This old-school layered dessert has been a mainstay at Southern gatherings for decades, so you might recognize them from Grandma’s kitchen. One Test Kitchen Professional said these Magic Cookie Bars were “gooey, slightly crunchy, and melt-in-your-mouth, chocolate-coconut heaven.” A sprinkle of sea salt is the perfect finishing touch on this sweet dessert, as it keeps it from becoming overly sweet and adds a nice complexity of flavor your guests might not expect. With about 25 minutes in the oven, the edges of these bars caramelize just right, adding a nice crunch to contrast with the gooey center. Plus, this simple dessert is easily customizable with what you have on hand or to fit your taste preferences. Swap walnuts for pecans, white or dark chocolate for bittersweet chocolate chips, and dulce de leche for sweetened condensed milk for a stronger caramel flavor. Since this Magic Cookie Bars recipe makes 16 bars, it’s great for feeding a crowd at the church potluck or school bake sale. Even though the kids will adore these old-fashioned Magic Cookie Bars, we can’t wait to curl up with a cup of coffee and enjoy one ourselves.

Southern Living


Credit: Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

Recipe Summary test

15 mins
1 hr 40 mins
16 cookie bars (serving size: 1 bar)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.

  • Using a fork, stir together crumbs, melted butter, and salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, and gently press to form a flat layer. Sprinkle chocolate chips and butterscotch chips over crust. Top with coconut and pecans, and drizzle sweetened condensed milk over top.

  • Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned around the edges and top, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with sea salt, and cut into 16 bars.