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Caramel Oat Bars

These caramel oat bars are the ultimate sweet-salty treat made from chewy oatmeal cookie bars topped with ooey caramel, chocolate, and crunchy cashews.

Why You’ll Love This Caramel Oat Bars Recipe

These tender caramel oat bars topped with creamy caramel, chocolate, cashews, and a sprinkle of sea salt are the stuff of dreams. Soft and chewy, sweet and crunchy, and so satisfying, enjoy these bars as a snack or light dessert! Here are more reasons to love ‘em:

  • Easy to make. These oat bars offer everything you love about a chewy homemade cookie, without any rolling, chilling, or shaping of the dough. The ingredients are super simple. The hardest thing about this recipe is waiting while the bars cool down.
  • Chewy, gooey, sweet, and salty. The base for this recipe is my oatmeal cookie bars packed full of crunchy pretzels and drenched in warm caramel sauce. Topped with a sprinkle of chocolate chips, cashews, and sea salt, the sweet-salty contrast is totally to die for.
  • Great for sharing. These caramel oat bars are perfect for holidays and get-togethers since this recipe makes a TON of bars! They vanish from the dessert table in the blink of an eye and I always get so many requests for the recipe.
Ingredients for caramel oat bars with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

You need only a short list of basic pantry items to make these ooey caramel oat bars. You’ll find some notes on the important ingredients here, and don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below the post for the full recipe amounts and details.

  • Butter
  • Sugar – You’ll need both granulated sugar and brown sugar.
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Pretzels – Since you’ll be crushing them up, use any type of pretzel you prefer.
  • Salt and Baking Soda
  • Oats – The best kind of oats for classic oatmeal cookies and these cookie bars are rolled oats (old-fashioned oats). You can make this recipe with quick oats, though the texture won’t be quite as tender.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – Make sure you’re buying a can of sweetened condensed milk, and not evaporated milk, which is unsweetened.
  • Caramels – A bag of soft caramels combined with condensed milk is an easy shortcut to rich, creamy caramel sauce. If you have homemade caramels you can use those, too.
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate Chips – These can be milk, white, or dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.
  • Chopped Cashews
  • Sea Salt – My favorite is Maldon sea salt.

How to Make Caramel Oat Bars

These caramel oat bars come together in just a few quick steps, and they bake up quickly. You’ll have a stockpile of chewy oat bars in no time! Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for printable instructions.

  • Make the cookie dough. Start by creaming together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Next, beat in the crushed pretzels, flour, baking soda, and salt. Finally, fold in the oats. Press all but 1 cup of the oatmeal cookie dough into a rimmed, foil-lined jelly roll pan. 
  • Add the caramel sauce. Meanwhile, warm the caramels and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan. Stir often while the caramels melt, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the finished caramel sauce over the prepared oat bars.
  • Add toppings. Now, top the bars with chocolate chips and cashews. Crumble over the reserved oatmeal cookie dough from earlier, and add a sprinkle of flaked sea salt.
  • Bake. Bake the bars for about 20 minutes, until the tops just start to turn golden. Afterward, let the caramel oat bars cool completely in the pan before lifting them out and cutting.
Close up of baked caramel oat bars.

Tips for Success

  • Line the pan with foil or parchment paper. This makes the bars easy to remove and cut.
  • Let the bars cool. These caramel oat bars need to cool completely in the pan before you remove them and slice them. If you cut the bars while they’re still warm, they’ll fall apart. If needed, pop the bars into the fridge for 30 minutes (after they’ve cooled to room temperature) to help them set fully.
  • If you don’t have a jelly roll pan (15” x 10”), you can make these bars using another sized pan instead. Note that a smaller pan will yield thicker bars, and you’ll need to increase the baking time accordingly.
Overhead view of assorted caramel oat bars on a piece of parchment paper.

Easy Variations Ideas

Cookie bar recipes are perfect for customizing! Here are some of my favorite ways to adapt these oat bars with different toppings and add-ins.

  • Add-ins. Instead of pretzels, stir chocolate chips into the cookie batter for even more chocolatey flavor.
  • Different nuts. Instead of cashews, try chopped peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts.
  • Different topping. In place of caramel, spread creamy peanut butter over the tops of your bars to make peanut butter oat bars instead. Nutella is another delicious choice!
  • Add candy. Sprinkle over M&Ms, or chopped candy bars, like Butterfingers (also see my Butterfinger caramel bars).
  • More toppings. Other tasty topping ideas for these caramel oat bars are butterscotch chips and toasted coconut (like my 7-layer bars), peanut butter chips, toffee bits, and dried cranberries.
Assorted caramel oat bars on a piece of parchment paper, with one bar pulled in two.

How to Store

  • Counter: Store leftover caramel oat bars in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
  • Fridge: If your kitchen is warm, consider keeping them in the fridge and taking the bars out 10-15 minutes ahead of serving.
  • Freezer: These caramel oat bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. Once they’re completely cooled and cut into squares, store the bars in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag and freeze. Use parchment between any layers, to keep the bars from sticking. Defrost them in the fridge, and let them come to room temperature for a sweet treat whenever a craving strikes!

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A stack of caramel oat bars surrounded by more bars on a countertop.

Caramel Oat Bars

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 60 bars 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


Caramel oat bars are the ultimate sweet-salty treat made from a chewy oatmeal cookie bar base topped with ooey salted caramel, chocolate, and crunchy cashews.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cups finely crushed pretzels
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk, minus 1/2 cup)
  • 1 (11oz) bag of caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped cashews
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Line a 15x10x1 inch pan with foil.
  3. With your electric mixer beat butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla until incorporated.
  4. Add your pretzels and flour, baking soda, and salt on low speed. Slowly mix in your oats.
  5. Set aside 1 cup of your batter.
  6. Press the remaining batter into the prepared pan.
  7. In a medium saucepan combine your caramels and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour caramel over the oat batter in the pan. Add the cashews, chocolate chips, and remaining oat batter on top. Sprinkle the bars evenly with coarse sea salt.
  9. Bake for 20-2 minutes until top starts to golden.
  10. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. When cool, lift the bars from the pan with foil and cut.

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74 comments on “Caramel Oat Bars”

  1. Not sure if you are still replying to this recipe as all 72 comments seem to be dated in December 2011. I don’t know if I’m doing this correctly. Your recipe says a 14 oz can of Condensed Milk which is a weight measurement, minus 1/2 cup, which is a volume measurement. If I remove 4 oz in weight I have 10 oz in weight (and about 3/4 of a can) to add to caramels. The can contains 10 fluid oz. If I remove 4 fluid oz I have slightly over 1/2 a can or about 6 fluid oz to add to caramels. Can you clarify please?

    1. I used the weight measurement for the can, because they are sold with the weight measurement on the label so it was easy to know what to buy! Use the whole can and simply subtract 1/2 cup!

  2. These were So as it turns out, i DO love you for this recipe. And for your website in general. Also, our local gym is pretty happy about the find.

  3. These are amazing….. made them twice for my church and they cannot get enough of them. First to disappear from the cookie plate.

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