16 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Set 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Easy Caramelitas are chewy chocolatey caramel layered dessert bars. Gooey caramel filling with chocolate chips and pecans between buttery oatmeal shortbread.

A cross between Five Layer Bars and Oatmeal Cookies plus gooey caramel, this tasty, old-fashioned Cookie Bar Recipe for is perfect for holidays, potlucks, or whenever you get a craving… and you’ll be craving them a lot!

Caramelitas in stack


The best desserts are full of rich, sweet flavors and gooey, melty goodness. These old-fashioned Caramelitas bars have everything you want in a cookie bar and then some! While this new recipe is easy to make there is a little extra prep time, but it is so worth it for that first warm, gooey bite.

One of the things that makes this Caramelitas recipe so easy is that the oat cookie crust is actually pulling double duty as the crumb mixture topping too. The buttery oat shortbread is made with ingredients you definitely have on hand. To keep the crumb mixture from separating, keep the topping portion in the refrigerator while the crust bakes and caramel mixture sets.

Caramelitas are a pantry and budget friendly recipe, with almost no special ingredients. Store bought caramels are about the same price of chocolate chips, and you can pick them up in the candy section of the store.

If you have the ingredients on hand, make these Salted Caramels instead melting store-bought caramels with heavy cream. Just prepare the sea salt caramel recipe, spread the caramel sauce over the crust, and set like usual.


A little goes a long way with these rich Caramelitas Cookie Bars but you can easily make larger batches for potlucks and cookie exchanges. Double the servings for large crowd by using the slider bar in the recipe card. Bake the double batch in a 9×13 baking dish. If you prefer a thinner cookie crust, bake the bars in a 9×9 baking pan or 9×13 pan without increasing the ingredients.

You want to cool your Carmelita Cookie Bars before cutting them to serve, otherwise the caramel bits and chocolate bits will ooze out. Not that gooey, oozing caramel and chocolate is bad! You could always scoop them while warm into a bowl and top with Vanilla Ice Cream for a rich, decadent sundae. Drizzle your sundae with Salted Caramel Sauce and sprinkle with crushed pecans to take it over the top!

small stack of Caramelitas


  • Coconut: Sprinkle toasted coconut over the caramel mixture or on top of the crumb mixture for an extra layer for chewy, tasty goodness.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: Drizzle a half can of sweetened condensed milk over the crust before baking, like you would any of our baked and no-bake Layer Bars.
  • Caramel Sauce: Use caramel ice cream topping, make dulce de leche with condensed milk, or use our Salted Caramel Fondue instead melting store-bought caramels.
  • Chocolate Chips: Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, try dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, or mini chocolate chips.
  • Layers: Layered cookie bars have (almost) no limits! Sprinkle a layer of toffee bits, chopped candy bars, raisins, peanut butter chips, or caramel chips. You can also use chopped walnuts, almonds, or peanuts instead of pecans.
  • Cookie Dough: For the easiest Carmelitas, use a pre-made cookie dough. Press half of a roll of sugar cookie or chocolate chip cookie dough into a prepared pan. Top with the caramel filling and let set before adding the pecans and remaining cookie dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes.



  • Serve: Caramelitas are best at room temperature. Keep covered in a cool, dry place for up to 5 days. If the temperature is too hot, store in the refrigerator.
  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Layer parchment paper between layers of cookie bars so they don’t stick together. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Freeze: Cut before storing in a sealed container with parchment paper between layers of bars. Freeze for up to 2 months and set on the counter until soft before enjoying.

holding a slice of Caramelitas

Pin this recipe now to remember it later

Pin Recipe


Easy Caramelitas are chewy chocolatey caramel layered dessert bars. Gooey caramel filling with chocolate chips and pecans between buttery oatmeal shortbread.
Yield 16 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 24 soft caramels , unwrapped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup walnuts , chopped
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 baking pan with baking spray.
  • To your food processor add butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Pulse until coarse crumbs form then add in the rolled oats and stir.
  • Press half the filling into your baking pan gently and bake for 10 minutes.
  • While crust is baking add caramels and heavy cream to a bowl and microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.
  • Pour caramel over the crust once out of the oven then let cool for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Mix the rest of the topping with the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Add the crumble mixture over the cooled caramel.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.


Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 259IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg

Caramelitas collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


Leave a comment & rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.