I’ve been baking up these decadent Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars for years as part of the holiday cookie trays I distribute to friends and neighbors.

With a layer of shortbread topped with chewy coconut and nut filling, these Coconut Bars are destined to become one of your favorite cookie bars!

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars stacked on a square white plate.

Why You Must Make

  • Bars are almost always easier to make than cookies. No scooping out individual mounds of dough!
  • The topping is rich, gooey and incredibly tasty.
  • They’re not your ordinary cookie bar and they’re the perfect way for coconut lovers to get their fix.

Macaroons, coconut cupcakes, coconut bars I love them all. My love affair with coconut started as a girl. My mom submitted a recipe for Mounds Bars for my first-grade cookbook: think graham cracker crust with a chewy coconut middle and a chocolate topping. I love, love coconut cookies, but bar cookies are even easier!!! This is now one of my favorite Coconut Desserts!

Ingredient Notes

  • Pantry Staples – Flour, Powdered Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cold Butter
  • Cream of Coconut – I use Coco Lopez. This is not the same as coconut milk.
  • Heavy Cream – 36% Butterfat
  • Fresh Lemon Juice – Do not use bottled lemon juice from the grocery store shelves. Fresh juice has a better taste. When I have a half a lemon leftover, I squeeze it into a small container and store it in the freezer for future recipes.
  • Sweetened Flaked Coconut – I use angel flake brand.
  • Macadamia Nuts – Large pieces halved. If yours have been sitting in the pantry for a while, consider gently heating them in a dry skillet. Not to brown them, but to warm them and bring out their natural essential oils.
Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars on a white ceramic tray.

Expert Tips

I always include something coconut with my holiday trays and this shortbread-based bar is topped with a chewy, nutty coconut topping. 

  • Pulse your crust ingredients in the food processor. Watch carefully until the butter pieces are the size of small peas or less. These little butter bits will make for a tender crust.
  • Use sweetened coconut, like angel flake. I have not tested with unsweetened coconut.
  • PRO-Tip: Line your baking pan with non-stick foil. This will prevent the sweet filling from sticking to the sides of the pan.
  • PRO-Tip: Toast your macadamia nuts before using. This will release their essential oils making them taste nuttier and more flavorful. Plus it will enhance their crunchiness.
  • Plus, the nonstick foil provides a “sling” for removing the cooled coconut bars to a cutting board. It’s much easier to slice them when they’re not still in the pan.
  • Remember to reduce the oven temperature as directed in the recipe. If you forget, your coconut bar edges will be dark, though still tasty!

Don’t wait till the holidays to bake up a batch of these delectable coconut bars. If you love bar cookies, check out the Best Bar Cookie Recipes in my recipe index. Another fan favorite are these Easy Meringue Cookies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cream of Coconut?

If you haven’t made a lot of Pina Coladas, you may not have seen nor used cream of coconut. Cream of Coconut is sweetened coconut cream. The cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk is called coconut cream, so it can get confusing.

That “coconut cream” is not sweetened. In desserts or coconut cocktails calling for cream of coconut or coconut cream, just check the label to see if sugar is an ingredient. I’ve used the brands Coco Lopez and Coco Real in these bars (affiliate links).

How Do You Toast Macadamia Nuts?

Place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes, shaking at the halfway point. Watch carefully as all ovens are different and your may need to be pulled out even sooner. Cool before chopping or using.

How Should You Store These Coconut Bars?

Keep these macadamia nut bars in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, but I’ve kept them even longer.

How Should You Serve These Bars?

They can be served cold or at room temperature. They will be chewier at room temperature.

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars in a leaf shaped ceramic bowl.
Image circa 2010

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Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars on a white ceramic tray

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield 24 bars

Chewy coconut macadamia nut bars adapted from Gourmet magazine



  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into pieces
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar

Coconut topping:

  • ½ half stick butter (¼ cup)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup canned cream of coconut (I use Coco Lopez)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ⅔ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 ⅓ cup macadamia nuts, large pieces halved


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease or line a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick foil.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, 2 sticks of butter, and powdered sugar till the butter is the size of small peas and the mixture resembles cornmeal.
  3. Pat into the bottom of the prepared pan (the dough will be crumbly). Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Melt the half stick of butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat.
  5. Add brown sugar, and stir till dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour the topping over the crust. Reduce oven temperature to 325º and bake for about 40-50 minutes till bars are lightly browned.
  7. Cut into bars when cool. These freeze well.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 bar

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 312Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 132mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 2g


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A dog that is covered in snow

Lambeau, our first pup, circa 2010

Coconut Macadamia Nut Bars on a round white ceramic plate.