Salted Caramel Butter Bars are the perfect easy to make bar with a buttery and crumbly shortbread crust and topping combined with a smooth layer of caramel throughout. Each bite will give you a little sweet and a little savory and you won’t be able to stop eating them!
Sweet and savory dessert bars are a perfect bake and take treat for pot lucks with family and friends. Try Ooey Gooey Smores Bars, The Best Peanut Butter Bars,or even Snickerdoodle Bars too if you want be the hit of any party!
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
If you have been following my blog for a while, you should be pretty familiar with my obsessions. Caramel is one of them. Anything that is baked with gooey caramel becomes an instant favorite for me! These are called salted caramel BUTTER bars for a reason. Sorry friends. They will not help weight loss programs at all! They are packed with butter! But, I promise they are worth every bite!
These are the bars that someone brings to a get together and you HAVE to get the recipe. Or the tiny cookie square on a cookie exchange plate that is the best one! A delicious butter shortbread crust with a gooey salted caramel center. Simple yet amazing! These are the perfect balance of salty and sweet and will always be a hit!
Shopping List for Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
The list of ingredients for these Salted Caramel butter bars is short and sweet! (Literally!) The two types of sugar give the shortbread crust an extra sweet flavor! In addition you will notice we leave out the usual leavening agents like baking powder or soda to give these shortbread bars a great crumbly texture!
- Butter: Make sure to leave the butter out for 2 hours on the counter so that it will come to room temperature before creaming together to form the dough. You do not want it to be melted.
- White Sugar: Adds sweetness to the shortbread crust and topping.
- Powdered Sugar: Since this sugar is less dense it creates that melt in your mouth sweet texture and flavor.
- Vanilla: Use premium vanilla when possible for a richer flavor.
- Flour: All purpose flour is best for a crumbly texture.
- Bag of caramels: Mix together with heavy cream and vanilla and melt it the microwave for one minute.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Smooths, sweetens, and thins out the caramel to spread over the shortbread crust.
- Salt: Coarse Sea Salt is the best! Just be careful not to add to much!
Ingredient Variations for the Best Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
This recipe is seriously amazing as written! I love how the bars turn out and make them over and over. However, I do like to experiment with different ingredients (especially if I am out of something) and see if I can keep improving my recipes. Here are some things I have done to improve this recipe that have worked great and I think you will enjoy…
- Caramel Lovers: Substitute some or all of your granulated sugar for light brown sugar. This gives the bars an even stronger caramel flavor!
- Flour Free: Use finely ground rolled oats instead of the flour. This will make your dough a little stickier so chill a few hours before pressing into your pan and baking.
- Brown butter: Brown your butter first for an even richer crust. Is that even possible you ask. Yes it is! To brown your butter cook it over medium heat until browned. Strain out any brown pieces you don’t want to use. Or leave them in if you don’t mind seeing them in your finished crust. Then, chill your brown butter so that it is room temperature and not warm before you cream it into the crust.
- Caramels: Use soft caramel candies instead of hard. They will melt much easier!
- Out of Heavy Cream: Use milk or water instead in a pinch.
Easy Directions to Delicious Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
You will be amazed how quickly this recipe comes together. The most time consuming thing is allowing the butter to come to room temperature and unwrapping the caramels! It is a great recipe to make with kids. My kids love that they can help with the candies and putting dough crumbles on top!
- Prepare oven and pans: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Form dough: In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
- Bake half of the dough: Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Spread melted caramel over crust: Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn’t end up using the entire T, just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty. 🙂
- Bake the second half of the dough: Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.
Tips for Creating the Most Amazing Caramel Butter Bars:
Although this is a super simple recipe, I do have a few tips to achieve the most perfect bars possible. Paying close attention to these few things will really give you the results you want.
- Cool Dough: Keep your dough slightly cool before baking. Do not allow it to get to warm (chill dough in the refrigerator before placing in oven if your dough feels too warm). Also, after cooking, chill the bottom layer of crust for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before adding the caramel. This will ensure the crust is completely set.
- Microwave-Free: Melt the caramels over a double broiler or in a pan instead of using a microwave. To do this, you will frequently stir the candies over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the cream as you go until you get your desired consistency.
- Texture Perfection: Do not overmix ingredients when forming your dough. If you overmix it, air will get in and the crust will become too oily and become tough or chewy as it bakes.
Storing Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
Most of the time mine are all gone so I don’t have to worry about storing them. However, on the rare occasion that you do need to store leftovers… Wrap them tightly or pack them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or in the freezer for 3-4 weeks. If you want to make the dough ahead of time it can be stored for up to 10 days in the refrigerator and pull it out when you are ready to make your bars.
More Sweet and Salty Caramel Desserts:
- Turtle Brownies
- No Bake Banana Caramel Pecan Pie
- Frosted Turtle Brownies
- Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Caramel Cashew Chocolate Fudge
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
- 2 cups butter softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 4 cups flour
- 1 14 oz bag caramels unwrapped or 11 oz unwrapped Caramel Bits work great
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
- In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
- Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9x13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn't end up using the entire T, just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don't want them too salty.
- Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.