Our Best Bar Cookies
Scrumptious Seven-Layer Cookies
These rich bar cookies star among the sweets at Stafford's Bay View Inn in Petoskey, Michigan. Mix and match among your favorite treats for some of the layers to create a dessert that's just right for your family.
Peanut Butter Chip and Jelly Bars
Connie Seigel bakes these bars to take to a Wisconsin library where Karen Grochowski organizes the packing and shipping of these and other cookies. They're sent to soldiers overseas who yearn for a taste of home.
Buttermilk Banana Bars
These moist snack bars with creamy frosting taste a lot like banana bread, but in bite-size portions. The recipe is from a Wyoming, Michigan, reader.
Cranberry Candy-Bar Cookies
These gooey bar cookies start with a German chocolate cake mix. Melted caramels and cranberry sauce form a moist middle layer.
Caramel and Chocolate Kettle-Corn Crispie Bars
These bars, from Judy Reynolds of Bloomington, Indiana, won the grand prize of $10,000 in Midwest Living's first Best of the Midwest cook-off. Judy started with a Hoosier staple--popcorn--and stirred together these sweet-salty snack bars. Homemade caramel sauce helps makes them a standout.
Maple Nutty Candy
These bar cookies combine four winning flavors: peanut butter, maple, butterscotch and chocolate. The easy recipe, from a Wabash, Indiana, reader, makes about 6 pounds of bar candy. We suggest freezing the bars and thawing them out as needed.
Anyone who loves lemon chess pie will enjoy these bite-size bars (left). This recipe for Luscious Lemon Bars comes from Palmer's Deli and Market in Urbandale, Iowa. These are both sweet and tart. The moist bars are topped with powdered sugar.
Lemon Curd Bars offer a different twist, using lemon curd for a creamy, tangy flavor. This recipe comes from Little Traveler in Geneva, Illinois, which imports its lemon curd from England.
Graham crackers form the base for this bar cookie with layers of marshmallows, brown sugar, almonds and coconut. "I've made these cookies since 1984," says Georgine Simmonds of Genesee, Michigan. "They're one of my family's favorites."
Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars
Dry-roasted peanuts, peanut butter-flavored pieces and peanut butter bring triple flavor to this make-ahead bar cookie.
Cherry Crumble Pie Bars
Zesty lemon peel adds zing to this fruit bar cookie; almond extract and brown sugar give it extra sweetness.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
Peanut butter and chocolate meet for a sweet treat in this recipe from a Cedarburg, Wisconsin, reader who likes to make these bar cookies for potluck gatherings.
Candy Bar Cookies
These gooey bite-size treats feature a creamy mixture of chocolate pieces, butterscotch pieces and peanut butter over a cooked oatmeal-brown sugar layer. The recipe is from a Madison, Wisconsin, reader, who likes to take the bar cookies to potluck gatherings.
The recipe for these moist, nutty bars has been in the Cole family of Wadsworth, Ohio, for more than 50 years. We added an orange icing to play up the citrusy flavor.
Chocolate and peanut butter bars
Chocolate and peanut butter naturally complement each other in these three bar cookie recipes. The Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort near Galena, Illinois, combines the flavors to make the candylike Hallelujah bars (left).
A Wisconsin reader sent us the recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers, which have rolled oats in addition to peanut butter and semisweet chocolate pieces. They're a great sweet ending to entrees and salads on a potluck table.
Merry Marshmallow Bars come from a Decorah, Iowa, reader, who combines semisweet chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallows for an easy-to-fix bar cookie that kids love.
Danish Pastry Apple Bars and more
This recipe for Danish Pastry Apple Bars comes from an Indiana teacher who discovered these treats in a student's lunch box years ago. The student's family was happy to share the recipe; the results taste almost like apple pie.
After-School Apple Bars has a similar origin: A Michigan reader began making these when her son brought the recipe home from school. His third-grade teacher owned an orchard, and the class made this recipe after a bountiful apple harvest.
Frosted Apple-Pie Bars comes from a South Dakota reader who includes apples, sugar, cornflakes and spices in her filling.
These candy-like bar cookies have a brown sugar crust and a filling of brown sugar, butter and chopped pecans. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces immediately after baking.
Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
Hopkins, Minnesota, calls itself America's Raspberry Capital and hosts an annual Raspberry Festival -- including a cooking contest. One entry was this recipe for Raspberry Cheesecake Bars, which combines layers of cheesecake and raspberry filling in an almond crust.
Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars
These are especially good in fall, but canned pumpkin makes them an any-time treat.
Holiday Seven-Layer Bars
Chocolate, nuts, coconut and more fill our easy-to-make bar cookies. Mixed dried fruit bits and candy-coated milk chocolate pieces are among the layers that make this bar cookie distinctive.
Salted Peanut Squares
Stir together just 6 ingredients for this easy-to-make treat. Peanuts top a rich layer of butter, marshmallows, peanut butter-flavored pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and peanut butter.
Easy Candy-Bar Treats
Cooks in the Midwest's Red River Valley learned early to take advantage of rhubarb. The tangy, celerylike ingredient grows well in a region where strawberries seldom thrive. This recipe comes from RBJ's Restaurant in Crookston, Minnesota.
Cheesecake and chocolate
When Midwest Living® asked readers to send in their favorite chocolate recipes, we received hundreds. The six winners included Brownie Bombs from a West Carrollton, Ohio, reader who tops her brownies with a cheesecake layer and then more chocolate batter.
Our Black-and-Tan Bars also combine cheesecake and chocolate, with a chocolate base and a swirled cheesecake-chocolate top.
Cake or bar cookie? Some recipes can be both. At her deli in Urbandale, Iowa, Carol Palmer prepares her mothers carrot-cake recipe in a sheet instead of layers. Then, she slathers the bars with everyone's favorite: cream cheese frosting. Cut into bars to serve.
Carrot-Zucchini Bars also taste like a moist cake but come in snack-bar size. The vegetables add fiber, and cranberries give the recipe a tangy edge. You can substitute raisins for the cranberries if you prefer.
The Cream Cheese-Carrot Bar recipe is a lower-fat version of the traditional carrot cake. It substitutes applesauce for part of the oil and uses egg product or egg whites to lower cholesterol.
Fruit fillings complement the sweetness of other bar cookie ingredients. Blueberry-Almond Bars was a grand champion award recipe at the Marshall County Fair's annual Blueberry Bake-A-Rama in Plymouth, Indiana. Lori Van Der Weele combined blueberries, butter, white baking pieces and almonds for this winner.
These moist, easy brownies get a little extra crunch from a topping of toffee pieces.
Gooey Pecan Pie Bars
Pecan pie in a bar? Say no more. We got the recipe for these rich, buttery, thick cookies from Liberty Gathering Place restaurant in West Liberty, Ohio.
Toffee-Pumpkin Pie Bars
Love sweet and salty combos? You'll fall for these bars with sweet toffee, toasted pecans and a spiced Ginger Crumb Crust.
Easy Butter Bars
Easy Butter Bars, made with cake mix, butter and cream cheese, go together in a flash.