Salted Caramel Butter Bars

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Salted caramel butter bars are the perfect easy-to-make dessert. With a buttery and crumbly shortbread crust that is topped with a smooth layer of caramel, there will be a little bit of sweet and savory in each bite!

Sweet and savory dessert bars are a perfect treat for pot lucks with family and friends. Try these s’mores bars, peanut butter bars, or even these snickerdoodle bars if you want something that everyone will love!

A stack of salted caramel butter bars.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

Caramel is one of my food obsessions. Anything that is baked with ooey, gooey caramel becomes an instant favorite for me!  These are called salted caramel BUTTER bars for a reason. Sorry friends, but these will not help you out with any weight loss programs! They are packed with butter! But I promise they are worth every single bite!

These are the bars that someone brings to a get-together and you HAVE to get the recipe. They disappear off of any plate and platter so quickly that I’m telling you right now that you should just double the recipe. I mean, a delicious butter shortbread crust with a gooey salted caramel center… It’s simple yet amazing! These are the perfect balance of salty and sweet and will always be a hit.

Ingredients 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. See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements.

  • 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.  This will mix into your dough so much better!
  • 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 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!

Let’s Make Some Delicious Salted Caramel Butter Bars:

You will be amazed at 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!

  • Preheat and prep: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • Combine ingredients to make 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, refrigerate other half: 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.
  • Make caramel sauce: 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 amount. Just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty.
  • Take refrigerated dough out and add to top, bake: 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.
6 step by step pictures showing how to make dough and caramel.

Variations

This salted caramel butter bars recipe is seriously SOO GOOD! I love how the bars turn out and make them over and over. Here are a few ideas on how to change things up!

  • Caramel lovers: Substitute some or all of your granulated sugar for light brown sugar. This gives the bars an even stronger caramel flavor!
  • Can’t have flour? 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!
  • Don’t have heavy cream? Use milk or water instead in a pinch.
Salted caramel butter bars on a baking sheet cut up.

Baking Tips

Although this is a super simple recipe, I do have a few tips to achieve the most perfect salted caramel butter bars possible. Pay close attention to these few things because they 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.
  • Don’t overmix: 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.
A broken salted caramel bar with caramel dripping.

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.

A zoomed in stack of salted butter caramel bars.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

5 from 2 votes
Salted caramel butter bars are the perfect easy-to-make dessert. With a buttery and crumbly shortbread crust that is topped with a smooth layer of caramel, there will be a little bit of sweet and savory in each bite!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 20 Bars

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups butter softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 (14 ounces) bag caramels unwrapped or 11 oz unwrapped Caramel Bits work great
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • 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 9×13 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 amount, 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.

Video

Notes

Updated on December 29, 2021
Originally Posted on October 22, 2013

Nutrition

Serves: 20

Calories425kcal (21%)Carbohydrates55g (18%)Protein4g (8%)Fat22g (34%)Saturated Fat13g (65%)Cholesterol56mg (19%)Sodium565mg (24%)Potassium81mg (2%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar33g (37%)Vitamin A635IU (13%)Vitamin C1mg (1%)Calcium41mg (4%)Iron1mg (6%)

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.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword caramel butter bars, salted caramel bars, salted caramel butter bars
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. Haven’t made these yet, but is it really 4 sticks of butter!?! 2 cups, or is that supposed to be 2 sticks?

  2. 5 stars
    My niece makes these for Christmas and they are wonderful but this year the bottom was
    a little hard. Can you bake them less time in order for them to come out softer on the bottom?

  3. 5 stars
    This is my absolute favourite dessert bar recipe. I make these every Christmas to give out to family and friends because everyone loves them!! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! They have become a yearly tradition in this house!

  4. I believe next time I will make this in a jelly roll pan (11 X 17) and use closer to 3/4 of the crust on the bottom, otherwise it is WONDERFUL! Oh my gosh it is DELICIOUS! For someone who normally LOVES chocolate desserts, this non-chocolate option is AMAZING!!!

  5. These are easily some of the best dessert bars I’ve ever made. I took them to my dad’s for Christmas Eve dinner, and then to my sister in laws for another celebration on Christmas day. I brought the leftovers to work today, and everyone is asking me for the recipe. They are absolutely delicious, and so easy to make too!

  6. I’ve made these at least 4 times and each time I can’t believe how good they are! Simple recipe and delicious. They’re now my go-to when bringing treats to work or during the holidays. Thank you!

  7. My girlfriend called in a panic for me to help out with some baking and I said of course there is a recipe I would like to try, salted caramel butter
    bars! So I made some homemade caramel mixed them up and prayed that they were going to be good and dropped them all off for her without tasting them . About 3 hours later I received many texts from her and a few others about how wonderful these bars were and could I make more! So I’m going to make some for myself first. She saved me one to Try! Oh my god were they Good! Definitely on my Christmas baking list, after I mastered the making of the caramel these were a breeze to make. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

  8. Me again, Butter was on sale and I still have home made caramel to use up. What to do?
    Came together well again. I sliced the dough from the fridge into squarish 1/4 inch slices and filled the surface of the caramel completely. Cooked only to the minimum times. Edges browned in spots.

  9. I made these for a Christmas party and receive ed texts the same night raving about the bars. I made them for every one. The only change I made was making my own caramel. Thanks for an awesome recipe!

  10. I have made this twice now, going for a third soon. Original version I was not completely happy with the top layer in pea size bits some came out too crunchy. Also first batch I over baked, my oven is new. Second I tried to roll out the top but it fell apart in assembly. The bits put back together had a nice cut glass texture, still a bit over baked. Was thinking if I made the middle, (home made caramel too.) poured it into the pan to set it in the fridge/freezer; removed it from the pan then assembled again, same pan; parchment paper first then pour layer one, place the middle on top then pour the final layer making it only have to bake once. Will give the cake a bit of time for temperature to equalize before baking.
    Any input? My ideas sound?

  11. This is the second time I made these. Last batch just disappeared. This time home made salted caramels were used instead of store bought.. This time the top layer, instead of crumble, I rolled out the crust and refrigerated. It broke apart in assembly unfortunately but good idea I think. Last ones were a bit crunchy on the bottom so I am minimizing baking time. Just out of oven, smells Great! How long will they last? Freezing some for presents.

  12. Hands down the BEST recipe ever! I double the caramel. Most requested from my family and friends. Have 6, yes 6 times since thanksgiving! I always have dough left over. Freezes well and makes shortbread like cookies! Double the caramel is key. Thank you so much for my new, and most loved recipe!

  13. A friend of mine made these at work and they were so delicious! So I made these for thanksgiving tomorrow. They turned out great! Easy and delicious!!

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