Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe’s Copycat Recipe

PinSaveJUMP to RECIPE

This post may contain affiliate links.

Have you tried Cowboy Bark?

If you haven’t, don’t even start. It’s so addictively good.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

Which is why I’m not sure why I made my own bark that’s every bit as good as the real deal.

Having the ability to make bulk quantities is dangerous since I can down a bag of the Trader Joe’s version in a day if I let myself. Six servings in one little 9-ounce bag? No way.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

Now I have an endless supply in my cupboard, and I stashed some in the freezer, and I gave plenty away.

The bark only takes about 5 minutes to make, making it the perfect fast, easy, and extremely satisfying treat.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

It’s just melted chocolate, topped with a mixture of toffee bits, peanuts, almonds, pretzels, Oreos, and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Sounds simple enough, but there’s something about the combination that’s just irresistible. Salty-and-sweet treats can do no wrong.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

And the bark is a texture lover’s dream. The smooth, rich chocolate that melts in your mouth is in contrast with crunchy and salty peanuts and almonds and crispy pretzels. The sweet buttery toffee bits and crunchy Oreos provides so many flavor combinations in every bite. The more you eat, the more you want.

For the chocolate, I used a mixture of Trader Joe’s chocolate bars. I used equal parts of the 72% Pound Plus, Dark Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate bars. I have a well-stocked pantry of chocolate and can manifest bulk quantities of chocolate in any percentage from 60 to 90% at the drop of a hat.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

For authenticity, if you’re only using one chocolate, I’d use TJ’s Dark Chocolate bar or your favorite dark chocolate. Definitely not milk, and don’t go too dark so that it’s bitter. A nice, middle of the road dark chocolate is best.

For the toppings, if you don’t have all of them on hand, mix and match based on what you do have.

I went a little heavier-handed than the Trader does with the quantity of nuts, pretzels, and toffee bits. The more, the merrier.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

For the cookies, use Chocolate Jo-Jo’s or chocolate-filled Oreos for maximum authenticity, but traditional Oreos are fine. It’s cookies for candy-making. There are no wrong choices.

The batch makes about 4 times what you’d get in one $3.69 9-ounce bag. For me, it’s definitely cheaper to make than to buy because I already have all those things on hand.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

You’ve been warned. This stuff is crazy good.

Best use of 5 minutes ever.

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty, sweet & supremely good!

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe - Just like the real thing & ready in 5 minutes. Salty-and-sweet & supremely good!

Pin This Recipe

Yield: about 36 ounces

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe

Cowboy Bark: Trader Joe's Copycat Recipe

The bark only takes about 5 minutes, making it the perfect fast, easy, and extremely satisfying treat. It’s just melted chocolate, topped with a mixture of toffee bits, peanuts, almonds, pretzels, Oreos, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Sounds simple enough, but there’s something about the combination that’s just irresistible. Salty-and-sweet treats can do no wrong. The bark is a texture lover’s dream full of smooth richness along with crispy and crunchy in every bite. Use your favorite dark Chocolate bar, definitely not milk, and don’t go too dark so that it’s bitter. For the toppings, if you don’t have all of them on hand, mix and match based on what you do have. The batch makes about 4 times what you’d get in one $3.69 9-ounce bag, enough to share with friends and they’ll love you for it. Before beginning to melt the chocolate, have everything else chopped, prepped and ready to go.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Additional Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces dark chocolate (1 pound; I used equal parts TJ’s 72% Pound Plus, Dark Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate Bars; if only using one, select a favorite dark chocolate)
  • about 1 1/2 cups mini pretzels
  • 8 chocolate-stuffed Oreos, roughly chopped (or use TJ’s Chocolate Jo-Jo’s; regular Oreos may be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts (I used roasted lightly salted)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (I used roasted lightly salted)
  • sea salt for sprinkling, to taste

Instructions

  1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper; set aside. Before beginning to melt the chocolate, have all the ingredients chopped, prepped, and ready to go so that they’re ready to be added while the chocolate is hot and melty. I use my Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor to grind the nuts in seconds rather than hand-chopping, but I hand-chop the cookies.
  2. Coarsely chop the chocolate or break into chunks to encourage smooth melting.
  3. Place chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power to melt, about 2 to 3 minutes, stopping every 15 seconds to check and stir until mixture can be stirred smooth. Be careful not to scorch it; or use a double boiler.
  4. Pour melted chocolate onto parchment and with a spatula or offset knife, smooth into a large rectangle, about 10×15-inches, and about 1/8-inch thick; just eyeball.
  5. Evenly sprinkle with pretzels, Oreos, toffee bits, peanuts, almonds, and sea salt to taste.
  6. Allow chocolate to set up for at least 1 hour at room temp, or in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  7. After chocolate has set, break into pieces or chop with a knife. Bark will keep airtight at room temp for many weeks and in the fridge or freezer for many months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 465Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 5gSugar: 35gProtein: 6g

Related Recipes

Chocolate Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack) – Lives up to it’s name and is extremely addictive! Salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy and a holiday favorite everyone loves!

Chocolate Saltine Toffee (aka Christmas Crack) - This stuff lives up to it's name and is extremely addictive! Salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy and a holiday favorite everyone loves! Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Pretzel-Topped Fudgy Brownies – Salty-and-sweet, fudgy, caramely, dense, and rich with crunch factor

Salted Caramel Pretzel-Topped Fudgy Brownies - Super fudgy scratch brownies as easy as a mix. Easy, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies – Salty-and-sweet, rich, chewy and loaded with caramel

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

Cinnamon Sugar Chocolate Pretzels (no-bake, vegan, GF) – Fast, crunchy, so easy and ready in 5 minutes

Cinnamon Sugar Chocolate Pretzels

Skinny 100-Calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Mix  – (vegan/GF/no butter or oil) – 5 minutes to make, satisfying and won’t derail your diet

Skinny 100-Calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Mix (vegan, GF, no butter/oil) - 5 mins to make, satisfying, & won't derail your diet!

Parmesan Ranch Snack Mix (no-bake) – Pretzels, peanuts & popcorn tossed with ranch mix! Ready in 5 mins & so addictively good

Parmesan Ranch Snack Mix - Pretzels, peanuts & popcorn tossed with ranch mix! Ready in 5 mins & so addictively good!

Vanilla Cake Batter and White Chocolate Chip Caramel Corn

Vanilla Cake Batter and White Chocolate Chip Caramel Corn

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mocha Powerballs (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) – A snack with an energy boost

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mocha Powerballs (no-bake, vegan, gluten-free) - Easy Recipe at averiecooks.com

Cinnamon Sugar Candied Cashews (GF) – Make the fancy storebought kind at home! Salty-and-sweet, ready in 30 mins and so good

Cinnamon Sugar Candied Cashews (GF) - Make the fancy storebought kind at home! Salty-and-sweet, ready in 30 mins & so good!

Healthy Fudgy Brownie Bites (vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free) – NO added white or brown sugar, NO butter or dairy, and NO flour used

Healthy Fudgy Brownie Bites (vegan, GF) NO Added Sugar, Butter, or Flour averiecooks.com

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

Get the latest recipes via email!

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. I’m going to make this for gifts. Do you think I could add all the toppings into the melted chocolate and then spread it on the pan? Would that keep it from falling off the chocolate? Or would the topping get soggy nod it wouldn’t look as pretty?

    1. I would just make as written and try to push the toppings into the melted chocolate as well as you can or maybe not use quite as much and I think they’ll stick well enough.

  2. I used mostly semi sweet brick chocolate (about 14 oz) (couldn’t find dard chocolate) but was a little short so used about 1/2 to 2/3 c of semi sweet chocolate chips and 2 hrs. later my bark is still not hardened…would just that few chips do this :( I’m going to see if I can fit it in my freezer to see if it will harden…may have to eat with a spoon – hahaha

    1. I think the culprit here is that you added chocolate chips and they don’t always re-solidify after being melted, hard to say, things vary from brand, and exactly how much you added, etc. Hopefully the freezer works otherwise next time use 100% brick chocolate. That will guaranteed work.

    2. Freezing overnight worked! Set on counter the next morning and after they ‘thawed’ they were perfectly set and perfectly yummy! Thanks!

    1. There is the word PRINT in the recipe card section of the blog post, a gray box with white PRINT. If you click that, it will only print 1 page.

  3. For those that have issues with their goodies falling off, I added additional chocolate drizzled on top of prior to finish to ‘glue’ some of them down :-)    Didn’t control ALL the fall off but certainly helped . Just an idea. 

    1. And if you look at the bottom of the bag of Trader Joe’s bark, there’s plenty of goodies at the bottom of those bags. Just unavoidable in total, but the extra choc drizzle does help!

  4. This is awesome!  I just made your recipe and it was super easy and I think just as good as Trader Joe’s.
    Thank you so much! 

  5. I’ve made this 4 different times. The first two times I use chocolate chips. The resulting Bark was flimsy as you mentioned, which was okay since it’s cold here in the Midwest, but I wanted the “true” firm bark so I used Trader Joe’s 1 pound wr of dark chocolate. I followed the recipe like I did with the others but this time all of the topping came off except for the little pieces of Oreo crumbs and nut dust. I even lightly pressed the topping into the melted chocolate to insure that all the pieces were secure. What did I do wrong this time? Thanks Averie! I love your blog and pin almost everything you post!

    1. Thanks for all your support and for pinning almost all my posts! :)

      As for this bark…hmmmm. I think it’s better to use chocolate like you did in brick-form like the TJs Pound Plus Bars. I assume that’s what you used. As for why the topping wasn’t adhering as well, I don’t know! I will say that chocolate isn’t superglue and that some of mine fall of too. For the photos it looks neat and pretty but in reality, some pieces do end up a little bare so I just deal with that. Maybe push down a little harder/deeper next time? Keep me posted!

  6. Hi Averie! Great post, I love the idea of using pretzels! Will definitely try this. I’ve been doing it with roasted almonds, crushed peppermint candy canes, dried cranberries, soft caramel chunks, ect. Sooo good. Luckily I live in Switzerlad so it is easy to find some good and cheap dark chocolate to work with. I always add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil when I melt the chocolate, it makes the chocolate even more creamy and just melts in your mouth. Have you tried this? If not, I definitely recommend you to give it a try (chocolate needs to be stored in the fridge).
    Happy Holidays to everyone! :)

    1. Coconut oil is great in certain situations but in this bark I wanted it FIRM and by adding coconut oil, as you noted, it won’t be as firm and needs refrigeration or it will get soft. Just want to point that out for others reading this.

      But I’m a huge coconut oil person – I bake with it all the time!

  7. I was thinking of using mini Oreos, they are not chocolate filled but I think it would look nice if not to thick.

  8. I have made this twice now and both times I used Nestle Toll House, Dark Chocolate morsels and some semi-sweet chips. I’m not sure if that’s the issue, but my bark never hardens. It stays at a pliable consistency. If I put it in the freezer, it hardens and is what I expect, but once at room temp, it goes back to a flimsy texture. Any thoughts on what I am doing wrong?

    1. YES that is your issue. That’s what happens when you use chocolate chips, not chocolate in a brick that you can melt down. Try Baker’s brand, Trader Joe’s brand, or another…but DON’T use choc chips! That’s the issue, bingo!

  9. Oh Ehm Gee!! I just tried TJ’s version and I snarfed the entire bag in one sitting!! My only complaint is that almost all of the texture fell off the bark to the bottom of the bag! I will definitely be making this version and hopefully most if not all of the texture will stay on long enough to enjoy it!

    1. Some bags of theirs I’ve found are pretty beat up and half the toppings are on the bottom – such a shame! I think with homemade, it’s virtually impossible to beat these up to the point you’ll lose nearly any toppings!

  10. would like to include your cowboy bark recipe on my blog along with one of your pictures and reference your blog with a link if you don’t mind? I would use my own picture but truthfully I ate all of mine before I took a picture (c;
    This recipe, by the way is to die for….

    1. Just use your favorite dark chocolate candy bar to eat. Something you enjoy eating on it’s own – that’s what the overall flavor of the bark is going to be so pick your favorite.

  11. There’s a rumor that Trader Joes may be coming to our town. I can hope for that, but in the meantime I think I’ll like your recipe even more!

  12. I’ve had more than one bag of this stuff from TJ’s…can’t wait to try yours, thank you!! (Yes, it is SO addictive- I have to hide it from myself!)

    1. As long as whatever you’re using sets up firm at room temperature after it’s been melted, you’re set!

  13. This would be a dangerous snack in my house… I’m sure I would eat it all, and not want to share any!! ;) Pinned!

  14. I have a friend who told me how much I need to try cowboy bark and I was sad because there are no TJ’s near me but YOU’VE SAVED THE DAY! Making these, for suuure!

  15. I just finished a bag of this yesterday and was thinking about making my own. Can’t wait to. Thanks.

  16. How did I miss this? I’ve never had Cowboy Bark but no need to buy it- I’m totally going to make this!!

  17. We don’t have a Trader Joe’s in Canada and it makes me so sad! These look incredible, so perhaps I’ll try to make a variation at home.

    And I just found your blog -it’s gorgeous! :)

  18. I know you said you used a combo of chocolate. Did you use one bar of each? I want to make it exactly as you the first time :)
    Thanks!

    1. I have all 3 kinds of bars on hand and used equal parts of each bar: 72%, dark, milk. You’re maybe only going to need one-third of each bar and they’re 7 bucks a piece or so, so you’d need to buy $20+ worth of chocolate if you want to do it like I did. I bake for a living so I always have so much chocolate but that’s why I gave the option for others who don’t to just use their fave dark choc. Enjoy!

  19. I’ve never had the Trader Joe’s version but now I don’t need too! I’m sure your version is 100000000x better!

  20. I’ve never tried TJ’s version, but now I’m nervous too, considering how absolutely addicting yours looks. It looks so dangerous(ly good). Love how quickly it comes together. Pinning! :)

  21. I love that chocolate is a staple in your pantry….this bark looks so good…I haven’t seen it at Traders..heading there today.

  22. One of the best things about having a food blog is the need to constantly create new recipes which also means having a go at recreating your favorite things! I’m an American living in England (for the last 10 years) and in the last few months, have taught myself to re-create all the lovely American foods I can’t get here! What fun it’s been! I love your blog! You have been a real inspiration to me! Thank you for that! :-)

    1. Thanks for the great comment and good luck to you as you continue to recreate things…it’s so much fun for me to do that, actually. It’s like the thrill of the hunt, so to speak. Trying to see just how close I can get to the real thing!

  23. I LOVE TJ’s Cowboy Bark. And I totally agree that no way are there six servings in that bag – I eat one big piece and it seems like most of the bag has gone already! I’m going to make this instead and maybe it’ll last me more than a few hours ;)

    1. I eat one big piece and it seems like most of the bag has gone already! = AGREED!

      LMK if you try this and tell me what you think of it compared to the original!

  24. I have not had the Trader Joes Cowboy Bark but now I definitely want to try it, or better yet, try your recipe!

    You’re right, there is just something great about the sweet/salty combination. A gal I work with brought in some dark chocolate bark with pumpkin seeds and sea salt. I want to eat the entire bag!

    Great recipe, Averie. Pinned.

    1. thanks for pinning and dark chocolate bark with pumpkin seeds and sea salt sounds so good right now!

  25. My sister makes the saltine-toffee bark at xmas, it’s incredibly addicting. I’ve never heard of Cowboy bark but this looks just as divine!

  26. I’ve never tried the Trader Joes version but I bet anything homemade is even better! This looks delicious!

  27. omg Trader Joes cowboy bark is so addicting! I don’t know that I would ever try to make it myself, however — that would make things too easy hahaha

  28. Averie, may I move into your pantry?? It sounds like a chocoholic’s dream! I can only trust myself to stock a few varieties of their small 3-pack chocolate bars in my “pantry” (aka two drawers and a shelf in the dining room). Anything more than that and I’d skip lunch and dinner every day because I was gorging on so much chocolate! And somehow, despite my huge love affair with TJ’s, I haven’t seen their cowboy bark. Such a shame… Or not, seeing as you’ve replicated it and made it even better! You can never have too many toppings, especially of the sweet-and-salty variety. ;)

  29. I feel like I need to go for a run just looking at the pics! Incredible andI love sweet and salty! Craving and pinning…. and craving!

    Have a great weekend!

  30. I’m so sad that there are no Trader Joes in Canada…although that might be a good thing for my waistline! Your bark looks incredible, Averie. I love the salty sweet combo of ingredients on top. My pantry needs a good cleaning out – I should toss all of my left over ingredients overtop of melted chocolate to make bark! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  31. Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this! So excited I can make it at home. Love anything sweet and salty!

  32. Wow, this bark looks insanely gorgeous! I’ve never had cowboy bark before but I’m loving the sound of these sweet and salty treats! Between the toffee bits, peanuts, almonds and Oreos – oh ma gosh and of course the sea salt! The fact that they are so easy to make is just icing on the bark! Pinning!

  33. Rhetorical question, right? I can eat a bag in one sitting easily. Have you tried their holiday version? Sooooo good. It’s similar, but with their mini PB cups! Buy tons of it at X-Mas.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. You know, I haven’t tried the holiday version but now I will defi try it and stock up!

  34. How perfect! I’ve never had this bark, but it sounds amazing! I want to make it but I am kinda afraid to, haha! Pinned! : )

  35. I have to admit, I have never made bark. However that is all about to change! This cowboy bark is my tastebud’s dream come true! Salty, sweet, plenty of texture, loving it! Pinned!

  36. Oh my goodness I nearly jumped with excitement when I saw this pop up in my Pinterest feed! I am OBSESSED with Trader Joe’s cowboy bark! And I love how easy your recipe is! Plus anything homemade is healthier than store bought right? So eating half this batch in one sitting must be acceptable :)
    When I make this I’m going to try adding peanut butter chips and maybe some caramel sauce!
    Thanks for the great recipe :)

  37. Just seeing all your pictures is making me want to whip up my own batch immediately! All the flavors and textures sound incredible.

  38. This looks so good! I love love LOVE the combo of salty and sweet! Great idea! I have to tell you… I love your blog!! You have the most delicious looking recipes!! Seriously, so yummy!!

  39. How have I missed this at Trader Joe’s? Not that it matters now. I will making this soon. Looks so good!

    1. Yeah just make your own but it’s easy to miss! I told another reader earlier up in the comments about it’s weird location in the store!

  40. Oh my god, oh my god! Pinned! You have touched upon my ultimate weakness, Averie, It’s why I love kettle popcorn and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Sweet and salty! :) Your photography is fantastic, as well. I love all the different angles you captured!

  41. Now that’s some serious chocolate bark, loaded up with so many delicious ingredients! I’ve been craving chocolate bark for the past few days and looking at this is almost more than I can stand. :)

  42. Remember when I said I wished I had a TJs nearby? I take it back. That would be SO dangerous. I mean, this looks about as easy as you can get (and hella delicious), but i’m way less inclined to make it than to buy it.

    Which is a GOOD thing. ;)

    1. This is one of those crazy good products you cannot buy OR you have to have a ridic degree of self-control. In a house full, and I do mean HOUSE FULL of treats and snacks, even I have a hard time forgetting that this stuff is in my pantry!

  43. I’ve never had it. BUT OMG I WANT IT. This is so dangerous. And you’re right. 6 servings? pfffft. Chocolate, pretzels, Oreos…this is the best!

  44. Trader Joe’s are no longer convenient to where I live, but people keep telling me about Cowboy Bark. So glad I can now make my own!

    1. That’s too bad it’s not convenient anymore – I would be in serious withdrawals!

  45. Yes, I have tried it. Ate the entire bag myself! I do have to say, your’s is a lot prettier. And I bet it tastes better, too!

    1. The bag is 9 oz which is pretty small as you know and it’s VERY easy to eat the whole bag yourself. I do not see how they get 6 servings out of that. At all! ha!

      And thanks for saying mine is a lot prettier. I gave it to 3 taste testers who all said they like mine better which is ironic since I used TJs chocolate to make a copycat of their…chocolate bark. But I was much more generous with the toppings/add-ons.

  46. This bark looks addictive! It’s probably a good thing we don’t have TJ’s in Canada! Pinned!

  47. Wow–I was just at TJ’s 2 weeks ago–how did I miss that stuff?!? No worries–I can make it now. Loaded bark with all sorts of good crunchy things. Just my style. It can’t really be that addictive….can it? :)

    1. It’s a fairly new item for them, maybe 2-3 months old…and it’s SO GOOD. It’s easy to miss b/c in my store, they keep it above the frozen fruit on a small shelf in a little bag. It’s a very oddball place to keep it IMO. It’s not like with chips, or other chocolate bars. It is near other snacky stuff but it’s easy to miss even when you know what you want. They used to sample it and that’s what sold me on it!

  48. Wow I think I would become addicted to this stuff! What a great salty and sweet snack! Pinned!

  49. This bark has got my name written all over it. Seret salty, chocolate goodness. Man I need this in my life now!

  50. I never heard of it but it looks like something I’d quickly become addicted to. Thanks for expanding my foodie world. :)
    Happy Thursday Averie! Pinning.

  51. I’m getting the feeling that this bark is crazy-addicting. And the fact that it comes together so quickly is even scarier, especially if you didn’t have a lot of people in the house to help you eat it. I could easily see myself eating an entire batch of this sweet n’ salty bark it looks so good. Gorgeous photos as always and pinned!

  52. I have never even heard of cowboy bark! It looks amazing and I love any kind of dessert bark! It’s actually my little sister’s favorite kind of dessert. Love the sweet and salty mix Averie :) Pinned!

    1. Thanks for pinning & your lil sis will LOVE this stuff then if she’s a bark fan!