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Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars

This sweet and salty dessert recipe is three decadent layers of mouthwatering goodness. These bars start with a buttery cookie crust followed by layers of soft caramel and milk chocolate. They are so good, it’s impossible to just eat one!

Stack of chocolate caramel cookie bars on stone cutting board.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Dangerously Good – Recently, I dropped off a batch of these bars at a friend’s house and two minutes later, I got a text and all it said was Oh. My. God. Those bars.
  • Sweet & Salty Perfection – The sweet and slightly salty combination makes these bars irresistible. In fact, your brain has a positive biological reaction to good sweet and salty combinations. Ahhhh… So, that’s why I want these bars for breakfast, lunch and dinner. #science
  • Only 7 Ingredients – This recipe combines a buttery cookie, a soft gooey caramel, and a chocolate bar in one delicious 3-layered dessert. Who would’ve thought it only takes 7 easy ingredients to make?!
  • Easiest Caramel Ever – The caramel in this recipe is so easy. It makes perfect, buttery, soft caramel every time in the MICROWAVE! No thermometers, pots, pans, or frustration! This recipe is what caramel dreams are made of. 

Ingredients You’ll Need

Cookie bar ingredients on marble counter.
  • Club Crackers – This recipe calls for Original Club Crackers because they add the best flavor and texture. Saltines can be used as a substitute but the cookie layer won’t be as rich and flavorful.  
  • Corn Syrup – This recipe calls for light corn syrup. However, if you are in a pinch, dark corn syrup will also work. Dark corn syrup will give the caramel layer a molasses flavor and make it darker in color.
  • (Sweetened) Condensed Milk – Condensed milk comes in a can and can be found in the baking aisle. 
  • Chocolate Chips – Personally, I like using milk chocolate chips. However, if you’re a dark chocolate fan, feel free to use dark chocolate chips! 

Step-by-Step Instructions

There are three layers to this dessert recipe:

  • Layer 1 – Cookie
  • Layer 2 – Caramel
  • Layer 3 – Chocolate
Instructions to make cookie layer of chocolate caramel cookie bars.

Combine Dry Ingredients: Turn the Club Crackers into very fine breadcrumbs using a food processor. Then add powdered sugar and salt and combine. 

Add Butter: Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture turns into small pea-sized balls and starts to clump up like dough. 

Press & Bake Cookie Layer: Firmly press the mixture into an 8×8 pan to make the bottom layer/cookie crust. Bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes.

Layer 2 – Caramel

Instructions to make caramel layer of cookie bars.

Microwave Butter: Cut the butter into slices and put in a very large mixing bowl. Microwave for 45-60 seconds or until the butter is partially melted. 

Add Remaining Caramel Ingredients: Add the sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, and salt to the bowl. Whisk until well combined. 

Microwave + Whisk: Microwave the mixture for a total of 8 minutes if using a plastic or melamine bowl or a total of 7 minutes if using a glass bowl, whisking every 2 minutes: 

  • 2 minutes + whisk
  • 2 minutes + whisk
  • 2 minutes + whisk
  • 2 minutes + whisk (for plastic or melamine bowl) OR 1 minute + whisk (for glass bowl)

NOTE: After the 3rd and 4th rounds of microwaving, the caramel mixture should bubble up and look like the lower left image above.

Add Caramel Layer: After microwaving and whisking, immediately pour the caramel mixture over the cookie crust. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. 

Layer 3 – Chocolate

Chocolate layer instructions for cookie bars.

Melt Chocolate: In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips in 20-30 second intervals, stirring between, until the chocolate is just melted.

Add Chocolate Layer: Immediately pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer. Smooth with a spatula and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

NOTE: Store bars in the fridge until ready to eat! 


1. Double up on cooking spray.

There is nothing worse than being so excited to dive into a delicious dessert only to find that it is stuck in the pan! Queue non-stick cooking spray…

  • Spray the pan before lining with parchment paper.
  • Spray the pan again after lining with parchment paper. 
  • Spray the edges of the pan right before adding the caramel layer.

2. Use Club Crackers! 

Club Crackers make a deliciously rich and buttery cookie crust. Use them if you can! However, if you can’t get your hands on Club Crackers, Ritz crackers or saltines will work as substitutes. 

3. Make the caramel in an extra large bowl. 

The caramel mixture bubbles up in the microwave. To ensure it doesn’t overflow and make a huge mess, use the largest mixing bowl you can comfortably fit in your microwave. 

The caramel layer is gooey and soft. So, I recommend storing these bars in the fridge. Then pull them out 5-10 minutes before eating so they can get deliciously soft and chewy! 

5. Spray your knife with cooking spray. 

Back to the cooking spray! Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into squares. Spray the knife with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to the caramel layer. 


Recipe FAQ

How do you make the layers so nice and even? 

The key to nice even layers is making sure the first layer/cookie layer is compact, flat and even. 

Spray the bottom of a measuring cup (or other tool with a flat surface) and use it to press the cookie layer into the pan before baking. This helps make the cookie layer compact, even and flat. 

Flatten cookie dough into a baking pan.

What if I don’t have a food processor? 

This recipe uses a food a processor to do two things: 1) turn Club Crackers into breadcrumbs and 2) mix the cold butter into the dry ingredients to make the cookie layer/layer 1.

If you don’t have a food processor

  1. A blender can be used to turn the Club Crackers into fine breadcrumbs. 
  2. A potato masher or fork can be used to incorporate the cold butter into the dry ingredients when making the cookie layer/layer 1. These options will require a little arm muscle but will work just fine! 

Why is my chocolate thick and chunky? 

If your chocolate is thick, dull and chunky instead of thin, glossy and smooth, chances are the chocolate burned. Chocolate is very easy to burn in the microwave. 

Follow these three tips for perfectly smooth melted chocolate:

  1. Put the chocolate chips in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup (microwave-safe of course). Avoid overly large dishes as they cause burning to occur much more easily. 
  2. Microwave the chocolate chips in 20-30 second intervals until just melted. Stir in between each interval. 
  3. If adding the butter (optional ingredient) to the melted chocolate, make sure the butter is room temperature/softened. Cold butter may cause the melted chocolate to seize up. 
Chocolate caramel cookie bar with a bite taken out of it.

Similar Recipes

Loving this recipe? Then you’ll love my Chocolate Coconut Almond Bites and Raspberry Lemon Mini Cheesecakes. Give them a try!


Watch the How-to Video


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Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars

Yield: 36 bars
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Pin Recipe Print Recipe Rate Recipe
This sweet and salty dessert recipe is three decadent layers of mouthwatering goodness. These bars start with a buttery cookie crust followed by layers of soft caramel and milk chocolate.

Ingredients
 

Layer 1 – Cookie

  • 40 club crackers, (see note 1)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp butter, cold (see note 2)

Layer 2 – Caramel

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Layer 3 – Chocolate

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, or 1 bag
  • 1 Tbsp butter, room temperature (optional)

Instructions
 

Layer 1 – Cookie

  • Preheat: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (see note 3). 
  • Combine Dry Ingredients: Put Club Crackers in a food processor and process into very fine breadcrumbs (see note 4). Add the powdered sugar and salt to the food processer and process until well combined.
    Processed club crackers.
  • Add Butter: Cut the cold butter into cubes (see note 2) and add to the food processor (see note 5). Pulse until the mixture turns into small pea-sized balls and starts to clump up like dough. 
    Cookie dough after incorporating butter into dry ingredients.
  • Bake Cookie Layer: Put the mixture in the lined baking pan and press it down firmly to make the bottom layer/cookie crust (see note 6). Put it in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Once done baking, let it cool.
    Cookie layer in baking pan.

Layer 2 – Caramel

  • Microwave Butter: Cut 1/2 cup butter into Tablespoon sized slices. Put the butter in a very large mixing bowl (see note 7). Microwave for 45-60 seconds or until the butter is partially melted.
    Partially melted butter in large bowl.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the sugar, corn syrup, condensed milk, and salt to the bowl. Whisk until well combined. 
    Whisking caramel ingredients in grey bowl.
  • Microwave + Whisk: Microwave the mixture for a total of 8 minutes if using a plastic or melamine bowl or a total of 7 minutes if using a glass bowl, whisking every 2 minutes: 
    2 minutes + whisk
    2 minutes + whisk
    2 minutes + whisk
    2 minutes + whisk (for plastic or melamine bowl) OR 1 minute + whisk (for glass bowl)
    Microwaved caramel in large bowl.
  • Add Caramel Layer: After microwaving and whisking, immediately pour the caramel mixture over the cookie crust. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until the caramel has set.
    Pouring caramel on cookie layer.

Layer 3 – Chocolate

  • Melt Chocolate: In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips for 20-30 second intervals, stirring between, until the chocolate is just melted (see note 8). Stir 1 Tbsp of room temperature butter (see note 9) into the melted chocolate until well combined. 
    Melted chocolate in grey bowl.
  • Add Chocolate Layer: Immediately pour the melted chocolate over the caramel layer. Smooth with a spatula and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until the chocolate has set.
    Spreading melted chocolate on cookie bars.
  • Serve & Store: Cut the bars with a sharp knife (see note 10). Store bars in the fridge until ready to eat!

Notes

Note 1 – Club Crackers: 40 Club Crackers equals about 1 1/4 cups after they’ve been processed into fine breadcrumbs.
Note 2 – Cold Butter: The butter needs to be very cold. It should go straight from the fridge into your food processor!
Note 3 – Cooking Spray: To make sure you can get your bars out of the pan with ease, spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Then spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
Note 4 – Food Processor Substitute (cracker breadcrumbs): If you do not have a food processor, a blender can be used to turn the crackers into very fine breadcrumbs.
Note 5 – Food Processor Substitute (cold butter): If you do not have a food processor, put the Club Cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and salt mixture into a large bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to incorporate the cold butter into the dry ingredients. This will take a little arm muscle!
Note 6 – Press Cookie Layer: For a compact and even cookie layer, spray the bottom of a measuring cup (or other tool with a flat surface) with cooking spray and use it to press cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan.
Two hands pressing dough into baking dish.
Note 7 – Large Mixing Bowl: The caramel mixture bubbles up when microwaved. To ensure it doesn’t overflow and make a mess, use the largest mixing bowl you can comfortably fit in your microwave.
Note 8 – Melt Chocolate Chips: Chocolate is very easy to burn when microwaving. Therefore, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20-30 second intervals. Stir in between each interval. 
Note 9 – Room Temperature Butter: The butter needs to be room temperature when added to the melted chocolate. Cold butter may cause the melted chocolate to seize up.
Note 10 – Cut Bars: Spray your knife with cooking spray to avoid sticking when cutting the bars.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bar | Calories: 165kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Sodium: 125mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g
Have you tried this recipe? Let me know what you think! Rate this recipe and leave a comment below.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These bars are amazing! Even though I did not follow the recipe exactly (it is a personal problem), they turned out perfect. Deadly. Yummy. Keep in frig until you serve.