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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Yield: 16

Carmelitas

Carmelitas are a no-mixer, layered bar, and the crust and topping are made with the same buttery, brown sugar, vanilla-infused oatmeal and flour mixture. In the middle there’s chocolate and caramel sauce.

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

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 stick; I use unsalted butter but salted may be used)
  • 3/ 4 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
  • 1/2 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)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combo)

Instructions

    1. 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.
    2. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 90 seconds.
    3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
    4. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, optional pinch salt, and stir until combined. Mixture will be quite thick.
    5. 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.
    6. Bake for 10 minutes. While it bakes, make the caramel sauce.
    7. 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.
    8. After 10 minutes, remove pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate.
    9. Slowly and evenly pour caramel sauce over the chocolate.
    10. Evenly crumble reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
    11. 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.
    12. 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 Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

16

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1114Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 440mgCarbohydrates: 192gFiber: 2gSugar: 170gProtein: 5g

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. 

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Comments

  1. I’ve made these a few times and always thought there was just a tad too much caramel so this last time I used about 1/3 of the jar of Stonewall Kitchen Sea Salt Caramel sauce – heated it up a bit and poured it over the chocolate chips until they were just covered. It’s perfection! And so much easier than unwrapping an entire bag of caramels.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that you found a way to tweak the recipe and that the caramel sauce from the jar works great and yes, I agree that’s definitely easier than unwrapping a whole bag of caramels!

  2. I love this recipe. So rich and drool worthy. I did use the caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s, it works really well. 

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you loved these and that the caramel sauce from TJs worked really well for you!

  3. Yummm!!! I made a few adaptations. I used my homemade caramel thickened a bit with some flour. I sprinkled on some white chocolate chips semi sweet chocolate chips shredded coconut and pecans. Once baked I drizzled melted chocolate and sprinkled on some flaky sea salt flakes!!!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and your adaptations sound great! Homemade caramel, white chocolate, sea salt, wow…I want one :)

  4. 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.

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad you loved these and thank you for the vote of confidence that you trust my recipes! That is so nice to hear!

  5. 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!

    Rating: 5
  6. These were delicious! I found them a bit too sugary, and when I make them again, I might cut back a little on the brown sugar, but yum!!! They would also be delicious with chopped pecans in them!

    Rating: 5
  7. Please help! I want to make these on Saturday, to have for Sunday! Iooked up the baking caramels, and the internet says they are no longer in production. Can you suggest something else? Regular soft werthers? Something lol! I reaaaaaally wanna make these babies for my hubby! :)

    1. You want a soft caramel. Something that is what I would call an old-fashioned type of caramel, square shape, in a clear cellophane wrapper, not sure what the soft Werther’s are like but you can try them and see what happens and if they melt well or not.

    2. One bag of the Kraft baking caramel bits is what I use for this recipe (less plastic waste) and they’re available at target! Amazon sells the individually wrapped ones too. 

  8. Excellent bars and love the name. Will flatt en the raised edges after 1st bake next time before adding chocolate and caramel so it spreads a bit more evenly. Thanks for posting and will make these many many more times. Wish I could rate it 10 stars!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review (or 10 stars if you could) and glad that you’ll make these many more times!

    1. Hello Queen,

      And my mom has recipes for potato salad and so does your mom. But I have recipes for potato salad on my site.

      I posted the recipe that I know for Carmelitas. It may be different that your moms, or not. I have no idea. Recipes ebb and flow and isn’t it great we can all make a recipe with the same title but likely do it in our own way and put our own twist on it. Just like potato salad, no one makes it exactly the same. Yet no one gets bent out of shape when someone shares a potato salad recipe on the internet.

      Signing off now,
      Princess

    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and thanks for the super high praise! And I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about them!

  9. 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. I accidentally used dark brown sugar so they were denser and less photogenic, but still tasted amazing.

    Rating: 5
    1. Glad to hear these turned out incredible for you and that my photos and instructions made the recipe manageable for you!

  10. Made these yesterday to bring to a dinner with friends. We all agreed they were better warmed and paired with vanilla ice cream, then simply by themselves straight from the pan and cooled. Very tasty though, and I would make again.

  11. Who are you kidding that these will last up to a week i a closed container? They barely last a day after they are cool enough to cut!!I made these last Christmas and everybody said they loved them.

    Rating: 5
  12. These are so easy to make, and absolutely delicious! Always a crowd favorite! I make this several times a year for little family get togethers and just for my own family’s enjoyment!

    Rating: 5
  13. They resemble the Seven Layer Bars I have made for decades…Look delicious, I will try! Thx

    1. They are a bit different than 7 Layer Bars, definitely more rich and decadent, and so good! And I love Seven Layer Bars too, but these may be even better :)

  14. I can’t find the Werther’s Baking Caramels. Do you know if they are discontinued? Do you have a recommendation for a substitute? Caramels come in such a range of textures which is making it difficult for my science brain. :) Thank you!

    1. I don’t know if they have been discontinued or not. I would look for the very soft caramels, there is a brand that I know is still around, Brach’s. They would be a good replacement for the Werther’s.

  15. Hi, Averie.

    All my measuring cups, and cookbooks, show 1 cup to be 8 ounces (dry measure) or 250 ml. I had wanted to send a photo of my measuring cups and the Measurements Equivalents page from MY cookbooks, but I don’t see any provision for attachments.

    Almost 2 ounces makes a BIG difference sometimes.

    Beth

  16. You say “1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips” for the Carmelita. Which is it? 1 cup or 6 oz.??? There’s a 2 ounce difference?

  17. Guys. These are bomb. Stop what you’re doing and make them! 🤗Seriously though, so so good!

    Rating: 5
  18. I’m wondering if anyone has actually frozen these, and if so, are there any negative effects on these bars?

    Rating: 5
    1. I have frozen just about every dessert imaginable and while fresh is always best, these do just fine in the freezer.

    2. We have these in the freezer right now, and (I have to disagree, sorry! 😬) frozen is sooo good! We freeze all cookies/treats we make and like them better than fresh! They don’t take long to thaw enough to eat, though usually I’m biting into one before they’re completely thawed! 😊

      1. I have never tried and I worry about the overall final texture of the caramel sauce if you don’t use something with a higher fat content like heavy cream. I personally wouldn’t gamble on oat milk, but you never know until you try it.

  19. 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! I used almond flour with mine because there were two people with gluten allergies at the happy hour I was going too and you would never have known! In fact, the almond flavor gave these little bites of heaven a nutty taste!

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the 5 star review and I’m glad that GF flour was just fine and that you thought they were to die for!

    2. Could I ask if you replaced all of the flour with almond flour or just part? I’m on a GDM diet and considering trying to make these with a sugar free caramel sauce and was reading the comments for any other changes I could make to help (along with maybe adding walnuts). These are going to be or other people, mostly, but I’d love to be able to eat at least one myself. (And maybe make a regular batch later when my diet doesn’t have to be as controlled anymore.)

  20. I was looking for a yummy treat to bring to a party and stumbled on this recipe! Can I just say that……these are amazing!!! I Have now made them at least a dozen times in one year and every time I make them people go crazy over them!! I bake a lot and these are requested again and again! I am making them this week for a very close friend who is celebrating 3 yrs of recovery! Thank you for the recipe!! I always double the recipe in a 9×13 pan lined with parchement and chill for several hours! Perfection

    Rating: 5
    1. Thanks for the five star review and I’m glad to hear that you’ve made these at least a dozen times in the past year! I think you’ve officially made them more than I have. That’s great to hear that they always get rave reviews!

      1. COULD 1300 CALORIES REALLY BE FOR ONE BAR! IT DOESNT SEEM RIGHT. OR IS IT FOR THE WHOLE PAN?

  21. Just did a trial run of these and I didn’t have enough oats to cover the top of the caramel sauce. I did exactly half of the oats for the bottom. And what I did put on the top, sank quickly into the warm caramel. Any suggestions to ensure the top is an actual oat crust top? Instead of just some of it?

    1. Then I would add slightly more oats since you didn’t have enough. There is a video that shows exactly how I make these. That should help you.

  22. I have made these quite a few times, and they are always a hit! I usually double the recipe to make a 9×13 pan.

    Rating: 5
  23. These bars were so amazing! We had a dinner party and made these for dessert and they were a big hit. I did make a couple small changes. I only added 1/3 cup of cream just so the caramel wasn’t quite as runny. I also added about 1/2 cup more of flour and 1/2 cup more oats to the top crust mixture to make it a bit more crumbly. They were so yummy!

    Rating: 4
  24. These are one of my go-to desserts for cookouts/group gatherings. I like to make two pans, one salted and one not. Thanks for this great recipe!

    Rating: 5
    1. I’m glad to hear this is one of your go to desserts and I’m all about salted caramel! Thanks for the five star review!

  25. I’m curious if i make recipe and 1/2 if they would make a 9×13 pan. Don’t want have to make 2 pans.
    Person who made 6 batches what pan did you use?

    1. It would be very difficult to halve this recipe and find a suitable pan. 8×8 is the smallest standard sized pan. Yes you can order smaller pans on Amazon but not sure how practical they would be for future baking needs.

      If you double it, yes use a 9×13 pan.