Recipes » Dessert Recipes » Graham Cracker Cookie Bars

Graham Cracker Cookie Bars

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5 from 8 votes
These Graham Cracker Cookie Bars are simple to make with chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, chopped nuts, and sweetened condensed milk.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Graham cracker cookie bars on a white serving plate.

These Graham Cracker Cookie Bars are simple to make with chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, chopped nuts, and sweetened condensed milk. Five ingredients, one bowl, one pan, and you’re done!

The holiday baking season is in full swing! I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate an easy, delicious recipe to add to my baking repertoire, and lately I’ve been on a cookie bar kick. Cookie bars are so easy to make and perfect for parties or just an afternoon treat.

Graham cracker cookie bars on a white serving plate.

This Graham Cracker Cookie Bars recipe is one that I’ve made many times and it never disappoints. Graham cracker crumbs paired with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and the secret ingredient, sweetened condensed milk, give these cookie bars their wonderful flavor and texture.

These cookie bars are Easy with a capital E! Dump everything into a bowl, mix it up, press it in a pan, and bake. You can’t get much simpler than that.

I always prefer bar cookies to any other kind because, to be honest, I’m a lazy baker. And the older I get, the less patience I have with fiddly things in the kitchen. Or anywhere else for that matter. I’ll take a dump and bake recipe any day over a mix, roll, refrigerate, and cut out recipe.

Another plus, in my opinion, is that this is an old – really old – cookie bar recipe. It has been around for as long as I can remember and I have no idea where it originated.

Dessert bars, or squares if you prefer, date back to the 1930s but that’s about all you can find out about them on the internet. Cookie bars specifically have appeared in dozens of community and church cookbooks over the years (always a good recommendation if you ask me) but their absolute origin is unknown.


  • It’s the perfect balance of chocolate, nuts and butterscotch
  • Super easy, no need to worry about being overly precise
  • Kids and adults love it great for big functions or get togethers

Equipment You’ll Need

All you need is a large mixing bowl and a glass 8- or 9-inch square baking dish. So not only is it easy to dump the ingredients and go, you have very little clean-up!

About the Ingredients

Photo of the ingredients used in the recipe.
  • Graham Cracker Crumbs (You can make your own – see instructions below – or purchase boxed graham cracker crumbs at the grocery store. I typically use Honey Maid brand.)
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and Butterscotch Chips (Be sure to purchase a high quality brand of chips.)
  • Chopped Nuts (Either pecans or walnuts. Actually cashews would probably be great in this recipe as well.)
  • Condensed Milk (My preference is Eagle Brand)

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Preliminary Steps

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Very heavily butter or grease a square pan. Either an 8- or 9-inch pan works fine for this.

Mix the Ingredients

All ingredients in a mixing bowl.
STEP 1,

STEP 1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to thoroughly combine everything. Make sure you get a nice, homogenous mixture.

No need to worry about keeping the wet and dry ingredients separate before mixing them. Another reason I love this recipe!

COOK’S TIP 
If you’d like to make the graham cracker crumbs yourself, you’ll need a 14.4 ounce box of graham crackers. Place the crackers in a food processor and pulse until they’re finely ground. Or, place the crackers in a large ziptop bag and use a wooden rolling pin or your hands to break them into a fine texture.

Press Into a Pan

STEP 2. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and pop it in the oven.

COOK’S TIP 
Press the mixture into the baking dish using a rubber spatula or your clean, well-buttered hands.

Bake

Baked cookie bars in a baking pan.
STEP 3.

STEP 3. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 45 minutes on a wire baking rack.

Cut Into Squares

Cookies cut into squares and dusted with powdered sugar.

STEP 4. Cut into 1 1/2″ squares. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

COOK’S TIP 
The bars are easiest to cut with a sharp serrated knife.

Graham cracker cookie bars on a white serving plate.

Storage

Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last for 4-5 days at room temperature. To extend the shelf-life, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week (let them come to room temp before serving) or even freeze them, well wrapped, for a month.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of nuts should I use in this recipe?

I’ve always used either pecans or walnuts in graham cracker cookie bars. I think cashews, almonds, or pistachios would also be great.

Can I use milk chocolate or white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet?

If you prefer to use milk or white chocolate chips you can. However, be aware that they will give you a much sweeter end product. The semi-sweet chips keep it from getting into the cloyingly sweet range.

Where can I find graham cracker crumbs?

You’ll find graham cracker crumbs in the baking section at your grocery store. Honey Maid and Keebler both sell them.

Do I have to use sweetened condensed milk?

You do have to use sweetened condensed milk. You can make a homemade version if you’d like. Or use a homemade vegan alternative.

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Recipe

Graham cracker cookie bars on a white serving plate.

Graham Cookie Bars

These Graham Cracker Cookie Bars are simple to make with chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, chopped nuts, and sweetened condensed milk.
5 from 8 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 36 bars
Calories: 119kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Pinch of salt
  • 14 ounces condensed milk (recommend: Eagle Brand)
  • Powdered sugar optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Heavily butter an 8 or 9-inch square pan. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Press mixture into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a rack for 45 minutes.
  • Cut into 1 1/2” squares. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • You can make your own graham cracker crumbs (see instructions below) or purchase boxed graham cracker crumbs at the grocery store. I typically use Honey Maid brand.
  • Be sure to purchase a high quality brand of chocolate and butterscotch chips.
  • Choose your favorite nuts for this recipe. I typically use pecans or walnuts. However, you could easily use cashews, pistachios, or almonds.
Tips:
  • If you’d like to make the graham cracker crumbs yourself, you’ll need a 14.4 ounce box of graham crackers. Place the crackers in a food processor and pulse until they’re finely ground. Or, place the crackers in a large ziptop bag and use a wooden rolling pin or your hands to break them into a fine texture.
  • Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They should last for 4-5 days at room temperature. To extend the shelf-life, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week (let them come to room temp before serving) or even freeze them, well wrapped, for a month.
  • You’ll find graham cracker crumbs in the baking section at your grocery store. Honey Maid and Keebler both sell them.
  • You do have to use sweetened condensed milk for this recipe. You can make your own homemade version if you’d like. Or use a homemade vegan alternative.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2 | Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 37IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




29 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These were so easy to make and they disappeared in no time. I like quick recipes that are different and not overly sweet, but super yummy!

  2. 5 stars
    I made these tonight after work because I really wanted a cookie but didn’t have energy to make them. These were so good and so easy!! I still can’t believe how few ingredients and how simple the recipe is. This will be my go to!!

  3. I cut a recipe out of a woman’s magazine in the late 1960’s, which was for Butterscotch Fudgies.
    I’ve made it every Christmas ever since, and my children, who have all now reached their fifties, gave them the name Candy Cake because they loved them so much.
    I still have that original clipping but of course the recipe is now on cards and copies have been handed down to my daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughters.
    This is that recipe. Searching for it brought up many others with some of the same ingredients but only yours is exactly the same as the one I make. It’s delicious and keeps for ages in a cookie tin on parchment paper.

    1. Isn’t that funny! I’ve had that recipes for ages but don’t remember where it came from. I agree – it’s so very good.

  4. I too confess. I do not like to make cookies. All that repetitive work drives me crazy. That’s why these bar cookies are right up my alley. Can’t wait to make them.

    Miss P

  5. I am so excited to come across this recipe! It takes me back to my earliest days in the kitchen learning to cook. Standing on a chair with a rolling pin crushing graham crackers and mixing in the condensed milk…hard work for a three year old! But so satisfying. These cookies were also my first solo cooking project. Need I say that this was Mother’s go to cookie recipe? I’ve thought of these cookies a lot over the years, but never could remember the proportions. So, thank you Lana, for the trip down memory lane. I now have a (partial) container of yummy cookies in my kitchen, and yes, they taste exactly the same as they did in the fifties….delicious!!!

  6. Oh my, how did I miss this post??? Those cookie bars look seriously to die for, and I need one now:-) YUM, Hugs, Terra

  7. This recipe is worth to be kept and used over and over again. It is really good and the kids love it. They even prefer to eat this for breakfast. There is a reason why this recipe remains loved and that is because it is truly delicious.

  8. 3 things:

    I, like you, am a lazy baker and hate time-consuming cookies which is why I love bars.

    I love love old recipes; those that have been around forever and are still favorites are obviously the best.

    I normally shun recipes on blogs that are made from pre-made cookies, candy and such but wow I love these! I love the flavors and I love the way they look – they promise all my favorite childhood flavors in one bite. Yay and this is bookmarked! Thanks, Lana!

  9. Thank you for the feed bac and corrections. The sweetened condensed milk seems more like the answer and the can size matches the recipe amount. Thank you for the help. I also used cinnamon chips in place of butterscotch and liked the taste.

  10. I made these bars. Mine can out soupy instead od pressing into pan it poured in. 14 oz is now more than a can? They keep changing quanity sizes on products which are confusing. The recipes are sometimes harder to follow. So I guess asking that the 14 quite might be to much? I used a 8×8 pan. I am not a newer cook 71 years young and still love to cook and hope to continue for quite a while. These bars were good but still soupy even after baking a good 10 minutes longer. Thank you for the blog. Get a lot of good ideas.

  11. Lana, there used to be a print button for your recipes can’t seem to find it and when Iprint I get a big page of stuff? help!

    1. Rhonda – I’m working on getting the print thing corrected. I’ll email you a copy of the recipe and you can print from that.

  12. I hear you on keeping this as simple and unfussy as possible in the kitchen––especially this time of year! We’re celebrating our favorite traditional holiday recipes this month on the Shine Supper Club, and this would be a perfect contribution. I hope you’ll join us!

  13. You know how much I love the ‘old’ stuff…some of my best recipes are from cookbooks that I treasure that would probably be considered ‘antiques’ or were simply passed word of mouth from neighbor to neighbor. How could graham and chocolate AND butterscotch ever be wrong…sounds divine!

    1. Me too, Barb! Many times the ‘old’ stuff is the ‘best’ stuff. And, no…graham, chocolate, and butterscotch are never, ever wrong!

      1. Thanks Lana for fixing this. I plan to make these for Xmas gift giving.
        They sound so tasty!

      2. Phyllis – since you said that you’d be making these for gift giving, I wanted to let you know that there was an error in the recipe. Please visit the post again and get the corrected ingredient list. My apologies!