Calling all caramel lovers! These Best Ever Carmelitas are absolutely divine! The thickest, butteriest caramel layer sandwiched between layers of chocolate chips and oatmeal cookies, baked to perfection in a gooey, chewy bar.
You guys – these bars are everything. Ev.Er.Y.Thing.
I am a sucker for most oat-centric desserts. I mean, can we agree that oatmeal cookies are one of life’s greatest pleasures?
In fact, my all-time fave ice cream flavor is Ben & Jerry’s “Oat of this World” which has caramel and oatmeal cookie dough pieces. CAN YOU EVEN?? These bars kinda remind me of that addictive ice cream but in the gooiest, chewiest, most delicious bars.
And truly, they couldn’t be easier to make – I promise! I know it seems daunting when working with caramel and multiple layers in the same dessert, but I can guarantee these bars will make you the most popular person.*
*bars have made me the most popular person with myself, because I ate them all instead of sharing
To make them, you need to make your oatmeal cookie dough, which is like a cross between oatmeal cookie dough and shortbread since there’s no egg in the mixture. It’s just salted butter, brown sugar and a splash of vanilla extract beaten together until creamy. Then you’ll add in some flour, oats of course, and baking soda – no salt since we used salted butter, which really amps up the flavor and makes all the difference.
Press half of the oatmeal cookie dough into the bottom of a foil-lined and greased 8×8 inch pan and bake it for a few minutes to really solidify that base. You want to pre-bake the bottom crust so it’s stable enough to support the weight of all that luscious caramel!
While the crust bakes, make your caramel: it’s simply caramel bits and heavy cream melted low and slow in a saucepan over medium-low heat until thick and rich. I like using Kraft’s Caramel Bits because they’re like little round caramel balls that melt soo much faster and there’s nothing to tediously unwrap!
Briefly remove the crust from the oven and sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips, then pour over your caramel. Try not to groan with excitement. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal cookie dough evenly over the surface of the caramel and return the pan to the oven to bake some more.
The most torturous part of this recipe is letting it cool completely so it has a chance to set; otherwise, you’ll cut into delicious albeit messy bars. I like to make these bars a day ahead of time so I can actually chill them in the fridge – this really helps the caramel set completely. However, if you chill them in the fridge, make sure you bring them to room temperature before serving! No one wants to break a filling on cold caramel – you’ve been warned!
Gooey, buttery, thick, rich, chewy Carmelitas. These are hands-down the best EVER!!
*adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen
Best Ever Carmelitas
- 11 ounces (One 11-ounce package) Kraft caramel bits or 1 bag caramel squares, unwrapped
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup salted butter melted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray. Trust me, you will want to line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy removal later!
- In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, flour, oats, and baking soda with a spoon until combined. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven but keep oven on.
- While the crust bakes, in a small saucepan combine the caramels and heavy cream over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Pour the caramel over the chocolate chip layer. Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie dough over the caramel layer evenly. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the caramel is just about set. It may jiggle a little, but should not be sloshing around in the pan. Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate to set for at least 1-2 hours. Let bars come to room temperature before consuming, as cold caramel is not great for teeth!
I can’t even handle the gooey factor of these dreamy bars!
Have a super sweet day!
Can they be frozen?
Hi Julie, they can but please let them come fully to room temperature before serving. I am not responsible for someone’s broken tooth on cold caramel! 🙂
Do you have directions/measurements for 9×13?
Hi Carla, I do not, but you could probably double this and it would work! Just experiment with changing the baking time.
For the first 30 years of my life I thought this was a secret family recipe, then they turned up at the karate skating pot luck!!!!! If you’ve never sat near a pot luck buffet line where everyone has skates on- well, you’re missin our. And don’t eat these- ever. They will change your life.
There is no measurement for the vanilla extract.
Patty, thanks for pointing that out! Just updated the ingredients to have 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
This sounds so amazing! Is it a must to refrigerate?
Hi Ceciii, no it does not need to be refrigerated!
So yummy! Would highly recommend adding some flaky salt to the caramel. Cuts some of the super sweet caramel and is generally very yummy.
Hi,I’m in the uk , what are the uk measurements also where or what would be caramel balls in the uk ? I really want to try them but there is so much different things in the us to the uk (like caramel balls) I just can’t think what they would be in the uk
Hi Rowenna, you could probably google search the conversions to grams and do you have caramel squares in the UK? Just pure caramel candies? That would be perfect.
Jennifer kamalani says
My mom makes these every Christmas. Because of covid we couldn’t go home this year. I am so glad I found this recipe! It’s so delicious!!! It’s not Christmas anymore and I keep making them! Lol
OUTSTANDING. Directions were super easy to follow and the bars were a cinch to make. Big success!
Holy cow these are good and very easy to make. I made a half batch in a bread pan.
Thanks For Sharing this amazing recipe. My family loved it. I will be sharing this recipe with my friends. Hope the will like it.
Jen Wildman says
Your recipe was easy-to-follow and my carmelita bars turned out perfectly! Thank you for the recommendation to prep the pan with cooking spray and foil – had I not followed your instructions, those bars would still be clinging to the pan!
I will definitely be making these yummy carmelitas again.
These were absolutely delicious . I lined my baking dish with parchment paper and it worked perfectly!!
These look excellent, I will be trying them with homemade sugar fee caramel, hope the consistency will work.Wish me luck!
Can caramel in a jar be substituted for the Kraft caramels and cream
Hi Dani, sorry for the delay – it can as long as it is a thicker caramel sauce. Some of the jarred caramels are very runny. I like Smucker’s Simply Delights jarred caramel.
I had trouble getting mine to harden. Even after I let it sit until room temperature it started to fall apart when I tried to lift the foil out of the pan. The refrigerator didn’t help so I ended up putting it in the freezer for an hour in order to cut it. Did I need to bake it longer?? I definitely want to try again because it tastes delicious!
Hi Kay! It sounds like it needs to be baked a little longer! What type of pan did you use? Was it glass by chance? Glass conducts heat poorly, resulting in baked goods that aren’t properly set as consistently as a light metal pan would bake them. Therefore your cooking time is usually off by minutes. I suggest using a disposable foil pan or a light metal baking pan next time for accuracy.
These sound delicious! We have family coming for a visit and I’m planning on making these. This might be a silly question, but do these keep well for a few days? I see where they do not need to be refrigerated, correct? Thanks for sharing!
Can I use half-and-half I do not have heavy cream on hand
No, heavy cream is recommended.
Doubled the recipe for a 9 x 13. Office potluck….HUGE hit!!! So simple to make (after unwrapping 100 caramels!) that I think this is mnemonic go to for potlucks,
Delicious and so easy! Do I store in a sealed container at room temperature? How many days are they good for?
SHARON V. says
Can I use Carmel dessert topping instead of caramels?
Hi Sharon, if you use the caramel dessert topping I recommend using Smucker’s Simply Delights brand. It’s my favorite and has limited ingredients. Some of the other brands and types are too watery, but the Simply Delights is just perfect.
Bonnie Rumley says
Can you substitute gluten free flour in this recipe
Hi Bonnie, while I don’t ever use GF flour and cannot say for sure, you should be able to use the cup-for-cup GF flour blend successfully in this recipe.
I made these yesterday and they are scrumptious! I didn’t have any cream so I melted the caramels using 2% milk which worked just fine. I also used quick oats instead of the old-fashioned variety, An easy and yummy recipe! ❤️