Chewy M&M Cookie Bars

Thick and chewy M&M Cookie bars are the things dreams are made of. The first time I made this easy dessert recipe for was for 4th of July. 

plate of m&m cookie bars with text overlay for facebook


I needed a dessert that was easy to make, transport and could withstand being outdoors in the heat. M&M Cookie Bars ticked all the boxes. I set down the platter and came back 30 minutes later to find it empty.

Gone. They were that popular and the burgers weren’t even being served yet! I don’t even judge the people who eat dessert first. LOL. 

I ended up having to go home and whip up another batch of M&M Cookie Bars just so I could try them myself and I learned they are, indeed, that delicious

BEST Cookie Bars

These aren’t your regular sugar cookie bars…. oh no… they don’t even use cookie dough! Cake mix and pudding mix are the secrets to these bad boys.

The smell of the batter alone is pure, sugary heaven and the end result is reminiscent of a half baked cookie cake. Another weakness of mine… 

One thing I did learn- make these directly in the pan, preferably glass. The first time around I used parchment  and ended up with a globby mess instead of moist bars. They will get stuck in aluminum foil as well. 

bite taken out of m&m cookie bars in a stack

There are many reasons why these bars are loved, but here are a few specific reasons why we love them.

  • Simple ingredients – The ingredient list for these easy cookie bars is super short. We use a box cake mix, so no need for all purpose flour, dark brown sugar or unsalted butter.
  • Easy – Bar cookies are a great way to make a big batch of dessert without scooping individual cookies. Bar form is also the easiest way to transport them.
  • Family favorite – These bars are loved by people of all ages. Great for birthday parties, holidays, game day or any other get togethers you can think of.

You only need five, yes five ingredients to make these delicious cookie bars. Might as well buy the ingredients to make two batches now.

  • Yellow cake mix – Part of what makes these chewy m&m cookie bars so easy is that it uses a box cake mix. No flour, sugar or any of the other regular ingredients.
  • Vanilla pudding mix – Dry pudding mix adds so much sweetness and flavor to these chewy cookie bars. The vanilla flavor really makes them stand out.
  • Vegetable oil – The key to the chewy centers of this perfect treat is moisture, and we get that from both the vegetable oil and the eggs.
  • Eggs – In baking, eggs act as a binder. Simply put, this means that eggs help to bind all of the ingredients together. Always assume a recipe is calling for large eggs.
  • M&M’s – These candy coated chocolates add a nice little crunch that traditional chocolate chip cookies don’t have. They’re also so pretty and colorful! Feel free to switch them up by using different flavors. I’ve made them with the caramel stuffed and they were AH-amazing!
stack of three m&m cookie bars

You won’t believe how easy it is to make one of my favorite dessert recipes.

  1. Prepare oven and baking dish. Preheat oven and coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. Combine ingredients. On the large bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs.
  3. Add in M&Ms. Fold in 1 cup M&M’s. Do not over fold or the colors will start to bleed. 
  4. Pour batter into dish. Evenly pat batter into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining M&M’s and lightly press down.
  5. Bake. Bake until tops are uniformly light brown and it passes the toothpick test.
  6. Cool and cut. Remove and allow to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!


We love these delicious m&m cookie bars just the way the recipe is written, but there are plenty of ways to make them your own.

  • Add ins – Instead of M&Ms, you can totally mix it up and add other things in. White chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, peanut butter m&m, or any other of your favorite mix-ins would taste great.
  • Holidays – Turn these into holiday m&m cookie bars perfect for the holiday season by using only red and green m&m. They’d be a great addition to a cookie tray.
  • Topping – Take your cookie bars up a notch by sprinkling the top of the bars with sea salt or adding a drizzle of caramel (or both!) before serving! 
  • Nuts– Go nuts and add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts like peanuts, walnuts or pecans.
overhead shot of plate of cookie bars

Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing

Storage: You can store any leftover M&M cookie bars in an airtight container for up to five days. No need to refrigerate them.

Make Ahead: I make them up to a day in advance, but after that they start to dry out, like any bar dessert. For best results and soft and chewy bars, serve them the same day as baking. 

Freezing: Tightly wrap the bars individually and place in an airtight container or freezer bag for freezing. They will last for up to three months.

Do I have to use yellow cake mix?

Nope! If you are a chocolate lover, use chocolate cake mix. Want a party in a bar? Use funfetti cake mix. Any flavor you think pairs well with M&Ms is a good bet. 

Do I have to use vanilla pudding mix?

Same answer, nope. Use any flavor you’d like, but be mindful that is pairs well with the cake mix flavor of your choice. Vanilla is the most basic and will complement any cake mix. 

Can I use parchment paper in the prepared pan?

I haven’t tested out using parchment paper, but I do know that the batter didn’t get to a hot enough temperature to bake properly when I tried to use aluminum foil. If you test it out, let us know. 

Do I have to use M&Ms?

You can use whatever candy you desire. I liked M&Ms because of the candy coating- it won’t melt and make a mess in the heat, like an outdoor, middle of summer BBQ.

collage of cookie bars for pinterest

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M&M Cookie Bar Recipe

4.93 from 38 votes
Thick and chewy M&M Cookie Bars are perfect for your cookie exchange, dessert potluck or an after school snack using just a few ingredients! 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 20 bars



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer in a large mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, pudding mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs until almost smooth.
  • Fold in 1 cup of the M&M's. Do not over fold or the colors will start to bleed. 
  • Evenly pat the batter into prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup M&M's and lightly press down.
  • Bake the cookie bars for 25-30 minutes or until tops are uniformly light brown and it passes the toothpick test.
  • Remove and allow to cool. Cut into squares.
  • If you've tried these, come back and let us know how they were in the comments or star ratings.



Calories: 262 kcal, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 2 g, Fat: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 9 g, Cholesterol: 18 mg, Sodium: 220 mg, Potassium: 16 mg, Sugar: 24 g, Vitamin A: 60 IU, Vitamin C: 0.1 mg, Calcium: 66 mg, Iron: 0.7 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 262
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cookie bar recipe, cookie bars
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    They were so easy to make, and so yummy! Such a great treat. Also, I swapped the veggie oil for olive oil. Can’t wait to make them again!

  2. 5 stars
    Yum! I loved M&M as a kid, this recipe makes me feel all nostalgic. I’m going to sneak some M&M in a batch of cookies next time for sure 😉