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These classic seven layer bars are an easy treat everyone loves! With seven distinct layers, these little bars pack BIG flavor and texture — and best of all, they only take a few minutes to put together.
You’ll love these 7 Layer Bars
Old-fashioned seven layer bars go by many names: Magic bars, Hello Dolly bars, Magic cookie bars, 7 Layer cookies, and many more. No matter what you call them, chances are you’ve tasted these classic bar cookies at some point–they’re a time-honored favorite at picnics, potlucks, and holiday celebrations.
As the name suggests, these cookies have seven layers, although that makes them sound much more complicated than they are! There are many variations out there, but my preferred seven layers are:
- Graham cracker crumb base
- Chocolate chips
- White chocolate chips
- Butterscotch chips
- Toasted coconut
- Sweetened condensed milk
Simple, right? You know things are easy when we’re counting three different kinds of baking chips as three unique layers!
🧾 What You’ll Need
To make these seven layer bars, you’ll want to pick up the following ingredients. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)
- Sweetened flaked coconut: You can use either unsweetened or sweetened coconut. I prefer sweetened, since the sugar helps it crisp up and gives the bars a terrific crunchy texture.
- Graham crackers: Like many good bar cookies, the base starts with a delicious graham cracker crust. The graham crackers should be in very fine crumbs, so you’ll either want to use a food processor to make the crumbs, or buy a box of graham crumbs instead.
- Walnuts:I love the buttery crunch that toasted walnuts add, but pecans are also a good choice.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips: What would cookie bars be without delicious chocolate chips? I recommend using either semi-sweet or dark chocolate; milk chocolate adds too much sugar to an already very sweet bar.
- White chocolate chips: The vanilla flavor of white chocolate chips is a good counterbalance to the dark chocolate.
- Butterscotch chips: Butterscotch chips can be found next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. No butterscotch? No problem! Swap in peanut butter chips or salted caramel chips instead.
- Sweetened condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk is the “magic” in these magic cookie bars. It’s poured over the top of all of the ingredients, and during the baking process, it sinks into the layers and binds everything together. Be sure you’re buying sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk–they’re often sold next to each other and the cans look similar, but only condensed milk will work in this recipe.
Good news–not much special equipment needed here!
- 9×9 pan: I love to make my bars in a 9×9 pan, so they’re wonderfully thick, but you can use a 9×13″ pan if you want thinner bars.
How to Toast Coconut
My seven layer bars recipe starts with toasted coconut. This is an optional step, and not one that’s included in most other recipes. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip it and still make amazing bars.
However, if you have the time, I highly recommend giving it a try. I toast the coconut because it deepens the coconut flavor and adds a wonderful caramelized crunch to the bars. If you’re game, here’s what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F, and spread the coconut out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake the coconut for about 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. It’s important to keep an eye on it and stir frequently, so it bakes evenly. When it’s a light golden color all over, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
How to Make the Graham Cracker Crust
- Place the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl. Melt the butter, and pour it over the crumbs.
- Stir the graham mixture until the butter is evenly distributed, and the crumbs have the texture of wet sand.
How to Assemble the 7 Layer Bars
It’s time to create some magic of our own! Here’s how these seven layer magic bars come together:
- Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of a 9×9-inch pan.
- Sprinkle the walnuts on top.
- Add a generous layer of chocolate chips.
- Cover with white chocolate chips.
- Next, butterscotch chips. You know the drill!
- Cover with the toasted coconut.
- Pour the condensed milk evenly over the entire dish. Don’t worry if you miss a few spots–it will spread throughout the dish as the bars bake.
- Bake until the top is browned and the sides are bubbling, about 30-35 minutes.
You can always try a few fun twists on these bars! Here’s a few suggestions to get started with:
- For peanut butter lovers: Try subbing peanuts for walnuts, and Reese-s Pieces and PB chips for the white and butterscotch chips. Instead of coconut, consider using crushed pretzels to really hit those sweet and salty spots.
- For candy lovers: take inspiration from monster cookies, and swap in M&Ms, toasted oats, and pecan halves.
- For Oreo lovers: use Oreo crumbs in the crust, or take it even further by lining the bottom of the pan with Oreo halves. This version is delicious with marshmallows, chocolate, white chocolate, and crumbled Oreos on top.
💡 Tips and FAQs
What if I don’t like nuts?
You certainly don’t have to use them! If you prefer, replace them with candy, crushed pretzels, or even potato chips.
Can 7 layer bars be made gluten-free?
Absolutely! Just pick up some gluten free graham crackers for your crust! Also be sure you’re checking labels on the chips and coconut for cross-contamination during processing.
Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions
I find the easiest way to freeze these cookie bars is to slice them into the pieces, then place them into a freezer safe zip-top bag. Freeze them for up to 3 months for the best flavor and consistency.
When you’re ready to enjoy, just thaw the bars overnight at room temperature (or in the refrigerator).
❤️ More Cookie Bars You’ll Love
- Dude Food Magic Bars
- Salted Honey Walnut Bars
- Twix Kat Candy Bars
- Cookies and Cream Oreo Bars
- The Best Coconut Brownies
Seven Layer Bars
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch pan with foil or parchment, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Toasting the coconut is an optional step, but I like the crunch and deep flavor it adds. To toast the coconut, spread it out on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake it for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes so it cooks evenly. When it is a light golden color all over, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
- Crush the graham crackers into small crumbs. You can either use a food processor, or put them in a zip-top bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are in fine crumbs.
- Melt the butter in the microwave. Mix the butter with the graham cracker crumbs, and stir everything together until it is the texture of wet sand.
- Press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Now it's time to layer! Sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over the graham cracker crust. Next, sprinkle most of the chocolate chips, reserving just a spoonful for later.
- Add the white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips next, reserving a few of these as well. Add the toasted coconut and spread it all over the top. Next, take those reserved chips and scatter them on top of the coconut–this just makes the bars look a little better, in my opinion.
- Finally, pour the sweetened condensed milk all over the top of the bars. Try to pour it evenly, but don't worry if there are a few missed spots or it doesn't seem to be seeping in–it will all even out as it bakes.
- Bake the seven layer bars until the top is golden and you see the milk bubbling along the sides, about 30-35 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut them into small squares to serve.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
About Elizabeth LaBau
I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media: