What do you get when you snuggle buttery sweet, chewy oatmeal cookies with rich, silky smooth chocolate filling? Decadent fudgy oatmeal cookie bars that will make you swoon with delight, that’s what. These scrumptious cookies are a marriage made in dessert heaven. They go together in a flash, they travel well and best of all, you can eat them out of hand. No need for plates and forks!
You’ve seen them in bakeries and coffee shops.
They go by various names, including revel bars, chocolate oatmeal bars, and oatmeal fudge bars. You might have paid a small fortune for them, too. I’m always astounded at the hefty price tag simple cookies like these wear. (Another example is lemon bars – why are they so expensive when they’re so easy to make? But I digress. *ahem*)
Now, you can make your own fudgy oatmeal bars with simple, pure ingredients and no preservatives. AND this recipe will stock your cookie jar for days and days with plenty left over to share (if you can bear to part with them).
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This oatmeal cookie travels well.
This is no wimpy, delicate morsel, and frankly, they’re not the prettiest cookies on the block. But what they lack in “cookie glamour” they more than make up for in taste sensation.
These babies are sturdy, and once cooled, they stack well in food storage containers.
Fudgy oatmeal cookie bars don’t need refrigeration and keep well at room temperature. I recently made a batch of these gooey bars to take on a 9-day camping trip. They lasted 6 days because we shared them with other campers, who went wild for them.
(For another another chewy, nutty oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe, try these “cowboy cookies.”)
Simple steps + simple ingredients = decadent cookies
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This old-fashioned recipe is so simple a 3rd-grader could make it (with a bit of help from you). With a few common ingredients such as butter, brown sugar, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk, you could throw these together on a whim. And the taste is out of this world with the chewy sweetness of the oatmeal layers balanced by the rich dark chocolate fudge filling, finished off with the crunch of toasted walnuts. It’s an explosion of flavor and texture in every bite.
Fudgy oatmeal bars in less than an hour.
Part of what makes these tantalizing cookies a family favorite is the speed at which they go together. Sometimes you want cookies *right now!* but you don’t want to spend time forming dozens of individual morsels. That’s where bar cookies come in.
The oatmeal mixture is pressed into a baking sheet, creating an oversized chewy cookie as the base. Then a rich, velvety smooth chocolate mixture is made with chocolate chips, butter, and sweetened condensed milk melted together. Toasted walnuts are stirred in, and this mixture is spread on top of the base layer. Small pieces of the remaining oatmeal cookie mixture is dropped on top of the chocolate layer. Then the whole thing goes into the oven until the top oatmeal pieces are golden brown.
Boom, you have oatmeal chocolate deliciousness that’ll have you craving another piece. And why not? They contain oatmeal, which makes them healthy, right? And kind of breakfast-y too. Right? *ahem*
Basic steps to fancy pants cookies
- Combine the rolled oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- Beat the butter for 30 seconds, then add the light brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat until combined. This will be a very stiff mixture.
- Pat ⅔ of the cookie dough mixture into an ungreased cookie sheet. Set aside. Note that I’m using my hand. An offset spatula doesn’t work as well with this dough – it’s too sticky. So I lightly flour my fingertips and pat the dough into place. (The slight little bit of flour that stays behind won’t affect the cookies.)
- Melt sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butter over low heat. Stir until smooth.
- Stir in toasted walnuts and vanilla.
- Spread the warm chocolate mixture on top of the oatmeal layer.
- Drop the remaining oatmeal dough in small bits onto the chocolate filling.
- Bake until the top oatmeal layer is lightly browned. The chocolate filling will still look moist – this is how it should look.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Cut into bars.
You’ve got questions? I’ve got answers.
I forgot to soften the butter – now what?
I rarely remember to set butter out for an hour to soften, so I use this quick trick instead:
- Slice the first stick of butter into 8 pieces (you can eyeball this) onto a dinner plate equal distance apart.
- Microwave for 8 seconds.
- Dump the pieces into the mixing bowl.
- Repeat with the second stick of butter, and continue assembling ingredients.
When you’re ready to start preparing the cookies, the butter will be soft enough for use.
Can I use any canned milk?
No. Evaporated milk is simply milk that is reduced in volume by the removal of water during a heating process. Sweetened condensed milk has also had much of the water removed, but contains 40-45% sugar. It is a thick, milky substance that adds a sweet creaminess to recipes and firms up during the baking process.
These two products cannot be used interchangeably.
What kind of oats should I use?
Always use rolled oats when baking oatmeal recipes. Never use instant oatmeal, and likewise, don’t use steel-cut oats.
Quick-cooking rolled oats are what I use. The 5-minute oats are fine, too; they’ll just yield a slightly chewier texture, which some people prefer.
Can I use a hand mixer?
Of course! Just know that mixing the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture takes a bit of elbow grease with a hand mixer. A stand mixer does the job with ease, but I’ve made this with a hand mixer too. It’ll just take a little longer, and you’ll need to use it at high speed.
What pan should I use?
This classic recipe calls for a 10×15″ baking sheet, but I prefer a professional 12×18″ sheet instead, which yields a slightly larger, thinner cookie.
However, I’ve seen some bakers use 9×13″ pans and even go so far as to use an 8×8″ pan, which will yield extremely thick cookies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but keep in mind that these cookies are very sturdy – a little goes a long way. Not to mention such a small pan will only yield 9 squares. You’ll also need to adjust bake time accordingly for the smallest pan to ensure the base layer is completely cooked.
The two largest sheet pans deliver the most cookies.
- 12×18” – 48 bars
- 10×15” – 48 bars (slightly smaller and thicker)
- 9×13” – 24 bars
- 8×8” – 9 (extremely thick) squares
Why toast the nuts?
If you’ve never toasted nuts for baking before, this is a perfect time to start. It adds only a couple of minutes to the prep time, but the results are fantastic.
Toasting nuts is easy peasy. Just measure out a generous handful or two of nuts on a small baking sheet and put it in the oven when you first turn it on to preheat. Bake for 6 minutes ONLY (nuts burn quickly!), then remove them and let them cool on the baking sheet while you prep the rest of the recipe.
By the time you’re ready to chop them, they’ll be room temperature and crisp with a delightful toasted flavor. (I always toast a few extras for eating out of hand.)
Note: if you don’t like nuts, don’t use them. They’re not essential to this recipe. But they do add a lovely crunch to the finished bars.
How do I measure ⅔ of the oatmeal mixture?
I’m glad you asked! I eyeballed this step for years with mixed results. And then, two years ago, it finally occurred to me to weigh the mixture with my trusty kitchen scale. Problem solved!
Just place an empty bowl on the scale, reset to zero, then put the oat mixture into the bowl. Remove 2/3 of the dough by weight and set it aside for the cookie base. Leave the remaining 1/3 for the topping. In this case, my dough weighed almost exactly 3 pounds, so I removed 2 pounds, leaving a skosh less than 1 pound in the bowl.
How do I know when the oatmeal bars are entirely baked?
Fudgy oatmeal cookie bars are done when the top oatmeal layer is light brown. The chocolate layer will still look moist, and the toothpick test won’t work because of this. Trust your eyes and focus on the oatmeal layer, not the chocolate one.
How should I store these cookies?
Fudgy oatmeal cookie bars don’t need to be refrigerated. Cover the pan airtight with foil or plastic wrap and store for 4-6 days at room temperature. Or store them in a plastic food storage container with a tightly fitting lid. This will keep them the freshest. You can also cut them when cooled and wrap each bar in plastic wrap.
Indulge in a pan of these classic fudgy oatmeal bars for your next gathering
Or make a pan for yourself. Either way, make these asap. They’re a simple, sturdy, yet slightly extravagant sweet treat your family and friends will love. (And will love you for baking!)
Fudgy Oatmeal Cookie Bars
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Baking sheet (various sizes, see Notes)
- Kitchen scale (optional)
- 3 C quick cooking rolled oats
- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 C butter
- 2 C packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 C chocolate pieces
- 1 14oz can sweetened condense milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 C chopped walnuts (toast before chopping – see Notes)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350° Place unchopped nuts pieces on a baking sheet and place in oven for 6 minutes.
- Stir rolled oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a large mixer bowl, beat the 1 Cup butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl.
- Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 60 seconds.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and beat just until incorporated.
- Add 2 tsp. vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.
- Place 2/3 of the oat mixture in the bottom of an ungreased baking sheet. Pat the mixture until the bottom is fully covered.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine chocolate chips, 2 Tbsp. butter and sweetened condensed milk.
- Heat, stirring constantly, until fully melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
- Stir in chopped walnuts and 2 tsp. vanilla.
- Spread chocolate mixture on top of oatmeal layer.
- Dot with remaining oat mixture.
- Bake in 350° oven until oat topping is lightly browned. Chocolate layer will still appear moist. (This is ok.)
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Cut into bars.
- Store at room temperature for 4-6 days, tightly covered.