These gooey chocolate chip M&M cookie bars are so thick and chewy, and they’re filled with semi-sweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate M&Ms, and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Such an easy cookie bar recipe for any occasion.
I love M&M chocolate chip cookies, and if possible, these M&M cookie bars are even better. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with M&Ms are impossibly thick and gooey, so soft and chewy, and even have an extra dose of chocolate on top.
I’ve always been a sucker for cookie bars. They’re a bit like cookies on steroids, you know? They’re so gooey (especially in the center!), super thick and chewy, and have chocolate (and lots of it) in every single bite.
These M&M chocolate chip cookie bars are dressed up for Valentine’s Day, with both the Valentine’s Day M&Ms and the heart-shaped chocolates. I’m also a sucker for festive desserts, and being that I love all things red, pink, and white, next to Christmas, Valentine’s Day desserts are at the top of my list.
These festive Valentine’s Day dessert bars are about as cute and easy as they come.
Why I Love This Recipe:
- It’s easy. There’s really nothing better than an easy dessert bar recipe, and these M&M cookie bars are 100% easy. You make the dough, spread it in the pan, and bake.
- You can use any chocolate chips you like, any M&Ms you like, and any chocolates on top. It’s a very customizable recipe.
- These chocolate chip cookie bars use simple ingredients—you probably have the majority of them in your pantry right now.
- They’re rich, gooey, and very chocolatey.
- No chilling required.
Other Cookie Recipes To Try Next:
- Chocolate Chip Cookies (you can never go wrong with a classic!)
- Marshmallow Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cookie Bars
- Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- unsalted butter: I almost always use unsalted butter because I get to control the amount of salt I put into my baked goods.
- brown sugar: this adds molasses flavor while also keeping the cookie bars soft and chewy. I typically use dark brown sugar in all my cookie bar recipes, but you can use light brown sugar if that’s all you have.
- granulated sugar
- all purpose flour
- baking soda, salt, & sea salt
- espresso powder: this is an optional ingredient, but it really enhances the flavor chocolate. It’s my secret ingredient!
- vanilla extract
- chocolate chips: I used semi-sweet chips, but you can use any chips you want—milk, dark, white, butterscotch, peanut butter, etc.
- M&Ms: I used milk chocolate M&Ms, but peanut M&Ms, dark chocolate M&Ms, etc. would taste great.
- heart-shaped chocolates: I used Dove heart shaped chocolates (for Valentine’s Day), but feel free to use any chocolates you’d like. Or, feel free to omit if you’d like to.
How To Make Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with M&Ms:
- Wet ingredients: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg. Lastly, add in the vanilla extract.
- Dry Ingredients: Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.
- Chocolate: Add in the chocolate chips and M&Ms.
- Bake: Spread the dough into an 9×9 baking pan and bake until the bars are lightly golden brown on top.
- Cool: Let the bars cool 5 minutes before adding the chocolate on top. Press the chocolate lightly into the bars. Sprinkle with sea salt. (Optional, but sea salt really brings out the flavor of chocolate!)
M&M Cookie Bar Baking Tips:
- Foil Line Your Pan: Putting foil or parchment paper in your baking dish before you add in the cookie dough will make removing the cookie bars so much easier.
- Bake: Don’t over bake your cookie bars, otherwise they’ll be dry and crumbly. You want the bars to be lightly golden brown on top. Insert a cake tester into the center and if it comes out with just a few crumbs stuck to it. This ensures you’ll have gooey chocolate chip cookie bars!
- Get Creative: Mix up what chocolate chips you use. Use milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc. And, if you’re feeling really crazy, why not do a combination of them?!
- Store these in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
- These will stay fresh 3-4 days at room temperature, or you can store in the fridge to keep them fresh an extra day or two.
Make Ahead Tips:
- If you want to make these chocolate chip M&M cookie bars ahead of time, there are a couple options:
- Store the cookie dough in the fridge in an airtight container for 1-2 days. When ready to bake, pull the dough out of the fridge and press into your baking dish. Bake.
- Store the cookie dough in the freezer (in an airtight container). Let it come to room temperature before baking.
- You can also freeze cookie bars after baking, but this is my least favorite option. I feel like the cookie bars lose a little bit of their flavor when they’re frozen after being baked.
Doubling the Recipe:
- You can easily double the recipe for these dessert bars.
- If I’m doubling the recipe, I use a 13×9 baking dish.
M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Variations:
- add in chopped nuts, coconut, or toffee bits
- add in sprinkles
- use a combination of chocolate chips
- mix up what M&Ms you use: peanut butter, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, etc.
- switch up what chocolates you add on top: you can use milk or dark chocolates, caramel filled chocolates, peanut butter filled chocolates, etc.
How Do I Make These For Other Holidays?
- The best part about these cookie bars is that you can make these anytime of the year, for any holiday.
- These have Red, Pink, & White M&M’s for Valentine’s Day, but you can use any color and flavor of M&M’s.
- Turn these into Christmas M&M Cookie Bars by using red and green M&M’s.
- Use pastel colored M&M’s for Easter dessert bars.
- Make these a 4th of July dessert by using red, white, and blue M&M’s.
- Use traditional M&M’s for all other times of the year!
Final Tips & Tricks:
- Don’t over bake. Once they’re lightly golden brown and set in the center, take them out and let them cool. We want gooey M&M cookie bars, not dry and crumbly.
- Let the bars cool 5 minutes before topping with the chocolates. Lightly press them the chocolates into the cookie bars.
- Don’t forget to sprinkle with sea salt! The added salt is the pièce de résistance—it pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate flavor in the dessert bars.
- Pro Tip: Use foil or parchment paper to line your pan. It makes it much easier to cut and remove the cookie bars after they’ve baked and cooled.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup M&Ms
- 9 chocolates, unwrapped (I used dark chocolate, but you can use any kind)
- sea salt, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your 9x9 square baking pan (alternately, you can use an 8x8 pan as well—the bars will be thicker) with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.
- With a hand mixer or a standing mixer (you can do this by hand as well), cream the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Mix until well combined.
- Add in the egg, mixing until combined.
- Next, add in vanilla extract and mix.
- Add in flour, baking soda, salt and espresso powder (if using). Mix until just combined.
- Finally, add in chocolate chips and M&Ms and mix until combined.
- Press dough into the prepared baking dish in an even layer.
- Bake in the oven for 25-28 minutes, or until the tops of the cookie bars are lightly golden brown and the center is not jiggly when the pan is moved gently (alternately, you can use a cake tester to test the center of the bars. If the cake tester comes out clean with just a few crumbs stuck to it, the bars are done).
Allow the bars to cool 5 minutes before adding the chocolates on top. Press the chocolates into the cookies lightly. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
- Allow the cookies to cool at least 20-30 minutes more before cutting into squares.
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