Salted Caramel Butter Bars


Everyday Culinary Delights 👩‍🍳


The journey of Salted Caramel Butter Bars is a testament to the timeless allure of combining sweet and salty flavors. Originating from a simple desire to blend the rich, buttery texture of shortbread with the gooey, sweet taste of caramel, these bars have become a staple in dessert menus around the globe. Their popularity is not just a trend but a reflection of how classic flavors can be reinvented into something spectacularly new and desired by all age groups.

In the realm of desserts, few combinations are as heavenly as that of butter and caramel, especially when a pinch of sea salt is added to the mix. The Salted Caramel Butter Bar is a prime example of this divine union. The History of Caramel reveals its long-standing significance in culinary traditions, evolving from a simple candy to a sophisticated ingredient in many modern desserts. Similarly, the Shortbread Origins highlight how this simple Scottish biscuit became the base for countless variations, including the beloved butter bars.

The allure of these bars lies not only in their taste but also in their texture and appearance. A perfect Salted Caramel Butter Bar features a crumbly, butter-rich shortbread base, topped with a layer of smooth, velvety caramel, finished with a light sprinkle of sea salt. This combination not only tantalizes the taste buds but also strikes a perfect balance between sweetness and saltiness, making it an irresistible treat for any occasion. Whether it’s a holiday gathering, a family dinner, or a personal indulgence, these bars are guaranteed to make an impression.

Ingredients Overview

The creation of Salted Caramel Butter Bars hinges on a symphony of simple yet impactful ingredients. Each component plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures that make this dessert so irresistible. Here’s a detailed look at the key ingredients:

  • Unsalted Butter: The foundation of the shortbread base, providing a rich, creamy texture and depth of flavor.
  • White Sugar & Powdered Sugar: These sugars not only sweeten the dessert but also contribute to the texture of the shortbread and caramel.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds a subtle depth and warmth to both the shortbread and caramel layers. The use of high-quality Vanilla Extract can significantly enhance the flavor profile of the bars.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Gives structure to the shortbread, ensuring it has the perfect crumbly yet firm texture.
  • Salted Caramel Sauce: The star of the show, combining the richness of caramel with a hint of saltiness to cut through the sweetness. While some prefer homemade caramel, store-bought options can also work well.
  • Sea Salt: A light sprinkle of Sea Salt on top adds a burst of flavor, enhancing the sweet caramel and buttery shortbread.

For those looking to explore beyond the traditional recipe, the internet offers a plethora of variations. From adding a layer of chocolate to incorporating different types of nuts, the possibilities are endless. Websites like Pinterest provide a wealth of inspiration for Salted Caramel Dessert Ideas, allowing bakers to customize the recipe to their liking.

Choosing quality ingredients is paramount. For instance, opting for high-grade butter can significantly impact the richness and flavor of the shortbread base. Similarly, the choice between homemade caramel and store-bought caramel sauce can alter the texture and taste of the filling. Each ingredient contributes to the overall experience of the dessert, making it crucial to select them carefully.

Equipment Needed

Creating Salted Caramel Butter Bars doesn’t require professional kitchen equipment, but having the right tools can make the baking process smoother and more enjoyable. Here’s a list of essential equipment:

  • 13×9-inch Baking Pan: The ideal size for ensuring the bars cook evenly and have the perfect thickness.
  • Parchment Paper or Aluminum Foil: Lining your pan with these materials ensures easy removal of the bars and simplifies cleanup.
  • Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer: Essential for creaming the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, which is key for a tender shortbread base.
  • Microwave-safe Bowl: If using premade caramel candies or sauce, you’ll need this for melting them into a smooth filling.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is crucial in baking, so accurate measuring tools are a must to follow the recipe correctly.
  • Spatula: A spatula will help you spread the caramel evenly over the shortbread base and ensure a smooth layer.
  • Wire Rack: Cooling the bars properly before cutting into them is essential for the perfect texture and ease of slicing.

For those who enjoy baking regularly, investing in quality kitchen tools can enhance the experience and outcome of your culinary creations. While the above list covers the basics, there are always additional gadgets and tools that can add efficiency and precision to your baking process. For instance, a digital kitchen scale can provide more accurate measurements than cups and spoons, leading to more consistent results.

Remember, the quality of your equipment can affect the final product. High-quality pans, for example, distribute heat more evenly, preventing the edges from burning while the middle remains undercooked. Similarly, a good stand mixer can make the process of creaming butter and sugar less labor-intensive, ensuring a light and fluffy base for your bars.

Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions

Creating Salted Caramel Butter Bars is a delightful journey into the world of baking, where the harmonious blend of butter, sugar, and caramel results in a dessert that’s both luxurious and comforting. Here’s how to bring this delectable treat to life:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C). Line your 13×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang for easy removal, and lightly grease the lining.
  2. Prepare the shortbread base: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream together 2 cups of unsalted butter, 1 cup of white sugar, and 1½ cups of powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Gradually add 4 cups of all-purpose flour, mixing on low speed until a soft dough forms.
  3. Assemble the base: Press one-third of the dough evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator. Bake the base for 20 minutes, or until the edges are a pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
  4. Make the caramel filling: While the base is cooling, place 14 ounces of soft caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels) in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/3 cup of milk or cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, continue microwaving in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth. Stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  5. Layer the caramel: Pour the smooth caramel filling over the cooled shortbread base. If desired, sprinkle a tablespoon of coarse sea salt over the caramel for that perfect salty-sweet contrast.
  6. Add the top layer: Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Cool and serve: Let the bars cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once cooled, use the overhangs to lift the bars out of the pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

This step-by-step guide ensures that even novice bakers can achieve the perfect Salted Caramel Butter Bar, a dessert that promises to be a hit at any gathering or a cherished treat for quiet moments at home. The combination of a buttery shortbread crust, rich caramel filling, and a hint of sea salt creates a multi-layered experience of flavors and textures that are simply irresistible.

Variations of the Recipe

The classic Salted Caramel Butter Bars recipe is a canvas for creativity, allowing bakers to infuse their personal touch and cater to various taste preferences. Here are some delightful variations to explore:

  • Chocolate Drizzle: After the bars have cooled, melt dark or milk chocolate and drizzle it over the top for a decadent chocolate-caramel combination.
  • Nutty Addition: Mix chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds into the shortbread dough or sprinkle them on top of the caramel layer for added texture and flavor.
  • Salted Nutella Butter Bars: Incorporate Nutella into the caramel filling for a hazelnut twist, enhancing the richness of the dessert.
  • Apple Caramel Bars: Add a layer of thinly sliced apples beneath the caramel for a fruity variation that pairs beautifully with the buttery shortbread and salted caramel.
  • Vegan and Gluten-Free: Substitute the butter for a plant-based alternative, use gluten-free flour for the shortbread, and ensure your caramel is vegan-friendly to cater to dietary restrictions.

These variations not only add diversity to your baking repertoire but also allow you to personalize the dessert to suit different occasions and preferences. For more inspiration, platforms like Pinterest offer endless ideas for customizing your Salted Caramel Butter Bars, ensuring that this beloved treat continues to delight and surprise with every bite.

Experimenting with these variations can lead to discovering your new favorite version of the classic bar. Whether you’re a fan of the added crunch of nuts, the richness of chocolate, or the freshness of fruit, there’s a version of this dessert for everyone. The key is to start with the solid foundation of the original recipe and then let your creativity and personal taste guide the way to new, delicious discoveries.

Serving and Storage Tips

To fully enjoy the decadent delight of Salted Caramel Butter Bars, serving them at the right moment and storing them properly is crucial. Here are some tips to ensure your bars remain delicious from the first bite to the last:

  • Serving: For the best flavor and texture, serve the bars at room temperature. If you’ve stored them in the refrigerator, let them sit out for about 30 minutes before serving. This allows the caramel to soften slightly, making the bars easier to bite into and allowing the flavors to shine.
  • Cutting: Use a sharp knife to cut the bars, and for cleaner slices, dip the knife in hot water and wipe it dry between cuts. This method helps to easily slice through the caramel layer without sticking.
  • Storage: Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, keep them in the refrigerator, where they’ll last for up to a week. The bars can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place the cut bars on a baking sheet to freeze individually, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or bag.
  • Thawing: If frozen, thaw the bars in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before serving. This ensures they retain their texture and flavor.

Following these tips will help maintain the irresistible appeal of your Salted Caramel Butter Bars, making them a hit whether you’re enjoying them as a personal treat or sharing them with friends and family. The combination of buttery shortbread, rich caramel, and a hint of sea salt makes these bars a timeless favorite, perfect for any occasion.


Can I use caramel sauce instead of candies?

Yes, you can use caramel sauce in place of candies for the filling. However, ensure the sauce is thick enough to prevent it from seeping into the shortbread layer. A thicker sauce will give you a chewier texture similar to melted candies.

How to achieve the perfect buttery crust?

The key to a perfect buttery crust is to use high-quality unsalted butter and to cream it well with the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. This process incorporates air into the dough, resulting in a tender and flaky shortbread base. Also, avoid overworking the dough once the flour is added to keep the crust tender.

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Absolutely! Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend designed for baking. Look for a blend that can be used as a 1:1 replacement to ensure the texture of the shortbread remains similar to the original recipe.

Is there a vegan alternative for this recipe?

Yes, to make vegan Salted Caramel Butter Bars, use plant-based butter and a vegan caramel sauce. There are many recipes online for vegan caramel that use coconut milk and sugar. Also, ensure the vanilla extract and any other added ingredients are vegan.

How do I prevent the caramel from being too hard or too runny?

The consistency of the caramel is crucial for the perfect Salted Caramel Butter Bar. If using caramel candies, ensure you melt them with the right amount of cream or milk as indicated in the recipe. For homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, choose a recipe or product that is known for its thicker consistency, suitable for filling.

Can I add chocolate to this recipe?

Yes, adding chocolate can create a delightful variation. Drizzle melted chocolate over the cooled bars or mix chocolate chips into the shortbread dough. For a richer experience, you can even spread a thin layer of melted chocolate over the caramel before adding the top layer of dough.

What’s the best way to store these bars?

For short-term storage, keep the bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate them for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw refrigerated or frozen bars at room temperature before serving.

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Salted Caramel Butter Bars

  • Author: Naomi
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24


Indulge in the ultimate sweet treat with these Salted Caramel Butter Bars. A delectable combination of a rich, buttery shortbread crust, layered with a luscious, thick caramel filling, and finished with a sprinkle of sea salt for that perfect balance of flavors. These bars are a testament to the magic that happens when simple ingredients are transformed into a dessert that’s both elegant and irresistibly delicious.


2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 11.5 oz jar salted caramel sauce
Sea salt


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 13×9″ baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, then flour to form a dough.
Press HALF the dough into the pan. Refrigerate the rest.
Bake crust for 15 mins. Pour caramel over crust, crumble remaining dough on top, and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 25-30 mins until golden. Cool, then refrigerate before cutting.


  • Butter Quality: Using high-quality, unsalted butter is key to achieving the rich, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the shortbread base. The better the butter, the better the taste and texture of your bars.
  • Caramel Consistency: If opting for homemade caramel or store-bought caramel sauce, aim for a thicker consistency to ensure the bars are easy to cut and hold their shape when served.
  • Customization: Feel free to add your own twist to the recipe with additions like chocolate chips, nuts, or even a layer of fruit jam beneath the caramel for a unique flavor combination.
  • Serving Temperature: These bars are best enjoyed at room temperature. If refrigerated, allow them to come to room temperature before serving to ensure the caramel is perfectly soft and gooey.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for up to a week. For longer storage, freeze the bars for up to 3 months and thaw at room temperature before enjoying.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

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