Skip the cookie scoop and make these chocolate chip cookie bars in the pan for a golden-brown, tender crisped outside and perfectly chewy middle, loaded with semi-sweet chocolate goodness.
Chocolate chip cookies: amazingly delicious and everyone’s favorite, but a time-sucker when it comes to portioning out large batches of individual scoops on baking trays ’til the dough runs out.
Solution? Spend less time in the kitchen when you skip the scoop. Instead, press the dough into a single baking pan to cook all at once in my grandma’s super easy recipe for chocolate chip cookie bars.
Are these bars better than chocolate chip cookies? I haven’t decided yet. Guess I better bake up another batch…
What’s In Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Instead of making a big batch of our favorite Milk Bar salted chocolate chip cookies or my family recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that makes 36 cookies, this recipe makes a nice and tidy 16 squares for days when the cravings strike and you don’t need a lot of tempting leftovers.
This recipe calls for nearly the same list of ingredients as regular chocolate chip cookies, but in smaller portions:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
- Light brown sugar
- Butter (Grandma called for shortening, but I found it didn’t give the cookies enough flavor)
- Vanilla extract
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate)
- Chopped nuts (optional)
How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Prepare the baking pan. Lightly butter an 8″ X 8″ baking pan, or for thinner bars, use a 9″ X 9″ pan. Because it has straighter sides that don’t curve and slope, this is my favorite 8″ X 8″ baking pan. I’ve also made these in 9″ pie tin and they turn out awesome when cut into pie shapes.
Raise the heat. I bake these cookie bars at 375°F instead of the standard 350°F cookie baking temp. The higher heat bakes the bars faster with less spread, thus, a thicker cookie bar.
Mix dry ingredients first. Like all cookies, toss the dry ingredients together—flour, baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt—in a small bowl. I don’t bother sifting, a simple whisking with a fork does the trick.
Blend softened butter with the brown sugar. Before mixing with the brown sugar, be sure your butter is soft and pliable. Because this is a small batch recipe, I use my hand mixer instead of the stand mixer, and if the butter isn’t soft, it’s a lot harder to incorporate the big chunks. Once the egg is added, the batter will come together better with the additional moisture.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet. Blend the flour with the sugar mixture, then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Skip the Scoop and Press Instead
Dig in and press. Add the batter to the prepared baking pan and lightly press the dough into corners of the pan, evening out the tops as you go. Keeping a light hand is best while evening things out.
Add more chips. Tuck in a few more chocolate chips to the top of the dough for the prettiest after-baking presentation.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 3 days before baking. Allow the dough time in the refrigerator before baking, This hydrates the flour and firms the butter so the dough doesn’t melt and spread at the first signs of high heat.
How to Tell When the Cookie Bars are Done
Knowing when these cookie bars are done is something you’ll both see and smell. The cookies should still be somewhat soft in the middle as they will continue cooking as they cool.
Here’s the telltale signs of knowing when the cookie bars are done:
- My number one barometer for doneness is when the cookie edges brown and pull away from the pan.
- Look for a golden crust. If the cookies begin to brown too much, loosely place a piece of aluminum foil over the top while finishing baking.
- Take a sniff, smell the aroma, and you’ll know it’s time.
How to Release the Bars From the Pan
Then, to release the bars from the pan, follow these easy steps:
- Cool the bars in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- Run a sharp knife around the edges of the cookies.
- Then, like we used to do at the Hostess Bakery where I worked summers during college, give the pan a bang on the counter to release it from the bottom.
- Spread your hand wide onto the cookie bars and quickly tip out onto your hand, then straight back to the cooking rack to finish cooling. Be careful and fast so the cookies don’t break apart.
Another option is to line the baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so the sides hang over, creating handles to pull the bars out of the pan all at once.
Or, cut the cookie bars while still in the pan, and use a spatula to dish out.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped nuts , such as pecans or walnuts
- Prepare an 8" X 8" baking pan with nonstick spray or grease with softened butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together on high speed until its light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat the batter until combined. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour to blend. Add the chocolate chips and chopped nuts, beating just until blended. Evenly press the dough into the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Remove from the fridge and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and edges are just beginning to brown. Place on a cooling rack. When cool, slide a knife around all of the pan's edges and flip the cookie bars out onto a cutting board to cut into bars.
- Store in plastic wrap or an airtight container for 5 days.
More Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
- Milk Bar’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookie Pops With Nutella®
- Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores
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I love chocolate chip cookies, they’re my favorite. I like the simplicity of this grandma recipe. I have to make some.
If I double this, do I use a 9×13 pan?
Yes Amanda, that would work.