Salted caramel butter bars are the perfect easy-to-make dessert. With a buttery and crumbly shortbread crust that is topped with a smooth layer of caramel, there will be a little bit of sweet and savory in each bite!
Sweet and savory dessert bars are a perfect treat for pot lucks with family and friends. Try these s’mores bars, peanut butter bars, or even these snickerdoodle bars if you want something that everyone will love!
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
Caramel is one of my food obsessions. Anything that is baked with ooey, gooey caramel becomes an instant favorite for me! These are called salted caramel BUTTER bars for a reason. Sorry friends, but these will not help you out with any weight loss programs! They are packed with butter! But I promise they are worth every single bite!
These are the bars that someone brings to a get-together and you HAVE to get the recipe. They disappear off of any plate and platter so quickly that I’m telling you right now that you should just double the recipe. I mean, a delicious butter shortbread crust with a gooey salted caramel center… It’s simple yet amazing! These are the perfect balance of salty and sweet and will always be a hit.
Ingredients for Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
The list of ingredients for these salted caramel butter bars is short and sweet! (Literally!) The two types of sugar give the shortbread crust an extra sweet flavor. See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements.
- Butter: Make sure to leave the butter out for 2 hours on the counter so that it will come to room temperature before creaming together to form the dough. This will mix into your dough so much better!
- White Sugar: Adds sweetness to the shortbread crust and topping.
- Powdered Sugar: Since this sugar is less dense it creates that melt in your mouth texture and flavor.
- Vanilla: Use premium vanilla when possible for a richer flavor.
- Flour: All purpose flour is best for a crumbly texture.
- Bag of caramels: Mix together with heavy cream and vanilla and melt it the microwave for one minute.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Smooths, sweetens, and thins out the caramel to spread over the shortbread crust.
- Salt: Coarse sea salt is the best! Just be careful not to add to much!
Let’s Make Some Delicious Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
You will be amazed at how quickly this recipe comes together. The most time-consuming thing is allowing the butter to come to room temperature and unwrapping the caramels! It is a great recipe to make with kids. My kids love that they can help with the candies and putting dough crumbles on top!
- Preheat and prep: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Combine ingredients to make dough: In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
- Bake half of the dough, refrigerate other half: Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Make caramel sauce: Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn’t end up using the entire amount. Just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty.
- Take refrigerated dough out and add to top, bake: Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.
This salted caramel butter bars recipe is seriously SOO GOOD! I love how the bars turn out and make them over and over. Here are a few ideas on how to change things up!
- Caramel lovers: Substitute some or all of your granulated sugar for light brown sugar. This gives the bars an even stronger caramel flavor!
- Can’t have flour? Use finely ground rolled oats instead of the flour. This will make your dough a little stickier so chill a few hours before pressing into your pan and baking.
- Brown butter: Brown your butter first for an even richer crust. Is that even possible you ask. Yes it is! To brown your butter cook it over medium heat until browned. Strain out any brown pieces you don’t want to use. Or leave them in if you don’t mind seeing them in your finished crust. Then, chill your brown butter so that it is room temperature and not warm before you cream it into the crust.
- Caramels: Use soft caramel candies instead of hard. They will melt much easier!
- Don’t have heavy cream? Use milk or water instead in a pinch.
Although this is a super simple recipe, I do have a few tips to achieve the most perfect salted caramel butter bars possible. Pay close attention to these few things because they will really give you the results you want.
- Cool Dough: Keep your dough slightly cool before baking. Do not allow it to get to warm (chill dough in the refrigerator before placing in oven if your dough feels too warm). Also, after cooking, chill the bottom layer of crust for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before adding the caramel. This will ensure the crust is completely set.
- Microwave-Free: Melt the caramels over a double broiler or in a pan instead of using a microwave. To do this, you will frequently stir the candies over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the cream as you go until you get your desired consistency.
- Don’t overmix: Do not overmix ingredients when forming your dough. If you overmix it, air will get in and the crust will become too oily and become tough or chewy as it bakes.
Storing Salted Caramel Butter Bars:
Most of the time mine are all gone so I don’t have to worry about storing them. However, on the rare occasion that you do need to store leftovers… Wrap them tightly or pack them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or in the freezer for 3-4 weeks. If you want to make the dough ahead of time it can be stored for up to 10 days in the refrigerator and pull it out when you are ready to make your bars.
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
- 2 cups butter softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 4 cups flour
- 1 (14 ounces) bag caramels unwrapped or 11 oz unwrapped Caramel Bits work great
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir together until smooth. Pour evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle the coarse sea salt over the crust. I didn’t end up using the entire amount, just lightly sprinkle evenly on top. You don’t want them too salty.
Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm. Let them cool completely before cutting.
Originally Posted on October 22, 2013
The Recipe Critic