Our Best Dessert Bars
Want to make a dessert even better, or just put a fun, hands-friendly spin on it? Turn that treat into a bar, the ultimate dessert hybrid that transforms even the most majestic pies and cheesecakes into approachable cookies. We've compiled our best dessert bars, from lemon bars to crumble bars and everything in between.
Grapefruit-Campari Bars with Shortbread Crust
This grown-up treat embraces the bitterness in both grapefruit and Campari, balancing the flavor with a rich, buttery shortbread crust.
Girl Scout Cookie Layer Bars
Why pick one Girl Scout Cookie when you can have them all… in one epic dessert bar. This decadent amalgamation of Girl Scout Cookies—featuring Trefoils, Samoas, Do-si-dos, and Tagalongs—is the perfect recipe for anyone who simply can’t say no to any scout who asks. Go ahead; generosity earns you extra indulgence points, everyone knows that.
Unicorn Snack Bars
These sweet unicorn treats are adorable enough to serve at a birthday party, but easy enough to throw together for after-school snacks during the week. Adding almonds and apple chips into the mix make these snack bars more substantial and flavorful than a plain rice cereal treat, but these ingredients are easily swapped to accommodate your favorite mix-ins or nut allergies. We added a touch of food coloring to give the bars a cheerful pink hue, but it’s A-OK to leave it out if you would prefer.
Blackberry-Peach Cobbler Bars
Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Two pantry staples—ground cinnamon and ginger—give the traditional pecan pie filling an unexpected and flavorful twist. For an impressive dessert, serve each bar on a plate with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Or just enjoy them right out of the pan!
Raspberry Crumble Bars
Gooey and crumbly bars are the perfect snack. To give these dessert bars an extra-thick layer of fruit, we added berries to the mixture. Fresh or frozen berries will work equally fine in this recipe. For the neatest squares, cool the bars completely before cutting—or refrigerate up to two hours.
Chocolate Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars
Your favorite candy can also be your favorite bar. These Chocolate Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars are perfect for bake sales, Valentine's Day, and a regular Tuesday night. Allow enough time for the top layer of melted chocolate to firm up before slicing these triple-decker bars. Leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator up to three days, perfect for drop-in guests or last-minute dinner parties.
Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars
Coconut milk adds a hint of tropical flavor to these delightfully tangy bars. From bake sales to bridal showers, these bars are perfect for entertaining. For the smoothest filling, whisk together the dry ingredients, and then stir in the wet ingredients until smooth. This will prevent tiny lumps of flour from forming.
Cappuccino Swirl Bars
Raspberry-Rosemary Jam Bars
Using fresh raspberries and making your own jam is actually pretty easy, and gives you a lot more control over the sugar content, which makes these desserts healthier, but also keeps them from being cloying or overly sweet. The real genius is in the rosemary, which adds a surprising adult twist on the taste—and will have guests asking you for the recipe.
Mixed Citrus Bars
Classic lemon bars are given an even brighter citrus makeover. Choose your favorite flavor of citrus curd to make these vibrant bar cookies: Lime Bars, Orange Bars, and Grapefruit Bars. Top the bars with a dusting of powdered sugar. This recipe takes about 15 minutes of hands-on time and an hour and 25 minutes total time and will result in about 2 dozen bars.
Butternut-Nut Butter Bars
If zucchini and pumpkin can make a name for themselves in the dessert realm—why not butternut squash? These gluten-free cookie bars pack an impressive level of toasty, fall flavor into every bite thanks to a combination of nutty brown butter, roasted butternut squash, nut butter, and a downright addictive creamy cashew butter-cream cheese icing (seriously, you’re gonna wanna spread this on everything—make a double batch) that’s elevated with a crunchy topper of toasted pepitas and cashews. We opt for rice flour over all-purpose because this gluten-free alternative can better absorb moisture from the squash to yield a delightfully tender—not wet or overtly cakey—texture. While roasting fresh squash contributes a depth of caramelized flavor you really don’t want to miss out on, you can find canned butternut squash in some supermarkets and online if you need a speedier swap; in fact, you could even use canned pumpkin in place of the pureed squash. In short, these brown butter butternut blondies will give every bit of convincing you may need need to believe that golden, sweet butternut squash deserves a spot on the holiday dessert table as much as any pumpkin-based treat.
4-Ingredient No-Bake Funfetti Breakfast Bars
You don’t need permission to eat cake for breakfast. You’re an adult who deserves to treat yo' self occasionally (and your kids—if you have any—just because they love sugar and they’re cute sometimes). Think of these breakfast bars as a no-bake cheesecake that doubles as breakfast and dessert, so you can have the best of both worlds. Prepare the no-bake breakfast bars before bed and you’re all set for sweet indulgence when you wake up. Of course, because this is a funfetti recipe, sprinkles are involved. And sure, these kid-friendly funfetti breakfast bars get a bit messy, but that’s half the fun.
No-Bake Funfetti Breakfast Bars
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bugle Bars
Creamy, crunchy, rich, salty, and sweet all at the same time—these no-bake, chocolate-peanut butter bars are everything. Crisp crushed Bugles (one of our staffs’ junk food favorites) make for an fun and amazingly delicious twist on a typical crumb crust. They lend the perfect hit of salty, crispy, buttery goodness in the base of this cookie bar, and topping the assembled bars with a another handful of the the whole chips is a playful touch that lets folks know what’s in store when they bite into this salty-sweet situation. These decadent cookie bars were a huge hit in the test kitchen, and recipe developer Ivy Odom notes that they would be “perfect for tailgates, school parties, or for eating in front of the TV, with wine and the rest of the bag of Bugles, after a long day at work.”
Sheet Pan Oatmeal Toffee-Orange Cream Bars
These toasty-sweet, sheet pan sandwich cookies are fantastic for potlucks or tailgates—heck, whip a batch up on the weekend and enjoy for after-school snacks or dessert throughout the week. Toffee bits and cinnamon kick up the flavor of a traditional oatmeal cookie, while adding fresh orange zest to the filling adds a special touch or bright flavor to these tasty bars. Be sure the cookie is completely cool (out of the pan) before cutting it, or it will crumble. And to ensure a smooth cut, you’ll want to chill the filled cookie really well before slicing into bars.
Red, White, and Blue Cheesecake Bars
Want to be the star of the summer potluck? Make a batch of these crowd-pleasing cookie bars up to two days in advance.
Junk Food Cookie Bars
The next time you're at the end of an exceptionally rough week, we'd definitely recommend whipping up a batch of these kitchen sink cookie bars. The perfect decadent balance of salty and sweet, these chewy treats are here to satisfy all junk food cravings. We loaded them up with peanut butter, chocolate chips, pretzels, Oreos, potato chips, and M&M’s, but feel free to experiment with swapping in some of your favorite snacks and flavors.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie Bars
They’re everything you love about a classic PB&J sandwich, but in cookie form (i.e. way better). These peanut butter and jelly bars feature a chewy peanut butter cookie layer, topped with a sweet-tart jammy layer, and finished off with a crunchy peanut butter streusel. While they would make for a perfect lunchbox treat to send with your kiddos (particularly if you’re not already packing them a PB&J sandwich), these nostalgic, deliciously balanced cookie bars are also a huge hit with the grown-up crowd. Pack them up for your next tailgate or potluck, and ready yourself for rave reviews. We went with grape jam for our bars, but feel free to use your favorite flavor instead.
Classic Tangy Lemon Bars
These lemon bars are straight-up puckery perfection. We mix the filling together just before the crust comes out of the oven and then pour it onto the hot crust so that it sets quickly.
Cranberry Shortbread Bars
Freeze the shortbread dough, and then grate it in a food processor to get the most tender crust.
No-Bake Fudgy Toffee Bars
These gooey bars will be your new favorite no-bake cookie. Serve chilled for less mess.
Miss Margaret's Magical Graham Bars
Margaret Smith is my grandmother's dear friend from Kingstree, South Carolina.
Raspberry-White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
Cherry Pie Bars
A classic cherry dessert is baked into a crowd-pleasing, more portable treat. Make and store these bars, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to three days.
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain 36g sugar per piece. We put a puckery cheesecake spin on ours--cutting sugar to just 6g per bar--which allows the bright citrus to shine.
Salted Macadamia-White Chocolate Bars
If you like macadamia nut cookies, you'll love these white chocolate-macadamia bars.
Hello Dolly Bars
Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust
Fresh ginger in the cookie crust really kicks up the flavor.