Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe (2024)

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This oatmeal carmelitas recipe is a delicious cookie bar with layers of buttery rolled oats, chocolate, and gooey caramel. This recipe makes a full 9-by-13-inch pan using mainly pantry ingredients and assembled in just 20 minutes.

These carmelitas are an easy cookie bar recipe with layers of oats, chocolate, and gooey caramel that are a total crowd-pleasing dessert. The best part is almost all of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.

I made these oatmeal caramel bars growing up and there was just nothing better. So, when I was an editor at Martha Stewart Living magazine, I shared my recipe in her Kids magazine. I called them Oatmeal Bars, they are the perfect beginner baker recipe.

One of the things that makes my recipe the best, is it makes a full 9-by-13-inch pan and is prepped in less than 20 minutes. Most recipe you find are just an 8-by-8-inch pan, and I never find that's enough.

Try some of my other cookie bar recipes like pistachio cherry bars, or one pan sugar cookie bars. You'll also love dulce de leche bars and coconut key lime bars.

Jump to:
  • What are Carmelitas?
  • Oatmeal Carmelitas ingredients
  • How to make this Carmelitas recipe
  • What caramel to use
  • Tips
  • Storage
  • FAQs
  • Cookie Classics To Try:
  • Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe

What are Carmelitas?

Carmelitas are oatmeal cookie bars with chocolate chips and melted caramel baked in the middle.

Oatmeal Carmelitas were a Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe from the 1960s and versions have been printed in magazines and served at restaurants like Potbelly for many years.

You won't find a better carmelita bars recipe anywhere! This one has the perfect oatmeal cookie base and the right amount of caramel and chocolate filling. My recipe isn't too crumbly, and it's tender and buttery.

Oatmeal Carmelitas ingredients

My oatmeal carmelitas are super simple. You'll only need a few ingredients. You probably already have most of them in your pantry.

  • Caramels: Caramels are the gooey, sweet center of carmelitas. When baked, they melt into a luscious, caramel layer. Use wrapped caramel candies.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is used to melt and combine the caramels, creating that irresistible, velvety caramel filling.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour is the backbone of the crust and crumbly topping, providing structure and texture to the bars.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds sweetness and a subtle molasses flavor to the oat-based crust and crumb topping.
  • Baking Soda: A small amount of baking soda helps the bars rise slightly and become tender.
  • Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats: These oats give the bars their distinctive texture and a hearty, nutty flavor. Do not use quick-cooking or Instant Oats.
  • Salt: A touch of salt enhances the overall flavor, balancing the sweetness of the caramel and brown sugar.
  • Butter: Butter is the key to creating a buttery, crumbly crust and topping. It's the binder that holds everything together.
  • Chocolate Chips: These delectable morsels add a layer of indulgence, sandwiched between the oat crust and the gooey caramel. They're a delightful contrast to the sweet caramel.

How to make this Carmelitas recipe

This is the perfect foolproof cookie bar recipe for someone learning how to bake. It's that simple and works every time.

See the recipe card below for all the detailed steps.

  1. Prep a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment.
  2. Heat oven to 350ºF.
  3. Melt caramels with cream, set aside.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and oats.
  5. Add butter, mix into crumbly dough.
  6. Transfer half to pan, pat into bottom. Bake 18 to 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, pour caramel, crumble remaining dough.
  8. Bake 18 to 20 minutes more, until golden.
  9. Cool, release edges, lift using parchment.
  10. Trim edges if desired, cut into 16 squares.

What caramel to use

There are two brands of soft caramel candies that are readily available and work well for Carmelitas.

Kraft square caramels are easy to find. In the last few years their packages have become smaller! I use about 50 Kraft Caramels for the recipe.

Werther's soft or chewy caramels are available at most stores as well. They are smaller than the Kraft brand, so i use about 58 in a recipe.

Both brands are great to use, but the caramels are different sizes.

Pro Tip: I use 14 ounces of caramels. That's about 50 Kraft Caramels and 58 Werther's Caramels.

Tips

  • For this recipe, I like to line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or pan with parchment paper so that clean-up is easy and mess-free.
  • If you don't have pre-cut parchment sheets, cut your parchment so that a couple of inches hang off two edges. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan once they're baked.
  • Spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray before I add the parchment. You can fold down the loose ends and tack them down with oven-safe binder clips, but you don't need to.
  • After you take the Carmelitas out of the oven, let them cool before removing them from the pan. If you'd like, you can cut off the crunchy edges so your bars are soft and decadent. I personally like the crunchy edges, though.

Storage

If you have any leftovers, you can store these cookie bars in an airtight container on the counter for a few days.

These bars also store well in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap. Just defrost at room temperature before serving.

FAQs

Can I make gluten free carmelitas?

You can use gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour in this recipe. The texture will change a bit, but they will still be delicious! Be sure to use gluten-free oats when available.

Can I use instant oats instead of rolled?

No, the key to making a delicious cookie base of this recipe is the rolled oats. Plus they give the cookie bars texture on the top layer as well. Instant oats are more finely ground than rolled oats so they will not give the cookie bar the same end result.

Can I use caramel sauce instead of caramel candies?

No, for this recipe soft caramel candies work best thanks to the consistency when they melt. They are a little thicker in texture than store-bought caramel sauce.

Is there really no egg in these carmelitas?

There is no egg! The layers are able to bind to themselves from the butter and caramel.

Cookie Classics To Try:

  • Stovetop Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Award Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Coconut Macaroons with Condensed Milk
  • Graham Crackers and Frosting
  • Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
  • Iced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Let me know how it went!

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Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe (6)

Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe

Tara Teaspoon

Carmelitas cookie bars filled with a layer of chocolate and caramel. Make a 9-by-13-inch pan and mainly with pantry ingredients, this recipe is foolproof for the beginner baker.

5 from 4 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes mins

Cook Time 40 minutes mins

Total Time 2 hours hrs

Course Baking, Dessert

Cuisine American

Servings 16 squares

Calories 376 kcal

Ingredients

  • Cooking Spray
  • 48 to 58 soft caramel candies* (14 ounces)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • sticks unsalted butter soft but not warm
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment so two ends hang over. Clip with metal binder clips if desired.

  • Heat oven to 350ºF.

  • Unwrap caramel candies and place in a medium saucepan with the heavy cream. Heat, stirring, over medium-high heat, until caramels are melted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and oats. Add the butter and with a mixer or your clean hands, mix the butter into the dry ingredients until a soft, but crumbly dough forms.

  • Transfer half the dough to the prepared pan and gently pat into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake until just turning light golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Don't over-bake.

  • Remove bottom crust from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Carefully pour melted caramel over the chocolate in an even layer. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the caramel.

  • Bake cookie bars another 18 to 20 minutes, until the top crust is just turning golden and cooked. It shouldn't be doughy.

  • Let cookie bars cool completely, or until barely warm and firmed. Use a spatula to release the caramelized edges from the pan and then lift the bars out using the parchment paper.

  • On a cutting board, trim caramelized edges if desired, or just cut into 16 squares.

  • Bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month.

Video

Notes

  • What soft caramels to use: There are two brands of soft caramel candies that are readily available and work well for Carmelitas.
    • Kraft square caramels and Werther's soft or chewy caramels. Both brands are great to use, but the caramels are different sizes.
    • I use 14 ounces of caramels. That's about 50 Kraft caramels and 58 Werther's caramels.
  • For this recipe, I like to line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or pan with parchment paper so that clean-up is easy and mess-free.
  • If you don't have pre-cut parchment sheets, cut your parchment so that a couple of inches hang off two edges. This will make it easy to lift the bars out of the pan once they're baked.
  • Spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray before I add the parchment. You can fold down the loose ends and tack them down with oven-safe binder clips, but you don't need to.
  • After you take the Carmelitas out of the oven, let them cool before removing them from the pan. If you'd like, you can cut off the crunchy edges so your bars are soft and decadent. I personally like the crunchy edges, though.

Nutrition

Calories: 376kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 4gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 250mgPotassium: 153mgFiber: 2gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 557IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 2mg

Want to watch videos to show you how to cook?Check out our Youtube and try this recipe and more.

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Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe (15)

About Tara Teaspoon

I’ve been in the food publishing business for over 20 years, creating recipes & food-styling for magazines, books, television & advertising. Order my new cookbook & stick around for amazing things to eat.

Find out more!

Updated 10/23.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Lindsay says

    Carmelitas are my very favorite! Tara's desserts always turn out AMAZING!

    Reply

  2. Karen says

    Could I use 14 oz of Peters caramel ?

    Reply

    • Tara Teaspoon says

      Yes! That will work well. Might be ever so slightly softer if it’s fresh, but will work beautifully. You can cut up the caramel into pieces and mix with the heavy cream as per instructions. Enjoy!
      Tara

      Reply

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Oatmeal Carmelitas Recipe (2024)

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