M&M Christmas Cookie Bars

These thick and chewy M&M Christmas Cookie Bars are perfect for your holiday cookie exchange and holiday get-togethers! Every bite of these easy holiday cookie bars is packed with red-and-green M&M's and chocolate chips.

Stack of four thick cookie bars with a milk bottle behind the bars.
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If you're anything like me, we could all stand to keep a super easy, holiday dessert recipe up our sleeves, with all of the holiday commitments we have coming up!

M&M Christmas Cookie Bars are the secret I've been keeping up my sleeve, and you need to know about them.

December 2021 Update: I am so glad you guys love this recipe as much as I do! I am so happy that it's one of your holiday favorites, too. I updated this recipe with some new tips for making these cookie bars, including specialty ingredients, variations and step-by-step instructions. If you make this recipe, I'd love it if you left a 5-star rating and a comment letting me know how it went!

M&M's Christmas Cookie Bar recipe

M&M's cookie bars are so soft and chewy and packed with both Christmas M&M's and chocolate chips. They are made in a 9x13 pan so they can serve a crowd and they are so easy to make.

These holiday cookie bars are perfect for sharing at any gathering!

This recipe for Christmas cookie bars is exactly that for me, and here's why:

  • They are incredibly easy to make. No need to chill the dough or use any fancy equipment.
  • They have a perfect, chewy and soft texture.
  • You can quickly whip up a dessert that will feed a crowd or halve it if you just want a treat for the family.
12 squares of bookie bar sliced with gaps. A hand reaches in from the right and is picking up a square.

Holiday baking season is one of the best times of the year, and you can never really have enough cookie recipes. Especially easy ones.

This recipe is my right-hand man when it comes to desserts around the holidays. The recipe comes together in minutes, bakes quickly and serves a crowd easily.

Whether you're putting together a cookie tray for neighbors, need a recipe for a cookie exchange or just want something quick for a holiday get-together maybe a Christmas wine party?), I think this recipe can be your right-hand man too.

This recipe makes 2 dozen cookie bars, which is plenty for a crowd! Make a double batch if you need more.

2 cookie bar squares with red and white striped cloth from above.

To make M&M's cookie bars for Christmas, you don't need a lot of fancy ingredients. However, there are a few tricks that will make a big difference.

You will need the basics for this recipe:

  • unsalted butter
  • light brown sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • eggs
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt

If you are able to splurge on a nicer flour like King Arthur or White Lily and a quality vanilla extract like Nielsen-Massey, it will seriously make your cookie bars level up.

You can also choose to sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt. That's one of my favorite ways to upgrade a chocolate chip cookie.

Oh, and we've got to talk about chocolate! That's a key part of this recipe.

Best M&M's for cookie bars

Of course, you will need Christmas colors of M&M's! Or you can get a big bag and pick out all the red and green ones. 

Feel free to substitute any other color of M&M's for other seasons! (I have a few ideas below.)

You can also experiment with the dark chocolate M&M's or white chocolate M&M's.

Chocolate chips

For the chocolate chips, you're going to want to buy "semisweet." M&M's are made of milk chocolate, so the darker flavor of the semisweet chips pairs really well.

I recommend the Ghirardelli brand because they get very melty, which is welcome in these bars. If you have a favorite brand of chocolate chips, just use that! Tollhouse is another reputable brand.

However, you can get milk chocolate chips for a sweeter flavor, or use bittersweet chocolate chips for a dark chocolate flavor.

Variations of M&M Cookie Bars

Christmas cookie bars with white chocolate: Substitute half the chocolate chips with white chocolate chips. This would make these Christmas cookies have more color and flavor!

Peanut butter M&M cookie bars: Substitute half the chocolate chips with peanut butter chips. This would be great for the peanut butter lovers out there! (No Bake Peanut Butter Bars would also be a big hit, just saying).

Pretzel M&M cookie bars: Add in ½ cup of broken, crumbled pretzels for some sweet and salty flavor. You may wish to sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt for extra crunch and flavor!

Bowl with part made cookie mixture with a whisk lifting it part way out of the bowl.

These holiday M&M cookie bars have a similar consistency to a thick, chewy blondie.

They have a buttery, brown sugar base to the recipe and then flour is gently mixed into the batter in stages.

You can make these by hand with a whisk, or by using a stand mixer or hand mixer. It's just personal preference.

I'm usually a fan of using my mixer, but love making these by hand using a whisk and flexible silicone spatula.

Collage of 8 images showing the various stages of making the bars.

Step by step instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl mix together melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Then add in eggs and stir until batter is like a thick caramel.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Then pour flour into batter, roughly a ½ cup at a time, folding batter over itself to smooth any ribbons of flour into the batter. The batter will be very thick.
  4. Add in red and green M&M's and chocolate chips to batter and gently combine.
  5. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly. Top with additional M&M's and chocolate chips if desired. Bake at 350ºF for 26 minutes.
  6. Remove parchment paper from pan and set on a cooling rack to cool. You will want to wait to cut them until they have cooled down for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide into 24 squares.

Hot Tip: I usually cut the edges and corners off so that I get clean edges on all of my bars.

The cooked and cut bars waiting to be eaten shown from above with an empty plate in the top left corner.

The red and green M&M's add lots of festive holiday color, but it doesn't stop there.

If you have friends who celebrate Hannukah, for example, you can make them a batch of these cookie bars with M&M's in Hannukah colors.

You can of course use any color combination or seasonal M&M's if you want to make these another time of year! Here are a few ideas:

  • Classic M&M Cookie Bars: Use a whole bag of the classic red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown M&M's.
  • Valentine's M&M Cookie Bars: Mix in red, pink and white M&M's, or simply just pick out the red ones from a colorful bag.
  • St. Patrick's Day M&M Cookie Bars: Go for green M&M's (or green, white and orange, like the Irish flag) for a fun twist
  • Easter M&M Cookie Bars: Grab a bag of the pastel-colored Easter M&M's for a pretty, spring-colored treat.
  • Red, white & blue M&M Cookie Bars: A patriotic look can be made with red, white and blue M&M's.
  • Halloween M&M Cookie Bars: Use orange and brown M&M's for a spooky twist!
  • Thanksgiving M&M Cookie Bars: To get a fall look, use red, orange, yellow and brown M&M's.

Did you know that you can order M&M's in custom colors? This means you could even make these for a bridal shower in the wedding colors, or in themed colors for a baby shower.

How do you know if the bars are cooked?

The cookie bars will be golden brown and firm, but soft and gooey on the inside. You can use a toothpick to see if the cookie bars are completely cooked. A little under-done just makes these cookies extra soft and chewy.

No, mixing this recipe by hand is perfectly fine. It comes together like chocolate chip cookies.

Mixing by hand is a great way to keep yourself from over-mixing the batter, as well. Ask me how I know!

This recipe is really simple to make, so you don't need much!

A stack of 4 cookie bars surrounded by red and white cloth. With a fallen stack to the right and M&Ms scattered on the surface.

Do you use unsalted or salted butter?

There is nothing wrong with using salted butter, but you will want to skip the salt in this recipe.

However, I always use unsalted butter in my baking, for a few reasons:

  1. Salted butter can vary greatly between brands. I always use unsalted so I can control exactly how much salt goes in my recipes.
  2. Salt is a preservative, which means salted butter could be much older than unsalted butter which won't stay on the shelves at grocery stores as long.
  3. I always have unsalted butter on hand so I never have to worry about needing to run to the store to get it before I can bake up some goodies.

You can freeze butter for up to four months, then defrost it for use in your baking.

How should you store these once baked?

After your cookie bars have baked and cooled, store them in an airtight, food-safe container for up to one week.

You may wish to separate them with layers of wax paper or parchment paper to keep them from sticking together.

Yes, you can make M&M sugar cookie bars with a mix! Make your sugar cookie mix according to package instructions. At the end, mix in M&M's and chocolate chips.

Every year my friend Erin at The Speckled Palate hosts a virtual cookie exchange during which some of the best food bloggers around the web share their favorite cookie recipes.

Learn more about The Sweetest Season and see the round-up of this year's cookies at The Speckled Palate

I make this cookie recipe consistently EVERY YEAR, multiple times during the holidays so I had to include it in the exchange.

Check out some of the other cookies that I've included over the years:

Pin this recipe for later!

These thick and chewy M&M Christmas Cookie Bars are perfect for your holiday cookie exchange and holiday get togethers! These easy cookie bars are packed with red and green M&M's and chocolate chips in every bite.?

As always, if you make this recipe, I'd love to know how they turn out! Leave a comment with a rating on this recipe to share your thoughts. 

Christmas M&M cookie bars stacked up on a black plate with red and white napkin to the side.

M&M Christmas Cookie Bars

These thick and chewy M&M Christmas Cookie Bars are perfect for your holiday cookie exchange and holiday get togethers! These easy cookie bars are packed with red and green M&M's and chocolate chips in every bite.
4.60 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24 cookie bars
Author: Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted
  • 2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Christmas M&M's

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl mix together melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Then add in eggs and stir until batter is like a thick caramel.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Then pour flour into batter, roughly a ½ cup at a time, folding batter over itself to smooth any ribbons of flour into the batter. The batter will be very thick.
  • Add in red and green M&M's and chocolate chips to batter and gently combine.
  • Pour into baking pan and spread evenly. Top with additional M&M's and chocolate chips if desired. Bake at 350ºF for 26 minutes.
  • Remove parchment paper from pan and set on a cooling rack to cool.
  • Use a knife or bench scraper to divide into 24 squares.

Notes

The cookie bars will be golden brown and firm, but soft and gooey on the inside. You can use a toothpick to see if the cookie bars are completely cooked. A little under done just makes these cookies extra soft and chewy.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g

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36 Comments

    1. You definitely could! The M&M's have a nice crunch to them though. If you do, I probably would do slightly less choc chips than a 1:1 replacement.

  1. Is there a reason the recipe doesn?t have baking soda in it? I?m kind of scared to try it without baking soda or baking powder in it.

    1. It's not a mistake - it doesn't need it! The bars don't really rise, they just bake through 🙂

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    1. Thank you LeAndra! I hope you get to enjoy these this holiday season. They truly are a favorite of mine!

  3. Oh, Madison, these bars make me SO happy! And I wish we lived closer because I would absolutely be raiding your kitchen for some of these this season. I love your sharing tips, too, and CANNOT wait to make these with my girls! Thanks for sharing and for participating in this year's exchange, friend!

    1. Thank you for putting it together! I SO wish we lived closer so we could bake all the things together.

  4. I can just imagine how thrilled my co-workers would be if I showed up with a big ol' plate of these guys!!!

  5. I?m all for the easy recipes at this time of year! These festive cookie bars will be loved by everyone I make them for!

  6. Such a nice treat to munch on during the holidays! Love the crunch and the color coming from the M&Ms and the fact that you can bake them in a large baking dish!

  7. I always buy a bag of Christmas M&Ms and bake a big batch of chocolate chip cookies or magic cookie bars. But this year I'll definitely be using them in these cookie bars! They look so chewy and festive! Perfect with a glass of egg nog!

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  11. These look soooo yummy! My favorite Christmas cookie is a good ol' fashioned chocolate chip cookie (with mini chips). 🙂

  12. Ahhh! Definitely drooling over here! These look so good! I'm making little treat boxes this year for some family members and I think I'm going to include these! Yum!

  13. Those M&M bars look SO GOOD. We just made sugar cookies last night and decorated them with red and green frosting to take around to the neighbors. They're not near as pretty as your bars!