Five Layer Bars
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Best Bake Sale's Five Layer Bars



Earlier this school year I was asked to co-host the bake sale for Kenya and Chloe's fall festival. While me and food seems like a natural pairing, I hadn't taken part in a bake sale or anything similar since the lemonade stand I set up at my back door when I was 8 years old. I was a bit nervous about taking on the responsibility, but I love my kids' school and was determined to help make it a success.

I picked up my copy of the Best Bake Sale Cookbook and started reading away. I went through it again and again, looking for the coolest recipes and ideas on how to make the event even better. The book's author, Gretchen Holt-Witt, wrote the book and created the organization, Cookies for Kid's Cancer, after her son Liam tragically passed away from pediatric cancer at just 6 1/2 years old. Gretchen is an incredible lady and the small world aspect to all of this is that I coincidentally sat next to her several weeks ago at a conference. I was thrilled to discover that she's working on another cookbook! Gretchen is a true inspiration for anyone wanting to make a difference.

I had the most difficult time deciding what I should make from the book as its pages are filled with so many mouthwatering recipes and pictures. I decided on these Five Layer Bars which also happen to be one of my childhood favorites. I made a double batch and then watched at the bake sale (which turned out to be a big success) as they vanished shortly after I put them out.

Check out the Cookies For Kids Cancer website to see how you can do something great through baking or simply buy Gretchen's inspirational book. Either way you will be helping fight pediatric cancer and joining in the mission to find a cure. And if you're having a bake sale or just looking to make your family a special treat, these Five Layer Bars are decadent and will be a big seller any time of year!

* Recipe from Best Bake Sale Cookbook by Gretchen Holt-Witt

Five Layer Bars  (24 Bars)

  • Prep Time: 5 mins,
  • Cook Time: 30 mins,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
Earlier this school year I was asked to co-host the bake sale for Kenya and Chloe's fall festival. While me and food seems like a natural pairing, I hadn't taken part in a bake sale or anything similar since the lemonade stand I set up at my back door...


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 sleeves graham crackers
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 - 14 ounces can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups walnuts, rough chopped


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. 2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with oil and line with parchment paper.
  3. 3. Place the butter and graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until the crackers are crushed and combined with the butter.
  4. 4. Place the crushed graham cracker mixture in the pan and pat down in an even layer to form the crust.
  5. 5. Sprinkle the coconut on top followed by the chocolate chips.
  6. 6. Pour the condensed milk evenly on top of the chips, then sprinkle the walnuts over the condensed milk.
  7. 7. Press the layers down gently and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. 8. Set aside to cool completely, cut into bars and serve.
  9. * Recipe from Best Bake Sale Cookbook by Gretchen Holt-Witt
Five Layer Bars

Nutrition Information

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  1. Gabriela

    February 3, 2014 at 2:32 am

    I have wanted that Handmade Chic for ages. It looks great. Not aavliable in Australia (not that I’ve found) so when I get something else I need/want from Amazon I’ll get it. I’m in no hurry as I haven’t got time yet. I’ve never bought anything from Amazon so that’ll be a first!

  2. Jesseca

    January 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    I LOVE 5 layered bars, but these looks so much more indulgent! This simple recipe makes my mouth water. I will be making these very very soon.

  3. Mary T.

    September 13, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’m not a coconut fan, but it seemed to add a bit of chewy texture to the bars. My whole family loved these!

    • Luc

      February 3, 2014 at 9:39 pm

      My wife kind of did the same thing when she saw the people from Rock n’ Roll Worship Circus at a cffeoe house in Longview, WA back in 2002. Didn’t know who they were, just that they were all dressed in goth and didn’t seem friendly. Then she went to Creation Northwest and they were there leading worship. That was an eye opener for her.

  4. Mikhail

    January 27, 2013 at 2:36 am

    I adore this dish!

  5. Carissa

    May 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Oh, and I didn’t have coconut or walnuts so I swapped them out for raisins and almonds and they turned out great.

  6. Carissa

    May 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I made these for my husband this week and he loved them! And his crew was envying them in his lunches all week so he brought in the rest of the pan to share with them yesterday. :)

  7. Annie

    May 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm


    Also have dairy allergy in the family. What to sub for condensed milk?

  8. Paige

    May 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Catherine, I met you at the fall festival last year and I had one of these bars at the bake sale! I didn’t know that you’d made them. = ) I was the blonde with the newborn and the two-year-old at the big dirt pile where the kids were digging for “treasure.”
    Keep the great recipes coming! Love the site.

    • catherine

      May 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      So nice to hear from you again! Please come say hi again this year. :)

  9. natalie

    May 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    hi, these look great. any suggestions for nut substitute. Kids cant have nuts/peanuts, or seeds(pumpkin, sunflower, ). Also , what can I replace the condensed milk with. No dairy in our house, due to allergies. Thanks

  10. Erika C

    April 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Where can you buy or which isle do they keep unsweetend coconut? I am having a hard time finding UNsweetened coconut at the grocery store! All I can find is the sweetened kind, which is pretty much overkill since this recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk.

    • catherine

      April 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      I always find it right next to the sweetened coconut in the baking aisle!

  11. Katherine

    April 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    These look terrific and I am excited to try them. However, I can’t stand coconut. Any thoughts on omitting or replacing that ingredient?


    • catherine

      April 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      I would just omit it if you don’t like it! :)

  12. cocovolleyball

    April 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you for the info about Gretchen’s cookbook. Went on Amazon and purchased one last night. I had no idea about children’s cancer treatment. I had cancer and wonder if my son will be free of it….
    Your bars look delicious. And thanks for the recipes and inspiration!!

  13. diane

    April 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    can we get the recipes to print without all the comments?
    and what about calorie info?

    • catherine

      April 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      If you click on “print this recipe” at the bottom of each post there are options to print as a full page or a 4×6 recipe card and that does not print out the comments, just the recipe! Although it is a weelicious goal, I do not currently calculate nutritional information. There are some great resources out there for doing so, though, like and :)

  14. Kim

    April 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for clarifying what a sleeve is. It actually turned out to not be any of the 2 ideas I had thought. I’m making these tonight!

  15. Tiffany walker

    April 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    My family lives the chewy granola balls!

  16. Debbi

    April 26, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Love the sound of this will be having a go at these. Like lisatu I live somewhere where you cant get Graham crackers but an American friend told me an alternative could be digestives I live in England

  17. lisatu

    April 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    How many cups of graham cracker crumbs does 2 sleeves make up. Im not sure where to get graham crackers in Ireland so would be making your homemade ones for this.

    Thanks in advance

    • Sarah

      April 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

      If you don’t have the time to make the homemade graham crackers (which are delicious by the way), digestives would work great as they are very similar to US store-bought graham crackers (a little heavier perhaps as graham crackers taste almost like a cross between tea biscuits and digestives, but they’d still be a great substitute).

    • catherine

      April 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      It makes about 2 cups!

  18. jessie kanelos

    April 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I’m already dreaming about these with chocolate chips and dried cherries. Fetch the graham cracker sleeves!

  19. Libby

    April 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    These are a family favorite, except we call them 7 layer cookies and we add butterscotch chips, as well. So good! (we count the butter as a layer). To save time and cleanup, Wei just melt the butter and pour it in the bottom of the pan, and then sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top and let them soak into the butter. No food processor needed!

    • Roxanne

      May 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      We also call these 7 layer bars and add butterscotch chips. The butterscotch chips really make them awesome! And when I just make them for my family I leave out the nuts, for me it doesn’t take away from the flavor at all, but I don’t usually care for nuts in baked goods.

  20. Jennifer

    April 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    What can you use instead of Walnuts? We have tree nut allergies and was wondering if peanuts would work as well?

    • catherine

      April 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      You could substitute any type of nut you prefer! They will just take on the flavor of whatever nut you choose instead of the walnut flavor. :)

  21. Nicole

    April 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Isn’t the sweetened condensed milk full of too much sugar, or is it fine? What can you substitute for it. I’ve been wanting to make a healthy version of these but want close to the same taste as the original. Thank you!

    • Jennlittleton

      April 25, 2012 at 11:46 am

      U could use unsweetened condensed milk.

  22. Andrea

    April 25, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I have a hard time believing this recipe calls for 2/3 box of graham crackers. I’m hoping “sleeve” means “sheet”.

    • catherine

      April 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

      It is two sleeves of graham crackers, or 2/3 of the box! They are a layered bar and it doesn’t seem like so many graham crackers once you get them ground!

      • Andrea

        April 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Thank you for the clarification. I guess I’m picturing a pie pan, not a 9×13.

      • Jennlittleton

        April 25, 2012 at 11:47 am

        Catherine is correct. 2/3 box

  23. Diana

    April 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Instead of Graham crackers, can quick oats be used instead? Make it a bit healthier and solid??

    • catherine

      April 25, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Quick oats would probably work in these bars! That will change the consistency and flavor of the finished product.

  24. Holly N.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Gonna try this recipe on Sunday for our family dinner. Thanks!

  25. Shira

    April 25, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I love these bars!!!! Thanks for sharing Cookies For Kids Cancer info.

  26. Michele

    April 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Kim, a sleeve is one of the 4 portions. These look delicious!

  27. Kim

    April 25, 2012 at 8:46 am

    What’s a graham cracker “sleeve”? Is it the whole thing that you pull out that’s actually made up of 4 portions? Or is it one of those portions? I assume the former, but wanted to make sure.

    • catherine

      April 25, 2012 at 11:37 am

      There are usually 3 “sleeves” in a box of graham crackers. It is the wrapped portion that holds a group of graham crackers together!

    • Diana

      April 25, 2012 at 10:19 am

      The sleeve is one of the pre-wrapped portions that you pull from the box. The sleeves help keep the crackers fresh and unbroken. You also find sleeves in Ritz crackers and Saltines.

  28. heather

    April 25, 2012 at 8:07 am