Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

I normally don’t like nuts in desserts, but I recant everything I’ve ever said after these.

They’re some of the best bars I’ve ever made.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

To top it off, I don’t even really like pecan pie but the inspiration for the bars started after trying a rich, buttery, chewy caramel with nuts from See’s Candies, and I’ve always loved their chocolate-coated walnut chews.

The pecan pie bars combine rich, gooey, homemade salted caramel filling with chocolate, there’s texture and crunch from the nuts, and the soft, tender shortbread crust is the perfect base for it all.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

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The bars are thick, rich, decadent, filling, salty-and-sweet. They’re wonderfully satisfying, easy, no mixer is necessary and I always prefer making pie bars to actual pie. So much easier.

To make the shortbread crust, I used the same crust I created for The Best Lemon Bars and Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars. A bit of cornstarch keeps the crust tender enough so when you bite down, it isn’t rock hard, nor does it give way and crumble.

The crust is hearty enough to stand up to a literal pound of nuts, chocolate, and salted caramel sauce, while staying perfectly flaky and not tasting too dense or heavy.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

Then I sprinkled on Trader Joe’s roasted salted pecans and chocolate chips. If your pecans are raw, toast them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 400F oven for added flavor and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Making the salted caramel sauce is as easy as melting together butter, cream, brown sugar, and stirring in vanilla and salt. So easy and it’s done in the microwave in two minutes.

As the bars bake, the caramel sauce thickens and the finished bars are more caramely than traditional pecan pie filling, which I call ‘pie goo’. The bars have some goo, but there’s plenty of luscious, drippy, salted caramel.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

The bars aren’t overly sweet, but they are ridiculously rich. They are worth all the cardio you’ll need to do.

They are good enough to forever change my mind about nuts in desserts and pecan pie.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

 Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

The bars are one of my all-time favorites, even if you’re not a huge pecan pie fan. They’re thick, rich, decadent, filling, salty-and-sweet. The pecans add amazing texture, crunch, and are a great contrast to the soft, tender shortbread crust, homemade salted caramel sauce, and chocolate. The bars are wonderfully satisfying, easy, no mixer is necessary, and are easier than making pie. I used roasted salted pecans and if yours are raw, toast them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 400F oven for enhanced flavor and sprinkle with a pinch of salt before using them in the recipe. While the bars bake, the easy caramel sauce made in the microwave thickens and the finished bars are loaded with luscious, drippy, salted caramel.

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste
Filling
8 ounces roasted salted pecans, halves or pieces okay; about 2 cups (I used Trader Joe’s roasted salted halves)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. I strongly urge lining the pan with foil for easier cleanup.
  2. Crust – In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or your hands (I find hands easier), cut butter into dry ingredients until evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form. The softer the butter is, the quicker and easier it is.
  3. Turn mixture out into prepared pan and pack down firmly with a spatula or hands to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer.
  4. Filling – Evenly sprinkle the pecans.
  5. Evenly sprinkle with the chocolate chips; set pan aside.
  6. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, whipping cream, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
  7. Remove bowl from micro, and whisk until mixture is smooth; it’s okay if butter hasn’t completely melted.
  8. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power.
  9. Remove bowl from micro, and whisk until mixture is smooth.
  10. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
  11. Slowly and evenly pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans.
  12. Place pan on a cookie sheet (as insurance against overflow) and bake for about 30 to 32 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling vigorously around edges, with bubbling to a lesser degree in center. Allow bars to cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 3 hours, or overnight (cover with a piece of foil and/or put pan inside large Ziplock), before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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151 comments on “Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars”

  1. I made these bars for my mother for Valentine’s Day.  She loved them!  When I asked what she wanted me to bake for her in March for her birthday, she wanted these.  When I asked what she wanted me to bake for her this weekend for Mother’s Day, she wanted these!  Despite my willingness to bake her any dessert she wanted, she wants these bars over and over and over and over!  Great recipe!  Thank you so much!  

    • Thanks for trying the recipe on Valentine’s Day, in March, and now for Mother’s Day for your mom! What a story that this is her most requested dessert that she wants over and over. What a big compliment and thank you! And kudos to you and your baking skills and baking for your mom…so nice!!

  2. I found this site browsing for a way to get rid of some extra salted caramel I made for another recipe and decided to give this bar a try. It didn’t really impress me that much but my boyfriend loves it! It just didn’t give me the sugar fix I was looking for. I wonder if the fact that I used a pre made caramel sauce had anything to do with it? I also wish this site had more of a review system set up as opposed to a comment one. I wanna know what people who actually made this recipe think of it vs posts of people trying to eat their computer or phone screens (which given the pictures is totally understandable, just not very helpful).

    • ‘This site’ is actually run by me, a real human, named Averie, I live in San Diego, I really exist, and develop my recipes. I’m glad your boyfriend loves the bars! Possibly because you used caramel sauce that you made, maybe that wasn’t as sweet as a storebought sauce, I’m not sure. This bar isn’t a super sweet bar per se. Yes, it’s sweet, it’s decadent and rich, but not ‘sugar high’ type of sweet.

  3. Recipe is in the oven, and I expect it to be delicious, based on the overall mix, and I don’t mean to be a troll, but….

    1). Why on earth is there cornstarch in the crust?! I can think of no reason. 2). I think very cold butter cut in with a pastry knife would work better for the crust–I had a goopy mess and had to put it in the fridge to harden up. 3). Microwave instructions were maddeningly vague–I don’t own one. What am I aiming for? A partially cooked caramel? Just a basic mixture of the ingredients that will firm up in the oven? Anyway, I’m sure it will turn out fantastico.

    • I do my best to provide recipes for free to anyone who wants to use them. The cornstarch keeps the crust from turning rock hard. If you like rock hard crusts, leave it out next time. I hope you love the bars as much as I do, Hobo.

  4. I am bot a native speaker, so I didn’t quite get your instructions. Do you bake it in the oven or  in a pan on the stove? I put mine in the oven and it came out…well… There was no crust, it was all combined to a sticky , Sweet, goey lump. You could taste it has potential, but it was not the real thing. Help!

    • You bake it in the oven. It’s really hard to say what went wrong and where since I wasn’t there to see what you did. Maybe something happened in translation. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  5. Decided to make these yesterday but to reduce brown sugar content I used 1/3 cup truvia + 1 teaspoon truvia + 1 tablespoon black treacle (molasses). The caramel turned out really well although I had to bake a lot longer than 30 minutes! Maybe because my caramel sauce was very liquid as less sugar granules? Either way they turned out really well, plus I used dark chocolate chips to further reduce sugar content! Really yummy, the base didn’t look cooked at aall when I took them out of the oven but once they cooled it hardened to perfect consistency. 

    • I think anytime you play with a recipe in a pretty large way like you did with the Truvia you’re going to no doubt effect baking time and I’m sure that was the case here. Glad it turned out well and that you’re happy!

  6. I was wondering if I used mini chocolate chips instead of the regular morsels, how much would you recommend using for this recipe? I don’t want to have too much chocolate in there. 

  7. Hi Averie,
    Any advice for trying to make this (caramel sauce) without a microwave?

  8. I made these bars for Thanksgiving 2015. I wanted to make something a little different from the traditional pumpkin pies, etc. These were an absolute hit! Everyone loved them. They were so easy to put together and tasted wonderful. I will definitely make these again. Thanks Averie for sharing such a great recipe!

  9. You know when stumbling across this recipe I wasn’t sure if this would be a good fit for Thanksgiving.  My boyfriend was a bit ambitious with what he wanted to make and I am one of those people that like to make easy things that I know will come out terrific.  I love the pictures of these and that was the deciding factor which made my decision to make these for Thanksgiving for my boyfriend’s family and my own. They came out so scrumptious!  OMG! It’s the most different and the BEST thing I’ve ever made.  Not too sweet, but rich enough and so so satisfying.  
    Thank you for your creative yet simple dessert.  Much appreciated!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! So glad it hit the right spot for you and that it’s the BEST thing you’ve ever made…such high praise and thanks!

  10. Do the chocolate chips remain soft and gooey or do they harden as original consistence after baking and coolong? These look realy good and i want to try them but need them to stay soft.

    • All chocolate chips that come to room temp after being baked firm up. It’s a law of baking. But the bars remain soft and gooey overall. You’ll love the recipe if you want a gooey bar.

  11. OMG, I think I just got a sugar buzz just by looking at these! I so badly need one in my life RIGHT NOW and really wish I had time to whip up a batch right this minute… 

    Is it okay if I lick the screen a little, just to keep me waiting until I can actually make them?  

  12. Hi I’m not sure what I did wrong- the pastry was all wrong- I was wondering if there wasn’t enough flour as the dough was a bit softer than sandy crumbles. And I added a little more but on cooking it was still way to buttery and didn’t hold. It looked like wells of oils with a bit of flour. I measured it on scales. In the future could I replace this with ready made shortcrust pastry? Thanks

    • It sounds like you under-floured the dough OR your butter was just oilier than mine. I wouldn’t use pre made shortbread pastry. I would go heavier handed with flour and use King Arthur All-Purpose flour. It’s the best! I use Trader Joe’s butter. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  13. Oh I should have said trying this from Australia- so different everything! Although never had a problem with other recipes? Will try again- your advice: just add the flour till crumbly? Would it make a difference if the butter was melted? Or if it was colder instead?

    • Your ingredients, especially your flours, are different than ours so you just get the dough to an appropriate shortbread dough consistency, whatever that means with the flour amount. And don’t melt the butter, that will change things too. Soft, but not melted.

  14. These were ridiculously good. I had no idea how simple it was to make salted caramel. I didn’t use the tin foil, I cooked in a glass pan, but I sprayed non stick cooking spray. Nothing stuck, but it was a little bit too greasy. Maybe less spray or smidge less butter. Anyway, I have to make them again, because I didn’t share with my friends lol.

  15. I made these to bring to Thanksgiving dinner with a friend’s family and they turned out a little less gooey than I expected but 150% delicious. I was a little worried about the crust not cooking enough so I stuck it in the oven by itself for about 5-10min before taking it out to put on the filling. I don’t know that it wouldn’t have been fine without doing that, but the crust turned out perfect. I eyeballed the pecans and chocolate and I think maybe I went a little heavy with them, or cooked it slightly too long, because instead of ending up with nuts and chocolate in a layer of caramel, it really ended up more like chocolate in candied pecans in a bar cookie form. I think these could turn out a little differently depending on a couple different factors but I’d bet they’ll pretty much taste fantastic either way. They were a huge hit and I’m pretty certain I’ll make them again. Side note: if you’re toasting plain pecans, which is worth it, keep a close eye on them because I stepped away for a moment and they went from toasty to burnt really quickly… thankfully I had twice as much as I needed.

    • Sounds like it all worked out overall and yes I think baking the crust on it’s own probably contributed to the slightly firmer texture as did maybe over-measuring the nuts, and therefore creating less room for the gooeyness, but glad they were great!

  16. Hi, Averie. I love to bake and decide to try your Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Squares for Thanksgiving this year as they looked and sounded delicious.

    I have made pecan pie squares before but your variation with the caramel and chocolate chips was a big reason for veering away from my standard squares. Your recipe was clear and easy to follow and I was even able to purchase the salted and roasted pecans at Trader Joe’s.

    Everything came together nicely and I had no issues until I went to cut the squares after they cooled for the set amount of time. I measured out the size of the squares and made the cuts with a sharp knife. However, as soon as I tried to remove them from the pan the pecan layer immediately started to crumble and fall apart. There was maybe one or two squares I was able to remove as a whole from the pan. The rest just turned into a crumbly mess as the caramel/pecan layer fell everywhere. As great as it did taste, I was disappointed that it did not produce the beautiful looking squares that were pictured in your blog.

    I would like to try them again but only if I can cut them into nice squares that hold together. Do you have any suggestions?

    • It sounds like the crust was dry and the filling was loose based on what I am getting from your comment. That’s a tough one. Possibly add a bit less flour next time so that the dough is less dense/dry to start out with. And then bake a bit longer so that the filling sets up better. As you know with baking, it’s never an exact science and small fluctuations in ingredients, methods, baking times, climate, etc. can make a difference. This could be that recipe that may take a bit of tweaking if you want to try it again….but I have always made it as written with great results.

      As a tip, I line my pans in foil and then lift the whole slab out onto a cutting board and slice like that. With a dessert like this, that will probably help you out quite a bit, too!

  17. I made these over the weekend, and they are sooo good! I bake for others and rarely eat a lot of what I make, but I am typing this up at work with a container of them next to me. For those that are making the caramel sauce on the stove top, I recommend substituting white sugar for the brown sugar. With the heating process, it gives the caramel a sharper taste. Probably due to the molasses in it. Thank you for giving me a new favorite!!!

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