Recipes for Bars and Squares

Get Mom's favorite recipes for bars and squares. They are all so easy to make from scratch, and you'll love how they turn out. And, believe me, you'll love even more how delicious they taste!

Enjoy a variety of mouth watering homemade treats featuring the tantalizing flavors of marshmallow, coconut, peanut butter, walnuts, caramel, dates, and rich creamy chocolate.

Get Recipes for Bars and Squares

Homemade Caramel Nut BarsMake Mom's Delicious Dessert Bars and Squares
(Source: ©manyakotic/

Mom's Recipes for Bars and Squares

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

Magic Cookie BarsMagic Cookie Bars With Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chips
(Source: ©AEPhotos/

Squares and bars are always a popular sweet to serve on any occasion, and these old fashioned recipes for bars and squares were some of Mom's favorites. I just know you'll love them.

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 pkg Reese's® peanut butter chips
1-1/3 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for glass dish). In 13 X 9-inch baking pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle crumbs over butter; pour Eagle Brand® evenly over crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients; press down firmly.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill thoroughly in fridge and cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature. Makes 2 to 3 dozen bars, depending on the size you make them.

Magic Cookie Bars Variation

When I make cookie bars using recipes for bars and squares, I don't prefer coconut so I leave it out.

And when I put the sweetened condensed milk in, I first melt caramels in with the condensed milk — I'm really big on the chocolate/caramel thing!

But, I also don't limit myself to just chocolate chips. I put in whatever I have in my cupboard; it might be white chocolate or butterscotch. I just mix a variety together.

I have also put in some toffee bits to add a little crunch to it. VERY RICH TASTING! —Anon

Fruit Filled Chocolate Bars

Homemade Fruit Filled Chocolate BarHomemade Fruit Filled Chocolate Bar Cookies
(PD Source: Unknown Magazine Clipping)

This baked squares recipe makes enough cookie dough for both fruit fillings, or for one fruit filling doubled in quantity.

4 Squares Baker's® Unsweetened Chocolate
1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 Cups sifted flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup butter or shortening
1 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Egg, unbeaten
2 Tablespoons milk
1-1/2 Teaspoons vanilla flavoring

Combine chocolate and milk in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water until blended and thickened, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and continue cooking 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cream butter thoroughly, add 1 cup brown sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well.

Stir in chocolate mixture, milk, and vanilla. Add flour all at once and mix well. Chill overnight or until firm enough to roll.

Divide dough in six equal parts. Roll each portion of dough 1/8 inch thick on slightly floured board, into rectangular sheet 4-1/2 x 12 inches.

Spread 1/3 cup filling (below) in 1-1/2 inch strip down center of dough. Fold dough over filling, brush edges with milk, and seal. Place seam-side down on ungreased baking sheet and brush with milk.

Bake in moderate oven (350°F) 20 minutes, or until done. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then cut diagonally in bars, 1 inch wide. Makes about 5-1/2 dozen bars.

Fig Filling With Walnuts

Combine 2/3 cup ground figs, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 4 teaspoons grated orange rind in saucepan. Cook about 4 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.

Add 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnut meats. Cool. Makes about 1 cup filling.

Pineapple Coconut Filling

Mix 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, a dash of salt, and 2 tablespoons canned pineapple juice in top of double boiler. Add 2/3 cup canned crushed pineapple, well drained.

Place over boiling water and cook 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 2/3 cup flaked coconut. Cool. Makes 1 cup filling.

Old Time Nut Dessert Squares

Like many old fashioned recipes for bars and squares, this one is taken from an old time newspaper clipping. Baked treats like these were quite popular in the first half of the 20th century.

Cream 1/2 cup shortening. Blend in 1 cup white sugar, 2 eggs beaten well, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add 1-1/2 cups flour which has been sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour into a shallow greased cake tin. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Beat the white of 1 egg until stiff and then fold in 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Spread carefully over the nuts and bake in a slow oven (275°F) for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 15 delicious squares.

Vintage Raisin Squares

1 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup shortening (or 1/3 cup butter)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats

Melt shortening and pour into mixing bowl, stir in brown sugar and molasses. Add unbeaten egg and beat mixture thoroughly. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into the mixture. Then blend in rolled oats and raisins that have been rinsed and drained.

Turn mixture into greased 8-inch square pan and bake at 350°F for about 25 to 30 minutes until done. Remove from oven, let cool, and cut into squares for serving.

Chocolate Walnut Squares

Beat one egg with one cup brown sugar. Pinch of salt; then add one cup of chopped walnuts, one tablespoon grated chocolate, six tablespoons sifted flour with a little, very little, baking soda. Bake for twenty minutes. When cold, cut in squares. —Neighborhood Cook Book (1914)

Raspberry Cream Squares

Fluffy and fruity and oh so vintage, this is another one of those old fashioned recipes for bars and squares that's a keeper!

16 Graham wafers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 package frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 package whipped topping

Roll Graham wafers and mix with sugar and butter. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs for topping. Press remaining crumbs in 8 x 8-inch pan and bake at 325°F for 5 minutes or until brown.

Defrost package of frozen raspberries. Drain off juice, then heat, and thicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. When cool, add berries and spread on crust.

Whip 1 package of topping and when stiff, spread evenly on berries and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top.

Colored Marshmallow Squares

Shortbread Base Layer:

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
Pinch of salt

Mix as shortbread, press in pan, and prick with fork. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F.

Marshmallow Topping:

2 tablespoons gelatin powder in 1/2 cup water; soak as directed on gelatin package.

Bring to a boil 2 cups white sugar and 1/2 cup water, let boil 2 minutes. Add hot sugar mixture to gelatin and beat by hand or mixer until like marshmallow. Spread over baked layer.

May add chopped cherries, or almond flakes with a bit of almond extract to all or part of mixture. Color all or part of mixture pink, white, or green to suit the occasion.

Old Fashioned Recipes for Bars and Squares

Submitted by E. Pearson

Marshmallow Shortbread Squares

Hi! If you're collecting recipes for bars and squares, here's a really good one. My grandmother got it from a neighbor back in her day. We make these marshmallow shortbread treats every year for Christmas and other holidays.

The Marshmallow Shortbread Squares recipe is written on Grandma's recipe card with brackets and directions on each side of the sets of ingredients, so I'll try to make it clear. —E. Pearson

Baked Layer:


3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups flour

Pat in 8 x 8 inch or larger pan — bake 15 minutes at 350°F.

(We double this quantity for a 9 x 13 inch pan and then it's a little thick, so it has to bake longer; check at 25 minutes, in this case.)

Topping Layer:

Bring to boil, simmer 15 minutes...

1 envelope Knox gelatin
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar

Add food coloring of choice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, as desired), dash of salt. Add 3/4 cup powdered confectioners sugar slowly to gelatin mixture. Beat until stiff, then pour over baked layer. Optionally, sprinkle coconut on top.

I hope this dessert recipe is close enough that you can make it like the ones that you fondly remember! :)

Fannie Farmer's Recipes for Bars and Squares

The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1916)

Spicy Walnut Molasses Bar

1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup lard, 1/4 cup boiling water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon soda, 3 cups flour, 1/2 tablespoon ginger, 1/3 teaspoon grated nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon clove, 1 teaspoon salt, chopped walnut meat.

Pour water over butter and lard, then add sugar, molasses mixed with soda, flour, salt, and spices. Chill thoroughly, roll one-fourth inch thick, cut in strips three and one-half inches long by one and one-half inches wide. Sprinkle with nutmeat and bake ten minutes (325°F).

Caramel Nut Bar

2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup boiling water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons English walnut meat finely chopped, halves of walnuts or almonds to garnish.

Caramelize two tablespoons sugar, add butter and water, and boil two minutes. Remove from fire, add remaining sugar, flour mixed with salt, and walnut meat.

Spread in pan. Crease in two-inch squares, and decorate with nutmeats. Bake in a slow oven (325°F), and remove from pan at once.

About the Recipes for Bars and Squares

Homemade Hermit SquaresGrandma's Hermit Squares are Easy to Make
(Source: ©myviewpoint/

Are they bars, squares, or candy? You decide! Make tasty treats perfect for serving at parties, taking on picnics, and for placing in lunchboxes for a delicious homemade treat.

Squares and bars can traditionally have one or several layers with textures ranging from cake-like to soft frosting. They are prepared in a cake pan whether baked or unbaked, and afterwards cut into squares or rectangles for serving.

Talk about your comfort foods, homemade squares will leave you wanting more, so plan to double the recipe or make two or three varieties to satisfy the dessert lovers.

And remember, besides being the perfect dessert for a birthday or bake sale, a box full of assorted squares makes a perfect homemade gift for someone special.

Memories of Mom's Home Baking

One of my fondest childhood memories is the sweet aroma wafting through the house on Monday mornings when Mom lit the fire in her kitchen stove and began the weekly baking.

Nowadays, realtors will sometimes reheat an apple pie in the oven before hosting an open house, knowing the aroma of home baking comforts people and make the house feel homey.

Baked treats weren't only for taking to parties in Grandma's day. Squares, scones, cookies, and buttered slices of banana bread offered a convenient afternoon snack and a late evening snack after the day's farm chores had gotten done. Life was good!

In the midst of our hectic lifestyle, it's comforting to return to Mom's old fashioned recipes for bars and squares and recreate homemade treats that are always comforting and delicious.

I Really Enjoy All the Recipes

I really enjoy the recipes for bars and squares and the pics that go with them; have tried many and hope to try many more. Your grandmother must have loved being able to show her love through her baking; this grandmother is the same. —Gwen, U.S.A.

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