Looking for a soft and chewy cookie bar to make for dessert? These Congo Bars are loaded with chocolate and are easy to make with one bowl and one pan. The buttery chocolate chip cookie bars will disappear before you can even blink.
All through high school I made these chewy chocolate chip cookie bars of deliciousness for every youth group event that needed food. It was must my sure fire recipe that never failed me and was always asked for.
Every time I showed up with a pan, these cookie bars got devoured in no time at all. Then I went to college, got married, had kids, and forgot about those chocolate chip cookie bars.
Recently I was going through a box of old recipes I had kept, and I found my recipe card for these congo bars. Of course, we had to make them right away.
Why Make These Bars
Now you may think they are just a blonde brownie, so what is the big deal? I can't explain it. These classic cookie bars just have a slightly different taste than M&M blondies.
Each bar is soft and chewy and loaded with chocolate in every bite. Plus, they are easy to make with just one mixing bowl.
What are Congo Bars?
Congo bars are a vintage chocolate chip cookie bar recipe that can be found in your grandma's cookbooks and most church cookbooks. The bars are very similar to blonde brownies, but congo squares have a richer flavor.
Congo Bars Ingredients
These chocolate chip cookies bars come together quickly with just a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
- Butter - We like to use unsalted butter in our recipes, so we can control the amount of salt in each one.
- Brown Sugar - Two cups give these cookie bars a soft and gooey texture that is incredible.
- Eggs - Provides the moisture needed to bake the cookies.
- Vanilla Extract - Adds flavor to the dough.
- All Purpose Flour - Gives structure and stability to the baked bars.
- Baking Powder - Provides lift to the cookie bars as they bake.
- Salt - Balances out the sweetness.
- Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips - You can also use white chips, milk chocolate chips, or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.
How to Make Congo Bars
This congo bars recipe comes together in minutes. It is easy to mix the cookie batter in one bowl using a mixer.
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray or line it with parchment paper.
- Beat the softened butter and light brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat again.
- Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips gently.
- Spread the cookie batter in a prepared pan and bake.
On the Counter - Cover the pan tightly and keep on the counter at room temperature for 4-5 days.
In the Freezer - Wrap the entire block or single bars tightly in plastic wrap then place in freezer safe bags. Freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- For an amazing sweet and salty flavor, sprinkle the dough with course sea salt before baking.
- The key to these gooey bars is not to over bake them. I have always baked this recipe for 28-30 minutes. Never more, never less. This gives the bars a very slightly crunchy top and sides, but the center of the chocolate chip cookie bars stay soft and gooey.
- All ovens bake differently though, so this could affect the congo bars. We have lived in different places over the years, and I have baked them in so many different ovens, but I still stick with 28-30 minutes.
- They will look under done when you first pull them out of the oven, but trust me. Let them sit on the counter and cool completely before you touch them.
- The center will fall slightly, but this is normal. Just trust me, and do not bake them more.
- Let the cookie bars cool completely before cutting into squares. They will keep their shape better cold.
- Try a warm square with a scoop of ice cream on top. Holy cow! Cookie dough goodness with melty ice cream is pretty much the bomb!
- Use white chocolate chips to change up the flavor of the cookie bars.
- Add nuts or shredded coconut for a delicious taste.
More Cookie Bar Recipes
- Butterscotch Bars
- M&M Brownies
- Funfetti Bars
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
- Chewy Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars
- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
- Best Lemon Bars
- Blonde Brownies
- Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Love a recipe you tried from Inside BruCrew Life?
Please leave a 5 star ⭐️ rating and/or a review in the comments section further below.
(original photo from August 2010)
*The post and recipe for these Congo Bars was originally published August 24, 2010. The pictures and post was updated and republished on November 19, 2018.
I only have salted butter on hand - can I bake these with salted butter and leave out the salt? Thank you.
Yes, that would be just fine. You may need to add around 1/4 teaspoon of salt, but taste the dough first to see what you think. I hope you enjoy the bars!
Did you maybe take 'beat' literally and incorparte too much air using a moxer? Try mixing/creaming the ingredients together lightly and always by hand instead. Good luck!
Can someone help me? I have used this recipe dozens of times but my bars always end up fluffy and not gooey and underbaked. I leave them in for 30 minutes and I was thinking that I should put it in the oven with less time? My oven thermometer tells me that the oven is at the right temperature. Could I use a 1:1 ratio of melted butter instead?
I've never used melted butter for this recipe. My guess is to bake them for around 26 mins and see what that does. I always do 30 minutes for this particular recipe if I'm taking them somewhere or using them for a bake sale, but they are never fluffy. If it's for us, I will do around 28 minutes.
I made these the other day, I only had dark brown sugar but they worked out well! I added nuts. Thought they would taste awesome with coconut too, so I'll add that next time in addition to the nuts. 30 minutes was exactly perfect. Thanks for the recipe!
Finally, the perfect recipe for the Congo bars of my youth! Thank you for sharing!
I've made these bars so many times and everyone always loves them!!
I made these, but I substituted salted caramel chips instead of "just plain ol' chocolate chips". OMG! A-MAAAA-zing 🙂
Oh, that does sound absolutely amazing!!! I will definitely have to try that!
I couldn't stop myself while eating these. they're so good!
These turned out perfect, and underbaked is totally the way to go!
These are a family favorite, especially around Christmas!
I added a package of mint hot chocolate to the flour mix....OMG! So good!
Oh, my word! I love that idea!! I know what I want to make right away 🙂 Thanks for sharing your fun idea!!!
Oh my goodness I couldn't stop eating the batter lol! Please let me know what you think. Mine are fresh out of the oven and I want to dig into them so bad but I can't. Have to save them for dinner later!
This recipe came out horrible .. Either you gave the wrong ingredients or wrong cooking time , it came out like a hard cake !!!! Ruined my dinner!!!
I am so sorry that these didn't turn out for you, but the recipe is correct. I have had quite a few comments saying how delicious these were, so I know the recipe is ok. All ovens bake differently, so yours might run hotter causing the bars to bake faster.
These look amazing! Has anyone tried them without the chocolate chips? My daughter can't have chocolate, but she loves plain blondies and haven't found a recipe that we like!
I have never made them without chocolate chips, but I'm sure the plain blondie would be good. You could also substitute any candy she can eat. Can she have white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips?
I made them with butterscotch chips and they are delicious
I just made these and they are fantastic! Underbaking them is key . Thank you for the awesome recipe!!!! <3
I agree with you...under baking is definitely the way to go on these!!!
I just made these today and they did not come out chewy or underbaked at all! 🙁 I baked them for 30 minutes as advised...but they probably would've done better at about 20-25 minutes to come out with the same consistency I think!
Yes 20 min is all u need as they will continue to cook after there out of the oven.
All ovens bake differently, but I have never baked these bars for less than 28 minutes.
I grew up eating almost this exact same recipe made by my maternal grandmother. She called them Congo Squares. And the recipe does say to slightly underbake "they will seem not done, but they are." These ARE absolutely divine. If you haven't made a pan full, do so. You won't be sorry!
I just make these earlier and let me tell you.........AWESOME!!!! This recipe is a KEEPER! I think I might thow in some pecans the next time just to see how the combination of chocolate and pecans will be. I'm sure it will be just as delicious as this above recipe. Definitely give this recipe a try! Think you will agree that it's a keeper!
I am so glad to hear how much you like these. They are one of my all time favorites. I think the pecans in it sounds awesome too 🙂