7 Layer Bars

7 Layer Bars

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!

Make Them Your Own

Okay, these are the easiest bars ever, and they are always a major hit everywhere you take them. They are relatively high on the allergen-unfriendly scale (dairy! nuts! coconut!), but I’ve got all kind of ideas for how to substitute different ingredients.

There are 3 elements to these bars that make them what they are (bad news?). How you choose to provide those elements is really up to you, though (best news).

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!

To make 7 Layer Bars, you simply must have:

1. A crunchy cookie crust. You can use any sort of crushed up crunchy cookie you like—store-bought, homemade, less sweet, more sweet, chocolate, or vanilla. The sky’s the limit. And you have to mix the cookies with some sort of butter or butter substitute. Again, scroll down for suggestions.

2. Pieces. The majority of the 7 layers are made up with pieces of chips, nuts, and coconut. If you don’t like one sort of piece, substitute it with another. Love butterscotch? Use butterscotch chips. Hate coconut? Replace it with more chips. You get the idea.

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!

3. Sweetened condensed milk. Yes, it has a ton of sugar. This is not a health-food-only blog! There are, like, 10 of you who are super mad at me for that, and you share your feelings often. If you hate sugar, then I’m afraid this isn’t the blog for you.

If you are diabetic, I’m afraid I don’t know of a sugar-free option for sweetened condensed milk, so this recipe is probably one you just can’t have. ? But if you’re just dairy-free, there are plenty of options. ?Again, scroll down!

Watch this 1 minute video to see how to make these 7 Layer Bars

Push play ▶️ and watch the video. Then try it yourself!

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free!

Ingredients and Substitutions

As always, please understand that I haven’t tried any of these substitutions unless I specifically state otherwise. There are just my best-educated guesses about what would work in this recipe so that readers with other dietary restrictions can bake along:

Dairy-Free: This will take a bunch of substitutions, but they’re pretty straightforward. Use a dairy-free crunchy cookie crumb (my gluten free graham crackers work great), and Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of the butter, gram for gram.

Then you can either use a store-bought canned sweetened condensed coconut milk (I’ve bought it before and it’s quite good!), or my homemade sweetened condensed milk, the dairy-free version. Make sure your chocolate chips are dairy-free, and if you can’t find dairy-free white chocolate chips, just use any other dairy-free chip you like in its place.

Nut-Free: In place of almonds, you can use more chocolate chips—or a different raw chopped nut if you can tolerate some nuts but not others. We just need pieces here that you can chew easily and hold their shape.

Coconut-Free: Use other nuts in place of coconut chips!

This recipe for 7 Layer Bars is endlessly customizable, made easily with or without coconut, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, and even easily made dairy free! #cookies #glutenfree #easyrecipe

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 12 bars


1 1/2 cups (225 g) crunchy cookie crumbs (I used crushed gluten free graham crackers)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling

4 ounces white chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling

1 1/2 cups (120 g) coconut flakes/chips, plus some more for sprinkling

1 1/2 cups (120 g) raw pecan pieces (or whole pecans, chopped)

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish, and set it aside.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the cookie crumbs and the melted butter, and mix to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and press it firmly into the bottom. On top of the cookie crust in even layers, add the semi-sweet chocolate chips, the white chocolate chips, the coconut, and the pecans. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top of the whole dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with a few more semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and/or coconut chips.

  • Place the baking dish in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the dish is a warm brown bubbling gooey mess. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan. If you try to remove it too soon, it won’t hold together. To make the bars easier to slice, chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once cool, grab the overhanging layers of parchment and remove the bars from the pan. With a wet knife, slice the bars into 12 equal squares. Serve at room temperature or chilled from the refrigerator.


Comments are closed.

  • OnlineSpanishTeacher
    November 10, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    We’re dairy-free, gluten-free and (supposedly) sugar-free. I’m thinking for us, we can use coconut cream in place of sweetened, condensed milk. We can use unsweetened chocolate. I wonder what we could use instead of the gluten-free graham cracker crumbs. Maybe we’ll just use sugary, GF graham cracker crumbs to give the recipe a little sugar as a cheat for the holidays. Anyone else have a suggestion as to what to use instead of GF graham cracker crumbs for those of us who are sugar-free? Thanks for the recipe! Looks fabulous! I’m not mad that you’re not sugar-free. ;)

    • OnlineSpanishTeacher
      November 10, 2017 at 10:07 AM

      I apologize. I didn’t think my comment had posted. I posted it more than once. (And I wrote, “we’re are.” I hate having errors like that.) Anyway, thanks again for the neat recipe. And sorry for accidentally posting the same comment more than once. Not even sure how many times it posted. Feel free to delete one (preferably the one with the error in it.) Mil gracias. :)

      • Nicole Hunn
        November 10, 2017 at 12:00 PM

        No problem. I had already deleted one of them. And I’ll fix your typo. :)

  • Bromwyn Whyte
    November 8, 2017 at 6:18 AM

    Hi Nicole, do you think it would be possible to substitute caramel for the chocolate, as I’m now allergic to chocolate..sigh…I love the recipe, but wondering what I could use to give it body. Thanks Bromwyn.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 8:04 AM

      Hi, Bromwyn,
      Usually any question about substituting chocolate in a recipe has me suggesting you try another recipe entirely, but in this instance, any other sort of “chip” would work great. So if you like butterscotch chips, or maybe even peanut butter chips, go for those. Anything sort of non-chocolate “chip” will work great. Be careful, though, as Nestle’s butterscotch chips are NOT gluten free. Just be sure to read labels carefully and contact the companies if you’re unsure.

  • Lisa Robbins
    November 5, 2017 at 11:28 AM

    Good morning, Nicole! You are amazing, of course I haven’t tried all your recipes but I LOVE the ones I have tried. I appreciate recipes where I can easily substitute/change ingredients; if I’m out of something or want to work around a specific ingredient, no problem, it still turns out GREAT. No more whiners about sugar, I love your site just the way it is!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 5, 2017 at 2:11 PM

      Haha thank you, Lisa!!!! I try to provide all the substitution information I can, but sometimes I think that readers expect that I have all the answers, but each substitution creates something of a new recipe, so it’s always an educated guess at best unless I’ve tried it. Thank you for your kindness. :)

  • Bev
    November 5, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    I make these bars with walnuts, chocolate chips and seedless raspberry jam. I think the recipe says to use 1/4 jar raspberry jam but I usually use 1/2 jar and just drop a little bit all over before baking. Big hit wherever I take them.

  • Jen S.
    November 2, 2017 at 11:04 PM

    Yesssss! Thank you!

  • Karen
    November 2, 2017 at 9:30 PM

    Love your site and I have all your books. I had to laugh at your comment about people being mad about sugar ?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 3, 2017 at 9:17 AM

      Thank you, Karen, for all your support! If you were to see my blog inbox (or even the GFOAS Facebook page sometimes), you’d laugh, well, more. And then maybe you’d cry? ?

  • Jacqie
    November 2, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    I’ve made this dairy free by using a can of sweetened coconut cream (Coco Lopez) instead of condensed milk. To make it pourable, set it in a pan of very hot water for 1/2 hours, shaking a few times. The bars are delicious!

  • Donna C
    November 1, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    I first tasted this “magic cookie bar” in 1980. My cousin made them with graham crackers at the bottom. My ex-mother in law used to make them with Corn Flakes. The Corn Flakes were much better than the graham crackers, in my opinion. I make them with GF Corn Flakes. Sometimes, I eliminate the walnuts when bringing to a family party on the son in law’s side b/c someone there is quite allergic. Yes ma’am, these are incredibly customizable.

  • Fatcat
    November 1, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    I’ve been wanting these since I went gluten free, thank you. Everyone at my house thinks you are a genius and we all want to live next door to you, in a non-creepy, just available to eat all your leftovers and near-misses kinda way. :-)

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 5:00 PM

      Hahaha Fatcat, I wish! I think I’ve worn out my welcome with most of my neighbors. Most of the moms are all, no more sweets please! ??

  • Brenda Potwin
    November 1, 2017 at 1:33 PM

    Do you have a good GF pie crust recipe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 4:59 PM

      Of course, Brenda! Just use the search bar at the top of the page to look for whatever recipe you like. I have two go-to recipes for gluten free pie crust.

  • Rachel Jacques
    November 1, 2017 at 12:23 PM

    I can’t wait to make these, need to send hubby to pick up some coconut. Thank you so much for the quick tasty recipes. I’m old and not well, but can make lots of the recipes you make. As soon as I power up in the morning, I look for your emails. You are an absolute sweetheart.
    Thank you, Nicole.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 12:45 PM

      That’s so awesome, Rachel. I’m so honored to be a part of your life. :)

  • Beth Pritchett
    November 1, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    Nicole, a search on sugar free sweetened condensed milk turned up a recipe. It uses a sweetener made of erythritol and stevia. You can also buy sugar free chocolate chips. I have used this type of sweetener and chocolate chips with success, but not this particular recipe for the milk…yet. I have always loved these layer bars. Thanks for putting so much effort into your quest for gluten free options.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 12:44 PM

      Erythritol has a strong cooling sensation, Beth, so I’m not really sure how good it would be concentrated and heated with milk. But if you feel like it would work, by all means go for it and let us know how it goes!

  • Sophia
    November 1, 2017 at 12:01 PM

    Oh yum! I’m new to this blog and I can tell it’s going to be one of my favorites :) This recipe looks great. We all have to indulge once in a while – life would be so boring without that! I’ll be making them soon. Xoxo

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 12:42 PM

      Amen to that, Sophia! My family doesn’t eat food like this every day, but if I didn’t make things like this available to my kids every now and again, they’d be the ones stuffing cupcakes into their mouths in the corner of every birthday party. :)

  • Alma
    November 1, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    Hi Nicole
    My recipe for these bars calls for a 9×13 pan using 1 14oz can of condensed milk. Would using that much make these bars more moist in a smaller pan? Or is that the idea? Thanks

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 1, 2017 at 12:43 PM

      I’m not really sure I understand what you’re asking, Alma, but if you already have a recipe that you prefer, no harm in just using that. This is how I do it!

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