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Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars feature a wonderful flavor combination in a pretty, swirled bar!

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars served on beige and pink plates

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

One of my favorite things about New York is the multitude of bakeries. I love them all, from small neighborhood spots to more well-known places. In the latter category is Magnolia Bakery. The first time I visited there I thought it was one of the best smelling places I’d ever experienced.

These Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars are one of my favorite recipes from their cookbooks. They combine two of my favorite flavors into one amazingly delicious dessert.

overhead view of Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars on beige and pink plates

The butterscotch flavor is not exceptionally bold here. Mixing it with cream cheese and nuts balances out the flavor and creates a really great treat. If you’ve ever had Chess Squares, you’ll probably think these are somewhat akin to them in flavor.

Tips for Success

  • Measure accurately. Use a kitchen scale to measure by weight if possible. Otherwise, use the spoon and sweep method for dry ingredients and sugar.
  • Use good quality butterscotch chips. You’ll find a lot of disparity among different brands of butterscotch chips. If you don’t already have a brand you like, then I can recommend Guittard.
  • Don’t add the eggs too soon. Be sure to let the butterscotch mixture cool as directed before adding the eggs. If the mixture is too warm, the eggs can start cooking while you’re mixing.
  • Use a thin knife or spatula for swirling. Either will work, but I often use a small offset spatula that’s really thin. Using something thin will allow you to swirl without digging little trenches all through the batter.
overhead view of a slice of butterscotch cream cheese bars on a beige plate

If the sound of sweet cream cheese and rich butterscotch all combined into a delicious bar sounds good, then these Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars are for you! They’re such a delicious departure from the usual blondies and cheesecake bars.

Find more bar recipes in the Recipe Index!

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

Yield 24 3-inch bars
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars combine sweet butterscotch with a swirl of cream cheese for an irresistible treat. Throw in some pecans for a little crunch!

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars served on beige and pink plates.


For the filling:

  • 8 ounces (226g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (15g) all-purpose flour

For the bars:

  • 2 cups (340g) butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (400g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (120g) coarsely chopped pecans or other nut


To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat well.
  2. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour and mix until combined. Set aside.

To make the bars:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12″x 18″jelly roll pan or a half sheet pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butterscotch chips and the butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat, and mix in the brown sugar. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butterscotch mixture, mixing well after each addition.. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat just until combined. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into prepared pan.
  6. Drop the cream cheese filling by teaspoonfuls over the batter. Use a thin knife to swirl into the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a pick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
  7. Cool to room temperature before cutting into bars.


Recipe slightly adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.

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    35 Comments on “Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Bars”

  1. You know, I love butterscotch, but I never really find any good recipes that showcase it well. this looks really promising. Look forward to trying it out!

  2. I really enjoy butterscotch, so I know I’d like these. They look absolutely delicious! I have the MB cookbook, but I never get past the cupcakes! I have to try these.

  3. these look absolutely delish ♥ looking at those photos is making me want to go out and try making these right this moment. wonderful! 🙂

  4. Ooo you know I have this cookbook but this recipe never caught my eye. It’s great to see a delicious photo of it. It definitely stands out now!

  5. Wow..who better than me can appreciate Magnolia Bakery’s foodies 😛 ( as I am Magnolia Wedding Planner :-P) .
    The butterscotch looks delicious!!
    Really great photos too

  6. even though butterscotch chips are nowhere near as delicious as real butterscotch, i still adore them. if i make these bars, i know two things: first, they won’t be as stunning as yours and secondly, i’ll eat more than my fair share. 🙂

  7. I like the looks of these bars, but I have fallen in love with the chocolate chip muffins.

    My grandson loves muffins for breakfast and his mother gets the store bought ones. I’m going to start making these for him for his breakfast. They will be so much better for him than storebought.

    Love your website.

  8. the first picture is amazing. the detail in the top of the bar really pops out. I don’t eat butterscotch normally but these bars might change my tune. I keep holding off on getting that cookbook because I think it might be all hype since the treats that I have gotten there weren’t too amazing but their desserts are so adorable.

  9. I’ve had a strong aversion to chocolate the entire 5 months of my pregnancy, so your posts and pictures featuring chocolate have, sadly, made me want to urp. BUT, my sweet tooth for anything non-chocolate is alive and well so I must try the raspberry hazelnut bars, salted cashew cookies and now these butterscotch creamcheese bars. You are truly the devil.

  10. I truly need to get more baking cookbooks. I should just follow your posts and simply buy each one that you mention in your blog posts (since I adore all of the recipe choices that you make!!) I’m off to find that Magnolia Bakery book and will add it to my Amazon shopping cart 🙂

    These look great (as usual) by the way!

  11. Delicious once again!!! I have this book and I’ve never made this recipe. I need to read it again!!!

  12. I think butterscotch is underrepresented in sweets. This recipe may single-handedly resurrect it! 🙂

  13. We loved these! There is not really a “butterscotch” flavor which is great since I’m not a huge butterscotch fan. They really are, as you describe, like chess-squares. They don’t really have a brownie-like texture, so I think you were wise to rename them as you have. You knew you would have me at “cream cheese.”

    We are still enjoying these! Thanks for the treats!!

  14. mmmmmm butterscotch……cream cheese….how can you go wrong… 🙂

  15. Alejandra, I hope you enjoy these!

    Susan, Magnolia Bakery is all about the cupcakes, right? I made it to the recipe for these bars because I’d much rather eat cupcakes than make them. 😉

    Thanks, joey!

    Ashley, thanks! Recipes without pictures were an acquired taste for me. 😉

    Silvia, I guess you would know!

    grace, you’re so sweet. I’ve found that if you get the right kind of butterscotch chips, they’re much better than you would expect.

    Thanks, Shirley! Glad y’all like the muffins.

    Amanda, I’ve liked all the recipes I’ve tried from this cookbook. I think it’s a good addition to my library.

    LOL, auntjone! My word of the day is now “urp.” Enjoy the recipes!

    Thanks, RecipeGirl! I think you’ll like the cookbook.

    Aran, I’m sure there are many great recipes in this book that I’ve passed right over. I’d never noticed this recipe until just a few days ago.

    Susan, as far as I’m concerned, you may be right!

    Glad y’all like them, Nan & Jim!

    Hendria, that’s exactly what I thought!

  16. Your bar posts are killing me..with hunger! These are out of this world. To the printer it goes!

  17. oooo, drooling all over my lap top! they look divine. must bake soon. 🙂

  18. These are so different and I can’t wait to try them. I LOVE this blog!

  19. Tartelette, honestly I mean no harm! 😉

    Thanks, Gigi. Hope you enjoy them!

    tanya, thanks so much!

  20. Oh yes!! These look so good–just my favorite type of goodie (aside from cake!)

  21. Mmmmmmm… these look so moist and yummy!

  22. Last night I was making a homemade caramel sauce for a dessert, but ran across a butterscotch sauce while thumbing through my cookbook. It sounded wonderful. I haven’t had butterscotch anything in so long, but today I find this recipe, so I’m thinking it must be kismet. (And that’s not counting the fact that I love cream cheese anything – yum!)

  23. These look so yummy. This blog is making my diet die.

  24. I’m not much of a cheesecake-anything fan unless it’s just a cheesecake itself; but I could go for these butterscotch cream cheese bars!

  25. Thanks, Cakespy!

    Kristen, they were! So, so good.

    Sandie, I’m a bit picky about butterscotch desserts, but this one is really good.

    Sorry, Vonda! I barely hang on to my diet some days.

    Lori, I’ll take cream cheese/cheesecake anything, pretty much. 🙂

  26. I didn’t have any butterscotch chips, but just made them with chocolate chips, and mmmm…. very yummy.

  27. Ellie, I bet they were delicious!

  28. I agree that pecans beat walnuts hands down – and these look ridiculously good ^__^. I swear you’re just torturing me on purpose now, you sadist…

  29. Indigo, I promise you I’m innocent! 🙂

  30. I just made these today and they are fabulous. I mixed my cream cheese layer in a little more than just swirling, omitted the nuts, and used a smaller pan (I believe it’s 10.5″ x 15″). I had to bake about 10 extra minutes for the extra thickness. They don’t look as nice as yours do but they taste great! A very nice break from my usual chocoholic baking habits. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  31. Jodi, I’m so glad you liked them! I usually have to force myself to take a chocolate break in baking. But it’s just so good!

  32. My stepmother just came back from Chicago, and she brought me some butterscotch chips (definitely not available here in Austria). So, I tried the bars out, and they really taste well. Butterscotch Chips is a total new experience I really like and the combination with cream cheese is interesting.
    Tough I have to say, that the butterscotch flavour was a little bit too much for me, in my opinion, there could be double the cream cheese.
    But I liked them a lot, great recipe!

  33. Stella, I’m not a huge butterscotch fan, but I did like these bars. I’m all in favor of more cream cheese! 😉

  34. Hi Jennifer!. I don’t have a “12 x 18″ jelly roll pan because my oven is too small for it. Can i use an 8″x 8” square pan instead and use half of the recipe? What will be the baking time? Thanks in advance for replying.

    • Hi, Ellen. The volume of an 8″x 8″ pan is about a third of a 12″ x 18″ pan, so halving the recipe would give you too much volume for the smaller pan. When you’re scaling a recipe like this, the baking time shouldn’t change much if at all unless you’re making them somehow thicker or thinner.

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