Delicious chocolate oatmeal bars, with a creamy, fudge-like chocolate filling. Can be made ahead and they keep and travel well. Perfect for picnics, bbqs and bake sales.
Why you’ll love these chocolate oatmeal bars
- These chocolate oatmeal bars are delicious and always a crowd-pleasing treat!
- These cookie bars are a sturdy and neat bar, so they cut and travel well.
- These chocolate and oat bars can easily be made ahead. They keep well when stored in the fridge up to a week (and they also freeze well!).
- Make a little or a lot. These are great for bake sales, picnics or bbqs.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Sweetened Condensed Milk – Most brands of sweetened condensed milk come in 300 ml can (or about 10oz), so you won’t use all of the can for a single recipe. Don’t throw the extra out though, as you can stir it into your iced coffee for a Vietnamese coffee!
Quick oats – aka quick cooking oats. These are the smaller pieces of oats. If you only have large-flake oats, just run them through a food processor (or you can chop down by hand with a knife a bit), before measuring. I haven’t tested with “Instant” oats. Steel-cut oats would not be suitable here.
Chocolate chips – regular, semi-sweet chocolate chips are all you need here.
Walnuts – to add walnuts or not to add walnuts? Without walnuts, you’ll have a silky smooth, chocolate filling, combined with the oatmeal cookie-like base and topping. This simpler version produces a delicious bite, that is most likely to be liked by all, if you happen to be making for a crowd, children etc.
Adding in the walnuts adds another flavour and texture layer and because walnuts are every so slightly bitter, it tempers the over-all sweetness a bit. It’s a bit like the difference between chocolate fudge and chocolate walnut fudge or brownies. Both good … but different. Try both ways and decide which you prefer.
Step 1: Mix up the dry ingredients and set aside.
Step 2: Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, then spoon in the dry ingredients.
Step 3: Remove about 1 cup of the oat mixture and set aside. Press the remaining oat mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined baking dish.
Step 4: Make the chocolate filling by combining the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until melted, then stir in the vanilla and walnuts, if using. (I used walnuts here, which is why my chocolate filling looks chunky. If not using walnuts, the chocolate filling should be completely smooth).
Step 5: Spoon the chocolate filling over the oat base and smooth out to cover completely.
Step 6: Drop the reserved oat mixture in dollops over-top of the chocolate, then bake.
- When pressing the base into the pan, try to get it as even as possible, but don’t stress any small gaps, as the base will expand as it cooks and fill in nicely.
- If your hands are sticking to the base, run under cold water, shake off the excess and press.
- I’ve included weight and metric measures here and I encourage you to bake from the weights if you have a kitchen scale. Baking with weights ensures that the bake turns out every perfectly and the same every time, since it eliminates any potential differences in cup sizes and measurement techniques (eg. how you measure flour).
Making ahead, storing and freezing
Don’t hesitate to make ahead, as these keep really well stored in the fridge! You can easily make a day ahead, store uncut and well-covered in the fridge, then cut and enjoy next day. The chocolate filling stays soft, so no worries about needing them to sit to soften. I actually enjoy them right from the fridge.
Store in an an air-tight container in the fridge, where these bars will keep for at least a week. The cookie part does tend to soften slightly as they sit, but they are still delicious.
These bars will freeze well up to 2 or 3 months.
Feeding a crowd? Double the recipe and bake in a 9×13-inch pan or triple the recipe and bake in an 11×17-inch pan. (use the “2X” or “3X” button on the Recipe Card to automatically double or triple the ingredient amounts).
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, reduce to 1/4 tsp if using salted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk, about 3/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsps
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F (regular bake/not fan-assisted). Reduce oven temperature by 25F if using a glass pan.
- Spray a 7x11-inch baking pan with baking spray and line the bottom and long sides with a piece of parchment paper, overhanging the sides by an inch or so, to use as handles to remove from the pan later. *Alternate pan options: 8x8 or 9x9-inch pan. If doubling the recipe, use a 9x13-inch pan. If tripling, use an 11x17-inch pan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
- Make the crumb mixture: In a large bowl with an electric beater or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix until well blended. Remove and set aside about 1 cup of the crumb mixture (180-200g), well packed. Press the remaining oatmeal mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the baking pan. (If sticking to hands, rinse hands under cold water, then shake off excess, then press in). Base will seem thin, but will expand and fill in as it bakes.
- Make the chocolate filling: In a large saucepan, combine the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, salt and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is completely smooth. Remove from the heat, then stir in vanilla and walnuts, if using. Spread filling evenly over the crust in the pan. Drop small dollops of the reserved oatmeal mixture randomly over-top.
- Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and the oatmeal dollops on top have started to become a little golden. If doubling or tripling, the baking time may be slightly longer. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan set on a wire cooling rack before cutting into squares. *I like to refrigerate in the pan for a bit before cutting, for the neatest cuts.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Enjoy cold from the fridge or at room temperature. These will also freeze well up to 2 months.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!