Salty-Sweet Snack Drawer Bars

published Dec 3, 2021
christmas
Snack Drawer Bars Recipe

Snack drawer bars pack all your favorite snacks in one salty-sweet treat.

Makes16 pieces

Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

This recipe is from our Cookie Time Machine — a trip through the most iconic cookies of the past 10 decades, paired with 10 fresh twists for right now. Click here to see the most important cookies of the 1920s through today — and gaze forward with our Cookie of the Future!

These Snack Drawer Bars are my 21st-century nod to a bar with which I suspect you are familiar: the Seven-Layer Bar. Now, you might call it a Magic Bar, a Hello Dolly Bar, or even a Dream Bar. But lucky for you, it answers to any of those names and almost always consists of a graham cracker crust topped with layers of butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, shredded sweetened coconut, nuts, and sweetened condensed milk. milk. Yes, it’s true: That is only six layers, but thankfully I don’t have to worry about discovering what that 7th layer might be (white chocolate chips?) because I eschewed the name altogether and went with something snacky and therefore modern (putting the word “snack” in the title of baked goods, cookbooks, etc. is currently having a moment, in case you did not know). 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

Since the ’80s heyday of the Seven-Layer Bar, we’ve started craving more salt in our sweet, so I replaced the graham cracker crust with a thick, salty, slightly crumbly pretzel one. The savory-leaning pretzel crust is a perfect foil for the 3 different kinds of chocolate that get layered atop it. And then there are Cheez-Its and potato chips because it is snack time, friends! And although I omitted the nuts, the coconut is there in all its (toasted) glory. The hardest part of making these bars, besides having to wait to eat them while they set up post-bake, is assembling the crust — and that could not be easier. I mean, if you can pull out measuring cups and put things in them, you can make Snack Drawer Bars; bars that will please all the folks in your life who put M&Ms in their popcorn at the movies (and I hope there are many).

The Classic

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

For the classic 1980s cookie recipe, check out the Seven-Layer Bars.

Our Three Most-Loved Cookie-Baking Tools

Before you preheat the oven, gear up with these cookie-making essentials.

  • The Sheet Pan Every Kitchn Editor Owns: This sturdy, won’t-ever-warp pan is great for cranking out a ton of picture-perfect sweets. Bonus: It comes in great colors, which makes baking even more fun.
  • Our Tried-and-Tested Favorite Cooling Rack: We love these racks for their criss-cross design, which adds stability, makes sure your precious treats won’t slip though, and prevents the rack from wobbling or warping.
  • The Little Spatula That Every Baker Needs: This thin-but-sturdy spatula is great for gently loosening your cookies from the pan and transferring them to the cooling rack. It’s particularly handy for moving small or delicate treats.

Snack Drawer Bars Recipe

Snack drawer bars pack all your favorite snacks in one salty-sweet treat.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes 16 pieces

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • Cooking spray or softened butter, for the pan

  • 10 tablespoons

    (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

  • 3 cups

    mini pretzel twists (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup

    sweetened, shredded coconut (angel flake)

  • 1/3 cup

    bittersweet chocolate chips

  • 1/3 cup

    butterscotch chips

  • 1/3 cup

    white chocolate chips

  • 1 1/2 cups

    salted regular or kettle potato chips

  • 1 cup

    Cheez-It crackers

  • 1 cup

    sweetened condensed milk

  • Topping options: a few mini pretzel twists, assorted baking chips, crushed Cheez-Its, and a few tablespoons of sweetened, shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8x8-inch square baking pan lightly with cooking spray or softened butter. Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper that covers the bottom and extends up past two opposite sides by a few inches.

  2. Place 10 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted, about 45 seconds. Pour into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 3 cups mini pretzel twists, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until the pretzels are finely ground and evenly moistened, scraping down the sides of the bowl about halfway through, about 1 minute total.

  3. Scrape into the baking pan and evenly press into the bottom. Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate and bake until lightly puffed and just set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, place 3/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut on a baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Once the crust is ready, place the coconut in the oven and bake, stirring halfway through, until most of the coconut is light golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes total.

  4. Layer the bars as follows, do not stir together: Evenly scatter 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, 1/3 cup butterscotch chips, and 1/3 cup white chocolate chips over the warm crust. Coarsely crush 1 1/2 cups potato chips in your hands over the baking chips, sprinkling them evenly over the chips - a variety of potato chip-sizes is nice, so don’t worry about making sure they are all the same size. Coarsely crush 1 cup Cheez-Its over the potato chips the same way, evenly sprinkling them over the potato chips. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Pour 1 cup sweetened condensed milk evely over everything. Sprinkle more whole pretzels, assorted baking chips, Cheez-Its, and coconut over the top if desired.

  5. Bake until the top is lightly browned, rotating at the halfway point, 30 to 35 minutes (the center may still look a little pale, which is okay). Place the pan on a wire rack and let the bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bars. Grasping the parchment, lift the slab of bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Cut the slab into 16 squares.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.