They’re easy, delicious, feed a big crowd, and can be made ahead. In a word: perfect.
S’mores bars are a perfect potluck dessert, especially during summer—and an ideal choice for any summer celebration. While it’s not quite no-bake, our best s’mores bar recipe is absolutely worth turning on the oven for (for under 10 minutes). It takes just eight ingredients and about 30 minutes from start to finish. Plus, it can be made ahead, which is always a bonus.
Actual, good old-fashioned s’mores are not exactly complicated—roast a marshmallow, combine it with chocolate and graham crackers, et voila—and yet it’s surprising how often they just…don’t happen. When you’re camping, sure, but at cookouts and BBQs, the grill is often cold by the time you’re in the mood for dessert.
And while s’mores will easily feed a crowd (provided you have enough roasting sticks), they can make a huge mess. So consider our s’mores bar recipe a make-ahead, portable, crowd-pleasing alternative:
It involves all the usual suspects: graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate (although we swap in bittersweet for the usual, sometimes-cloying milk chocolate), plus the addition of caramel and pecans for extra texture and nutty flavor. We’re fans of hacking traditional s’mores with different ingredients, too, but leave out the nuts here if you like.
Truthfully, this is pretty much just a summerized version of our favorite easy holiday desserts: Christmas brittle (or “Christmas crack” to some) and its cousin, matzo brittle. The crisp base of graham crackers stands in for Saltines or unleavened bread, but the shiny caramel coating, rich chocolate top layer, and sprinkling of toasted nuts are all the same. There is, of course, the addition of mini marshmallows for both toasted crunch and interior chew (and because you can’t have s’mores without ’em).
This recipe makes 40 pieces, so we’re not kidding about the crowd-pleasing part. You make the s’mores bars on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, so clean-up is easy.
As for the caramel, you don’t even need a candy thermometer (seriously, making caramel is not scary if you just keep a couple simple tips in mind). Store the cooled and cut bars between layers of wax paper in an airtight container and they’ll last for up to 4 days, so you can get a jump on your party prep too.
And if you happen to bring them out while the coals are still hot, well, they are great warmed up a little bit on the grill.
- 16 (4-3/4-by-2-1/2-inch) whole graham crackers
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 6 pieces
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoons fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups mini marshmallows
- 1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/3 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with 2 overlapping pieces of aluminum foil so the entire sheet and all 4 edges are covered. Arrange the graham crackers tightly together in a single layer on the baking sheet, using broken-up pieces to fill any empty spaces; set aside.
- Place butter, brown sugar, and salt in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to dissolve the sugar, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat, slowly add vanilla (the mixture may bubble up), and stir to combine.
- Pour mixture over graham crackers and spread evenly using the rubber spatula. Evenly sprinkle marshmallows in a single layer over top. Bake until marshmallows are puffed and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Evenly sprinkle chocolate chips over the marshmallows and let sit until the chips are softened, about 5 minutes. Lightly drag a toothpick or skewer over the surface and through the softened chocolate chips to create a marbled pattern. Evenly sprinkle with nuts, if using. Let cool until warm, about 20 minutes, then refrigerate or freeze until the chocolate has set, about 15 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the s’more slab from the baking sheet using the foil to lift it in one piece. Transfer to a cutting board. Remove and discard the foil. Using a sharp knife, cut the slab into 2-inch squares. Store between layers of waxed paper in a container with a tightfitting lid; the bars will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
If you’re looking for s’more ways to make s’mores desserts, here are a few others we love: