Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Magic Bars


Since I’m among friends I will go ahead and say that food definitely comforts me during times of stress.  I see the good and the bad in that statement, but I feel like half the battle for most of us is actually realizing that connection.  When I was in college, my roommate Stephanie and I would bake every chance we got, plying our friends with study treats and creating a welcome stress reliever for ourselves.  Sure I enjoyed eating our baked goodies, but the act of giving them to friends was profoundly gratifying and one of the reasons I went to school to be a pastry chef.

Although I wouldn’t exactly call my college friends a discerning bunch, they definitely had their preferences.  The most requested treat on the list?  Magic Bars.

Magic Bars have that perfect combination of graham cracker crust, coconut and chocolate, all held together with a can of sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk adds a caramel-like flavor that makes these bar cookies impossibly addictive.  In fact, I consider it hazardous to my health to be alone in a house with a pan of these things. I’m a master at cutting “slivers” of these magical treats until I’ve consumed half the pan.

Now that I’ve converted the original recipe to be gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free and nut-free it’s no different.  These Magic Bars are just as good as I remember and they keep calling me back to the kitchen as long as they’re around.


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Magic Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (you can bake your own with my recipe here)
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (butter or vegan margarine will work too)
  • 1 recipe dairy-free sweetened condensed milk (recipe here)
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups of your favorite chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted coconut oil. Stir with a spatula until the crumbs look like wet sand.
  • Firmly press the crumb mixture into a lightly greased 9X13 baking pan.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. Gently tilt the pan around to distribute the condensed milk into an even layer.
  • Then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips, all of the shredded coconut. End by sprinkling the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips over the top.
  • Place on center rack of oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the coconut is just beginning to turn golden and the chocolate chips are melted.
  • Cool on a rack for 20 minutes and then move to the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cutting to allow the squares to set up. When fully cool the magic bars will cut easily and neatly.
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10 thoughts on “Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Magic Bars

  1. I am so thrilled to see this recipe, but so sad as well. I now have to say goodbye to coconut. You have become my guru so to speak. Do you have any suggestions for substitutions? If not, it’s totally okay. With your help I’ve been able to have 6 months of food. You will always have my gratitude.

    • Reading your comment is bittersweet Cate. Every time I write a recipe I think of how it may or may not work for certain people. Food allergies/intolerances and diet restrictions are so individual and diverse that it is impossible to create recipes that meet everyone’s needs, but that is why I’m so grateful for the world of food blogs! I’m hoping you will find (or have found) other blogs that work better for you now that coconut isn’t an option. The sweet part? I feel humbled that my blog saw you through 6 months of eating. Hooray for that! :) Now I’m going to think of you whenever I post a recipe that doesn’t have coconut! I promise, there will be some! Oh, and a quick side-note: the things my body tolerates changes all the time. I remember following Elana’s blog, Elana’s Pantry, and feeling really sad when I stopped being able to eat almonds. Almond flour is the foundation of her recipes and I felt sad every time I saw a new post that I couldn’t have! So, I definitely get it. Take care and thank you for your comment. Best, Terris

    • Oh, I almost forgot about your substitution question!
      Magic Bar toppings are very adaptable so you could omit the shredded coconut and replace with quinoa flakes, toasted gf oats (if you eat those), nuts, seeds, or dried fruit. The chocolate is a necessary component since it helps hold everything on. The ingredient that is a bit more difficult is the dairy-free sweetened condensed milk. I’m not sure what kind of milk or milk substitute you use, but my recipe may work, with substituting 2 cups of your milk of choice (instead of the can of coconut milk). It may not be quite as rich and thick, and you may need to simmer a bit longer to evaporate most of the water but it could work. I haven’t done it, so I can’t make promises. If I wasn’t leaving town in a few hours I would try it with some rice milk I have in the cupboard!

  2. Like most people with allergies, we have found that if we do not make an effort to rotate the foods we eat, we will develop new sensitivities. So I am always on the lookout for recipes that I can tweak so that we are not eating potatoes in starch or rice in rice flour all the time. Same thing for eggs as well, which tend to be highly allergenic. There are some good ideas here, thank you! We don’t use master blends of flours since you are then exposing yourself to the same foods over and over again, but the ratios and recipe ideas are helpful!
    We too are corn free. I follow the blog that gives corn allergy alerts and Authentic Foods’ xantham gum is no longer corn free, sadly. We swap up binders too so we use psyllium husk, guar gum, gelatin and such depending on the recipe. Just an FYI for the corn allergic out there!

  3. Hi, I’m wondering how long you think these will keep fresh? Considering making them for Thanksgiving. Pie lovers always have enough pie, but there’s rarely something for chocolate lovers!

    Thanks so much for developing these recipes. I’m especially excited to find a dairy-free option to sweet and condensed milk!

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