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Our Best Bar Cookies

These bar cookie recipes will tempt dessert lovers with an array of flavors, from chocolatey layer bars to tangy, lemon-filled bars dusted with sugar.
Maple Nutty Candy

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.

Maple Nutty Candy

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.

Scrumptious Seven-Layer Cookies

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.

Peanut Butter Chip and Jelly Bars

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.

Buttermilk Banana Bars

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.

Cranberry Candy-Bar Cookies

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.

Caramel and Chocolate Kettle-Corn Crispie Bars

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.

Maple Nutty Candy

Lemon bars

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.

Luscious Lemon Bars recipe

Lemon Curd Bars recipe

Caramel Heavenlies

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."

Caramel Heavenlies

Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars

Dry-roasted peanuts, peanut butter-flavored pieces and peanut butter bring triple flavor to this make-ahead bar cookie.

Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars

Cherry Crumble Pie Bars

Zesty lemon peel adds zing to this fruit bar cookie; almond extract and brown sugar give it extra sweetness.

Cherry Crumble Pie Bars

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.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars

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.

Candy Bar Cookies

Date-Orange Bars

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.

Date-Orange Bars

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.

Hallelujah Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars recipe

Peanut Butter Fingers recipe

Merry Marshmallow Bars recipe

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.

Danish Pastry Apple Bars recipe

After-School Apple Bars recipe

Frosted Apple-Pie Bars recipe

Butter-Pecan Bars

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.

Butter-Pecan Bars

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.

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars recipe

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars

These are especially good in fall, but canned pumpkin makes them an any-time treat.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars recipe

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.

Holiday Seven-Layer Bars

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.

Salted Peanut Squares

Easy Candy-Bar Treats

A mix of popular ingredients--chocolate, caramel, and peanuts--makes this easy and delicious microwave candy.

Easy Candy-Bar Treats

Rhubarb Bars

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.

Rhubarb Bars

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.

Brownie Bombs recipe

Black-and-Tan Bars recipe

Carrot-Cake Bars

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.

Carrot-Cake Bars

Carrot-Zucchini Bars

Cream Cheese-Carrot Bars

Blueberry-Almond Bars

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.

Blueberry-Almond Bars

Toffee Bars

These moist, easy brownies get a little extra crunch from a topping of toffee pieces.

Toffee Bars

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.

Gooey Pecan Pie Bars recipe

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.

Toffee-Pumpkin Pie Bars

Easy Butter Bars

Easy Butter Bars, made with cake mix, butter and cream cheese, go together in a flash.

Easy Butter Bars

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