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Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars

Preview: Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars, AKA Chinese Chews, combine a shortbread base with a coconut-pecan pie type of experience. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with a browned butter icing for a fabulous taste experience.

When approaching a pan of baked bar cookies such as these Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars or brownies, do you wonder how you’re going to get the first piece out without butchering it?

I’ve got the answer for you. It’s not complicated. Remember to do it BEFORE you put the cookies in the pan.

Don’t miss the mini-tutorial about how to quickly line a baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil for neat and clean removal of these cookies from the pan. BONUS: This secret makes clean-up a cinch!

Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars

Helen Corbitt first introduced me to a form of these cookies in her recipe, “Chinese Chews,” published in her “Cooks for Company” cookbook. Then, when I worked at the Greenhouse (a luxury health spa from years ago), everybody went crazy for them.

Ingredients and substitutions:

  • FLOUR: All-purpose flour is always my first choice.
  • BROWN SUGAR: There are lots of substitutes for brown sugar. I would try coconut sugar in this recipe. You may need to add a little more butter to make up for the moisture difference.
  • SALT: I used table salt, but sea salt or Kosher salt is also acceptable.
  • BUTTER: You could substitute margarine, but butter is an important part of the flavor in this recipe. I don’t recommend it.
  • EGGS: I always use LARGE eggs.
  • COCONUT: If you’re not a coconut lover, you can leave this out. The cookies won’t be nearly as chewy.
  • PECANS: Use walnuts if you prefer. Even almonds would work. No matter what kind of nuts you use, they’re always better if you toast them first. You can toast nuts easily in your microwave.
  • CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR: AKA powdered sugar. You don’t have to sprinkle powdered sugar on top or make the icing if you don’t have this sugar. You could also use a blender to make confectioner’s sugar, if needed.

How to prepare a pan for baking bar cookies:

how to easily cover pan with foil for easy removal of cookies and clean-up
1. Turn the pan upside down and fold the non-stick foil over it with the dull side down.
2. Remove foil carefully and place it inside the pan, so the dull side is now facing up.
3. Press the foil into corners and sides to conform to pan shape.

Do you know about Reynolds Wrap non-stick aluminum foil?

You don’t have to use non-stick foil to make these cookies, but I highly recommend it. Without it, they will taste wonderful, but you will enjoy the cutting, serving, and clean-up process oh so much more.

nonstick aluminum foil

If you dread washing those sticky, gooey, and hard-to-scrape pans, this magic foil is a lazy dishwasher’s saving grace. It also makes removing the entire uncut batch from the pan crazy easy.

After cooling the cookies, carefully lift the cookies out of the pan using the foil as handles. Then peel the foil away from the cookies. Without the confines of the pan, even the first cookie you cut can be perfect.

I use this technique for bar cookies such as these Peanut Butter Bars. For a few extra pennies, it’s worth it.

More uses for non-stick aluminum foil:

  • Cover cheese-topped casseroles so the melted cheese won’t stick and be pulled off with foil is removed.
  • Wrap food in packets for baking in the oven–especially fish
  • Cover cookie sheets for roasting vegetables and potatoes, especially if you plan to sprinkle them with cheese.

If you think you can use regular foil sprayed with vegetable oil, well, yes, you could. But for some reason, it doesn’t work as well, according to Cooks Illustrated.

You might want to hide this foil, so the rest of the family doesn’t use it or waste it thinking it’s just like any other foil in the drawer. It is somewhat pricey compared to regular aluminum foil.

How to serve Chewy Coconut-Pecan Bars:

Serve these cookies plain, with powdered sugar, or dress them up with a browned butter glaze you can make in a microwave.

Cut them in diamonds for a party or squares for the family.

Credits: The shortbread base is the same used in my Easy Toffee Bars and Meyer Lemon Yogurt Squares. The pecan-coconut layer is adapted from the “Chinese Chews” printed in Helen Corbitt’s Cooks for Company.

More recipes with coconut:

Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.

p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at

Hope to see you again soon!

Chewy Coconut Pecan Bars Recipe

If a pecan pie married a shortbread cookie, their offspring might look like these rich and chewy bars.
Paula Rhodes
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Cookies
Servings 16 squares


Shortbread Base

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour - 120 gr
  • ¼ cup brown sugar - 53 gr
  • ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt - 1 gr
  • ¼ cup melted butter - 57 gr

Coconut-Pecan Layer

  • 2 large eggs - 100 gr
  • cup brown sugar - 142 gr
  • ½ cup shredded coconut - 43 gr
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour - 15 gr
  • ½ cup lightly toasted pecans - 57 gr
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Browned Butter Icing (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon half and half or milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar - 114 gr
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract - optional


Shortbread Base:

  • Prepare an 8×8-inch square pan by lining with foil (see the picture in post), parchment paper, or spray with oil/butter mixture such as Baker's Joy.
  • Combine 1 cup flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Add melted butter and lightly mix with a fork. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350˚F for 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Coconut-Pecan Layer:

  • In a medium bowl, beat 2 eggs until foamy. Gradually add ⅔ cup of brown sugar to the eggs and beat until thick.
  • Stir ½ cup coconut and 2 tablespoons of flour together. Combine with the brown sugar and eggs.
  • Add ½ cup pecans, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Spread over the baked shortbread layer.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 350˚F.
  • When cool, turn the entire baked cookie out onto a flat surface and peel off paper or foil if using. Flip over and sprinkle with powdered sugar or ice with Browned Butter Glaze. Cut in squares or diamonds as you prefer.

Browned Butter Icing (optional)

  • Heat 1 tablespoon butter on low in a skillet on the stove until it barely turns brown. Add one tablespoon cream or milk and combine. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add one teaspoon vanilla extract if using. If icing is too thick, add more milk. If too thin, add more sugar.


Serving: 1gCalories: 185kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 160mgPotassium: 59mgFiber: 1gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 144IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Keyword coconut-pecan bar cookies, coconut-pecan cookie recipe, pecan dream bars
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating


Sunday 26th of December 2021

I've made these the last 2 years and everyone loves them!


Sunday 4th of May 2014

Did you use unsweetened or sweetened coconut?


Saturday 17th of August 2013

Just mouthwatering...looks delicious!


Monday 29th of July 2013

Just made these and they are oh so yummy! My glaze didn't look as smooth as yours but I sure did like the tip on the non stick foil.


Monday 29th of July 2013

Thanks Scooter! About the smooth glaze, maybe you just didn't beat it quite enough to get all the lumps out. Sometimes a little more butter helps--I'm just always trying to keep the butter to the minimum it takes to get good results.

Vicki v

Sunday 28th of July 2013

This is brilliant! I especially like how you molded it to the pan on the outside first. And I liove me some coconut and pecans! Pinned!