Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars — These salted caramel bars feature a buttery shortbread base and an addicting crumb topping I simply can’t get enough of! Such an easy one-bowl dessert!

Shortbread Caramel Bars with Crumb Topping

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.

These caramel 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. 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.

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.

These caramel crumb 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.

What’s in These Caramel Bars?

To make the shortbread caramel bars with crumb topping, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salted caramel sauce

How to Make Shortbread Caramel Bars

To make these salted caramel bars, you’ll first need to cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the flour and vanilla and mix until just combined. 

Press one-third of the shortbread mixture into an aluminum foil-lined 8×8-inch pan. Be sure to really pack down the dough. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.

Once out of the oven, pour the salted caramel sauce over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the caramel sauce, then return the bars to the oven. Bake until the top is barely golden browned and there are subtle signs of caramel bubbling.

Once the crumble caramel bars come out of the oven, drizzle them with more salted caramel sauce, then let cool completely before slicing. 

Can I Chill These Bars to Make Them Cool Faster? 

Technically, yes. However, baked goods tend to dry out when placed in the fridge so I recommend letting these caramel bars cool on your countertop if possible. 

Can I Freeze Shortbread Caramel Bars? 

Yes, these can be frozen for up to 6 months. 

Tips for Making Caramel Bars with Crumb Topping

You can use Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce or store-bought. Just don’t use thin, runny, ice cream sundae sauce. Use a nice thick sauce.

The shortbread dough shouldn’t feel super sticky after you’ve mixed it together. If it seems sticky, add an extra tablespoon or two of flour to make it less so. 

When you take the baked shortbread crust out of the oven, it should still be pale in color and not at all golden. It’s going to be topped with caramel sauce and returned to the oven, so it doesn’t need to be golden brown yet. 

Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars

These salted caramel bars feature a buttery shortbread base and an addicting crumb topping I simply can't get enough of! Such an easy one-bowl dessert!

Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Cooling Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours

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

Instructions

    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.
    6. Bake for 20 minutes. While crust bakes, refrigerate remaining two-thirds of dough.
    7. After 20 minutes, remove pan from oven, and evenly pour heaping half cup salted caramel over crust.
    8. Evenly crumble reserved dough over the top (it looks like a lot but some sinks down into the caramel layer while baking).
    9. 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.
    10. 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.

Notes

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 375 Total Fat: 21g Saturated Fat: 13g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 54mg Sodium: 19mg Carbohydrates: 44g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 23g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g

More Caramel Desserts:

Salted Caramel Maple Pecan Pie Bars — All the flavor of pecan pie minus the work – so easy!! Salted caramel makes everything better!

Carmelitas — For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate!

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

Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Gooey Bars — Keep the napkins handy for these soft, gooey bars dripping with the best caramel-peanut butter sauce! 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Crumble Bars — These caramel apple cheesecake bars feature a buttery crust that’s topped with cheesecake and spiced apples. After they’re done baking, the bars are drizzled with salted caramel sauce!

Salted Caramel Magic Bars — I have a thing for Magic Bars or Seven Layer Bars as they’re sometimes called. The salted caramel helps balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Blondies — These very soft, slightly chewy, buttery blondies are topped with the most amazing vanilla-spiked caramel glaze.

Salted Caramel Candied Pecan Carmelitas — Biting through the layers of the chewy oatmeal crust, the chocolate chips, the crunchy pecans, the salty-and-sweet caramel sauce that’s gooey and wonderful, and the crisp topping is pure heaven.