Chinese Chews

Chinese Chews Recipe Friends of ours from Texas just moved down the street. I thought it would be fun and a friendly to welcome them with a pie. The pie had different plans. What should have been a straight forward, chocolate pie, ended with a major fail. Twice. I’m not giving up though. Eventually I’ll get it right.

Until then, in order to regain my confidence in the kitchen (and still take something to our new neighbors) I opted to bake something that I knew I couldn’t mess up, something foolproof, but tasty too. So I decided on Chinese Chews. My mom makes these every year during the holidays, but they’re year round goodness if you ask me – like a blondie but with a crunchy shell, and a chewy inside. Not really sure where the name comes from, because, as far as I know, there isn’t anything inherently Chinese about these. If you know otherwise, please fill me in.

My favorite part, the crunchy edge piece.

Chinese Chews Recipe

It doesn’t get more basic than these ingredients, and the process is swift and sure. Perfect for a chocolate pie-challenged fool like me. Mark my words though, the chocolate pie hasn’t seen the last of me. I will master the chocolate pie! The chocolate pie will bend to my pie making prowess…just not this week.

Chinese Chews
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Simple dessert bars with a crunchy outside and chewy center. Adapted from Carole Radford's Hearts Go Home for the Holidays.
  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened (salted or unsalted – remember it's foolproof y'all)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups chopped nuts (I used pecans.)
  • optional: powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add chopped nuts.
  4. Spread evenly in a 9x13" baking pan and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until crust begins to brown.
  5. Cool slightly, cut and serve.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  7. *If you'd rather use self-rising flour, use 1½ cups self-rising flour, and omit the baking powder and salt.


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  1. 3

    Jennifer K says

    These remind me of my college days. A friend’s mom would always bring them up when she came to visit. So yummy!

  2. 4

    Georgia Pellegrini says

    These look gooood. I think it’s such a funny name, I really do wonder where it came from. Maybe someone just liked the iliteration : )

  3. 7


    I was expecting some Chinese 5-spice in the batter! (which may not be such a bad idea, come to think of it :) )

  4. 10

    Abby says

    I also love the “crunchy edges.” These look amazing! And I agree with Amanda about your photography skills!

  5. 11


    Amy – I haven’t had these in years and years! My grandmother used to make them every year at Christmas. I don’t have any idea why they are called “Chinese’ either or why they were reserved just for the holidays. Year round goodness if you ask me!!

  6. 13

    Cookbook Queen says

    First of all, these look and sound wonderful.


    Let’s talk about these friends. They’re friends from Texas and moved down the street from you?? How stinking cool is that?!

  7. 14


    I’ve made treats called ‘Chinese Chews’ for years during the holidays but they are nothing like these! Mine are chow mien noodles mixed with butterscotch chips that are dropped onto wax paper to harden. So this was a surprise but a good one. I think you would have to fight me for that outside chewy edge piece!

  8. 19

    Shelly (cookies and cups) says

    Well that was not what I was expecting!! These look and sound like perfection!

  9. 27

    Ashley says

    My family also makes Chinese Chews for Christmas with very similar ingredients but a much different result. In our chews, we omit the butter but add chopped dates, and then we spread the batter out in a sheet pan. Then, you have to carefully bake until barely golden brown. The final step is the most important – and PAINFUL – one :) Right after you take the pan out of the oven, we start scooping out pieces with two spoons for each person, and then we roll into little balls, about truffle-sized. I vividly remember helping as a child and the tears streaming down my face when hot dates burned my palms. Thankfully, now that I’m much older, it doesn’t even phase me. :) Lastly, the balls are rolled in confectioner’s sugar. Absolutely delicious, but very sweet. More like candy.

  10. 28

    SMITH BITES says

    i. cannot. look. . . . ok . . . so i did look . . . and now my mouth is watering . . . i can’t take this anymore . . .

  11. 30

    becky says

    Mamaw Sadie called these Chewies and she called the haystacks Chinese haystacks. Go figure!
    I wondered what i was going to make next week for Bible study. Now I know! I hope they look like yours.
    PS you’ll be craving chocolate in a few weeks, so you can try the pie adventure again. I may just have to ride my bike over to try it.

    • 33


      Oops. I meant to say, “flush” (as in rolling in cash – they aren’t giving either of these nuts away anymore, unfortunately!).

  12. 36

    Sunny Hernandez (@foryourpiesonly) says

    Oh those pies…so finicky sometimes. I am part of the “omg crunchy to soft yes yes I want it” group. Thanks for sharing!

  13. 37

    Rhonda says

    Hi Miss Amy. I saw this picture, went wow, pecan bars! and had to post. As a 5th generation Texan, pecans are a must when baking, the native kind you go pick up out of the yard. Though our go-to recipe uses Bisquick (from the 1970s booklet), there is a recipe that is over a hundred years old called Grandma’s chew bread. It would be interesting to figure out the “Chinese” name, probably a twist on what someone heard with the recipe being passed around by word of mouth… just like the Chinese chews and haystacks. This is one pan where the crunchier side pieces get eaten first. I actually like them best the next day or so.

  14. 39


    Ooohhhh! These remind me of toll house cookies in bar form without the chocolate chips! Yum, I’m going to have to try these!

  15. 40

    Jaime says

    We always called these “Ben’s Bars” in honor of my Aunt Bennie whom I got the recipe from :)

  16. 41


    These look like awesome bars and were a perfect gift for your new neighbors. Do you know where the name comes from? Im just being curious.

  17. 42

    Linder says

    These sound and look just what my Mom used to make and called them ‘congo squares’ – will certainly try them and may even see if I can find the old recipe.

  18. 43


    Sounds sooooo good. When it comes to comfort food, I am all about chewy, crunchy, sweet and salty. Oh, and warm. This gets my vote!

  19. 44

    dedirdre and hannah worthem says

    IT TASTE :):):):):):):):):):):)——————————->-_-

  20. 45

    charlottel lalime says

    I have made these before with the same ingredients in different amounts and there wonderful…thought I’d try this recipe. DO not cook them 30 minutes , they will be overcooked. Mine came out very dark, probably will have to throw them out, disappointing to say the least.

  21. 46

    Denise says

    I just made these and they were AMAZING!!!!! I totally agree the edges are definitely my favorite ;o)

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