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Congo Bars are like a chocolate chip cookie bar, but thicker, chewier and even more jam-packed with semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips!

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three congo bars with chocolate oozing out of them; on a wooden tray

Have you ever found yourself lost in an old cookbook passed down from previous generations? I love to skim through ripped, stained cookbooks my mom, mother-in-law and grandma have kept over the years.

And though there always seem to be 15 recipes for “chocolate chip cookies” and 20 recipes for “chili,” what I love best is finding recipes I’ve never heard of.

And that’s exactly where this recipe for Congo Bars comes from. I’d never heard of such a thing, but after the first time I tried them,  I knew I had to share!

Though I didn’t end up using the original recipe straight from the cookbook, I came up with a variation of it that you’re sure to LOVE. Get ready, get set…..let’s BAKE!

six congo bars on a cooling rack

What are Congo Bars?

Congo bars are essentially a thicker pan of chewy chocolate chip cookie bars (aka blonde brownies) with a couple different kinds of chocolate.  

Why are they called Congo Bars?

There are a few different theories of where the name originates – who knows which theory is correct! Some say these thick cookie bars are named after the “Congo Room” in Vegas and others connect it with “Congo Square” in New Orleans.

Others have said it’s named after Congo in Africa, due to the unique (and totally optional) cookie bar ingredient, shredded coconut.

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter – I like to use salted, but feel free to use unsalted butter and add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt to the dough
  • Brown Sugar – Light or dark brown sugar works great
  • White Sugar
  • Eggs – My recipes are always made with “large” eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Chocolate Chips – This Congo bar recipe calls for semi-sweet chips and milk chocolate chips.  However, feel free to use a combination of chopped chocolate bars, chocolate chunks, etc. to your liking!  I personally love to have a couple chocolate bars chopped and pressed into the top of the bar when it comes out of the oven!

How to make Congo Bars

First, you’ll want to preheat the oven and prepare your baking pan. For the pan, you can either coat it with non-stick cooking spray or lay down a layer of parchment paper for easy removal.

Butter and sugars in a stand mixer bowl.

Next, you’ll make the dough.  Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer to beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Then the wet ingredients will be added and mixed until combined. Finally, the dry ingredients and chocolate chips (and optional pecans and coconut) will be added and stirred until well-dispersed.

congo bar cookie dough in a large bowl

Next, you’ll press the dough into the prepared baking pan. Be sure to spread all the way to the edges of the pan and even out the top layer so it bakes evenly. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, then bake until golden brown.  Pay close attention to the baking time as you want to be careful to not over-bake these!

congo bars ready to go into the oven

Lastly (and trust me, the most difficult part) – wait for the Congo Bars to cool before cutting. They’ll be much easier to cut once they’re cool, if you can wait that long!!

Six congo bars on a cooling rack

How to Store Congo Bars

Congo Bars can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge or in the freezer. f you keep them at room temperature or in the fridge, just be sure to cover them well or keep in an airtight container so they don’t dry out. They’ll last about 5-7 days.

If you freeze them, store them in a freezer-safe baggie that is well-sealed. They’ll be good for at least 2-3 months in the freezer.

two congo bars on a wooden board with parchment paper

Other Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies and Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toll House Pie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Monster Cookie Bars

Cowboy Cookie Bars

And a quick FYI, these Congo Bars make for the BEST ice cream sundaes! I topped a couple warm Congo Bars with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and let me tell you….it’s DELISH!!!

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Congo Bars in a stack on parchment paper over a wooden board with a glass of milk in the background.
5 from 1 vote

Congo Bars

Author: Kelsey
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Congo Bars are like a chocolate chip cookie bar, but thicker, chewier and even more jam-packed with semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips!


  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips + additional chips for topping


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9×13" pan with cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, brown sugar and sugar; mix until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well-combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
  • Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until incorporated.
  • Add 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips (save the rest for the top) and the milk chocolate chips and stir.
  • Spread the cookie dough into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
  • Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden-brown.
  • Let cool, then cut into squares and enjoy!


Add some coconut and pecans for some added texture and flavor!  Simply remove 1/2 cup of each type of chocolate chips in the batter and replace with 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and 1/2 cup pecans.
Don’t overbake!  One of the things I love most about this recipe is the chewy, dense interior of these bars.  Overbaking them will make them more crunchy and less chewy.  That being said, pay close attention to the bake time so you don’t over-do it!
Cut like a pro!  To cut these cookie bars with clean edges, here’s how to do it:  Let the pan of bars cool completely (refrigerate to speed up this process).  Use a knife to cut the bars down the center (so you’re only working with half of the pan at a time).  Remove an entire half from the pan onto a cutting board and cut with a chef’s knife; repeat with the other half.
Add a variety of chips!  Try adding a few white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or even peanut butter chips for a twist on the delicious recipe!
Turn it into a sundae!  What’s better than these amazing Congo bars?  Taking a warm bar and topping the melty chocolate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!  It’s SO good!


Calories: 273kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 3.2g | Fat: 13.7g | Saturated Fat: 8.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3.8g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 104mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 22.6g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Calcium: 31.6mg | Iron: 1.4mg
“Dance Around the Kitchen” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


  1. They look so ooey, gooey and delicious! I love those old cookbooks, there are usually some gems in there.

  2. Debra Menard says:

    Excellent…made EXACTLY by the recipe, except, I used all milk chocolate morsels instead of a combination of dark and milk chocolate! Only reason being I didnt have any dark chocolate on hand. They came out gooey and delious! Will definitely make again 😋

  3. Elaine Pacholek says:

    5 stars
    Delicious and easy!

    The New England Congregational churches are often known locally as Congo, and these bars were a favorite at potlucks and fellowship after service. Still are at the Congregational Church I attend in Vermont!

  4. Erin Gambino-Russo says:

    What size pan would you suggest for doubling the recipe?

  5. Brian Threlkeld says:

    My mom made “Congo squares” for as long as I can remember — back to the early 1960s. I don’t know if her recipe was exactly the same as this one, but at a quick glance this seems pretty close. They were a huge favorite of ours — very much in the category of “comfort food” for me and my brothers, and in due time for my children.

    I would add this as crucial advice: Congo squares are absolutely at their best when a day old; make yourself wait overnight before digging in. I don’t know the exact chemistry involved, but that time allows the flavors, especially the caramelization of the cooked sugars, to express itself far more richly. Day-old Congo squares are absolutely a more luxurious treat than they are the day they’re baked — even compared to a same-day batch that’s had time to cool down. (I don’t know if that greater complexity and richness of flavor is generated by oxidation, or some other process.)