Turn my soft & chewy TikTok viral chocolate chip cookie bars into the ultimate Christmas cookie bars! Add whatever mix-ins you like; holiday m&m’s, caramel, chocolate chips, pretzels, and more!
Why I Love These Easy Christmas Cookie Bars
- Soft & chewy: If you love my viral, 5-star chocolate chip cookie bars, you’ll love this holiday spin! The texture is soft & chewy and the pretzels & caramel add the perfect sweet and salty flavor (they use the same base as my kitchen sink cookie bars!). Some people call these “Santa’s Trash” cookies but I think that’s a little harsh… I mean, what did Rudolph do to deserve his antlers and red nose thrown in the trash?
- No scooping required! I love bar cookie recipes because they’re much quicker to make than individual cookies (but hey, you could totally use my kitchen sink cookie recipe for this too!).
- Perfect for holiday platters! Cut them into 48 bite-sized pieces for the perfect cookie platter addition! To do so, simply cut the bars into 12 squares and then cut each of those into 4 squares. You could also cut them into little “sticks’ by cutting into 12 squares, then cutting each of those into 2.
Jump down to the full recipe card for the ingredient amounts and condensed recipe instructions.
- Caramel: I used Kraft caramel and cut each into 8 small pieces (I also love Werther’s caramels but be sure they’re the “soft” ones and not the “chewy” version or they’ll be too hard). You can also use the Kraft “bits” but I find they don’t melt as well in cookies.
- Semi-Chocolate Chips: I like the taste of semi-sweet but you can do a mix of any kind you’d like! Milk chocolate or white chocolate would also work well in these.
- M&M’s: I use a simple holiday red & green mix!
- Pretzels: Any crunchy, salty pretzels will work. I usually use Rold Gold “Tiny Twists”.
- Unsalted Butter: Use real butter here, not margarine. To get that signature flat vs. puffy cookie, we’re melting the butter until it’s pretty hot & then slightly flattening the top of the scooped cookies.
- Sprinkles (optional): I like adding in some red & green jimmies sprinkles to boost the festive touch but they’re totally optional!
How to Make The Best Christmas Cookie Bars
Jump down to the full recipe card for the ingredient amounts and printable recipe instructions. The steps below show me making this Christmas cookie bar recipes with pictures.
Step 1: Chop Caramels
Cut 10 caramels into smaller pieces (for the Kraft caramel squares, I cut each into 8 pieces) and gently break pretzels into smaller pieces until you get ½ cup total. Set aside.
Tip: For an even easier recipe (with no prep work), you can leave the caramels out! I recommend 1½ – 2 cups of total mix-ins, so feel free to add more or less of each item as you wish!
Step 2: Mix Dough
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and cover with parchment paper (optional but recommended for easy removal).
- In a medium bowl, mix together melted unsalted butter (¾ cup), light brown sugar (¾ cup), and granulated sugar (½ cup) and mix until combined.
- Add in 1 large egg, 1 extra egg yolk, vanilla extract (2 teaspoons), baking soda (1 teaspoon), baking powder (¼ teaspoon), and salt (½ teaspoon). Mix until just combined.
- Add all-purpose flour (2 – 2¼ cups, see “notes section” in the recipe card below regarding flour amounts), semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ cup), M&M’s (½ cup), chopped pretzels (½ cup), chopped caramel (½ cup), and sprinkles (2 tablespoons). Stir until combined.
Step 3: Press Cookie Dough Into Pan
Press cookie dough into a greased, parchment-lined 9×13″ pan. Once smooth, sprinkle extra chocolate chips, m&m’s, pretzels, and sprinkles on top for an added festive touch.
Tip: Using the parchment sling will allow you to lift the cooled bars out of the pan so that you can use a large knife to make clean, downward cuts.
Step 4: Bake
Bake at 350°F for 16-18 minutes or until cookie bars are lightly golden brown (do not overbake, you want to underbake slightly for a gooey cookie). Allow the cookie bars to cool completely before cutting into squares/bars.
Step 5: Chill & Cut
To achieve clean cuts, I like to put the cooled bars in the freezer about 30 minutes to firm up the chocolate. Then, use a large knife to cut into 12 large, 24 medium, or 48 bite-sized squares, wiping the knife off every few cuts to avoid smearing any chocolate.
Tip: Dipping the knife in a cup of hot water & then drying it before slicing can also help create clean cuts.
Tips & Variations
- Cut into bite-sized pieces! For holiday cookie platters, cut these into 48 smaller squares by cutting the bars in 12 squares, then cutting each of those into 4 squares.
- Use any mix-ins: Use whatever mix-ins you’d like! Don’t want to add the caramel? Simply leave it out! These would also be good with white chocolate, peanut butter, or even butterscotch chips! No matter what you use, I recommend 1½ – 2 cups of mix-ins total.
- Make for any holiday! Customize to any holiday by switching out the color of m&m’s and sprinkles!
- Sprinkle with sea salt: To make them taste even more like Panera’s kitchen sink cookies (the holiday version of “Santa’s Favorite Cookies”, feel free to sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 1-2 months. Note the pretzels will soften with time, so if you want ensure the pretzels stay a little crunchy, I would make them the same day or 1 day before you plan to eat. To avoid that, simply leave the pretzels out.
To freeze, cool the bars completely before placing them into an airtight container or freezer bag for storage. They will keep in the freezer for 1-2 months.
I only use semi-sweet when I’m mixing them with m&m’s. Panera’s kitchen sink cookies (what this recipe is based on!) uses a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips, so you can totally do what you’d like! Dark or white chocolate chips would all taste delicious in these bars, as well.
I used Kraft caramel and cut them each into 8 small pieces (I also love Werther’s caramels but be sure they’re the “soft” ones and not the “chewy” version or they’ll be too hard). You can also use the Kraft bits but I find they don’t melt as well in cookies.
I sure do! Check out some of my other tried-and-true Christmas cookie bar recipes:
Cosmic Christmas Tree Brownies
Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie Bars
Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Did you make this recipe? If so, will you do me a huge favor and leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe? This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
The BEST Christmas Cookie Bars
Turn my soft & chewy TikTok viral chocolate chip cookie bars into the ultimate Christmas cookie bars! Add whatever mix-ins you like; holiday m&m's, caramel, chocolate chips, pretzels, and more!
Cut into 48 bite-sized squares for the perfect addition to your cookie platters!
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (not margarine) 1 ½ sticks, you will be melting this
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 yolk (i.e. 1 whole egg + 1 extra egg yolk)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour *see notes section below, you can add an extra 1/4 cup flour if your dough is too runny
Mix-Ins (2 cups total)
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup red & green m&m's
- ½ cup pretzels, broken
- ½ cup chewy caramels, chopped I use Kraft or Werther's Soft
- 2 tablespoons holiday sprinkles I use "jimmies"
Before you begin! If you make this, will you do me a huge favor and leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe? This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Chop caramels into smaller pieces (for Kraft caramels, I cut each into 8 smaller pieces).
In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt unsalted butter (¾ cup, 1 ½ sticks) for 20-30 seconds until JUST melted. (If your butter is steaming, let it cool down for a few minutes. Butter that is too hot can result in greasy bars and/or will cause the eggs to cook.)
Add in light brown sugar (¾ cup) and granlated sugar (½ cup) use a spatula to stir until combined (* do not use a mixer!). Add in egg (1 large), extra egg yolk and vanilla extract (2 teaspoons). Mix until combined.
Stir in baking soda (1 teaspoon), baking powder (¼ teaspoon), and salt (1/2 teaspoon).
Add in all-purpose flour (2 cups*) and mix until all the flour disappears into the dough.
Add mix-ins of choice. I used the following: semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ cup), milk chocolate chips (½ cup), pretzel pieces (½ cup), caramel pieces (½ cup), and sprinkles (2 tablespoons).
Press dough into a greased or parchment-lined metal 9×13" pan until smooth. If desired, press on a few extra mix-ins to the top for aesthetics.
Bake at 350°F for 16-18 minutes until edges and top are lightly golden brown and center no longer looks wet; some ovens may need up to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place entire pan on a cooling rack.
Allow the cookie bars to cool completely before removing from pan. Slice into 12 large, 24 medium, or 48 bite-sized squares (photo reference in blog post), then enjoy! To keep fresh, cover pan with saran wrap or place bars in airtight continer for up to 3 days (after that they start to dry out). See notes below for freezing tips.
Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe! This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
- *Flour: If your dough is super runny even after sitting for a few minutes, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of flour. But give it at least 5 minutes until you do this, as the dough will be on the softer side until the butter starts to cool.
- Chocolate chips: While I use semi-sweet chocolate chips, you can also use milk, dark, white chocolate, peanut butter, etc!
- To freeze: To freeze, cool the bars completely before placing them into an airtight container or freezer bag for storage. These will keep in freezer for 1-2 months.
Nutrition information is auto-calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Based on 12 bars.
Laura Kennedy says
Love the option of these bars. Soooo good
These were delicious and a hit at a cookie exchange. (Thank you for the tip to use a lighter colored pan!)
So glad to hear everyone enjoyed these cookie bars! Thank you so much for leaving a review, Lisa!
I made these! They are incredible, so gooey and scrumptious and really quick and easy to make. I made with all the same add ins and I find they are very rich and sweet, definitely suits being cut into the smaller bite sized versions for that reason! This is so going to be a winner on my Boxing Day bakes platter!
Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Sian! Thank you so much for leaving a review!
Olivia Marie says
These were delicious! My grocery store was all out of caramel so I used English toffee bits instead as part of my mix ins. These were a hit with everyone!
I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe, Olivia! The toffee bits sound like a great substitute! Thank you for leaving a review!
Jenna A says
These were a hit and a half at my partners work! They are super delicious, chewy and flavorful. I was worried that not leaving them to set in the fridge may not give them that rich flavor but they absolutely do! Easy peasy and so yummy. Making some more for Santa tomorrow. Thanks!
Yay, that’s awesome to hear everyone loved this recipe, Jenna! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!