Salted Caramel Bars

I have a deep love for all things salted caramel. I like salted caramel ice cream. I like salted caramel cookies. And I especially like salted caramel on top of shortbread and served as a bar. These little heavenly bites of goodness are RICH and DECADENT and you only need a quick bite to satisfy any sweet tooth!

I made this yesterday for my clients in Malibu and they were almost all gone before I could snap a quick picture to share with you! Needless to say I am going to have to make more of these ASAP to give away as holiday gifts!

The flakiness of the shortbread balances out the heavy caramel on top for the perfect bite!

Salted Caramel Bars


  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 2/3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Sea salt flakes


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper with the edges of the parchment hanging over the sides. This will make removing the bars easier.
  2. In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar and salt with a fork. Add the yolk and combine with the fork. Add the flour and using your hands, combine the dough until its flaky. Transfer the dough into the parchment lined pan and press down with your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup. Refrigerate this for 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Once baked, remove and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in a pot combine the topping ingredients; butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Stir for about 5-10 minutes until its thick and bubbly. If you have a candy thermometer - the caramel should be about 248 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and pour on top of the shortbread.
  5. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Then sprinkle with the sea salt flakes and serve!

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110 thoughts on “Salted Caramel Bars

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  2. I made a similar bar last year for holiday gifts; it had an additional layer of chocolate on top of the caramel but still…crunchy shortbread, caramel and salt? Like you…I can’t get enuf of that combination. I make new treats every year for family and friends but this one they begged me to do again. Think I might try it sans the chocolate; these look divine.

  3. Cannot wait to make these. But one important question: What is the secret to getting a good, clean cut when you slice them? Every time I make bar cookies of any kind they come out raggedy. Brownies too. What am I doing wrong?

    • Erika! Once they are set – take a knife, and run it under HOT water. Then cut a slice. Run it under hot water again and then slice away… continue until they are all sliced! I didn’t know this trick either until I had to make a billion brownies for a big party and I needed them to look fab – and the hot water w/ the knife does the trick!

  4. Sea salt caramel has got to be one of my favorite things, ever. There’s a gelato place nearby that has sea salt caramel gelato which is my ultimate weakness. These look fantastic!!

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  6. Gaby, do these seem bake-sale-ish to you? They look incredible, and I’ve been thinking about doing a salted caramel bar recipe for our bake sale next year, but i wonder if they are too mushy/soft? Thanks!

  7. These look great! Actually in the process of making them, and am wondering how long you think they’ll keep? And how I should store them? Also, another silly question…loved the tip you gave on getting clean slices, but how did you shape yours so lovely?
    My apartment smells DELICIOUS – thanks!!

    • Hey Hillary,

      I think they will keep for at least a week – maybe a week and a half! Store them in the fridge so they hold their shapes!!!

      I cut mine into squares and then again into triangles by cutting the square on a diagonal!

      Happy Baking!!!

  8. WARNING: These are possibly addicting and could be harmful to your 2011 resolution to lose weight! Gaby, is it normal for the caramel layer to get oozy UNLESS the bars are refrigerated? Stored mine between parchment paper but they definitely needed to be refrigerated. Try decoratively drizzling dark chocolate over the top to satisfy those craving chocolate w/ their salted caramel.

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  12. First of all, smart move Gaby parchment paper is your friend! This is an ooey gooey chewy crunchy yummy sweet salty recipe! Need I say more.

  13. I don’t know if I did something wrong, but my caramels were SO hard! We literally had to suck on it for like 20 minutes in order to eat it! The flavour was great, don’t get me wrong. This was my first time making caramel so maybe I did something wrong, but it was nearly impossible to eat! I’m not giving up though; I have a feeling there will be more caramel recipes in my future.

  14. I’ve made a variation of these for years, learning from my mum born/raised in the UK. We use Lyle’s Golden Syrup and top the hot caramel with a broken up Cadbury milk chocolate bar.Please do not forget to line the pan with parchment. Salted caramel was not in vogue though it’s a wonderful idea.This is a divine and gorgeous treat that, though cut in small morsels, always disappears far too quickly. Perhaps I won’t wait until the holidays to make a pan or two….

  15. Have to qualify my comments by stating up front that I am NOT a good cook (when I try a new recipe, the family heads for the phone to order pizza)…made these this afternoon (did have parchment paper, didn’t have a candy thermometer), and they were a SUCCESS–yippee!!! Not as pretty as the pictures, but they taste yummy–a definite “make again!” Thanks for sharing :-)

  16. I made these for my family & now they think I’m a domestic Goddess! So yummy & deceptively simple! These are my new go-to treat for dinner parties & family functions- Thanks Gaby!

  17. Made these this weekend! Very Tasty! Only problem is if they sit out at room temperature for a few minutes they started to melt. Any idea why that may have happend?

  18. Gabby: I have developed an addiction to the salty sweet carmel squares at starbucks. They have a shortbread type bottom, a carmel centre and are topped with a chocolate ganache with some left over carmel swirled through. What really makes them is the broken up small salted pretzel sticks in the carmel layer. Pure heaven. I have been tearing my hair out trying to find a similar recipe and yours looks so close. Can the carmel be made “stiffer” so it does not run or be gooey. The ones at Starbucks are firm and soft but not gooey. Like I said, the salted little pretzel bits makes it over the moon. Thank you.

  19. Gaby – I’m a little late to the party here but just made these for a work get-together and cannot believe how AMAZING they are (it’s downright scary)… I think these have become my new favorite go-to dessert. However, they melt extremely quickly (I’m in Phoenix), and I’m concerned about them surviving the car ride over and the time they sit out before people start digging in. Any tips on how to make the caramel set a little firmer and/or how best to pack/transport them? THANK YOU! I really want to keep making these!!

    • Hi Christina! Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Did they make it to work ok? I would make suggest making them, and then freezing them before driving to work. That way they stay cold a little longer. Hope this helps!! xoxo

      • Hi Gaby – here is my uber late reply….they did make it to work ok; I did freeze them for a bit before the actual party (which was in the afternoon!). I got rave reviews on how they tasted, but they did not keep shape at all (were ooey gooey to the point where it was hard to pick them up). I will make them again in the future and will most likely freeze them until showtime. But do you have any suggestion on how we could tweak the caramel itself so it stays firmer? THANK YOU and congrats on your upcoming wedding! Soak in every minute. XO

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  21. I made these this afternoon and the caramel was so hard they were inedible, so I decided to try again. The first time I let the caramel simmer for a while before I let it come to a boil while the shortbread was in the oven. I figured I had probably cooked it for way too long so I just finished my second go-around. After the caramel came to a boil this second time, I stirred it for about 5 minutes and then poured it over the shortbread. I checked it after just 10 minutes of being in the fridge and it looked like the caramel was completely hardening like it had earlier. I tried a nibble and couldn’t swallow the caramel because it just hardened in my teeth. What am I doing wrong??

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment! Typically when the caramel becomes super hard it means its been over cooked. Did you use a candy thermometer? Let me know and I’m happy to get to the bottom of it :)

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  25. This recipe looked so good I just had to add it to the ‘collection of caramel’ that I was making for my husband’s potluck. It was a huge hit with everyone. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  26. Wow! Look amazing — can’t wait to try them!! I love salted caramel! I have a question — how do you know when the dough is flaky? Thanks!

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  28. Could one replace the Corn Syrup with something else? Maple syrup or maybe Agave nectar? I live abroad and have never ever seen Corn Syrup out here.

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  32. I just made these for a dinner party. I had them in the fridge all day and cut them and put them on a platter before I left. In the 20 minute drive, they turned into squares of shortbread swimming in a pool of caramel. We had a laugh about it at the party and they were delish, but I am not sure what I did wrong…..

    • HI Heather! Did you use a candy thermometer when you made them? I went back after reading your comment and re-tested the recipe and changed the temp of the caramel so if you make them again – I bet they would be perf :)

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  34. Hi, made these today and they are delicious !!! However, I did have the same problem as some of the others and that once they were chilled and cut the Carmel slowly slid off the crust….I DID use a candy thermonmator and was afraid it was going to be too hard since it read 250. How can I keep the Carmel firm and on top the crust ?

  35. If I could make a suggestion as to what might be making these caramels melt….Try cooking the caramel to 248 degrees (which is firm ball stage) on a candy therometer. At 230, you are making caramel sauce, at 248 you are making candy. I have made sauce for ice cream and cheesecake, and I also make caramels to eat in bar form, its all in the temperature to get the final product you are looking for.

  36. If you add a layer of chocolate on top, you’d have a classic English goodie that goes by the not very exciting, but totally accurate name of choclate caramel shortbread – but we’ve always called it “Scrumptious Lumps”….

    • I really love this ones. I’m from Germany and today was my first time to bake such a delicious thing. I enjoyed them really and ate them up by myself. I love it!

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  39. I have made these and the color is not as vibrant as your picture. I made the caramel to put on top of a layer of peanut butter. An they are almost the same color. Any idea why this is?

  40. I made these yesterday and they have all been devoured by my family. Simple recipe and it was absolutely delicious. It tastes like the combination of shortbread cookies and the best caramel ever. Thanks!

  41. These look amazing…however I made caramels last year for a baking exchange and they were not lovely to package up and unpack..Would these be ok if I packaged them up in parchment?

    • I’ve actually made this a few times and have yet to perfect it, but if you stir the boiling caramel from 5-7 minutes it is very soft and between 8-10 minutes it is rock hard. Between 7 and 8 minutes is just perfect. Best of luck!

  42. I just made these and followed the directions but when I cut them the carmel just started gooeying over. It wasn’t set firm. What did I miss? They were still good just very messy! Thanks!

    • Hey Jenn! Were they totally cool before cutting?

      If not, that’s usually why they spread.

      If yes, then sometimes it means that the caramel needed to cook a few minutes longer to firm up!

      Let me know – happy to help trouble shoot!

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  44. I actually found this recipe on another site – LHJ. Yes, Ladie’s Home Journal is still around! The only difference is that they halved the ingredients for the topping. The shortbread was the same. By cutting the topping in half, you can bring it up to 230 on a candy thermometer and the consistancy is perfect! Made them last night and they were wonderful.

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  47. Just made these & they are seriously the best, easiest thing I’ve ever made! That shortbread bar under the caramel topping is delish! I used my candy thermometer, but I think people NOT using one are not starting the 5-10 minute countdown until the mixture BOILS..then it’s 5 to 10 min. Mine was 10 minute on the nose after it boiled – constantly stirring at med high heat. I cannot believe how good these are! Now, I”m off to hide them!!

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