These Coconut Cream Bars are made with a soft, buttery cookie bar base topped with a light coconut frosting and toasted coconut. A quick and easy treat for spring or summer! Recipe includes a how-to video!
Easy Coconut Bars
These coconut cream bars are an irresistible mashup between coconut cake and coconut cookies. And I do mean irresistible, once I make them it’s essential I make myself a small ration then pack them up and get them out the door, otherwise I finish them off all by myself.
They’re soft and chewy, and they are topped with a new and improved coconut frosting. Thanks to a few tweaks, the frosting is now simpler and less sweet than the original recipe, but still just as tasty (tastier, honestly)! A bit of toasted coconut on top adds texture and a warm, toasty flavor, and they are ready to serve.
A recipe like coconut cream bars has a lot of potential to be too sweet. To help offset the sweetness, both the base and the frosting used here today are tempered by a small portion of cream cheese.
This adds an extremely subtle, nearly imperceptible tang, but it does wonders in keeping the bars from being too rich. I use this same trick in my sugar cookie bars, and sort of fell in love with it.
Why I think you’ll love my recipe:
- Ready in less than an hour!
- Satisfying, but not too sweet.
- Makes 24 servings, so it’s great for parties!
- Soft and chewy texture with a crunchy toasted coconut topping.
What You Need
While these coconut cream bars are simple, you should pay close attention to the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter. We’ll use unsalted butter in both the cookie bars and the frosting. Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature before you begin.
- Coconut. Use sweetened shredded coconut. While you technically don’t have to toast some of the coconut, I strongly recommend it. It just takes a few minutes to do and adds texture.
- Coconut extract. While this isn’t an ingredient I always keep stocked in my pantry, I do recommend it for this recipe, it makes a big difference! Without it, the bars are still good, but the coconut topping alone doesn’t pack as much of a coconut punch throughout the whole thing as I tend to like.
- Egg + egg yolk. An extra yolk adds richness to the dough and promotes a tender, chewy bite.
- Cream cheese. Besides tempering the sweetness in the frosting, just a small amount of cream cheese mixed into the dough makes the bars delectably soft and melt-in-your-mouth. The cookie bar base of this recipe is different than you may expect or be used to, it’s unique in its flavor and texture, and it’s just so dang good!
SAM’S TIP: I love topping off my coconut cream bars with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate. It adds a whole new dimension of flavor, and reminds me of my coconut macaroons!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Coconut Cream Bars
Make the Bar Layer
A simple but super tender cookie bar, this comes together quickly.
- Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and granulated sugar using an electric mixer. Do this until the mixture is light and creamy, about 1 minute on medium-high speed.
- Stir in the eggs and extracts until completely incorporated.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to the wet ingredients.
- Spread the batter into a parchment lined 9×13 pan and bake for 25 minutes at 350F. Let the bars cool completely in their pan before frosting.
Toast Coconut & Make Frosting
Toasting the coconut is, technically, optional, but it not only adds even more depth of flavor, it adds a pleasant crunch to the bars.
- Toast the coconut – While the bars cool, scatter ½ cup (60g) of coconut over a parchment lined sheet. Place in your 350F oven for 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the coconut from the oven, toss with a spatula, and cook in 3 minute increments until toasted. Let the coconut cool while you make the frosting.
- Make the frosting – Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, then stir in the extract and salt.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cookie bars.
- Add the coconut – Sprinkle the untoasted coconut over the frosted bars, then add the toasted coconut on top. Cut, serve, and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: Stay close by the oven while toasting your coconut, because it can burn quickly! Make sure to check on it frequently and give it a few turns with a spatula to make sure it’s cooking evenly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store these bars in an airtight container. As far as refrigeration goes, it’s really up to you and your comfort level. I’ve left desserts made with cream cheese frosting at room temperature for up to 2 days; but many people feel better refrigerating right away. Do what feels best for you and your family!
Yes! If you do, you will want to bake in a 9×9 pan and reduce the baking time (but not the temperature). I haven’t tried this myself, so I can’t say how long they will bake in a 9×9 pan (but please let me know if you try it!).
These are definitely sweet, but not cloyingly so, which is exactly what I’d aimed for. Adding cream cheese to the frosting and the base helps a lot with this!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Coconut Cream Bars
Buttery Soft Cookie Bars
Coconut Cream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) sweetened shredded coconut divided
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter softened
- 3 oz (85 g) cream cheese softened
- 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and prepare a 13×9 pan by lining with parchment paper (or lightly grease and flour). Set aside.
- Combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until light, creamy, and well-combined (about 1 minute medium/high speed).1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, 2 oz (57 g) cream cheese, 1 ¾ cup (350 g) sugar
- Add eggs, egg yolk, and extracts and stir well.2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.2 ½ cups (285 g) all purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
- Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, stirring on medium-low speed until completely combined.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake in the center rack of 350F (175C) oven for 25 minutes. Allow cookie bars to cool completely in pan before covering with coconut cream frosting. — Do not turn off the oven, you will use next if toasting your coconut.
Coconut Cream Frosting
- (Optional) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle ½ cup (60g) of coconut evenly over the cookie sheet. Bake in 350F (177C) oven for 4-5 minutes, remove, turn with spatula, and return to oven and repeat if needed in 3 minute intervals until coconut is lightly browned. Allow toasted coconut to cool while you prepare the frosting.1 ½ cups (180 g) sweetened shredded coconut
- Combine butter and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy.½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 3 oz (85 g) cream cheese
- Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until combined.2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- Add coconut extract and salt and stir until well combined.½ teaspoon coconut extract, ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Spread the frosting in an even layer over the cooled bars.
- Sprinkle untoasted coconut evenly over cookie bars then top with toasted coconut. Cut and serve.
- Optional: For an extra decadent treat, drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I originally published this recipe in April of 2017. I’ve updated the recipe because I felt the frosting on the original was far too sweet, so this version includes a less-sweet frosting. I’ve also updated the photos, improved the text to be more helpful, and added a how-to video.