Make Holiday Baking Easy with Crunchy Nut Bars!

I love to bake – a lot. And I rarely shy away from recipes that are time consuming, or even challenging, especially if the results are worth it.

But during the busy holiday season – when I’m churning out cookies, quick breads and barks on what seems like a daily basis – I really appreciate a quick and easy treat.

And bar cookies are my go-to each and every time.

When it comes to baking, bar cookies are both crowd pleaser and a dream for the baker. Whip up the batter, spread it in the pan, bake, cool and cut ‘em up.

If I have a last-minute “will you bring?” or need to add “just one more” item to a dessert table, or if I’ve simply misplaced my baking mojo well, it will almost always be a bar cookie.

And my favorite kind of bar cookie? Nut bars. While I’m not a fan of nuts in my oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies, the dense, buttery-ness of a bar cookie pairs beautifully with the crunch of some added nuts.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite nut bars for you to add to your holiday baking roster. These bars put nuts front and center, paired with unusual ingredients for an easy dessert you can pull together in a flash. Most freeze beautifully too, so you can get a jump on that baking “to-do” list – and you too, will come to love this category of dessert as much as I do.

Bar none.

  • Go "Nutty" for Nut Bars 1 of 23
    http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/rachael-ray-week-in-a-day-q-and-a/

    Crunchy, salty nuts add a depth of flavor to rich, sweet dessert bars!

  • Caramel Cashew Shortbread 2 of 23
    babble Caramel Cashew Shortbread Squares

    Roasted, salted cashews are covered in caramel and poured over a sugar cookie crust. Ready-made sugar cookie mix means you can have this dessert in your mouth in under an hour. Yes, please.

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Cashew M&M Pretzel Bars 3 of 23
    babble cashew m&m bars

    Buttery cookie dough is mixed with pretzels and topped with ganache. The finishing touch? Chopped cashews and M&M's. Salty-sweet takes on a whole new meaning here, don't you think?

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars 4 of 23
    babble chocolate pecan pie bars

    Here's a great example of the ease of bar cookies. A press-in crust means no rolling out finicky pie dough. And the topping contains all of the familiar flavors of your favorite pecan pie, with the always-welcome addition of chocolate chips. A nice alternative for your Thanksgiving table!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Extreme Brownie Bars 5 of 23
    babble extreme brownie bars

    Double-chocolate brownies are baked atop a graham cracker crust, topped with walnuts and hazelnuts and (are you ready?) finished with a hot fudge sauce. Extreme, indeed. But in the best possible way.

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Coconut Bars with Macadamia Crust 6 of 23
    babble Kiwi-Lime Coconut Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust

    Crunchy, mellow macadamia nuts provide the perfect counterpart to the rich and creamy lime, kiwi and coconut filling in these tropical bars.

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Lower Fat Whole Wheat Pecan Pie Squares 7 of 23
    babble Lower Fat Whole Wheat Pecan Pie Squares

    A healthier pecan pie bar? Indeed! Thanks to reduced fats and a whole wheat crust. Go ahead, have another!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Mocha Almond Brownie Bars 8 of 23
    babble Mocha Almond Super Fudge Brownie Bars

    I LOVE mocha almond fudge ice cream. And all of those ingredients are baked up here in these delectable, vegan bars!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Pecan Chocolate Chip Ginger Blondies 9 of 23
    babble pecan chocolate chip ginger blondies

    Another great example of easy to make, bake and freeze nut bars. These pecan chocolate chip blondies get a hit of allspice and ginger - for a holiday flavor that would be perfect for a cookie swap or bake sale!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Roasted Pear, Apple and Blueberry Pine-Nut Bars 10 of 23
    babble Roasted Pear, Apple and Blueberry Pine-Nut Bars

    Gorgeous! Crunchy pine nuts (my personal fave), baked in a sugar cookie crust, form the base of these unusual cookies. The topping is a mixture of cooked and lightly sweetened pears, apples and blueberries. I think these would be a lovely and unexpected treat to serve guests for an afternoon cup of tea. Or even breakfast. I'm just saying.

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Butter Pecan Squares 11 of 23
    buns in my oven buttery pecan squares

    Boxed butter cake mix gets an upgrade with lots of sweet and crunchy pecans. And it's topped off with a cream cheese-sugar filling that bakes up into a gooey bar with a buttery, golden crust. Oh my.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Buns In My Oven

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars 12 of 23
    buns in my oven pb&j bars

    Salted peanuts, over raspberry jam, over a buttery peanut butter cookie crust, turn your favorite sandwich into the most clever  bar ever. 

    Image and recipe courtesy of Buns In My Oven

     

  • Maple Pecan Shortbread Squares 13 of 23
    buns in my oven pecan shortbread bars

    A crumbly, brown sugar shortbread base is topped with the classic fall flavors of maple and pecan. These bars come together quickly, so you can indulge in this delicious treat any time!

    Image and recipe courtesy of Buns In My Oven

  • "Triple Threat" Brownie Bars 14 of 23
    buns in my oven triple threat brownies

    Here's the deal - a layer of  salted peanuts is nestled between layers of brownie, cream cheese frosting and (wait for it)  peanut butter-chocolate-rice krispies.  Crazy. Delicious.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Buns In My Oven

  • Coconut Banana Macadamia Bars 15 of 23
    crumb blog Honeymoon Blondies

    You'll think you're on a tropical island after one bite of these luscious gluten-free bars - filled with coconut, bananas and crunchy macadamia nuts.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Crumb Blog

  • Chocoate-Tipped Pecan Bars 16 of 23
    donuts dresses and dirt chocolate tipped pecan bars

    If you prefer a higher ratio of nuts to filling in your pecan pie, these are the bars for you. Small and thin - but devilishly good - these tiny bars pack a big punch.

    Get the recipe at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt

  • Praline Pecan Squares 17 of 23
    gourmandistan pecan praline bars

    Classic praline pecans are spread over a black-bottom crust, for a rich, indulgent taste.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Gourmandistan

  • Date Nut Squares 18 of 23
    spoonful date nut bars

    I love date-nut bread. And these yummy squares have all the same ingredients, spread atop a yummy oatmeal cookie crust. These would be a lovely chocolate-free alternative to bring to a holiday bake sale or cookie swap!

    Get the recipe at Spoonful

  • Magic Cookie Bars 19 of 23
    spoonful magic cookie bars

    "Magic" bars are one of those can't-mess-em-up recipes. Seriously, they always come out great - a perfect "starter" recipe for the novice baker. The secret? Sweetened condensed milk. There are countless variations on this classic cookie; this version contains chocolate and butterscotch chips, graham crackers, shredded coconut and lots of sweet pecans. Magic indeed.

    Get the recipe at Spoonful

  • Raspberry Walnut Bars 20 of 23
    spoonful raspberry crumble bars

    Talk about easy. The buttery oat cookie dough is both base and topping for these bars, baked around a layer of raspberry jam. Any recipe that comes together this quickly - with ingredients I probably have on-hand - is tops in my book.

    Get the recipe at Spoonful

  • Strawberry Almond Bars 21 of 23
    spoonful strawberry almond bars

    Love this so much. Only four ingredients - dates, almonds, strawberries and oats - get you to these pretty breakfast bars in no time flat. Dates are a natural sweetener, so no additional sugar is necessary!

    Get the recipe at Spoonful

  • Coconut Peanut Chocolate Bars 22 of 23
    texan erin Coconut Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

    These gluten-free vegan bars are no-bake too! Simply press in the ingredients and chill!

    Image and recipe courtesy of Texanerin Baking

  • "Better for You" Brownies 23 of 23
    spoonful better brownies

    Okay - brownies will never be considered "health food". But these chocolate-y nut bars are a little lower in fat and a little higher in nutrition, thanks to a secret ingredient you won't believe!

    Get the recipe at Spoonful

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