Tips for Making Bar Cookie Recipes

Somewhere in between a cookie and a cake, bar cookies pack a lot of flavor into one small square. Whether you're brand new to bar cookies or a seasoned expert, here are some tips that will help you make a perfect bar, every single time.

Even Baking Starts With a Smooth Base Layer

Making sure your base layer of dough is even and smooth is crucial for consistent texture in your bars. A lumpy base could mean a bite of burned dough in one spot, and a bite of chewy raw dough in another. Lay wax paper over your dough, and then use a heavy block of butter or a square loaf pan to smooth the surface and tuck in all the corners.

Give It a Try: Apple Crumble Bars

Our Apple Crumble Bars start with a base layer of streusel that does double duty as the top layer as well. Sandwiched in between is a rich, flavorful filling of apple butter and assorted dried fruits.

Get the Recipe: Apple Crumble Bars

Homemade Caramel Makes Bars Taste Better

If you have a recipe for bar cookies that calls for caramel, don't be scared to make your own. Often, people are afraid they will burn the caramel. Follow our tips and you won't have that problem.

How to Make Caramel for Bar Cookies

Don't be scared of burning your caramel; just make sure to keep an eye on it. Let it get a little darker than you think it should be, brown and toasty instead of light and sweet. Tilt the pan to make sure it's dark throughout and then remove from the heat. Don't worry if it looks a little greasy. And if you do burn it, no big deal — it's happened to all of us.

Give It a Try: Caramel Brownies

Try making your own caramel with our recipe for Chewy, Salty Peanutty Caramel Brownies. Chocolate + caramel + peanuts: These brownies taste like a homemade candy bar.

Get the Recipe: Chewy, Salty Peanutty Caramel Brownies

Docking Dough

Buttery doughs, such as shortbread, create a lot of steam when the butter melts during baking. Poking holes in the dough beforehand with a fork, or "docking," vents the steam, making your shortbread crispy and crumbly instead of soggy.

Give It a Try: Maple Walnut Shortbread

Dock the dough for our Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies for crumbly results.

Get the Recipe: Maple Walnut Shortbread Bars

How to Easily Remove Bars From a Pan

Measuring your tin foil to leave a 2- to 3-inch overhang on each side allows you to tidily remove your bars from the pan. Carefully lift the bars out using the ends as handles, and then invert to gently peel off the parchment or foil.

Cut Even Bars Every Time

No need to eyeball — cut perfectly even squares using a ruler, and then mark along the edge with toothpicks to serve as a guide while you're slicing. Using a serrated knife will give your bars sharp edges instead of crumbly ragged ones.

Give It a Try: Chocolate Coconut Bars

Bake a batch of our Chocolate Coconut Bars and practice slicing perfectly even bars every time.

Get the Recipe: Bake Sale Chocolate-Coconut Bars

Splurge On Ingredients

In baking, every little detail matters — especially the ingredients. Splurging on good-quality vanilla extract and chocolate will go a long way in giving your bars the best possible flavor.

Give It a Try: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Quality ingredients make these Peanut Butter-Jelly Bars anything but basic.

Get the Recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Pack It Up for a Bake Sale

Bar cookies are ideal for thoughtful homemade gifts or standout best-sellers at a bake sale. Tying them with ribbon or placing them in decorative tins gives them an extra professional flourish

Give It a Try: Platinum Blondies

These blondies will turn heads with sweet white chocolate, salty macadamia nuts and rich shredded coconut.

Get the Recipe: Platinum Blondies

Our Best Bar Cookie Recipes

Get our best recipes for bar cookies, including blondies, brownies, crumble bars and more.