Carmelitas

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Carmelitas — For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy layered bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe that everyone loves!

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

The Best Carmelitas Recipe

These oatmeal caramel bars are like the bubblegum with the squishy, squirty center that oozes when you chomp down. Except it’s rich, creamy, buttery caramel that squirts in your mouth when you bite down here.

They’re like the softest oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, with a streusel-crumble topping, and more melted caramel than you have napkins for, and that’s beautiful.

I’ve been wanting to (re)make these bars for years, and I’m so glad I did. They’re a no-mixer, layered bar and are an adaptation of my early 2012 Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars.

In this version, I tinkered with the flour and oat ratio, increasing the flour and decreasing the oats slightly, so the bars hold together better.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Even after the carmelita bars are fully cooled, they’re soft, gooey, messy, and full of intense caramel flavor. The butter and brown sugar in the crust-topping mixture caramelize while baking, adding even more caramel flavor.

If you’re easily bothered by desserts that are ‘too sweet or too rich’, I wouldn’t recommend these because they’re both.

However, adding a pinch of salt helps balance the sweetness. I included places in the recipe where you can add salt, to the crust-topping mixture, and/or to the caramel sauce, creating salted caramel sauce.

The semi-sweet chocolate is a great balance to the sweet caramel and chocolate is always welcome in any dessert I’m having.

The oats provide a light amount of texture and chewiness to the otherwise buttery-soft bars, just oozing with caramel everywhere. They aren’t called carmelitas for nothing.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

What’s in Carmelitas? 

These carmelita bars are a cinch to make and require very few ingredients. 

  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Baking soda
  • Salt 
  • Caramel squares 
  • Heavy cream
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips 
Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

How to Make Carmelitas

The crust and topping are made with the same mixture. It’s a buttery, brown sugar, vanilla-infused oatmeal and flour mixture.

Half is pressed into the pan and baked for 10 minutes as the crust, and the other half of the big buttery crumbs are crumbled over the top. 

The filling is just caramels and heavy cream melted together. I melted in the micro, but use the stovetop if you prefer. 

After baking the crust for 10 minutes, sprinkle with chocolate, drizzle with caramel sauce, and crumble the reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the center is bubbly and the edges are just set and lightly browned.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

What Kind of Caramels Should I Buy? 

I used Werther’s Baking Caramels. I love these caramels because the wax paper just slides right off making unwrapping 30+ caramels a quick and easy job, rather than caramels with pesky cellophane, which is a huge strugglefest.

If you can’t find the Werther’s brand of caramels, Kraft sells baking caramels as well. In general, you’re looking for something that is what I would call an old-fashioned type of caramel, square in shape, and soft and chewy rather than hard. 

Can I Use Caramel Sauce Instead? 

I haven’t tried using jarred caramel sauce, but I have a feeling a thick, higher quality jarred sauce would be fine. If anyone tries Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Sauce, let me know how it goes. That would be my first choice if I wasn’t melted caramels with cream.

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Can I Use Instant Oats Instead of Rolled? 

No! You must use old-fashioned oats (aka rolled oats) in this recipe. Instant or quick cooking oats are too powdery and won’t give you the right consistency. 

Can I Double This Recipe? 

Yes, simply double the ingredients and bake in a 9×13-inch pan. 

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

How to Store Carmelita Bars

Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Can I Freeze Carmelita Bars? 

Yes! They can be frozen for up to 4 months. To thaw, place on your counter overnight. 

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Tips for Making Carmelita Bars

It’s very important to allow the bars to cool completely before slicing. It can up to take 4 hours, or overnight, at room temp.

You can speed it along by placing pan in the fridge, but I made them in the evening, cooled overnight, and they were set by the next morning. However ‘set’ is a relative term. You can see they’re still plenty drippy and gooey.

If you slice the bars before they’ve cooled completely, you’ll have a literal hot mess with molten caramel and melted chocolate all over. They’ll taste fine (as long as you don’t burn your mouth on hot caramel), but you’ll have no chance for clean cuts or pretty bars that stay intact.

Plus, I think bars like this taste better the next day after the flavors have married. The caramel and chocolate also has a chance to soak into all the nooks and crannies of the oats.

What Readers Are Saying 

This easy recipe for carmelitas has been one of the top desserts on my site for years! 

Here are just a few of the 5-star reviews that readers have left on this carmelitas recipe: 

I have been meaning to make this for a LONG time and my mom’s birthday was finally the perfect occasion. I love and trust your recipes and this was no exception. They are really quick and easy to make, and I love that they are actually better made the day before.” — Jen 

This recipe is amazing! I’ve made these several times for family and just for myself they are so good. Never had any problems, its quick and delicious!” — Gina

This recipe is one of our favorites. I’ve added it to my recipe book so we never lose it.” — Deb

I made these for New Year’s Eve and they were incredible! I am famously bad at baking but your photos and careful instructions made these very manageable.” — Beth

OMG!!!! These are to die for! Had I known, I would never have made them because I couldn’t stop eating them! Ooey Gooey caramel and chocolatey goodness all wrapped up in one little bite!” — Nancy T. 

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4.56 from 250 votes

Carmelitas

By Averie Sunshine
For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 16
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Ingredients  

  • ¾ cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick; I use unsalted butter but salted may be used)
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-rolled old fashioned oats, not instant or quick cook
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 35 caramel squares, unwrapped (I used Werther’s Originals Baking Caramels which are slightly bigger than cellophane-wrapped caramels; if using those, I recommend using a couple more)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combo)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil 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.
  • In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
  • Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  • Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
  • Add half of the mixture to the prepared pan (just eyeball it), and smooth it with spatula or the back of a spoon, to create an even, smooth, flat layer; set remainder aside.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
  • In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels, cream, salt, and heat on high power in 60-second bursts to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It will likely take about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt; heat until mixture can be stirred smooth. Alternatively, 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.
  • After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
  • Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
  • Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
  • Return pan to oven and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes (I baked 16 1/2), or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
  • Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the molten caramel time to firm up. This can take up to 4 hours, or overnight, at room temperature. You can speed it up by placing pan in fridge with a sheet of foil over the top to prevent fridge smells. If you don’t wait for bars to cool completely, they’ll be a literal hot mess. They’ll taste fine (don’t burn yourself), but they won’t slice neatly with clean cuts.

Notes

To store: Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Recipe adapted from my Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars.

Nutrition

Serving: 16, Calories: 1114kcal, Carbohydrates: 192g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 25g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 90mg, Sodium: 440mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 170g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Caramel Dessert Recipes:

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars – They’re like a marriage of Peanut Butter Twix and Tagalongs, in bar form, and they’re irresistible!

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars
 
Browned Butter Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Blondies — The combination of browned butter, salted caramel, chocolate, and sea salt is INCREDIBLE!! A complex-tasting salty-sweet dessert that is EASY to make and a guaranteed FAVORITE!!
 
Browned Butter Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Blondies - The combination of browned butter, salted caramel, chocolate, and sea salt is INCREDIBLE!! A complex-tasting salty-sweet dessert that is EASY to make and a guaranteed FAVORITE!!
 
Pumpkin Caramel Poke Cake — Easy and the BEST PUMPKIN CAKE ever!! Two kinds of CARAMEL sauce, TOFFEE bits, CHOCOLATE CHIPS, whipped topping and more!! A total WINNER you must make!!
 
Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars — You’ll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!
 
Coconut Caramel Poke Cake — An incredibly EASY and super moist cake thanks to a creamy caramel mixture that’s poked into the cake!! Topped with crispy toasted coconut, this cake is a DELISH winner!!
 
Baked Caramel Apple Fritters – Love the taste of apple fritters but don’t want the calories or hassle that comes with frying them? Then these FAST and EASY baked apple fritters made with just four main ingredients are PERFECT!!
 
Caramel Stuffed Brownie Bites – An EASY, no mixer recipe for homemade brownie bites stuffed with CARAMEL and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles!! Rich, FUDGY, decadent, and DELISH!!
 
Originally posted December 31, 2013 and republished with updated text March 5, 2021. 
4.56 from 250 votes (195 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    10/10 Good!
    I made these for work and had to have a little taste test the night before and wow, they are so good!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Ashley, and I am glad these are a 10/10 for you! That’s very nice of you to cook for people at your work event (and not just go to the grocery store and buy something!)

  2. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I cook and bake often, but this recipe has stood out and my husband often request it for special occasions. Absolutely delicious. We’ve been known to occasionally scoop it up in bowls while warm (kind of like a fudge brownie on steroids) but waiting for it to firm up is advisable.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad this one has stood out among other desserts and that it’s requested for special occasions! I love the scoop-while-warm technique :)

  3. 5 stars
    What would be the best way to freeze these for a wedding in 6 weeks? Should I also wait on cutting them?

    1. If you are making this for someone’s wedding, unless there is a unique circumstance, then I would just make it FRESH for the wedding! It’s not that complicated of a recipe and you wouldn’t have a hard time knocking it out in an hour or so.

      But if there’s a reason why you absolutely have to freeze it, I would simply just freeze the whole thing in one slab (wrap in foil, place it in a very large ziptop bag and freeze it flat), then thaw it, then cut it after it thawed, before serving.

  4. 5 stars
    Made these for a work event and they were a huge hit! I subbed pre-made caramel sauce instead of melting my own but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Will make again!

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review, Melanie, and I’m glad they were a huge hit with premade caramel sauce and that you’ll make them again!

  5. 3 stars
    I made these and they were delicious, but because the recipe doesn’t include the weight of the caramel to be used I had to guess because I wasn’t using the same brand as in the recipe. This resulted in a little too much caramel, and while that wasn’t a problem taste-wise, the bars fell apart when cut after sitting, and the presentation was not so great.

  6. 5 stars
    they taste amazing but loads of calories. thats not the authors fault though and the recipe is relatively easy and everyone in my spanish class loved them. 10/10 if you dont care about calories

  7. 5 stars
    they taste amazing but loads of calories. thats not the authors fault though and the recipe is relatively easy and everyone in my spanish class loved them. 10/10 if you dont care about calories

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Avery–

    These have always been a huge hit, even for guests who are experienced chefs.

    I was fascinated to pick up some bars and a farmer’s market. Quite similar in overall deliciousness, but there was a noticeable layer of honey instead of caramel. I’m tempted to just try a 1:1 substitution, but I wondered if you might foresee any concerns in this substitution.

    Thanks for your incredible recipes!

    Cindi

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Avery–

    These have always been a huge hit, even for guests who are experienced chefs.

    I was fascinated to pick up some bars and a farmer’s market. Quite similar in overall deliciousness, but there was a noticeable layer of honey instead of caramel. I’m tempted to just try a 1:1 substitution, but I wondered if you might foresee any concerns in this substitution.

    Thanks for your incredible recipes!

    Cindi

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I am glad these have always been a huge hit for you!

      Honey would be great instead of caramel I am sure. I think personally though caramel is essential because they’re called CARMELitas if you want to stay true to the recipe. The other issue is that in baking with honey, it’s going to have a tendency to just simply liquify when exposed to the oven heat. So you would have to really do some playing around with things. Or just ask the farmer’s market vendor. Many times those types of people are just excited to share their creations with the world and won’t get all proprietary and hold back their baking tricks on you.

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad they’re your absolute favorite dessert and a hit with friends too!

  10. 5 stars
    Just made these using Marzetti Caramel Dip instead of the caramels listed. Just heated it up for 1 min. in the microwave. Worked perfectly. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Just made these using Marzetti Caramel Dip instead of the caramels listed. Just heated it up for 1 min. in the microwave. Worked perfectly. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. 1 star
    Flavors are so good! I used warm Jar sea salt caramel and it turned out amazing. Perfect amount of salt and sweet. Definitely recommend! Tip…use parchment paper NOT aluminum foil, mine stuck all over the sides of the bars.