7-layer Bars

Published on August 10, 2023 | Updated on July 17, 2024 | by Allen Bixby

If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely love 7-layer bars if you have ever tried them. These are the ooey-gooey dessert bars that have a buttery graham cracker crust, and six more layers of deliciousness on top. You often find them in bake sales, potlucks, and holiday parties, and they sell quick and are certainly a crowd-pleaser.

A Sweet Treat with a Mysterious Name

Where did these bars came from and why they are called 7-layer bars? If you know, please let us know. They don’t actually have seven layers, although many recipes do have seven ingredients. The origin of these bars is not very clear, and they have many other names depending on where you live. Some people call them magic cookie bars, coconut dream bars, or hello dolly bars.

First versions

The first appearance of these bars in print seems to be in the mid-1960s, around the same time as the Broadway musical Hello Dolly starring Carol Channing. Some sources claim that the name ‘hello dolly bars’ was inspired by the show, but there is no direct evidence for that. One possible source is a food column by Clementine Paddleford in The Week magazine in 1965, where she featured a recipe sent by an 11-year-old girl from Dallas who learned it from her grandmother. The girl named the bars ‘hello dollys’, but she did not explain why.

Not quite sure

Another possible source is an earlier recipe for hello dolly cookies published in the Evening News of Ada, Oklahoma, in 1965. The recipe was similar to the later versions of 7-layer bars, but it did not include coconut or butterscotch chips. It is not clear where the name came from either.

No one knows for sure

Some people think that the name 7-layer bars or magic cookie bars came from Eagle Brand , who put a recipe for these bars on the back of their cans of sweetened condensed milk. The recipe included seven ingredients: butter, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut. However, it is also not known when Eagle Brand started to use this name or recipe.

Our version of the 7-layer Bar


No matter what you call them or where they came from, 7-layer bars are a classic treat that you can easily make at home. You can also customize them to your liking by using different kinds of baking chips, nuts, dried fruits, or spices.

Which is why we have the Oregon version; land of the filbert. Okay, most of you know it as the Hazelnut , at least that’s what we tell people. The epistemology isn’t important here. They are a really tasty nut, plus hazelnuts are known for going well with chocolate.


Other nuts

different types of nuts

You can use any nut you choose. Even a walnut. Go ahead, use the mildly bitter ubiquitous ruin of fudge and carrot cake, it’s your cookie to experiment with. Pecans, however, are an excellent alternative to use. They cook well, with nice textures and good flavors. Truly almost any nut will work just fine, each bringing their own flavorful components.

Bar cookies

Fairly straightforward, this class of cookies are baked flat then cut into individual pieces to be served. They will often be less dough oriented compared to traditional cookies, layered or built in a pan before baking. Traditional cookie dough can be pressed into a flat baking pan, cooked, then cut into bars as well.


The Joy of Cooking 1953 version lists 20 variations of bar cookies starting with classic brownies and working up from there.

Oregon 7-layer bars recipe

Allen Bixby
Making the tasty and mysterious 7-Layer Bar
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Wait Time 0 minutes
Course Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine American food, Classic, Retro
Servings 24 person
Calories 278 kcal


  • 1-1/2 Cups Graham cracker crumbs (DIY 12 full crackers run through a food processor)
  • 10 Tablespoons melted butter
  • ¾ Cup semi-sweet choc chips
  • ¾ Cup white chocolate chips
  • ¾ Cup butterscotch chips
  • Cup chopped hazelnuts or nut of choice
  • 1 14 Ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Cup sweetened shredded coconut


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a bowl blend well graham cracker crumbs and melted butter
  • Line a 13×9 baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Coat paper lightly with cooking oil spray
  • Spread graham mix evenly and press into pan with the bottom of a glass or small pot
  • In a bowl mix all chips and nuts
  • Sprinkle chips and nuts evenly over graham mix
  • Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top
  • Spread shredded coconut evenly for the top layer
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until top is lightly browned
  • Let cool or chill completely before cutting


Difficulty: 1 spatula


Calories: 278kcal
Keyword 7-layer bars, coconut dream bars, dolly bars, making a 7-layer bar
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


About the Author Allen Bixby

A retired restaurateur, not quite ready to stop playing in the kitchen.

I have had the pleasure of watching amazing high end chefs, and classic American style diner cooking, creating a very diverse background with food. Add both parents teaching English, watching Julia Childs and Graham Kerr as a child, and learning to bake bread from my Finnish great grandma, and you get a decent recipe for a knowledgeable voice to write about food.

From recipe design to equipment testing, there is a broad spectrum of entertaining aspects of food and how we do what we do every day to feed our loved ones!

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