Mud Hens

Everyone needs an over-the-top cookie bar in your life, like this Mud Hens recipe. With a shortbread base, chocolate chips and marshmallow center, and a brown sugar meringue on top, they’re the definition of indulgent (and irresistible).

Plate of Mud Hens

This recipe for Mud Hens is one I have been making for over 20 years now. I included it in one of my cookbooks and published it here some years ago but the photos are getting a long overdue update today!

This is an over-the-top cookie bar with a shortbread-like base covered with a filling of ooey-gooey chocolate chips and marshmallows (chopped nuts are also optional), melted perfectly together and all of this is topped with a brown sugar meringue that everyone needs in their life. The caramelized brown sugar flavor seriously takes the meringue to the next level and gives the Mud Hen bars the perfect light and crunchy topping.

If you’ve never had a Mud Hen bar, I dare say that your life has not been fully lived up until this point. It’s like the best parts of S’mores in one delicious cookie bar. What more could you want for dessert, right?

So go ahead, treat yourself to an old-fashioned Mud Hen bar. Even better, treat those nearest and dearest to you. I love surprising the ones I love with homemade treats! Let’s get cooking! 

Recipe ingredients for Mud Hens

Recipe Ingredients


  • Shortening
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Butter (at room temperature)
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • All-purpose flour


  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows
  • Chopped nuts (optional, but I recommend either walnut or pecan halves)


  • Brown sugar (use dark or light brown sugar, whatever cranks your tractor)
  • Egg whites

Begin by separating two of your eggs, whites in one bowl and yolks in the other.

Make sure you don’t get any egg yolk into your egg white mixture because we’re about to make an amazing brown sugar meringue to go on top of your Mud Hens and if any of those yolks get in there our meringue won’t beat right.

Beat butter, shortening, and sugar together in mixing bowl.

Now put your butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Add eggs and beat again.

Add in your 2 egg yolks and the additional whole egg and beat again. 

Smooth cookie batter.

Like this. 

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in separate bowl.

At this point, you should get out a separate mixing bowl and place your flour, baking powder, and salt in it and stir together.

Add flour mixture to other mixing bowl.

Add that into your previous egg mixture.

Mix together until you have your cookie dough.

Mix that up until well combined with an electric mixer and you have your dough.

Pat dough into bottom of baking dish.

Pat into the bottom of your greased 9×13-inch dish. If you need to, you can put a little flour on your hands to help keep it from sticking, as I did. 

Add chocolate chips and marshmallows on top of base.

Top with chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Now we need to make the brown sugar meringue topping for our Mud Hens. My mouth started watering just typing that.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Place your egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat the mess out of it until stiff peaks form.

Add brown sugar to egg whites.

Add in your brown sugar.

Stir until well combined.

And stir with a spoon until it’s well combined like this.

Pour meringue topping over the top of the marshmallows.

Pour your meringue over the top of your mini marshmallow layer and spread it around to the edges.

Mud Hens ready to bake.

Like this. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.

Baked Mud Hens

Oh, how pretty is this Mud Hens recipe, seriously!

Cut Mud Hens into cookie bars.

Allow to cool completely and then cut into bars.

Stack of Mud Hens.

As many Mud Hen bars as you feel like cutting. I tend to do a 3/4 grid so I end up with 12 generous ones. But sometimes I do a 4×5 and get 20. 

Either way, you must try a Mud Hen bar cookie as soon as you possibly can because they are a new level of wonderful!


Store your Mud Hen bars in an airtight container. Best if eaten the first day or two after they are made but you sure won’t find me turning one down on day three or four! 

Check out these other delectable cookie bars:

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cookie Bars

Festive Fall Cookie Bar Recipe (one bowl easy!)

Fruitcake Bar Cookie Recipe

M&M Oatmeal Bars

Oatmeal Raisin Bars with Butterscotch

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Recipe

Mud Hens

Mud Hens are an over-the-top cookie bar with a shortbread base, a chocolate chips & marshmallow center, and a brown sugar meringue topping.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bars, cookies
Servings: 4
Calories: 163kcal



  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 eggs yolks you'll use the whites in the topping
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 cup chopped nuts optional
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips you can add more if you like


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar dark or light
  • 2 egg whites


  • Butter or grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar. Beat in the whole egg and the yolks of the other two eggs.
    1/4 cup shortening, 4 tablespoons butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 whole egg, 2 eggs yolks
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Combine the flour mixture with the creamed mixture and blend thoroughly.
  • Spread the batter into the baking pan, patting with your hands if need be.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts over the batter.
    1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup mini marshmallows, 1/2 cup Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold in brown sugar until well combined.
    2 egg whites, 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • Spread the brown sugar meringue over the top of the mini marshmallow layer, spreading to touch the edges of the pan to prevent it from shrinking during baking.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Cool completely and then cut into bars.


Calories: 163kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

“Opportunity is always knocking.

The problem is that most people have the self-doubt station in their head turned up way too loud to hear it.

~Brian Vaszily

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  1. My grandma isn’t around to ask, so I have a silly question for you Christy, last year I try to make a home made chocolate pie for Christmas, when I went to make the merinque I had a really hard time getting stiff peaks to form, it did eventually but I just about burnt my hand mixture up doing it. One of my relatives suggested that my metal bowl wasn’t cold enough???? Should your bowl be cold for merinque?

    1. I have a stand mixer, but you should make sure your bowl and beaters are clean clean clean! the least trace of oil will near about kill your meringue. I use a metal bowl if I do use a hand mixer b/c you can wash them in super hot water. Then pop the bowl and the beaters in the freezer. that should do the trick. if there is any possibility that a bit of yolk got in the whites, you should turn them into an egg white omelet or something and start over with fresh egg whites because if there’s any yolk in the whites your meringue will not turn out.

      1. p.s. that’s from a grandma with almost 50 years baking experience. honey, it you can make a mess of it, I’ve done it!

  2. Love this recipe. I use to make it for my mom, (she loved it) I haven’t made it since my high school days. My school friend gave me the recipe, but it didn’t have a name. So cool, I have a name for it now. Think I’ll make some today and see what my kids think! Thanks so much love your blog.

    1. You could. You really want meringue to be on top so it browns all nice. you may end up with puffy and browned marshmallows on top in stead and they could burn but you can certainly try it! Let me know how it does!

  3. These are yummy. Been making them for years. The are in Calling all Cooks page 361! The only difference is I use 1 1/2 sticks butter…! Guess it is an “original” if you change that to 4T. butter and 1/4 cup shortening but the all butter is very good too.

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