuts plus dark chocolate and pretzel pieces give these cookie bars a decadent sweet yet satisfyingly salty dimension.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

chocolate chip bars
Sang An

Turn everyone's favorite cookie into a bar! It's a revolutionary action but it works.

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Crispy Cereal Treats

full grid of crispy rice cereal treats
Kirsten Francis

Easy to make and easy to eat, these bars are just right for lunchboxes or an after-school snack. Our recipe has four variations that use the same marshmallow base, so you can decide if you want to take the treats in a chocolatey, tropical, or fruity direction.

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Big-Batch Triple-Chocolate Brownie Bars

big-batch triple-chocolate brownie bars
Marcus Nilsson

Who doesn't want to make a big batch of brownie bars? This recipe is made in a sheet pan and yields 54 deeply chocolatey treats.

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Spiced Fruitcake Bars

fruitcake bars
Johnny Miller

Forget everything you think you know about fruitcake. These buttery beauties are packed with cherries, cranberries, apricots, currants, and walnuts and will never be re-gifted.

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Blackberry Crumb Bars


These cake-like bar cookies are a portable version of berry crumble. Use any kind of fresh or frozen berries you fancy.

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Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars

holiday handbook 2011 cookie bar
Joseph De Leo

Rich and gooey chocolate caramel tops a buttery brown-sugar crust. A dusting of crunchy sea salt on top provides the perfect counterpoint.

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Hermit Bars

Yossy Arefi

Some things never go out of style, like these old-fashioned chewy molasses bars full of ginger, cinnamon, and raisins. Another reason they're a classic is that they keep well—that is, if everyone doesn't eat them up the moment they're cool enough to try!

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