Five Layer Bars

24 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Easy Five Layer Bars are easy, gooey, sticky sweet cookie bars. A kid-friendly dessert with chocolate chips, coconut, pecans and a graham cracker crust.

Like Classic Brownies, this old fashioned Bar Recipe is an easy dessert made with common pantry items that can feed a crowd. These chewy cookie bars are great for potlucks, parties, and bake sale treats!

Five Layer Bars


These easy magical layer bars are a dream come true for your sweet tooth! Five layers of sweetness are balanced out with a buttery graham cracker crust. You’ll love this amazing dessert that uses baking ingredients you have on hand. Anything goes in a Five Layer Bar recipe so if you’re out of a “layer”, you can easily make a swap.

The magic ingredient in Five Layer Bars is a can of sweetened condensed milk. Poured over the bars as the final layer, it is the “glue” that keeps the bars together. As the cookie bars bake the sweetened condensed milk caramelizes. The bake time isn’t long enough to turn it into Dulce de Leche but long enough to become a sticky caramel as it cools.

No sweetened condensed milk on hand? Before you rush out to the store, check out the sweetened condensed milk recipe in this post. It takes about an hour to make and cool down, but it is a great swap made with everyday ingredients. Homemade sweetened condensed milk is also great for those who need a non-dairy option that won’t break the bank.

While we all love the gooeyness of Five Layer Bars… they get real melty and sticky as the weather heats up. If you are bringing Five Layer Bars to a summer cook out, you want to keep them indoors (or in a cooler) and bring them out right before serving. These chewy cookie bars can be kept at room temperature but if it’s hot, you may want to put them in the fridge.



Tips for Five Layer Bars

  • For easier clean up, line your baking dish with parchment paper. This also helps to cut the bars. Simply lift the parchment paper to remove the bars and slice on a cutting board.
  • Don’t push the graham cracker crust in the pan too hard. If it’s too firm, the sweetened condensed milk won’t be able to seep down into the crust.
  • Cool the Five Layer Bars completely before cutting into them. The sweetened condensed milk turns into a caramel that binds everything together and gets firm as it cools.

Pan of Five Layer Bars with pieces cut out


  • Chocolate Chips: Substitute any of your favorite baking chips like dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or caramel chips. You can also do a mix of chocolate chips and flavored baking chips!
  • Nuts: You can use any chopped nuts you have on hand. Try walnuts, almonds, and peanuts, or if you have a jar of roasted mixed nuts, those work too!
  • Cookie Crust: Instead of graham crackers, use vanilla wafers, cake mix, gingersnaps, or Oreo cookies for the crust on these cookie bars.
  • Dried Fruit: Mix in dried cranberries, pineapples, apricots, or cherries for an easy 6th layer that packs a chewy fruity punch.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and milk until combined.
  2. bring the milk mixture to a low simmer over medium heat, whisking often.
  3. Turn down to low heat and simmer until mixture has reduced by half.
  4. Once reduced, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Cool completely before storing in a glass jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Note: You can use any non-dairy milk for vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk. Try this recipe with coconut milk!



  • Serve: Place Fiver Layer Bars in a plastic bag, or cover pan with plastic wrap, and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Store: Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, with parchment paper between layers, for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Freeze: Use parchment paper between layers to keep Five Layer Bars from sticking. Freeze for up to 3 months and defrost on the counter to serve.

Five Layer Bars before baking

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Easy Five Layer Bars

Easy Five Layer Bars are easy, gooey, sticky sweet cookie bars. A kid-friendly dessert with chocolate chips, coconut, pecans and a graham cracker crust.
Yield 24 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs , 16 full crackers
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans , chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking pan with baking spray.
  • Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and mix until the graham cracker crumbs are moistened.
  • Press the crust gently into your baking pan then layer on the chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the layers and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Let the bars cool completely before slicing (keep your squares small to prevent breaking).


Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 166IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg

Easy Five Layer Bars collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Made this recipe yesterday, super yummy!! I added a few extra pecans cause I love nuts, and I would probably only bake it for 20-23minutes. I pulled mine out at 25 minutes and it was a little on the well done side the edges were super hard and tough to eat but the center was delicious! Will definitely make again 😉

  2. I need a sugar free version. So could I use Splenda in place of the sugar for both the Homemade condensed milk and in the recipe as well? Maybe you could include some sugar free alternatives?

    1. I haven’t tested it using any alternatives so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation.