Test Kitchen tips for even cuts every time.

Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Thom Driver; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey

When cookies seem too casual and layer cakes feel too fancy, dessert bars and brownies stand in the gap, delivering surprising flavors in portable packaging. For generations of bakers, these handheld treats have been the go-to choice for bridal showers, birthday parties, potlucks, or any other celebratory gatherings. Why do we love them? Let us count the ways: They can be made ahead of time, baked and served out of one pan, and transported with ease. Plus, they’re great for feeding a crowd.

Serving up impressive bars and brownies can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Not sure how to cut brownies and bars? Follow these tips and your guests will be impressed.

Line the Pan

Before baking, cover the pan with aluminum foil. Make sure to leave about a 3-inch overhang on two sides, which you can use as handles to lift the bars once they have baked.

Cool Completely

It’s tempting to cut (and eat) the bars as soon as they come out of the oven, but the longer they cool, the neater your slices will be. Speed up the process by refrigerating them for two hours.

WATCH: No-Bake Fudgy Toffee Bars

Use a Ruler

For the most precise results, measure the bars with a ruler and use a toothpick (or tip of a knife) to make small marks where you’ll slice. This is especially helpful if you need an exact number of treats.

Spray the Blade

A chef’s knife is the best tool for slicing bar cookies. Before you cut, coat the blade with cooking spray and wipe it clean with a paper towel. Repeat this process between slices if the bars are extra gooey.

Slice Right

When it’s time to cut, press the blade of the knife down firmly, and then drag it back in a single motion. Moving the blade back and forth (like a saw) creates jagged edges.