These festive and delicious M&M Christmas Cookie Bars are the ultimate holiday treat destined to be the shining star dessert on your Christmas cookie trays! Overflowing with layers of sweet flavors and textures, one bite will have you merrily embracing the holiday spirit.
A melt-in-your-mouth shortbread forms the foundation, bringing buttery richness and a delicate crumb. Luscious butterscotch, bubbling up with brown sugar, corn syrup, and cream blankets the crust, adding sticky sweetness and gooey texture. Glossy melted chocolate flows over top, contrasting with decadent depth. And finally—the pièce de résistance—vibrant red, green, and classic M&Ms sprinkle joyfully over the chocolate. Each colorful candy coated treat adds little pops of crunch and chocolate delight to every festive bar.
Together these ingredients create holiday magic with contrasting flavors and textures in perfect harmony. Sweet and buttery, gooey and fudgy, crispy and crunchy. It’s a symphony of Christmas cheer in every tasty morsel! And did I mention how easy these are? Whip up a pan full for your next cookie exchange or to share at the office party. Or gift wrap rectangles for all your friends and family to spread holiday happiness bite by bite. Trust me, these will fast become a new Yuletide favorite you’ll want to make year after year!
So let’s get to baking, shall we? Read on for mouthwatering recipe details, pro tips for cookie success, and answers to your most pressing M&M Christmas bar questions. I can’t wait for you to experience these jolly jewel-toned treats. Just one little nibble and your heart will be filled with seasonal joy!
What kind of pan do you bake these in?
An 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan works best. Make sure it is at least 2 inches deep.
How do you make the crust?
The crust starts with melted butter and brown sugar for flavor. Eggs, vanilla, flour, and salt are mixed to form a dough that presses into the pan.
What goes in the butterscotch layer?
Brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and cream come together to form an ultra thick and gooey butterscotch that gets poured over the crust.
Do you bake the crust before adding the butterscotch?
Yes, the crust should be pre-baked for about 15 minutes before butterscotch is added so it holds its shape.
How is the chocolate layer made?
Melted chocolate chips and more cream make for an easy, fudgy chocolate layer that sets up on top.
When do you add the M&Ms?
The M&Ms are sprinkled onto the melted chocolate right after it is poured over the butterscotch layer.
How long does it take to set up?
After baking, these bars need about 2 hours to completely cool and for all the sweet layers to set up.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
- For the crust:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- For the butterscotch layer:
- 3⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
- For the chocolate layer:
- 3⁄4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups M&Ms
- First up, let’s make that buttery shortbread crust! Be sure your baking pan is well-greased, as this will help the finished bars lift out easily. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter and brown sugar vigorously for 1-2 minutes until fully blended and smooth. This beating helps cream them together nicely. Now crack those eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition to fully incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat in the vanilla until combined. Next, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour and salt just until everything comes together into a nice dough. Avoid over mixing at this stage.
- Armed with your festive red spatula, press that dough evenly across the bottom of the prepared pan, spreading into the corners and up the sides. Make sure you get a nice, even layer—this is the base of our whole creation! Pop the crust into the oven for 15 minutes until lightly browned. Take it out even if it still looks a bit underdone, as it will actually firm up as it cools.
- While the crust bakes, let’s make that sweet, decadent butterscotch layer! Grab your favorite medium saucepan. Over medium heat, toss in the brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup and cream. Heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes up to a low boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and continue stirring for about 5 minutes more until the mixture thickens to a beautiful butterscotch color and coats the back of a spoon. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the heat.
- Carefully and slowly pour the entire pan of hot, gooey butterscotch all over the prepared crust. Feel free to use a heat-resistant spatula to spread it evenly into the corners. Now the fun part – sprinkling on those chocolate chips! Distribute them evenly over the warm butterscotch so they start to melt just a bit. For ultimate coverage, I like to then drizzle the cream in a zigzag pattern over the scattered chips. After about 1 minute of melting time, take your green offset spatula and gently spread the chocolate into an even layer.
- And now, the grand finale—time to add in all those beautiful M&Ms! Sprinkle these joyful candies liberally over the melted chocolate by the handful until you have a vibrant, festive topping of red, green, orange, yellow and brown.
- Pop your masterpiece back into the oven for 20 minutes more until the chocolate layer sets. After baking, let cool completely in the pan for about 2 hours so all the layers have time to firm up. Then run a knife around the edges, grab the parchment handles, and lift out your block onto a cutting board. Slice into festive squares and watch them dazzle cookie lovers near and far!
- For festive looking bars, use red and green M&Ms or Christmas colored candy coated chocolate
- Substitute peanut butter chips or toffee bits for a portion of the chocolate chips
- For best results, allow to cool completely before cutting
- Store covered at room temperature up to 1 week
- These ship well to friends and family around the holidays
- Experiment with different crust flavors by using pecans or graham cracker crumbs
- For gift giving, wrap individual bars in colorful cellophane bags tied with ribbon