With a buttery shortbread crust covered in smooth, salted caramel with more buttery shortbread crumbled on top, Salted Caramel Crush Bars are an irresistible and indulgent treat everyone will RAVE about! I like to think of them as a close relative to one of my other favorite treats, Carmelitas. Find an excuse to make this one STAT!
Years ago, I had a bar like this at a church party. I never found out who made them, but I’ve thought about them more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve tried multiple recipes over the years trying to find the one that I remembered. I was beginning to think that I was never going to find it or be able to recreate it, but I decided to give it another go a few weeks ago when I needed to take a treat to a friend’s 50th birthday party!
I used an extra half cup of butter, and what-do-you-know?…that did the trick. Try not to die when you see how much butter is in this recipe. It’s a lot–we’re talking Paula Dean level, but it’s the magic bullet that makes these bars have the perfect flavor and texture. Just use discretion on how many times a year you allow yourself to make these, and it will be fine. 🙂
Everyone at the birthday party LOVED these bars. They were such a hit! Some were surprised to hear that the caramel layer was not homemade. The caramel layer is just melted Kraft caramels and milk with coarse sea salt sprinkled on top. When you consider the deliciousness level of these crush bars compared to the simple ingredients and ease of the recipe, this is an OFF-THE-CHARTS AWESOME RECIPE!!!! In the same amount of time you can make a box mix cake, you can have these heavenly Salted Caramel Crush Bars! I can’t wait to hear how you like them!
More Amazing Bar Cookie Recipes
- Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars
- Classic Lemon Bars
- Snickerdoodle Bars
- Oatmeal Chocolate Fudge Bars
- Swig Sugar Cookie Bars Recipe
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
- Hello Dolly Bars
Step-by-step pictures for how to make Salted Caramel Crush Bars
Frequently Asked Questions for how to make Salted Caramel Crush Bars
Should I use salted butter or Unsalted butter?
I prefer salted butter in this recipe. You can try it either way, but I would recommend adding at least 1/2 tsp of salt to the shortbread crust/crumble mixture if you use unsalted butter.
Can I use margarine as a substitute for butter?
The butter really gives these bars a special flavor. I haven’t ever tried it with margarine, but I don’t think it would be quite the same.
If I don’t have Coarse sea salt can I use regular table salt?
The coarse salt gives a nice intensity of salt that you don’t get from finer table salt, but the overall addition of the salt is important to get the salted-caramel flavor. So you should definitely use regular salt if you don’t have the option for coarse salt. If you do use table salt don’t use more than 1 tsp.
Can I use Salted Caramel Ice Cream Topping?
The caramel consistency needs to be thick enough not to drip out of the bars once they are cut. If you use salted caramel ice cream topping, it will be a thinner consistency. If you want to use it, use one bottle of Smuckers Salted Caramel Topping and 25 Kraft caramels, and only use 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt sprinkled on top of the caramel layer.
Can these Cookie Bars be frozen or made in advance?
Yes and yes. You can make these a day or two in advance and keep them refrigerated until 1 hour before serving, or you can make them 1-2 months in advance and store them in the freezer in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
- 9×13 Baking Dish
- Stand or Hand Mixer
- Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Cups
- Kraft Caramels
- Mini-Serving Spatula
- 2 cups salted butter, softened
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- CARAMEL FILLING:
- 55 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
- ⅓ cup 1% or 2% milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a stand mixer or a medium-sized mixing bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter, powdered sugar, and sugar. Mix well until creamed together.
- Next, add the vanilla and mix again until it is combined.
- Now, add the flour one cup at a time, mixing between each addition.
- Use a little more than ⅓ of the dough and press it down evenly in the bottom of the prepared 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until the crust is set and has the faintest hint of browning on the edges.
- While the crust layer bakes, prepare the filling.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the unwrapped caramels and milk. Set it over medium heat and stir often as it melts. Once it is melted, take off the burner and add 1 tsp vanilla.
- When the crust is done, let it cool for 20 minutes. Once it has slightly cooled, pour the caramel filling evenly over the crust, and then sprinkle evenly with the coarse sea salt.
- Next, use the remaining dough mixture to crumble on top. This will seem like a lot of dough for the topping. Don't worry. It's exactly the right amount. The dough sinks into the filling, and if you use less, it will leave very little crumble topping visible on the finished bars. Just keep adding it even if it piles onto itself.
- Return bars to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is just starting to brown lightly.
- Let cool completely before cutting into squares.