20 Types Of Cookie Bars, Explained

Cookie bars are basically what you get if you bake cookie dough in the sort of pan you typically make brownies in. They're more robust than conventional cookies, being chunkier, taller, and generally heftier. This means they offer opportunities for all kinds of flavors and mix-ins. Nuts, chips, candy — a cookie bar can incorporate them all, and frequently does.

As a result of this versatility, there are many different varieties of cookie bar out there. Some are pretty wild, involving ingredients like espresso, lemongrass, almond paste, or rum. Others stick to classic mix-ins like chocolate chips and coconut flakes. A few resemble other celebrated desserts, like lemon squares and brownies. All of them are delicious — but how is a baker supposed to know where to start? By sticking with us, of course. We're here to explain 20 different types of cookie bar, from magic bars to ambrosia streusel bars and all the ones in between.

Gingerbread cookie bars have a sugary kick

Finding time to bake during the holidays — one of the busiest times of the year — can be tough. Gingerbread houses are amazing, yet require a lot of work, and ginger snaps involve rolling dough and cutting shapes. Luckily, gingerbread is adaptable. Gingerbread cookie bars can deliver the gingery taste you love in a fraction of the time. All you need to do is mix the batter, pour it into a pan, and cut it into squares.

Gingerbread has taken many forms over the centuries. Some of it is more like cake, while some leans more towards the cookie side of things. Gingerbread cookie bars split the difference. These treats have a classic sweet-and-spicy brown sugar taste and a moist density, yet they also make that characteristic  "snap" sound. Gingerbread is also loaded with healthy ginger, which helps reduce bloating and intestinal issues. The next time the holiday season comes around, put aside the man-shaped cookie cutters and give these bars a try.

Pistachio-cardamom cookie bars pack Middle Eastern flavor

Aromatic, floral, and nutty, pistachio-cardamom rose bars are loaded with Middle Eastern sweetness. There's a major chance this is an exotic flavor profile for you, which might make these treats seem entirely new. Yet they're also fairly standard, as far as cookie bars go, being made from butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. It's the seasoning that make things unique. Pistachio, cardamom, and rosewater are popular ingredients in the Middle East, but many people outside the region have never encountered them together (or, in the case of rosewater, at all). You might have to find a Middle Eastern market to find culinary rose petals and rosewater, or you might need to order them online.

While this is an extra step, it's well worth taking — especially since prepping and baking only take 15 minutes each. After you've made these the old-fashioned way, experiment with walnuts for an earthier profile. Rosewater can also be swapped for orange blossom water if you prefer something citrusy. Whichever combination you choose, we've no doubt these will be a new favorite.

Seven-layer cookie bars offer levels of deliciousness

You're bound to get caught with your hand in this cookie jar. Seven-layer cookie bars, also known as magic bars, are a classic hodge-podge of sugary goodness. Traditionally, they're made with a combo of crumbled graham crackers, melted butter, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate and butterscotch chips, coconut flakes, and chopped walnuts, peanuts, or pecans. Their crunchy texture is heaven on your tongue. You might assume they're complex to make, but in fact, they only take five simple steps.

Start by crushing graham crackers into a bottom crust. Add the chocolate and butterscotch chips, followed by coconut flakes and chopped nuts. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the ingredients until it fully covers them. Baking takes just 25 minutes and will pop out enough bars to keep you satisfied for days. The best part is, you can swap in whatever ingredients you prefer, like white chocolate and peanut butter chips, or drizzle the bars with a unique icing. There are endless variations available to you.

Five-ingredient chocolate caramel cookie bars are a sugary mouthful

The five-ingredient chocolate caramel bar is loaded with delectable flavor. This no-frills recipe is perfect for kids, to use as party snacks, or as a sweet treat for yourself. Uniquely, it uses a package of double chocolate chunk cookie mix as the base crust, and includes melted butter, egg, soft caramels, and condensed milk. 

Although it resembles a brownie, it very much isn't. This bar has a distinctly cookie-esque taste, for one thing. For another, the caramel interior and crumbly top layer add texture that differentiates the bar from chewy brownies. A single package of double chocolate chunk cookie mix will give you 16 servings to enjoy. If you're not into caramel, it can be substituted for peanut butter. Sweet bliss awaits, whichever route you take.

Funfetti cookie bars are sprinkled with color

Funfetti bars offer a vibrant dose of sweetness. These fun-filled, kid-friendly treats are easy to mistake for cake, as they're an explicit riff on classic Funfetti cake. But in fact, they're more like shortbread. This makes them a wonderfully robust choice, especially for a kid-centric event.

Making them is a fairly simple task. The ingredients consist of softened unsalted butter, white sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and rainbow sprinkles. You can have a lot of fun with aesthetics, here, especially frosting. Any pastel shade looks good with colorful sprinkles, as does simple white. Other types of frosting, like royal icing, can also be a nice choice, especially if you have an artistic streak and make some kind of design with it. What's more, these bars take less than 30 minutes to bake. And they taste good: A single bite is enough to convince you to add it to regular rotation.

Salted peanut butter bars are your new sweet fix

What can't you do with peanut butter? Whether savory or sweet, it's the ideal ingredient. Salted peanut butter bars are a great example of this versatility. Sea salt-flecked, chocolatey, and undeniably delectable, they're reminiscent of Reese's peanut butter cups, but with homemade flair and impressive portability. 

You can make them with simple staples like brown sugar, salt, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, milk chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate), flaky sea salt, peanut butter, and graham crackers. Get your baking pan ready and fire your oven up, because you're in for a decadent ride. They only take 15 minutes to prepare in total, and you're rewarded with 16 servings.

Brookies combine the best of both worlds

Brookies are one of the greatest marriages in kitchen history. They're brownies and cookies, combined into a cookie bar. It's a perfect solution for anyone with a picky crowd to feed, and a guaranteed eye-catcher. Plus, it's just plain fun to say the word "brookies."

To make brookies, you'll need butter, brown and white sugar, room temperature eggs, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks, cocoa powder, and white chocolate chips or chunks. You'll have to muster every ounce of patience for its nearly 3 hour baking time, but that's the only downside. If there's one thing you can be certain of, it's the satisfaction you'll experience after taking a bite.

Lemon date cookie bars burst with citrusy sweetness

Lovers of lemon will get a citrusy kick out of lemon date cookie bars. Filled with sugar and zest, they're a great alternative to less substantial lemon squares. In comparison to that classic treat, their texture is closer to that of a dense cheesecake atop shortbread. Lemon date cookie bars are also visually stunning: One glance at their delicious yellow hue will make your mouth water. A sprinkle of powdered sugar is the perfect finishing touch.

You'll need 3 hours to create this impressive pastry; the prep takes only 30 minutes, but baking eats up the rest of the time. For the crust, use unsalted room temperature butter, all-purpose flour, confectioner's sugar, and coarse salt. The filling utilizes some of the same ingredients as the crust, plus eggs, lemon zest, and medjool dates, which are pureed, then spread over the crust. If you don't like dates, follow a more conventional lemon square recipe.

Oreo millionaire's shortbread cookie bars make you feel rich

Oreo millionaire's shortbread cookie bars are a decadent departure from traditional millionaire's shortbread. Don't let the name throw you, though: You do not have to be swimming in golden coins to afford this treat. This is a layered cookie bar with four simple tiers: a shortbread base, a gooey caramel center, chocolate, and an Oreo cookie on top.

These bars take over an hour to make, but the flavor is beyond worth it. Ingredients include room temperature butter (salted or unsalted), all-purpose flour, sweetened condensed milk, granulated or caster sugar, golden or light corn syrup, the chocolate of your choice, and Oreos. You can also use brown sugar in place of corn syrup. If you're feeling adventurous, try substituting regular Oreos with other Oreo flavors.

Italian rainbow cookies are colorfully delicious

Taste the colors of Italy with classic rainbow cookie bars. Traditionally known as tricolore cookies, they have three colorful layers of almond-flavored cake that resemble Italy's national flag. Raspberry jam is deliciously sandwiched between each tier and secured by an outer layer of chocolate. Trust us, you'll eat it with your eyes before your mouth takes a bite. 

Italian rainbow cookie bars take a total of 40 minutes to make. Their sweet, nutty taste comes from almond extract, almond paste (a spread made from ground almonds or almond meal), and sugar. Other ingredients include unsalted butter, eggs, milk, all-purpose flour, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and red and green food coloring. If you don't feel like making them, you're likely to find them at any Italian-American bakery.

Dream cookie bars taste like sweet nostalgia

Recreating recipes from the past is a great way to experience culinary history. Consider the recipe for dream cookie bars, shared in an issue of The Lincoln Star newspaper on May 4, 1934, per Reddit. These Depression-era delicacies were made with butter, brown sugar, white flour, coconut flakes, eggs, nuts, salt, baking soda, and vanilla extract. These simple ingredients add up to something truly special. 

Dream bars are as delicious today as they were then, and the best part is, they're easily updatable. Consider topping them with something unique, like a glaze. Add sprinkles for a bit of festivity. Even candy wouldn't go amiss, especially anything colorful — a scattering of M&Ms could be especially fun. Dream bars can be anything you dream up.

Chocolate chip cookie bars are chewy and classic

Over 35% of Americans say that chocolate chip is their favorite cookie, per StudyFinds. It's hard to beat their caramelized butteriness, or the delight of biting into a chocolatey morsel. From the Cookie Monster to Santa Claus, everyone wants to get their hands on one. Before you rev up your car to go to the market, though, consider skipping the store-bought option and make chocolate chip cookie bars at home. Also known as spread-and-bake chocolate chip cookies, you'll love this quick and tasty alternative to the classic treat. They're especially good when eaten on the go, as their heftier size makes them resistant to crumbling, unlike conventional cookies.

If you bake often, there's a good chance you already have the ingredients you need. They include all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, unsalted butter, light brown sugar, eggs, pure vanilla extract, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts. You can enjoy your homemade chocolate chip cookie bars with ice cream, a glass of milk, coffee, or on their own.

Cappuccino swirl bars are filled with energy and sweetness

Get an energy boost and a sweet fix with cappuccino swirl cookie bars. They boast an irresistible blend of bold espresso flavor, rich cream cheese, and sweet chocolate. Their crust is made of deeply chocolatey cookie dough, topped by cream cheese filling and espresso-infused icing. It's dangerously decadent and sure to kick your taste buds into gear.

Cappuccino swirl bars are an especially awesome dessert option for a dinner party; they bring a bit of whimsy to the post-meal coffee break. They're also very visually appealing, especially when speckled with a garnish of chopped chocolate. You'll need chocolate cookie dough, chocolate-covered espresso beans, cream cheese, granulated sugar, heavy cream, instant espresso, and unsweetened cocoa to make them. Coffee lovers are likely to already have some of those ingredients on hand.

Thai lemongrass lime bars are a citrusy indulgence

Thai lemongrass lime cookie bars are like a Southeast Asian take on lemon squares. As the name denotes, they're made with lemongrass, a bright herb that is completely distinct from regular lemons. In Thai cuisine, it's typically used in stews and curries, where it adds a refreshing vibrance to the flavor profile.

Lemongrass lime cookie bars are visually stunning, being composed of three colorful layers: a coconut, lime, and mint-infused crust, a tangy filling, and a dazzling top layer of powdered sugar and lime zest. There is one caveat though: They take 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake. You'll need to set some time aside, but trust us — it's worth it.

Carrot cake bars are a time-tested dessert

Carrot cake is a bonafide classic. The history of carrot cake can be traced back to the mid-1800s, though the treat didn't become popular until World War II. At the time, sweeteners were scarce, so the government promoted carrots as an alternative. Now the beloved dessert has been translated into cookie bar form, making it easier to make and considerably more portable.

The sweet, nutty, cinnamon-laden taste of traditional carrot cake is more than present in these bars. They're also just as moist as the traditional dessert. Moreover, you can make them using the same ingredients, which include butter, brown sugar, eggs, flour, carrots, and cream cheese. These are just the thing to top off a spring party, an Easter celebration, or a picnic.

Ambrosia streusel bars are heavenly bites

This next cookie bar is made with the food of gods — or at least, that's what ancient Greek mythology claims. In those stories, ambrosia is what Zeus and Athena dine on between adventures. Ancient tales aside, ambrosia salad really is delicious. A creamy, fruit-based salad filled with whipped cream and shredded coconut, it's commonly enjoyed on holidays in the American South.

If eating spoonfuls of creamy salad doesn't sound palate-pleasing to you, consider ambrosia streusel bars instead. Crumbly and pink, these bars boast a shortbread crust, a pineapple, orange, and cherry filling, and a final sprinkling of coconut flakes. We highly recommend you try these out the next time a holiday arrives, no matter where you live. Few can resist their fruity, zesty flavor.

Enjoy the fancy flavor of Cosmo cocktail cookie bars

Some of the best cookies are inspired by popular foods — or in this case, popular drinks. Cosmo cocktail cookie bars, a tasty transformation of the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail, will take your tastebuds out for a night on the town. Their infusion of orange, lime, and cranberry is refreshingly sweet, and the perfect thing for a summer night. Moreover, while they don't have the drink's electric pink hue, these cookie bars still have an elevated aesthetic that pops on a plate. 

These bars are fairly easy to make, requiring only a simple crust and a filling made from sugar, eggs, cranberry juice concentrate, and flour. You can add vodka to truly represent the cocktail and add a tasty bite to these bars, but you can also easily forgo it without making any additional changes to the recipe.

Mojito bars transform a cocktail into a treat

Another cocktail-inspired dessert, mojito cookie bars have a lot to offer. Traditionally, mojitos are made with mint leaves, white rum, fresh lime juice, syrup, ice, and club soda. You'll find each of those ingredients present and accounted for in these bars, as well as unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk.

Mojito cookie bars are a perfect finger food for social gatherings. You may want to have your kids sit them out, though, as they do contain alcohol. Don't expect them to give you a buzz, but definitely expect them to satisfy your sweet cravings. The only potential hang-up is the 2 hour cooking time — but hey, at least you know your patience will be rewarded.

Nanaimo cookie bars offer a taste of Canada

Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian pastry. They're commonly sold on British Columbian ferries and at coffee stands, and, unlike other options on this list, don't require baking. These bars are made with three layers: a coconut crumb base, a creamy custard filling, and a chocolate ganache topping. That undeniable trifecta is pretty darn delicious.

Many variations on Nanaimo bars exist. Some include a buttery cocoa-infused crust, while others incorporate graham crackers. Almond flavoring is occasionally added, which ups the nuttiness. No matter how you make them, though, their easiness remains impressive. All you have to do is layer these bars correctly in a pan, give them a few hours in the fridge, then slice them into squares.