17 Christmas Bar Cookie Recipes for Cookie Swaps, Open Houses, or Just Because

Big batch brownies with milk
Photo: Marcus Nilsson

Bar cookies are a holiday favorite because they're easy to make and even easier to share. They can be cut into as many pieces as there are people, making them ideal for serving at a Christmas party or cookie swap.

The category includes our favorites—blondies and brownies—as well as many types of caramel nut bars, shortbread, and hermit bars. All can be enjoyed year-round, but we think they're particularly well suited to the holidays. We've gathered some of our best recipes in this collection—they will warm your home as you bake them, and delight family and friends as you serve them over the winter holidays.

01 of 17

Chocolate-Hazelnut Shortbread Squares

Sang An

Cocoa dusted and rich, with a crumbly shortbread base, this is really a truffle on a cookie—with a dash of Frangelico. They're sensible, yet also decadent.

02 of 17

Honey Blondies

James Ransom

Consider these blondies a sweet template; use the honey of your choice to add to their flavor profile: robust, woodsy, or delicately floral.

03 of 17

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Caramel Cereal Bars

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

This is a decadent, no-bake bar cookie you'll want to add to your Christmas cookie repertoire. It has a marshmallow-cereal base that's topped with an easy peanut-butter caramel and finished with melted chocolate.

04 of 17

Cherry Almond Brownies


These sophisticated brownies aren't for the kids. They've got coffee in the batter and are studded with dried sour cherries and toasted almonds for a rich, grown-up treat.

05 of 17

Macadamia-Maple Sticky Bars

macadamia maple bars
Victor Schrager

Made with macadamia nuts, maple syrup, and cream, these are special occasion bars. A rich, creamy caramel is poured over the simple press-in crust and baked.

06 of 17

Fruitcake Bars


A medley of dried fruits are steeped in warm brandy until they soften, before being stirred into this straightforward brown sugar batter. Once cooked and cooled, they are cut into diamond shapes—so much fancier and more festive than the usual square bar cookie.

07 of 17

Congo Bars


This is a very simple style of bar cookie, with a graham cracker crumb and melted butter base. Coconut and nuts are drizzled with caramel, which is the trickiest part of the recipe. Our recipe calls for macadamia nuts, but either walnuts or pecans would be a delicious substitute.

08 of 17

Big-Batch Triple-Chocolate Brownie Bars

Big batch brownies with milk
Marcus Nilsson

A larger-than-usual pan of brownies is a good solution to any cookie needs for a party or cookie swap, this generous recipe produces 54 treats. Plus it's a triple threat for chocolate lovers with dark cocoa powder, melted milk chocolate, and pieces of white chocolate.

09 of 17

Chocolate-Caramel Cookie Bars

holiday handbook 2011 cookie bar
Joseph De Leo

Looking for understated elegance in bar cookie form? Then try these treats with a glossy, chocolate caramel set on a shortbread crust. The finesse? A sprinkling of the best French sea salt, known as fleur du sel.

10 of 17

Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

snickerdoodle crumb bars
Alpha Smoot

Soft and cinnamon-dusted, snickerdoodles are a favorite old-fashioned American cookie. Bake a similar dough in a square pan, top it with crunchy crumbs, and the result is a newfangled, totally delicious treat.

11 of 17

White Chocolate-Gingerbread Blondies

gingerbread blondies
Victor Schraeger

What a gift these Christmassy blondies make. They're all spiced up and laden with white chocolate chunks.

12 of 17

Chocolate-Ginger Brownies

Chocolate-Ginger Brownies
Sang An

Classic gingerbread spices and freshly grated ginger make these moist and fudgy brownies just perfect for the winter holidays.

13 of 17

Citrus Bars

Lemon bars

Fresh lemon and lime makes these bars zesty and bright. They're also pretty wholesome: The press-in crust contains wheat germ for texture and flavor.

14 of 17

Lemon-Date Bars

Marcus Nilsson

The deep, mellow sweetness of dates is a brilliant foil for the intensity of a lemon bar. The dates are puréed and spread on the dough before being topped with a simple whisk-and-pour lemon filling.

15 of 17

Hermit Bars with Brown Sugar Icing and Candied Ginger


These hermit bars are all dressed up for the holidays. They are finished with brown-sugar icing and candied ginger and just right for a party.

16 of 17

Elizabeth's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

eggnog cheesecake bars

If you're an eggnog lover you'll go crazy for these bars, which are spiked with brandy. Nutmeg is grated on top just before serving—avoid using pre-ground nutmeg for this recipe, the freshness of the spice makes a world of difference.

17 of 17

Pretzel-Shortbread Bars


Here's a bar cookie for those who like their snacks both salty and sweet. But, wait—isn't that everyone? These fun treats are sure to be the hit of the party.

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