An easy buttery brown sugary chocolate caramel oatmeal bar, known as caramelitas, are layered with salted caramel and milk chocolate chips. You don’t even need a mixer to whip up these milk chocolate oatmeal bars with caramel. This recipe can be made in one bowl and take about 15 minutes or less to prep!
I’m going to get right to the point today friend. These caramelitas bars have everything I love. Salted Caramel. Swoon. Chocolate. Check. Sugar. Check, Check. Simple to throw together. Sweet. Did I mention you don’t even need a mixer for these bars? Like I said, super easy and super delicious.
These chocolate caramel oatmeal bars start with making a simple one bowl oatmeal cookie dough. You will press half into the pan and partially bake. Then drizzle some caramel and chocolate chips over. Top with the remaining dough and finish baking! That’s it! Told you they were easy.
Now you can make your own caramel sauce if you want, use some caramel candies that you can melt down on the stovetop, or just use some store-bought caramel sauce for maximum ease.
Why You Are Going To Love These Caramelitas
- Quick Prep – You can whip up these bars in about 15 minutes or less. So when you need a last minute dessert, these are it! And they will always be a huge hit, trust me.
- One Bowl – You can make the entire oatmeal cookie dough for the bars in just one bowl.
- Baked In Less Than 30 Minutes – These bars bake up in less than 30 minutes, so between a quick prep and a quick bake these bars are a perfect last minute dessert.
Where Did Caramelita Originate?
So these bars are known as “caramelitas”. Or caramel chocolate caramel bars as I’m going calling them. Basically, these bar are simple and hard to resist. As far as their origin. Google stumped me. And that rarely happens. I couldn’t find where these were made first.
Rumor on the internet has it that people have been making these since the 1960’s. One bite and you will know why. Who cares who made them first. Or where they came from. Just be glad they have come into your life.
- Unsalted Butter – I recommend unsalted butter, but you can also use salted butter just omit the extra pinch of salt.
- Brown Sugar – Light or dark will work.
- Vanilla – I prefer pure vanilla extract, but imitation vanilla will also work.
- Flour – Just regular all-purpose flour is all you need.
- Oats – I recommend using old-fashioned oats for a heartier texture, but quick oats will work.
- Baking Soda
- Salt – I use sea salt for best flavor, but you can use table or kosher as well. but if using salted butter omit.
- Caramel – Homemade caramel sauce, caramel made from caramel candies (included in recipe below), or just use a THICK store-bought caramel sauce. If your store-bought caramel sauce that’s on the thinner side, try stirring in 1 tablespoon flour to thicken.
- Chocolate chips – Milk or semi-sweet chips work fine.
How To Make These Caramelita Bars
The first step is making what will become the bottom and top layer of these bars. You start with melted butter and add brown sugar and vanilla. After they are combined, stir in your flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Told you these were easy to make friend.
Measuring Flour 101
Measuring flour wrong is the biggest mistake beginner bakers make. I always recommend measuring by weight, but if you don’t own a scale then be sure to stir your flour first. Then spoon into your measuring cup and level it off. Do NOT pack it down or you will end up with WAY too much flour in your cup. Too much flour = dry, cakey bar.
Then take half of the flour-oat mixture and spread into a prepared 8 x 8 pan. It’s ok, just eyeball what half is. It’s ok if it’s not perfect. I lined my pan with tin-foil and gave the foil a quick spray, but you can also use parchment paper. If you don’t line the pan, the be sure to grease the pan so you can remove the bars easily.
Can I use a different pan?
If you don’t own a 8×8″ pan, a 9×9″ pan will also work your bars will just not be as thick. If you want you can also double the recipe this and make these in a 9×13″ pan. I used a metal pan, but if you use a glass pan, you will need to bake these slightly longer
Bake this layer for 10 minutes. Then it’s time for the ooey-goodness. On top of the oatmeal layer, cover it with chocolate chips.
You can use milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, mini or regular sized. You could even use chocolate bars chopped up, or chocolate chunks. Heck, mix it up and use white chocolate chips!
Then pour salted caramel sauce over the chocolate chips. Be sure to leave a slight border, so the caramel doesn’t go right ot the edge or it can stick to the foil and be hard to remove later after baking.
Do I need to make my own caramel sauce?
Now you can go ahead and make your own salted caramel sauce. I made my own. Don’t feel like you need to. But do what is easiest. Sometimes I use a jarred caramel sauce. Sometimes I don’t.
For these bars, I took a shortcut though and made a caramel out of caramel candies and heavy cream. Add a pinch of salt and it’s perfect.
Then take the remaining oat-flour mixture and sprinkle on top. Then bake until the edges are golden brown. Mine took about 18 minutes. I started watching at 15 minutes. You can never be too careful. Nobody likes a burnt bar!
The hard part with these bars is waiting for them to cool. You want to let these cool for 1-2 hours to allow the caramel to set. If you don’t wait, you will end up with a hot sticky mess and caramel all over your fingers. And the bars might not be as pretty looking.
Store at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days. You can also store in the fridge for longer but will want to let soften slightly before serving.
You can freeze caramelita bars for up to 3 months. Be sure to let cool completely and wrap well. Let thaw at room temperature before serving.
Time Saving Tips
- Make These The Day Before! – These bars need time to cool, so I prefer to make these the day before giving them ample time to cool so they are ready for me the next day when I need them.
- Line The Pan – Cutting these can be a big pain if you don’t the line the pan. Take the extra minute to line and spray the pan so getting them out is easy.
- Use Store-bought caramel sauce for fastest prep – If you are really in a bind, use store-bought caramel sauce. Just make sure it’s a THICK caramel sauce. If it’s too thin, try stirring in 1 tablespoon flour to thicken. If you do want to make the caramel from candies, I recommend the Werther’s soft caramels, as they are the easiest and quickest to open.
More Recipes To Try
Let’s Bake Together!
Caramel Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 g) unsalted butter melted
- 3/ 4 cup (160 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (100 g) old fashioned oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips milk or semi-sweet
- 35 caramel candies *see note
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Prep oven and pan. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Lining your pan is highly recommended for ease of cleanup due to the stickiness of the caramel; set pan aside.
- Combine wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
- Add dry ingredients. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. Mixture will be thick.
- Bake half of the dough. Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Set the remaining dough aside. Bake in a preheated 350°F for 10 minutes.
- If making caramel: Combine caramels and cream in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat to melt, stirring nearly continuously, until mixture can be stirred smooth. Optionally stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste. Set aside. You can also use store-bought caramel sauce (depending on brand, caramel might not be as thick and pronounced in flavor).
- Finish prep for bars. After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate, leaving a small border to the edge. The caramel has a tendency to stick to the foil, so I make sure to not spread the caramel right to the edge. Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie dough over the top.
- Finish baking. Return pan to oven and bake for about 15-18 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly. If using a glass pan, your bars may take slightly longer.
- Allow to cool. Allow bars to cool for 1-2 hours completely in the pan before slicing and serving to allow the caramel time to firm up. (Time may vary on cooling, and may take longer). You can speed up the process and cover the bars and place in the fridge.
- Storage – Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 days, covered.
- Freezing – You can freeze for up to 3 months. Be sure to cool completely and wrap well. Then thaw at room temperature before serving.
- Pan size – You can use a 9×9 pan but they won’t be as thick. Or double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan. You will need to bake these longer, 20-25 minutes. If baking in a glass pan, increase baking time slightly.
- Caramel – You want to use soft, chewy caramels (Werther’s chewy caramels are easiest to open, or Kraft caramels also work). Do not use hard caramel candies. If you don’t want to make your own caramel, then use 3/4 cup of store-bought caramel. The thicker the better. Different brands may lend different results in thickness and flavor of caramel. If yours is too thin, try stirring in 1 Tablespoon flour.
- Oats – I prefer old-fashioned, but quick oats will also work but will lend a slightly powdery texture and different consistency.
- Butter – I use unsalted but if using salted butter, then omit the extra salt.
- Slightly adapted from Averie Cooks