How to Make Magic Bars + Twists on the Classic Recipe

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Whether you call them magic bars, seven-layer bars or Hello Dolly bars, we know that this super simple dessert is always a hit.

Many of us bakers have a few go-to recipes that satisfy every time. Maybe that’s a batch of fudgy brownies, a pan of cookie brittle or a loaf of banana bread. Classics like these always hit the spot.

Another must-have recipe that always leaves you with an empty pan: magic bars. These easy-to-make bars are chewy, nutty and chocolaty. There’s something for everyone with this treat.

And the best part about these bars? They are easy. You don’t even need a mixing bowl. So what are you waiting for! Grab some chocolate chips and get started.

How to Make Easy Magic Bars

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You may hear these bars called seven-layer bars, magic cookie bars or even Hello Dolly bars. No matter what you call ’em, we know that this recipe from reader Pauline Schrag is sure to hit the spot. Here’s what you need to make them:

Easy Magic Bar Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Test Kitchen-Recommended Tools

  • 9×9 baking panThis recipe calls for a 9×9 square pan. We like this nonstick option from OXO.
  • Measuring cups: You’ll use these magnetic measuring cups for more than portioning ingredients in this recipe. The flat bottom will help you get an even crust.
  • Wire cooling rackThese bars have to cool for a good while. Make sure you’ve got a cooling rack on hand.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the crust

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You can skip the mixing bowl for this recipe! Add the melted butter right to the square baking pan. Then sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs right on top.

Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup or glass to press the crumbs to form a flat, even crust. Bakers, you know this one! It’s exactly how you’d make a graham cracker pie crust.

Step 2: Layer on the Ingredients

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After making a good base for your magic bars, it’s time to layer on all those delicious ingredients. Sprinkle the shredded coconut evenly over the crust, followed by the chocolate chips.

Then add the nuts. You can use any type of nut in this recipe or a mix of your favorites. For extra crunch and a richer flavor, toast the nuts first. This will take just a few minutes in a nonstick skillet and will add plenty of flavor.

Step 3: Drizzle

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All that’s left to do is drizzle on a can of sweetened condensed milk. Open the top and pour over the pan as evenly as you can. No need to mix or spread here! Just let the milk settle into all the other ingredients.

Step 4: Bake

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Pop the pan into a 350ºF oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Once baked, let the magic bars cool on a wire rack for several hours. You’ll want them at room temperature before slicing. Eat these bars within a few days or wrap them tightly and store them in the freezer for two months.

Magic Cookie Bar Variations

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Besides being incredibly simple to make, magic bars are easy to customize to your taste. Everything from the graham cracker crumbs to the chocolate to the condensed milk can be swapped out to make an entirely new magic cookie bar.

  • Crumbs: Use any type of graham cracker crumb you like in magic bar recipes. You can also use different cookie crumbs—think gingersnaps or chocolate wafers. Even saltines and crushed pretzels work. If you can make a crumb pie crust from it, you can use it in this recipe.
  • Nuts: Any type of nut will work in magic bar recipes.
  • Baking chips: Semi-sweet chocolate chips are the most common chocolate chips used in baking—this recipe for magic bars included. But you can easily swap out the semi-sweet chips in this recipe for white chips, dark chocolate chips or even peanut butter chips. Any baking chip—or blend of baking chips—would be welcome.
  • Dried fruit: Incorporate a handful or two of any dried fruit to a magic bar recipe. Chocolate, dried cherry and coconut especially are a match made in heaven.
  • Condensed milk: A can of sweetened condensed milk is a must in any magic bar recipe, but you can change this ingredient up if you’d like. Use sweetened condensed coconut milk (an easy way to make this recipe vegan-friendly) or even dulce de leche.
  • Toppings: If you want to add a little extra to your magic bars, try a topping. Melt a bit of chocolate or Nutella and drizzle it on top.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.