These scrumptious Magic Cookie Bars are chocolatey, crumbly goodness topped with chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, and sweetened condensed milk.
If you’ve never had Magic Cookie Bars before, you’re in for a serious treat. This is the recipe my grandmother always used to make Magic Cookie Bars, which she lifted off the back of a can of sweetened condensed milk by Eagle Brand, with the exception of a few key elements.
In this recipe, we use shortbread cookies as the crust and we add a swirl of caramel syrup on top, because why not.
There’s something special about the combination of chocolate, butter cookies, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk that you’d never know until you try this. The way these ingredients meld together and become chewy gooey deliciousness is just a thing of beauty.
The top of these magic bars is like a macaroon with sticky coconut that melts in the mouth, but it really reminds me of a Samoa girls scout cookie on steroids. It’s the perfect blend of textures and flavors.
How To Make Magic Cookie Bars
Preheat the oven to 350 F or 175 C (325 F and 160 C for glass pans). I use a glass 13″ by 9″ pan and the cookies turn out just the right thickness. You could make them in an 8×8 pan, but they’ll be a bit thicker. There’s no need to grease the bottom of the pan.
Crumble the shortbread cookies in a food processor until very fine. I use shortbread cookies because I like the buttery flavor better than graham crackers, and I think it forms a more sturdy base. You can use graham crackers instead, if you want.
Combine the cookies with the butter, stirring until the mixture is wet and pebbly. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 baking dish and press it down to form a compacted crust.
When opening your sweetened condensed milk, I suggest using the pokey end of a bottle opener to make an indention in one side of the can, and a similar indention in the other side.
This will create a sort of pour spout that helps you drizzle the milk onto the cookie base. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top of the cookies. There’s no need to smooth it out. It’ll do that on its own.
Add on the semi-sweet chocolate chips, followed by the flaked coconut, and chopped nuts. Press down on the top of the bars gently to compact it. I just use my hand to press it down lightly.
Then you can drizzle on the caramel syrup. I use Carnation Dulce de Leche caramel. You could also use a canned caramel by Carnation. As long as it’s a thick caramel syrup, it’s fine. Don’t use a liquidy caramel syrup that you’d put in your coffee. That’s not the right type of caramel.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the coconut is lightly browned on top. You might be tempted to take it out too early, when the coconut just starts to get golden, but leave it in a bit longer. It takes longer to really meld together and caramelize the condensed milk than you might think. If you take it out too early, the topping might fall off easily. That’s how you know it’s not done yet.
Cool the magic cookie bars completely before cutting into bars and serving. If you don’t wait long enough, the chocolate and caramel will be too gooey and the bars will fall apart. Cookie bars are a great way to make a big pan of dessert in a short time. You might try these scotcheroo bars that are full of peanut butter and butterscotch.
Tips For Making Magic Cookie Bars
- Use pecans or another type of nut that you like, if you don’t have walnuts.
- If you’re allergic to nuts, or simply don’t like them, they can be taken out of this recipe. So can the coconut if you’re not a fan. Some other things you could include instead is oats, little chunks of caramel, or marshmallows. This recipe is highly versatile and won’t hurt if you take a couple ingredients out.
- These cookies are great for freezing. Completely bake them, then slice/cut them in your preferred fashion. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and then seal them altogether in an airtight freezer bag. They’ll keep for a couple months in the freezer before losing their flavor. To thaw, set them out on the counter for a few hours. You can eat them once they’re thawed, or heat them up from thawed – which is my method for getting the chocolate nice and gooey again.
You Might Also Like
- Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle
- Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies
- No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake
- Red Velvet Truffles
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Magic Cookie Bars
- 1 1/2 cup graham cracker or cookie crumbs
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tbsp caramel syrup (not liquid syrup)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C (325 F or 160 C for glass baking dish).
- Crumble the shortbread cookies or graham crackers in a food processor until very fine. Combine it with the butter, stirring until the cookies are wet and pebbly.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9X13 baking dish and press it down to form a compacted crust.
- Pour sweetened condensed milk over graham cracker crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients and press down gently. Drizzle on the caramel syrup.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
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Jillian Morris is the resident baker for A Food Lover’s Kitchen. She started baking when she was very little and found she had a great passion for it. She is a high-schooler in a small town in Oregon, where she enjoys music, writing, and baking in her spare time.