Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars

I love streusel or crumble toppings and the bigger the crumbles, the better. They’re easier to pick off.

Throw in salted caramel, and you’re in for a wonderfully buttery and caramely treat.

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars - Easy, soft, buttery bars that just melt in your mouth! The salted caramel makes them so irresistible!!!

The bars are easy to make and you probably have everything on hand to make them now. It’s such a simple ingredients list: butter, sugar, flour, dash of vanilla, and caramel sauce.

The crust and topping are the same mixture which is a nice time saver. The crust is firm with some chewiness and the crumbles on top add tons of awesome texture.

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars - Easy, soft, buttery bars that just melt in your mouth! The salted caramel makes them so irresistible!!!

You can use Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce or storebought. Don’t use thin, runny, ice cream sundae sauce. Use a nice thick sauce.

As the bars bake, the caramel sauce intensifies in flavor, and it tastes richer, more buttery, and has a more intense caramel flavor in the finished bars than straight out of the jar.

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars - Easy, soft, buttery bars that just melt in your mouth! The salted caramel makes them so irresistible!!!

I was tempted to sprinkle chocolate chips over the caramel filling, but I’m glad I didn’t. Allowing the caramel flavor to shine on its own, and allowing it to perfectly complement the shortbread, was a smart call. Every once in awhile, I don’t miss chocolate.

Sinking your teeth down through all the layers and getting a taste of the caramel filling in the middle is the best. Soft, chewy, and gooey all in one bite.

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars - Easy, soft, buttery bars that just melt in your mouth! The salted caramel makes them so irresistible!!!

The bars turned out to be one of those sleeper hits that I didn’t have super high expectations for because the ingredients are so simple, but they turned out to be just that, a sleeper hit.

I loved them so much that I needed to promptly donate half the pan.

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars - Easy, soft, buttery bars that just melt in your mouth! The salted caramel makes them so irresistible!!!

Print Recipe

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars

I love streusel or crumble toppings and the bigger the crumbles, the better. Throw in salted caramel, and you’re in for a wonderfully buttery and caramely treat. The bars are easy to make and you probably have everything on hand to make them now. The crust and topping are the same mixture, a nice time saver. Use Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce or thick storebought and not thin, runny, ice cream sundae sauce. Regular (non-salted) caramel sauce works too. As the bars bake, the caramel sauce intensifies in flavor, and it tastes richer, more buttery, and has a more intense caramel flavor. Biting through all the layers and getting a taste of the caramel filling is the best. Soft, chewy, and gooey all in one bite.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: about 50 minutes, divided

Total Time: 3+ hours, for cooling

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
heaping 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (homemade or storebought, or regular caramel sauce) + more for drizzling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, fluffy, and well combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Dough shouldn't be overly sticky. If yours is sticky (mine was because I baked on a humid day), add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour, or as needed, until dough comes together without feeling sticky, however don't over-do it or dough could become crumbly.
  5. Turn out one-third of the mixture out into prepared pan (err on the side of going over one-third if you're eyeballing it and unsure), pressing and hard-packing it with your fingers to form a smooth, even crust layer. Bake for 20 minutes. While crust bakes, refrigerate remaining two-thirds of dough.
  6. After 20 minutes, remove pan from oven, and evenly pour heaping half cup salted caramel over crust.
  7. Evenly crumble reserved dough over the top (it looks like a lot but some sinks down into the caramel layer while baking).
  8. Return pan to oven and bake for about 25 to 32 minutes, or until top is barely golden browned and there's subtle signs of caramel bubbling.
  9. Remove pan from oven, lightly and evenly drizzle with salted caramel, and place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least two hours before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth

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117 comments

  1. Made this tonight. OMG, It’s ooey-gooey good! I used Nestlé La Lechera Dulce De Leche Caramel Sauce but plan to make your homemade caramel sauce soon.

    I made a mistake that you mentioned not to do in the instructions: my dough was too sticky. But I didn’t realize quite how sticky it was until I had already started pressing it down, so I just continued on. This meant that later it wouldn’t crumble, so I just put an even layer on top instead. It all worked out in the end and was still yummy.

    I have one question: After the crust bakes for 20 minutes, what should the texture and color be? Crisply browned? Or still soft?

    • Glad it all worked out and they’re great!

      After 20 minutes for the curst, you just want it to be set, with almost no color because it’s going back into the oven for another half hour or so and overbaking the first time could result in bars that are way too dry.

  2. These bars were so good! Just made them yesterday and shared on my blog!

    http://www.thesilverbird.com/salted-caramel-buttery-crumb-bars/

  3. Mmmmm, just give me all of these bars, and no one gets hurt!!! ;) They look heavenly, Averie!

  4. Even as a staunch chocoholic, I doubt I’d miss it in these bars either! Those gorgeous crumbs in the topping… The sweet caramel sauce… I feel like I need to go run 10 miles right now because of how many I want to eat! ;)

  5. I made these yesterday, one word…Phenomenal.

  6. I just made these and they are so delicious. I had store bought caramel sauce on hand but when I make them next time (there will definitely be a next time!) I will make caramel. 

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and that you’ll even make them again with homemade caramel! (If you have a Trader Joes by you, their caramel is almost as good as homemade and way easier :))

  7. I made these today and they are really lush! However I’m not sure I got the quantities quite right as the dough was very crumbly (still yummy though). We measure in weight not volume in the UK as I’m sure you know. Would it possible to give me your recipe in ounces or grams as trying to convert as I went along proved rather complicated! 

    • I don’t have measurements in any other way than what I wrote. Sorry that it’s complicated for you! If the dough was very crumbly, there’s a chance the flour was over-added but then again it’s hard to say. Thanks for trying the recipe and glad it still tastes yummy!

  8. Hi! I tried your recipe today and followed it exactly (adding a bit more flour, but I must have needed more), but I found my dough was so buttery that the streusel bits melted! It seemed just way too buttery to look like the shortbread-looking photos. I used the amount in the recipe (2 sticks), but I’m wondering if I did something wrong!

    • I use King Arthur brand flour and find it’s truly the best for baking, especially in recipes like this. There’s a bit more gluten so dough comes together much better. With other brands, you may indeed need more flour AND it’s also summer and humid and in general with baking, you’ll need more flour when it’s humid than when it’s not. I would say switch brands of flour to KAFlour and be heavy-handed in this warm weather and I think you’ll see the crumbly bits stay intact. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  9. Tried these. It ended up a buttery greasy mess. I’m thinking 2 stick s of butter is too much

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and 2 sticks is the correct amount. That is a lot of butter for a recipe this size, but it does work. Sometimes flour and how absorbent (or not) that it is can play a role in baking. I use King Arthur brand all-purpose flour and swear by it.

  10. made these today for teacher appreciation! will give them tomorrow :) from what i’ve tried so far though, they are delicious. the caramel is the hardest part for me, however. it’s so thick and difficult to drizzle – i don’t know how you managed to do so on the top layer of yours!

  11. If I’m pressed for time could I shorten the 2 hour cooling by placing the bars in the fridge? 

  12. Never thought I’d be saying this, but this had way too much better. I use KA flour, added a tablespoon, cooked a few extra minutes, and it’s still a greasy mess. So much potential, though! Next time I’m going to try decreasing the butter just slightly and add another T of flour. Maybe have the crumble spend extra time in the fridge, too.

    • All brands of butter, flour, and climates vary and sounds like in this case perhaps a tiny bit less butter and a tiny bit more flour would have done the trick. Thanks for trying the recipe and with baking, sometimes you do have to make small tweaks based on all the variables.

  13. Decadent bars! Simple to make, I even made the homemade caramel sauce the evening before. So delicious, thank you.

  14. Haven’t made yet, bu t plan to make tonight. Will  useNestle dulce la lechera caramel and it is quite thick. Should i try and heat the caramel before spreading or should it be alright straight from the can?

  15. Have you ever made these in a 9×13 instead of an 8×8? Would you just double the recipe for the larger pan?

  16. I saw this recipe a few weeks ago, and pinned it for later!  One of my co-worker’s husbands is in the hospital, so when they put up a meal sign-up sheet, I KNEW I had to make these (she and her hubby are both caramel fanatics!).  I decided to make a double batch and bake in two 8×8 pans side by side, so I could share with my own family as well!  I had no time to make the homemade caramel (someday!) but I used store-bought caramel sauce and added sea salt — AMAZING!!!  I also added some sea salt on top, because for me, I like my sweets a little salty for balance.  I think next time I make these, I will add some salt into the dough, because for me it seems to cry out for it.  That, or maybe I’ll use half salted, half unsalted butter next time.  Regardless, this was simple, fun to make, and addictively delicious!!!  Thanks!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and glad it came out great for you! Good idea to make a double batch – one to share and one to keep for your family! Salt is such a personal thing and so just salt to taste based on what you prefer.

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