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These oatmeal carmelitas are out-of-this-world delicious! This lavish dessert has a chewy oatmeal cookie base topped with layers of melted chocolate, creamy caramel, and toasted nuts. Talk about a dessert lover’s dream!
Ladies and gentlemen, have I got a treat for you today! Try these carmelitas once and I am sure you will agree that they are possibly the tastiest treats on earth. These bring back so many great memories of my mom and childhood!
With a rich, buttery cookie base and layers of luscious melted chocolate and caramel, these caramel oatmeal bars really have something for everyone.
Plus, they are easy to make and easy to customize. Whether you simply want to add your favorite goodies or craft a gluten-free version, I’ve got you covered!
Table of Contents
This recipe comes from my mom’s recipe box and is still one of my favorites after all these years. If you’re a long-time reader here you know I love a good bar cookie like these Chocolate Caramel Butter Bars, or No Bake Chocolate Cookie Bars and especially Chocolate Chip Blondies, and these oatmeal, chocolate, and caramel bars are next level — a sweet, decadent pleasure!
- Rolled Oats – Make sure to choose quick-cooking rolled oats. If you need to make a gluten-free version, be sure to choose oats labeled gluten-free.
- Flour – Regular all-purpose flour is perfect or use a 1:1 gluten-free baking mix if desired.
- Butter – Adds flavor-enhancing richness and helps hold the batter together.
- Brown Sugar – Gives a deep, toffee-like flavor. It also has a density that helps keep the dessert rich and thick.
- Vanilla – Gives the bars a harmonizing, earthy sweetness and enhances all the other flavors.
- Kosher Salt – Perfect for complementing baked goods, this variety has a mild flavor without too much saltiness.
- Baking Soda – Works as a leavening agent to give the cookie layer a slightly fluffy, chewy texture.
- Chocolate Chips – Add a layer of irresistible chocolatey goodness. Semi-sweet chips are the standard choice but feel free to use any chips you choose.
- Walnuts – Toasty and earthy with a slight bitterness, walnuts are excellent at balancing the sweetness in recipes.
- Caramel Bits – I like to use the caramel bits because they melt with more ease, plus I don’t have to spend 30 minutes unwrapping individual pieces. However, if you don’t mind the extra steps, caramel squares are perfectly acceptable.
- Heavy Cream – Gives the caramel sauce an added boost of smooth, creamy richness.
- Prepare the Oven. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a square baking pan with parchment paper. Use either an 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan, but make sure you use enough parchment paper to leave an overhang. This will come in handy later for removal.
- Make the Base. Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Then, thoroughly mix in 1 cup of flour, the oats, and the baking powder. Once it is well blended, separate the batter and add one-half to the prepared pan. Press down gently around the edges to level and place in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
- Make the Caramel Sauce. Combine the caramel bits and heavy cream in a measuring cup or a small microwave-safe mixing bowl. Melt together, stirring in between 1-minute intervals in the microwave. If desired, you can use a saucepan over medium heat for this step. Just be sure to stir often and keep an eye on the pan. Once melted, whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour and set the mixture aside.
- Add the Layers. Remove the cookie base from the oven and layer the chocolate chips, nuts, and caramel sauce over the top. Add the rest of the crumbly oatmeal batter, place the pan back in the oven, and bake for an additional 18 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool Before Slicing. Take the caramel oatmeal bars out of the oven and set them somewhere to cool for a minimum of 4 hours and up to overnight. Once they have set and settled, they’re ready to slice and serve.
I prefer the Kraft caramel bits as they melt easier, but a bag of 35 caramel squares like Werther’s Original are a fine substitute if you can’t find. I also prefer not having to unwrap them! You can also make Homemade Caramel Sauce, too!
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The number one reason carmelitas usually come out sticky is that they were sliced before they had time to cool and set properly.
The bare minimum time you should wait to cut into them is 4 hours, but I highly recommend letting them set up overnight. You will have much better results and can wake up with caramel oatmeal bars waiting for you!
It’s easy to add a personal touch to your cookie bars. They are as customizable as they are scrumptious! Here are just a few ideas for add-ins to get you started:
– White chocolate, dark chocolate, butterscotch, or peanut butter chips.
– Shredded coconut.
– Dried raisins, cranberries, or apricots.
– Heath, Butterfinger, or other candy bits.
– Almonds, peanuts, or other nuts.
Carmelitas will stay fresh for 3-4 days when kept in an airtight container at room temperature and will last for up to a week when stored in the refrigerator.
To prevent them from sticking together during storage, be sure to separate them with parchment paper.
They can also be tightly wrapped or transferred to freezer-safe containers to be frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw to room temperature before enjoying again.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8″ or 9×9″ pan with parchment paper, leaving over hang for easy removal later.
- Combine the melted butter, brown sugar and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Add the 1 cup flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Stir to combine thoroughly and press half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Pressing to edges and making sure it’s as level as possible. Bake 10 minutes.
- In a measuring cup melt the caramel and heavy cream together in a microwave, blasting in 1 minute intervals until smooth, or in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
- Remove cookie base from oven and, sprinkle in layers the chocolate chips, nuts and caramel mixture. Crumble remaining half of oatmeal mixture over the top to cover. Bake for 18 minutes and top is golden brown.
- Let cool at least 4 hours or overnight before cutting into 16 bars.
- I prefer the caramel bits as they melt easier, but a bag of 35 caramel squares like Werther’s Original are a fine substitute if you can’t find. I also prefer not having to unwrap them. You can also make Homemade Caramel Sauce, too!
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.