Grandma’s Coconut Chews

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Chewy coconut filling layered onto a buttery shortbread crust; this recipe is so simple to make I have been making it since I was a child. 

This is my grandma’s recipe for Coconut Chews (one of only a few things that this grandmother made) and if you are a coconut lover, these can not be beat.

You're going to love these Coconut Chews!

I hadn’t made these bars in years and when I baked this gluten free version of the Coconut Chews and took them to some friends and family they were an enormous hit.

I have a well-known love of coconut and these bars are some of the best coconut treats I make.

It’s a funny thing the way blogging has changed the way I think about baking and cooking. When I’m focused and working on new recipes, I tend to forget about the older family favorites.

I fell in love with these bars all over again when I made them for our guests a few weeks ago.

The Coconut Chews were the most talked about dessert and definitely one that I’ll be making again, sooner than later.

Coconut Chews

Check out all of the Gluten Free Dessert Recipes on this website!

Kitchen Tip: I use this bowl, this spatula, and this pan to make this recipe.

Coconut Chews Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan with butter or line with parchment.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, and flour for the crust in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes while finishing the rest of the recipe.
  4. Mix together the filling ingredients and pour over the crust. Bake 20 minutes more (25 minutes for the doubled recipe). Let cool completely before slicing.
Grandma's Coconut Chews are a family favorite!

Baking Tip: Doubling this recipe will perfectly fill a 9×13 pan. Add an additional 5-10 minutes baking time for the crust on a doubled recipe and an additional 5-10 minutes for the filling bake time.

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Grandma's Coconut Chews are a family favorite!

Grandma’s Coconut Chews

4.69 from 22 votes
Chewy coconut filling layered onto a buttery shortbread crust; this recipe is so simple to make I have been making it since I was a child. 
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 5 mins
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients 

Crust Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour *

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or brown rice flour for GF recipe)
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan with butter or line with parchment.
  • Combine the butter, sugar, and flour for the crust in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well-combined. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool a few minutes while finishing the rest of the recipe.
  • Mix together the filling ingredients and pour over the crust. Bake 20 minutes more (25 minutes for a doubled recipe). Let cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes

* Gluten Free Alternative: 2/3 cup brown rice flour + 1/3 cup potato starch can be substituted for the all-purpose flour in the crust recipe above.
Doubling this recipe will perfectly fill a 9×13 pan. Add an additional 5-10 minutes baking time for the crust a doubled recipe and an additional 5-10 minutes for the filling.

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcal · Carbohydrates: 27g · Protein: 3g · Fat: 13g · Saturated Fat: 10g · Trans Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 48mg · Sodium: 84mg · Potassium: 78mg · Fiber: 2g · Sugar: 18g · Vitamin A: 276IU · Vitamin C: 1mg · Calcium: 18mg · Iron: 1mg
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{originally posted 7/6/12 – photos and recipe notes updated 4/15/21}

Grandma's Coconut Chews

Here are some more coconut desserts you might like:
Pineapple Coconut Bars by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Black Bottom Coconut Squares by The View from Great Island
Coconut Cream Lush by Melissa’s Southern Kitchen
Mini Coconut Pound Cakes by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Pineapple Coconut Cake by Baked By An Introvert
Lime Coconut Snowballs by Two Peas and Their Pod
Coconut Lovers Oatmeal Cookies by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Ultimate Coconut Cream Pie by Cook Crave Inspire

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Jenn says

    I love the flavor of coconut but I usually can't get passed the texture – these might help get me over that hump! They look divine!!

  2. Jeff Rasmuss says

    Grandmother recipes are unbeatable. Thank you for sharing it! Thanks for including both the gluten free and the original recipe. I'll have to give it a shot sometime.

    • Mary says

      Not to my knowledge. I haven't done much baking with egg substitutes myself. If you do try it, I'd love to know how it works for you.

    • Anonymous says

      Vegan Eggs :
      1 TB of golden flax seeds
      3 TB water
      1 pinch Baking Powder

      1)Place Seeds into coffee grinder (dont buy preground powder)
      2) place seed powder in small bowl
      3) add 3 tb of water
      4) allow to sit for 30 min.( it will have thickend slightly)
      5) just before incorporating into a recipe
      6) add the pinch of Baking Powder
      this recipe is the equivalent to ONE LARGE EGG

  3. Sarah says

    These look absolutely delicious! Can't wait to make them. I have so many family recipes that go back far, that I love that you shared your grandmother's recipe – thank you!

  4. Anonymous says

    I am so amazed at your recipes, always something different. Thank you for all the Gluten Free, since that is all I eat. These were wonderful, and your tortillas are the only recipe that I have found in years of searching that are good, and I mean really good. I live in Arizona also, any Navajo fry bread in your adjenda? Thank you!

  5. Anonymous says

    Made these tonight after seeing how good they looked.Turned out amazing! Shortbread crust is fabulous and buttery.The dessert is not overly sweet-just right!Very easy to make but impressive enough to serve for company.Will definitely make again.May try a thin layer of raspberry jam on the crust under the coconut.

  6. wanda stuart says

    I made this today, cooked the crust and the filling longer than required. it did not set so was runny and collapsed when cut….I need it for someone that requires gluten free so will have to redo….it clearly needs longer cooking time..

    • Mary says

      I use shredded sweetened coconut. You should be able to find it in any grocery store in the baking aisle. Happy baking!

  7. Kaytee says

    Whoa these were good! I only added 1/4 cup brown sugar because I was using sweetened coconut – I also upped that to 1.5 cups. These were perfect, even with the shortbread which I’m always worried I’m going to get wrong. Will definitely make again!

  8. Sherry Scott says

    I made these today, and used the recipe exactly as shown, however, the bottom crust did not set up, and when baked was soft and greasy! I have been baking for over 50 years, and never have had this happen before! When I added the topping, and baked for the remaining 20 minutes, it looked fine coming out of the oven, but when I tried to cut them when cooled discovered the same thing. The bottom crust was like dough, and falls apart at a touch! What in the world??

    • Nancy says

      I had this exact same thing happen and I have been making this type of base for years. I compared some of my other recipes for squares and I believe the crust here may have too much sugar – I feel that 1/4 cup of sugar would be better.

    • Mary says

      Did you bake the crust before layering it? It should’ve been fully baked and “set up” before you poured the coconut layer over it. I’ve been making this recipe for years and I’ve never had that happen.

  9. Beverly Robb says

    These are exactly like a recipe my mom used to make, except hers also included 1/2 C chopped walnuts in the filling. They are a family favorite! She also sprinkled them with powdered sugar when they’re cool, too. What great memories you just brought back for me! Thank you. ❤🍪

  10. Kim says

    This popped up on Facebook today. They have just come out of the oven, the smell is divine.. I added apricot jam to mine on top of the shortbread Base adding the topping. It can’t cool down fast enough…. Need to try one. Yum5 stars

  11. Kathy says

    I made these today exactly according to the recipe. The crust did not set up. They smelled wonderful but were just too greasy and soft.

    • Mary says

      Did you bake the crust before layering the coconut over it? The crust should’ve been “set up” before you layered it.

  12. Helen says

    Made this recipe yesterday and had to let you know that they are awesome! Super easy to make and taste sooo good. I strayed a bit though and added 1/3 of a cup of mini chocolate chips to the coconut. Really good. Thanks for posting this classic!
    Helen5 stars

  13. Kayla says

    I had a major sweet tooth but didn’t want to do too much work to have something homemade. This fit the bill perfectly! It’s delicious and I’m having a hard time not eating the whole pan! Thank you for this recipe!5 stars

  14. Holly K says

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
    This was a huge hit both times I made it. I read all the comments and thought I would share some things that people may be having issues with. I doubled the batch and used a 9×13 pan instead of (2) 9×9 pans. My shortbread crust was thicker, so I increased the baking time from 10 minutes to 18. I really just watched for the edges of the pan to turn a golden brown. Also, others were having trouble with a greasy cookie crust. This might happen if you use melted butter as opposed to room temperature or softened butter. Personally I don’t have the patience to wait for butter to get to room temp, so I use the microwave to soften it. I do ten seconds on power 2 and flip the butter (paper wrapper still on) a quarter turn each time. Usually takes 30-40 seconds total. These are so yummy and super easy to make. Thanks for sharing your family recipe with us!5 stars

  15. Andi Larkin says

    I made the doubled batch and the shortbread was so thick. And the coconut filling barely covered. So I made it again and doubled and a half the filling and the regular for the shortbread. So much better!!

  16. Emma says

    Is the sugar in this recipe supposed to be powdered or regular? I made it as written, with regular sugar, and found as others did that the base layer was very goopy. I baked it an extra 20 minutes to get it even close to firming up, but it still didn’t come out like most shortbread bases in other recipes I’ve used. The main difference, looking at them, is this recipe has about twice as much sugar in it for the proportion of butter/flour, and many of those recipes specify powdered sugar. Shortbread should usually be a 1:2:3 ratio of sugar:butter:flour.

    I will likely try them again with that ratio of ingredients, because the coconut filling part was really yummy!

    • Mely says

      This is an old Betty Crocker recipe. Use powdered sugar and at least double the topping. It’s AMAZINF.4 stars

  17. Kya says

    I’m with you about forgetting old favorite recipes. When I was in college, my roommates and I made this almost every week. We got it from the Betty Crocker cookbook. The recipe was called “pecan bars,” but included an option to replace the pecans with shredded coconuts. I don’t think I’ve ever made this for my kids, who are now both grown and flown. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.5 stars

  18. Fay says

    Are they suppose to be runny and jiggling when the 20 minutes is up? Do they set up? I’m a baker and I dont know what kind of mess this is going to be??

  19. Claire B Penn says

    Mary,
    You are a modern day Julia Child (only BETTER!)
    I love your recipes, I look forward to them and I’ve bought one of your recipe books and intend to buy more.
    You are an amazing cook and I do appreciate you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes!
    I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you and yours.
    Claire5 stars

  20. ELISABETH HEINRICH says

    I’ve made these coconut chews a number of times, always the gluten free version and they are great. My family loves them!4 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      I can not even fathom what went wrong here, Carol. Did you substitute any ingredients? Were you using sweetened coconut? My best guess is that one of the ingredients was off or had gone bad.

  21. Bea says

    Hi Mary, I can’t wait to make these! I’m such a coconut fanatic so these are definitely going to be a favorite. Thanks so much!!!5 stars

  22. Nicole Q says

    I just baked a double batch of these today. My guys loved them! Thank you for including the modified baking times for doubling the recipe!5 stars