Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

Let me read your mind. You’re in love with these bars and their ooey-gooey-chocolate-caramel middle layer, tied for first place with the buttery-soft oatmeal cookie crust. Yes, yes you are.

Let me read your mind again. You’re not a caramel person.

First of all, that’s weird and you should reconsider. Secondly, this:


So now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about my absence from the internet the last few days, gooooing on weeks. The internet is weird, because it’s like after the initial phase of feeling like you’re going to shrivel up and die socially, you kind of want to stay gone from the internet. Do you know what I mean? And am I from another time period? because I always want to capitalize Internet.

Other than my brief internet encounter last week to give away some free spa money, Bjork’s been holding down things here on Pinch o’ Yum while I’ve been living up the rustic life in the Wisconsin Northwoods. aka laying on the dock. My brothers did their usual crazy things while my parents tried to keep up and Bjork and I read books and drank Arnold Palmers and ate too many of these bars. Family time.


I also went to our friends’ baby’s first birthday party.


And I should be done editing all the pictures I took around the time he turns 18. So definitely been busy.

But enough about my personal social life outside of the Internet with a capital I. Let’s talk about CARAMEL in all caps. Like what caramel looks like when lovingly poured over chocolate chips over buttery oatmeal crust.

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

Something about these bars is just so dang good. Like get outta the house or get in my belly good. I mean, you heard my girl Jill in the email at the beginning. She doesn’t even like caramel, but oh,Β this caramel. This caramel and these bars that have that magic power that draws you in and never lets you go. And do you want to hear a true story? I was shaking my head in awe as I wrote that part about the magic power. Official weird food blogger status: achieved.

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

This recipe comes from my mom’s recipe box, which is a cute little wooden box that isΒ  full of every kind of recipe hand-written on a card. The box itself is both totally priceless and a little bit frightening. She has about a million recipe cards floating around in there. The salads are in with the desserts, which are in with the casseroles, and op! here’s Grandma’s applesauce! I’ve been looking for that recipe card everywhere! And on, and on, and on. I spent a lazy afternoon just grabbing a stack of recipe cards out of that box and flipping through them, and I think I could do that for another whole week.

Speaking of recipe cards, this one says it’s from the Pluckers. I don’t know the Pluckers, but dear Pluckers, thank you to the moon and back for this most incredible ooey-gooey-can’t-stop dessert bar recipe. You nailed it.

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

4.9 from 16 reviews
Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars
  • 1½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 40 soft caramel candies
  • 6 tablespoons milk or cream (I used heavy whipping cream)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter, let it cool, and pour into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir (I just used a wooden spoon) until a soft dough forms. It should be just slightly crumbly. If the dough feels wet and heavy, add a little more flour.
  2. Press ¾ of the dough into a 9x13 baking dish. Reserve the remaining ¼ for topping. Bake for about 13 minutes or until the top is barely golden brown.
  3. While crust is baking, unwrap caramels and melt in the microwave with the cream. Stir until the mixture is smooth and pourable.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the baked crust. Pour the melted caramel over the chocolate chips. Crumble the remaining dough with your fingers (add a little more flour if it's not crumbly enough) and sprinkle over the top of the bars. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top layer is golden brown. Let stand for several hours or until the caramel is cooled.


Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars with an ooey-gooey-chocolate-caramel middle layer, and a buttery-soft oatmeal cookie crust.
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  1. Oh my! These look AMAZING! My father-in-law especially loves oatmeal, and the kids love chocolate and caramel – it’s the perfect thing for our next family gathering. I hear you on the missing from the Internet thing – me TOO! I’m struggling a little bit to get back on track after a week on the beach and a family wedding over the weekend. It’s sort of nice to be MIA, isn’t it??? Love the cookie bars, and enjoy your family!

  2. Is it even possible for someone to not like caramel? That sounds like some sort of illness, and anyone who doesn’t like caramel should see their doctor immediately :) Caramel is one of my many, many weakenesses and these bars look too good to resist! I’m excited about the oats in there, too. Yummmmm

  3. You are right, I am in love with things. Oatmeal, chocolate and caramel! So my thing!

  4. Ooh look at this gooeyness!

  5. A couple years ago I made bars with oats, caramel candies, and chocolate chips. Very similar to these and I’ll never forget them b/c I had to unwrap 40 caramels! Better you than me this time :) They look incredible. I am totally a caramel person, too!

    • It actually didn’t take me as long as I thought it would, but as usual I was short on time and I dropped at least 30 of the 40 as I unwrapped… grr. The things we do for caramel!

  6. Caramel and oatmeal? I’m in!

  7. Oh you are a mind reader indeed! These ooey-goey bars are incredible!

  8. Ok, you’re killing me with these. I’m definitely making these as soon as I can.

    And of course you used heavy whipping cream. It’s the greatest!

    • I think it just put them totally over the top. The ones we had at the cabin were good, but these… something about them was extra… creamy. :) I guess heavy whipping cream can do that.

  9. These bars have some of my favorite things ever! Ooeey gooey caramel, mmm-mnmm.

  10. I want to drink that caramel. :) I am so a caramel person!! And I would adore these. Sometimes a break from the virtual life is nice – go have some adventure in the real world. It feels good!!

    Our family time is usually me pouring myself wine while everyone plays card games.

  11. Some time away from the blog is never a bad thing. Plus you came back with these super delicious treat bars.

  12. I can just taste the gooey chocolate right now – I don’t know if I could say no to a whole pan!

  13. Bjork, I want to create my own virtual recipe box of Lindsay’s recipes, so I don’t have to search through every time I want a recipe. So, can you magically create a little button on POY that will let me do that… or are all of her recipes on Pinterest and can I just do it from there?

  14. I can feel that smooth caramel and chocolate taste in my mouth – this looks sooooo good.

  15. Wow, do these ever look good. They’re so ooey gooey, which works so well with that nutty, hearty oatmeal!

  16. A few of my favorite things in a gooey square, and mouthwatering pictures to keep me staring. Definitely going to pack this recipe away for when we have company, because if I make it any other time I will without question eat the pan within the day! Thanks for sharing this, Lindsay!

  17. Yum! These bars look super tasty…an awesome treat!

  18. These bars are gorgeous!! Love the sound of this!

  19. My goodness, do these look good! This is why I can never go on a diet.

  20. Chocolate, caramel and oatmeal? I’m so in! Hope you are enjoying your time at the lake. Would love to connect sometime soon!

  21. I’m not into caramel at all. I mean the square candy that will surely rip out a few well-placed fillings. But . . . this looks too good to be true, so I will definitely have to try it.

    By the way, Internet is most definitely spelled with a capital I, at least in the publishing business. πŸ˜‰

  22. These are SO good! I just made them.
    I made my own caramel, which worked surprisingly well!

  23. Those bars look absolutely incredible!

  24. Hi Lindsay,
    I just love your blog and have been following Pinch of Yum for a year now! I just found out that I have celiac disease and was wondering if you could do some gluten free recipes πŸ˜‰

  25. Tania M Mitchell says:

    In Australia ‘Candies’ mean hard sugar lollies, so what exactly do you mean by caramel candies? These look divine by the way and will def give them a go.
    Cheers T

  26. I love it. Literally, two hours ago, I was typing out the word “internet” and totally stopped for a few seconds to debate capitalizing it. Another time period, indeed. These bars look fabulous, and I’m so happy to hear they came from such a disorganized box and were read on what sounds like the perfect summer dock!

  27. Oh my goodness these look absolutely sinful … and delicious! Pinning :)

  28. You had me at caramel!

    And I feel you on editing photos. I’ll be done editing my photos around the same time you finish yours. Life of a food blogger, right?

  29. OMG it looks so good…you posted many delicious recipes…Nice blog. I’m your follower! :-)

  30. OMG, I am not caramel hater so these definitely look delicious!

  31. Uau this is amazing:) I love it!

  32. These look amazing! Question- do we need to add the baking soda and salt twice or did you just accidentally mention the amounts twice in your ingredient list?

  33. amanda w. says:

    Any idea how many ounces 40 carmels is? I am wanting to use the little carmel balls in the baking section so i don’t have to unwrap them! Thx;)

  34. Made this yesterday and they are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. These bars look fabulous, and I’m so happy to hear they came from such a disorganized box and were read on what sounds like the perfect summer dock!

  36. We made these last night and followed recipe exactly. They were amazing!!

  37. Great pictures! I have been making these bars since I was a kid (I got it from my mom too!), and I absolutely love it. I am in college now, and my friends call these “crack bars” because they are so addicting! I couldn’t help but notice the one difference in this recipe from mine though – the caramel candies. My recipe calls for a jar of of caramel sauce (aka ice cream topping). I just buy some cheap smuckers stuff and then dump it on, no unwrapping of 40 candies needed! It also allows you to vary the flavor (you can use butterscotch, salted caramel for a more gourmet touch, etc.). Just thought this might be helpful :)

    • Great idea – I actually thought of that but thought I should be true to the Pluckers and their recipe. :) Thanks Camy!

      • I was just searching your website for the yummy-looking dessert in your “how to take better food photos” post (what IS that?!?) and spotted these. MMM. I grew up with these too — they were one of the favorite desserts at summer camp, where they were called carmelitas. Wanted to comment here to say that I’ve always used caramel ice cream topping too (either Smuckers or Mrs. Richardson’s) and it works really well — recipe just calls for you to mix in a little flour before pouring it.

        On an unrelated note, my camp was in northern WI! Boulder Junction, specifically (a little outside Minocqua). Love that your family spends time there too!

        • Hi Tiernan! What was the picture of that you were looking for?

          • It’s the one under the heading “4. Shoot on a white surface” in “5 Ways to Improve Your Food Photography with Artificial Light.” Both the yellow and white-toned shots look delicious. :) Thanks!

  38. Instead of the caramel pieces and milk, why not just use Eagle Brand Condensed Milk. As you cook it, it turns into caramel. I would even think you would need to cook it first, just pour over the chips….Has anyone tried this?

    • That’s a great idea! I haven’t tried it but it sounds like it would turn out in a similar way. I have made one other dessert bar that used sweetened condensed milk (cooked into more of a dulce de leche sauce)… it’s these Dulce de Leche Bars.

  39. Hi, it looks absolutely delicous! Can I ask you if its possible to replace the caramels with caramel from the can from nestle? Im just lookin for a recipe where I could use it. Thanks, T.

  40. Can you use the jarred caramel sauce or make your own with brown sugar and butter?

  41. I just made these and they are amazing! The only difference is I used condensed milk cooked into a caramel because i had it on hand. A definite keeper!

  42. Made these last night and they were a huge hit!

  43. Oh I have to make these! Yum! Thanks for sharing πŸ˜‰

  44. Just made some, waiting for them to cool right now! I’m thrilled to taste them!! Thanks for this amazing recipe! :) <3

  45. Oh my goodness! I think we were separated at birth. You have some amazing recipes!! Thanks for the blog!!

  46. Thanks for this recipe! I was looking for a treat from my homeland (Minnesota) to share with friends out east for a holiday cookie exchange. I knew bars were in order and these fit the bill perfectly.

  47. Let stand for several hours…. Hmm this will be a new concept for me..makes total sense w hot caramel and makes the anticipation more FUN :)

  48. Eddie Glacken says:

    This website is an absolute must for anyone wanting to bake some perfect, rave review worthy cookies. To say people beg me to make more is an understatement. I made this for the second time tonight because my first batch went to fast and i really didnt get to try them. But everyone loved them. Every holiday I usually make trays full of the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bars and they are my all time favorite. Just wanted to say thank you.Lindsay for your great recipies and inspiring me.
    Your friend in New Jersey, Eddie G

  49. Greetings! May make these for the game tomorrow! But, I had a question re: the oatmeal — I have Quaker 1-minute oats – will this be OK to use??

  50. I agree — SO delicious — I just made them. BUT . . . how on earth did you cut them — are all the ones on the sides lost causes? I broke a knife trying to cut on near the edge.

    • Weird – I never had that problem originally (or I would have posted a note about it) but it just happened to me, too, when I made them for work. I am not sure what the deal was – maybe something about the caramel being overcooked and getting too hard? So sorry Trisha!

  51. AC Ortega says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe! I am left wondering if I can you make these successfully using unsalted butter? I am trying to make these for a dear friend and a couple of relatives who are on low sodium diets but love chocolate and caramel treats…Maybe I can at least leave out the 1/2 teaspoon of salt?

    • I made these today with unsalted butter & a pinch of salt and it tastes just as beautiful!

      • ACOrtega says:

        Thanks for your reply, Tori! These will get made soon as tasty end of school and summer treats for my low-sodium diet friends!

  52. I came here for your amazing choc chip cookie recipe (which pleased my partner and his parents) and I’m staying to try out the rest of your amazing recipes! I have this in the oven at the moment except I made my own caramel and used unsalted butter – can’t wait! :)

  53. These are ridiculously good, Lindsay – thank you for the recipe! I agree that they aren’t easy to cut, but I think that’s the nature of trying to slice through a layer of chewy caramel & chocolate awesomeness. Just works off a few calories before you indulge. I’m looking for an excuse to make them again very soon! I’m going to explore some of your other recipes.

    • Thanks Mary!

    • Hi Mary D – I lined the baking pan with parchment so that I could easily lift the entire thing out onto a flat cutting surface when it was completely cold – don’t lift it whilst its warm/cooling or the base will break. Then use a knife with a very long blade (like a carving knife) – press the full length of the blade right down evenly into the slab, and it will slice really cleanly into bars. Don’t do any saw-ing action or try to cut through it with just the tip end of the blade, it won’t be a good result.

  54. Jennifer says:

    Found this recipe. It looks delicious! Can you sub the caramel for dulce de leche? Hey, I’m from MN too!

  55. These look incredible! Question though, would it work just fine if I used unsalted butter instead of salted? Or is the salted butter a must?

    • I always like salted butter in my baked treats. Just a personal thing, though. I think it would still work fine with unsalted.

  56. Ohhh Wow! I love this!

  57. I made these today and they were awesome. I’ve been making a similar bar (my family calls them “yummy bars”) for years using German Chocolate cake mix, butter, evaporated milk, caramels, and chocolate chips, but I think these are even better. For those who’ve had trouble cutting them, I find that pre-cutting/scoring them when they are warm (20-30 minutes out of the oven) makes it very easy to cut them and get them out of the pan when they have cooled.

  58. I made these for my husbands bake sale at work. They seemed to turn out (couldn’t taste test-I have braces), but the top was super crumbly. Yours don’t seem that way at all. What did I do wrong? Do I need more butter?

    • Hm, yes, maybe more butter? And maybe softened a little bit? Did it cover the whole top? It should be pretty much an complete even layer over the top.

  59. Hello!
    I have a question about the dough–mine is more than “slightly crumbly;” it’s only crumbs! I have checked and rechecked to make sure I have done everything right, but the 9 tablespoons just doesn’t seem to hydrate three cups of dry ingredients. Suggestions?

    Here’s hoping the caramel will hold this batch together! Thanks!

  60. I found your website yesterday and so glad I did – this was the first recipe I tried, and its over the top amazing! So simple and indulgently delicious – crispy crunchy base, topped with a fudgey chocolate chewy caramel! Going to try it the next time with some dessicated coconut in the base, and some chopped walnuts sprinkled over the caramel. 5 stars, thank you!

  61. Weekly I buy from local bakers but thought I should step up for once. Searched for a oatmeal caramel bar recipe and found your blog. Made a double batch and started with a gigantic one. Delicious but more filling than a meal! Decided to cut in tiny squares and took to 2 events. STAR dessert at both! Shared your recipe and link with everyone. Planning to make the soft chocolate chip cookies tomorrow.

  62. Mary Pat Higley says:

    Making these to enter into OCFair. I’ll let you know if I win anything!!!

  63. Rachel Griess says:

    Just made this recipe tonight and it turned out amazing! I can’t wait to try more recipes on your blog Lindsay. I love to bake and you are definitely inspiring me =)

  64. I’m living overseas and can’t source the caramels. I’m thinking of trying these bars with a homemade caramel sauce but wonder if it would be too runny. Any tips?

  65. These bars are amazing! My crust looks like it came out a little more crumbly than yours, but it is still delish. Thanks for the recipe!

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