These gluten-free candy cookie bars are a fun spin on classic monster cookie bars. They’re the perfect way to use up leftover holiday candy!
With Halloween on the horizon and the holiday season approaching soon after, we’re all about to be swimming in candy!
Other than munching some right away, or tucking it into ice cream (we’ve been loving our Ninja Creami lately!), it’s so much fun to come up with recipes to use leftover Halloween candy.
My favorite thing to bake is always cookies & bars, so these gluten-free leftover candy cookie bars seemed like the perfect way to use all those mini candy bars and goodies headed our way.
Here’s what you need to make these gluten-free leftover Halloween candy cookie bars…
Our Gluten-Free Candy Cookie Bars Recipe, At A Glance:
Simple Ingredients To Start With
Our candy cookie bar base is a spin on gluten-free monster cookies! I love the oatmeal and peanut butter cookie base. (If you prefer a chocolate chip cookie base, you can try this chocolate chip cookie bars recipe instead.)
- Softened Butter. Rather than melted butter, we’re using softened butter to cream with the sugar. This will give our bars a soft, chewy cookie base that’s the perfect canvas for candy!
- Brown Sugar & White Sugar. The perfect blend for softness & moisture. I use light brown sugar but dark brown sugar can give you a more intense flavor, if you prefer.
- Creamy Peanut Butter. Smooth peanut butter works better than crunchy peanut butter for these cookie bars. Do NOT use natural peanut butter here, as it will give the bars a dry, crumbly texture. Stick with brands like Skippy, JIF, and Peanut Butter & Co.
- An Egg & An Egg Yolk. Using one whole egg plus an extra egg yolk gives these cookie bars the BEST texture. (Don’t know how to separate an egg? Try one of these tricks!)
- Vanilla Extract. Always a must for me!
- Gluten-Free Flour. Keep it simple with a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum. We love this one from King Arthur for all our cookies & bars!
- Gluten-Free Quick Oats. Using quick cooking oats rather than rolled oats/old-fashioned oats gives these candy cookie bars the best texture. Make sure your oats are certified gluten-free!
- Baking Soda & Salt. For puff, spread, and balance.
- Semisweet or Dark Chocolate Chips. I like dark chocolate since the candy we’re using makes things pretty sweet, but you can absolutely use semisweet chocolate chips here if you prefer.
- Gluten-Free Candy! Chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel-type candies tend to work best, so choose some of your favorite candy bars to toss in. Need some ideas? Check out the next section!
GLuten-Free Candy To Try For Candy Cookie Bars
So what kind of candy works best in Halloween candy cookie bars? If you’re making this for someone with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it’s critical to use ONLY gluten-free candies! Brands are regularly changing their suppliers, manufacturing processes, and more, so always double-check your candy before baking with it. Exactly what you choose to mix and match is up to personal preference, but here are some options to try:
Gluten-Free Candy Bars:
- Snickers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Three Musketeers, Butterfinger, Heath Bars, Hershey’s milk chocolate bars, Almond Joy, Mounds, Pay Day, Skor, Baby Ruth, UNREAL coconut bars, peanut butter cups, almond butter cups, and Enjoy Life bars.
Other Gluten-Free Candy To Try:
- M&Ms or M&M minis (Check our list of gluten-free M&Ms for more options!), Reese’s Pieces, Rolos, Milk Duds, YumEarth Choco Yums, UNREAL Chocolate Gems
What To Avoid:
- Avoid fruity candy like Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, gummies & Starburst) The flavor & textures don’t work here.
- Mint candy (like York Peppermint Patties) as the flavor will clash
- Also watch out for Gluten-Containing Candy, like Twix, 100 Grand, Crunch Bars, Milky Way bars, Whoppers, and Kit-Kat which are NOT gluten-free.
How To Make Gluten-Free Candy Bar Cookie Bars, Step By Step
- Prep The Candy. Start by preparing 1-2 cups of candy for the top of the cookie bars and 1 cup of candy for inside the cookie bars. Cut fun-size candy bars into bite-sized pieces or thin slices if desired, and cut any larger candies in half (like Reese’s cups). You can leave smaller candy (like M&Ms or Rolos) whole. Freeze 1-2 cups candy bar pieces for the top of the bars on a baking sheet or plate while you make the cookie bars. (You don’t need to freeze the 1 cup of candy for inside the bars.)
- Preheat The Oven & Prep The Pan. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 metal pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Cream Butter & Sugars. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer), combine the softened butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Cream on medium speed 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Mix In the peanut butter until fully combined, then add egg and egg yolk 1 at a time, until fully blended. Mix in the vanilla.
- Add Dry Ingredients. Scrape down the edges of the bowl again, then add gluten-free flour, gluten-free quick oats, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Stir on low until almost blended with just a few powdery patches left.
- Add 1 cup Candy. Then, add 1 cup of candy–chop up any candy bars into small pieces, then mix into the cookie dough just until evenly blended.
- Bake. Pat the cookie dough out into your prepared baking pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. (An offset spatula makes this easy!) Bake cookie bars at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until no longer wiggly in the center. They may seem slightly underdone–don’t over-bake! They’ll continue to set as they cool.
- Quickly Top The Bars. Right after removing the cookie bars from the oven, sprinkle the top of the bars with chocolate chips. Let the chocolate melt slightly–I put the pan back in the (now off) oven for 30-60 seconds to help) then spread a bit with your spatula. The melted chocolate will act as “glue” for the rest of the candy. Top with the chilled candy from the freezer and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.
- Cool until completely set. Let the bars cool completely before cutting into squares or rectangles. You can chill the bars in the fridge to help speed this process along. For the cleanest cuts, chill the bars before slicing. I like to cut the bars into 9 large squares, then cut each square in half, for 18 rectangles. You can also cut them into 16 squares.
- Store leftover halloween candy cookie bars in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Cookie Bar Tips To Help You:
- 3 Ways To Separate Egg Yolks & Egg Whites
- How to Get Eggs To Room Temperature Quickly
- How To Measure Flour Correctly (Scoop & Level Method)
- How To Check If Your Baking Soda Is Fresh
- How To Measure Butter (Sticks, Tablespoons & More!)
- 8 Cookie Tools We Use All The Time
- Our Favorite Baking Pans For Every Job
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free CAndy Cookie Bars
Which Candy Bars Are Gluten-Free? Hershey has a great filter feature on their website so you can see all their gluten-free candy bar products. They have lots of options, from Reese’s, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, Mounds, Almond Joy, PayDay. Then, there are things like Three Musketeers, Butterfinger, and Snickers! Avoid candy bars that contain gluten, like Twix, KitKat, and 100 Grand.
A Trick For Pretty Cookie Bars. One secret to getting a really pretty look is to add the cookie in groups of 3 or 5 and fill in the gaps with M&Ms. (Rather than just placing it all randomly.) For instance, add Snickers in 3 different places, then add Rolos in 5 different places, Heath in 3 places, etc. It’ll help you balance the candy visually and give the bars a more dynamic, balanced look.
CHILL The Cookie Bars Before Slicing. For best results, cut the bars COLD for the cleanest cuts. Otherwise, it’s easy to end up pushing the candy down into the cookie bars.