7 Layer Bars

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7-layer bars are a vintage dessert that have been around since at least the mid-60s, but possibly the mid-50s. They are known by several different names including “Hello Dolly bars” or “magic bars”, but I grew up calling them 7 layer bars.

7 layer bars close up.

When my grandmother would visit us from Chicago during the Christmas holidays, it was the one recipe I remember her making the most. I still have her hand written 3″ x 5″ recipe card from the 60s in my recipe collection. I remember how simple it was for a kid to make those bars and how it really isn’t so much of a recipe as it just layering all the ingredients! (This post was originally published on December 14, 2011)

7 layer bars.

A buttery graham cracker crust is layered with chocolate and butterscotch chips, flaky coconut and crunchy nuts then topped with sweetened condensed milk, to make these classic dessert bars. If you have a nut allergy, just skip the nut layer!

7 layer bars in a stack.

Ingredients for 7 layer bars

The “7 layers” come from the 7 ingredients, which makes it really easy to remember! Back in the day we’d use Nestle chocolate chips, since that was pretty much all that was available. Now, I prefer to use Guittard or Ghiradelli chocolate chips. 

ingredients for 7 layer bars.
  • salted or unsalted butter. Add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted.
  • graham cracker crumbs. Either purchase graham cracker crumbs or use a food processor to crush graham crackers into fine crumbs.
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • butterscotch chips 
  • shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened coconut as they are a pretty sweet bar to begin with) Shredded coconut are finer than coconut flakes.
  • chopped walnuts
  • sweetened condensed milk (Not evaporated) 

The sweetened condensed milk is the “magic part” of the recipe which sinks into all the layers and helps these gooey bars stick together.

7 layer bars on cookie sheet.

How to make 7 layer bars

Honestly it doesn’t really make a difference which order you layer the bars as long as you start with the butter and graham cracker layer and end with the sweetened condensed milk.

  • Line a 13×9″ baking pan with parchment paper or brush with butter to keep the bars from sticking. I prefer parchment, as it makes it easier to remove the bars once they’ve baked.
  • Melt butter in a small bowl and mix with graham cracker crumbs. Pat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Begin layering with chocolate chips.
chocolate chip layer.
  • Butterscotch chips.
butterscotch chips.
  • Shredded coconut.
7 layer bars, coconut layer.
  • Chopped nuts.
7 layer bars, nuts.
  • Then drizzle the sweetened condensed milk all over the top.
sweetened condensed milk layer.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
cooled 7 layer bars.
  • Cool 10 minutes. Then remove bars from pan and allow to cool completely.
  • Cut bars with a sharp knife and store at room temperature in a sealed container for 3-5 days.
7 layer bars on wired rack.

Can I freeze 7 layer bars?

Yes! they freeze beautifully when well wrapped for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature.

Gluten-free version of 7 layer, or seven layer magic cookie bars 

While these are labeled gluten-free on Amazon, please double check ingredients to be sure!

Other variations for seven-layer bars

  • Instead of graham cracker crumbs, use Biscoff cookie crumbs.
  • Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, use milk chocolate, or dark chocolate chips.
  • Instead of butterscotch chips, use peanut butter chips or white chocolate chips.
  • Instead of chopped walnuts, use pecans, or hazelnuts.

 Looking for more dessert bars?

What about Australian Crunch Bars?

Millionaire Brownies

Millionaire Brownies, classic brownies layered with caramel, ganache and chopped nuts.
Millionaire Brownies

Scottish Matrimonial Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

lemon bars on cutting board
7 layer bars close up.

Seven Layer Bars

Grandma’s seven layer bars
5 from 44 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 bars
Calories 304 kcal



  • Melted butter in the bottom of a 13 X 9 in square pan, then layer in the following order:
  • graham cracker crumbs
  • chocolate chips
  • butterscotch chips
  • nuts
  • coconut
  • top with sweetened condensed milk and bake at 350* F for about 25-30 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Let cool


  • substitute dark chocolate for semi-sweet chips.
  • substitute white chocolate for butterscotch chips.
  • See notes for gluten free substitutions.


Serving: 1barCalories: 304kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 3gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 126mgPotassium: 191mgFiber: 2gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 184IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. This is the first recipe for 7 Layer Bars that I have heard the nuts are optional. I have always loved these but cannot eat them anymore because of the nuts. Now I think I will try to make them and leave out the nuts. Someone told me to try adding chopped pretzels in place of the nuts. Might try that, too.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful recipe for seven layer bars. They look like little bites of heaven. I love how simple and easy it is to make them. Just layer everything and bake. No mixing or measuring required. I also love how you can customize them with your favorite nuts or chocolate chips.

5 from 44 votes (39 ratings without comment)

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