When I was growing up, my mom’s go-to dessert was always brownies—the fudgy kind, like what you’d make with this 5-star recipe. Whether it was for a school function, family party or quick gift to the neighbors, brownies were the answer.
Now, baking up a from-scratch batch of brownies (or lemon bars…or cheesecake bars) is as easy as reaching for the boxed stuff, thanks to Taste of Home’s bounty of recipes, baking techniques, Test Kitchen secrets and more. Keep reading for the insight that will make your next batch of dessert bars the best you’ve ever made.
Classic Dessert Bar Recipes
If your recipe book is in need of some dependable dessert bar recipes, look no further. Each bite of our most iconic brownies and bars will take you right back to your childhood.
- Potluck brownies: Our party-perfect brownie recipes serve 12 or more.
- Peanut butter brownies: What’s better than chocolate and peanut butter? These PB-packed brownie recipes are simply indulgent.
- Fruity bars: Check out these fruit-filled dessert bars that are perfect for that sweet craving.
- Cookie bars: Slice and share these irresistible bars inspired by your favorite cookies.
- Cream cheese bars: Rich and creamy, these dreamy bars will have you going back for seconds.
- No-bake bars: When it’s too hot to cook, these dessert bar recipes will save the day.
Mastered the basics? Here’s are our picks for what to make next:
Dessert Bar Baking Tips
Get your bar baking technique down to a science with must-have tips from our staffers. You’ll practically be able to make a batch in your sleep!
The Gear You Need to Start Baking Dessert Bars
Still using a pan from the ’90s? Update your baking arsenal with the same tools and supplies that our Test Kitchen reaches for.
- Invest in a quality spatula: Slice and serve with our Test Kitchen’s fave spatula from Fox Run ($8).
- Stock up on the essentials: If your baking skills don’t stop at brownies, make sure you check out our Test Kitchen’s recommendations for general baking gear and gadgets. These tools will help for cakes, cookies, pies and more.
- Take a cheat day: If you can’t stay away from store-bought, try the brand of brownie mix our editors liked the most in a blind taste test.
Dessert Bar FAQs
There’s so much more to know about this go-to potluck dessert. Check out our answers to some of the most common questions.
Q: Is baking powder necessary for brownies?
A: Nope! Baking powder is a leavening agent. This means that when you add it to your brownie mix, it’ll produce a fluffier, more cake-like texture—kind of like these moist cake brownies. For more fudgy brownies, like these peanut butter marshmallow layered brownies, the baking powder is omitted to prevent the batter from getting puffed up.
Learn about the difference between baking powder and baking soda (because there is one).
Q: How do you know when a cookie bar is done?
A: Your bars should be set and slightly browned. Insert a toothpick in the center of the bars; if it comes out clean, they’re ready to be removed from the oven.
Q: Why aren’t my brownies cooked?
A: There are a few reasons your brownies might have not baked within the time listed on the recipe. The first could be that your oven isn’t getting up to the temperature you’re setting it to. Luckily, we have a handy guide for recalibrating your oven’s temp (and it’s really easy).
Another reason could be that you’ve used the wrong pan for the recipe. Glass pans take longer to heat up and cool down, so a good amount of heat may not reach the center of your batter, resulting in undercooked brownies. It’s best to use a dull, aluminum baking pan when baking these treats.
Over the years we’ve had many readers ask about the best pan for baking brownies, so we went ahead and developed a line that’ll help your desserts bake to perfection every time. Check out our 5-piece bakeware set.
Q: How many bars does a 13×9 pan hold?
A: About two dozen—but it really depends on how you large or small you cut the dessert. Take a look at our tips for cutting dessert bars like a pro (and know how many you’ll end up with).
Bake These Next
Don’t stop at brownies and bars! Take a look at some of our other party-ready desserts.