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The BEST Carmelitas — oatmeal bars with a thick layer of milk chocolate and creamy caramel. Video tutorial and step by step recipe instructions.

Once you’ve tried this carmelitas recipe, you’ve got to try these 7 Layer Bars, these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, or for a fruity dessert: these lemon bars.

Front shot of caramel dripping from 3 stacked carmelitas


Carmelitas — these bars are my absolute hands-down favorite dessert. It’s no secret I’m obsessed with all kinds of desserts, but if you ask me my favorite — these always win.

These bars aren’t only delicious, but they also have a lot of good memories for me. These are the bars my mom and I would make every single year for Christmas growing up. I would eat so many that I’d get sick…and then scolded for stealing the neighbor’s treats…

Since Carmelitas are my favorite dessert bar, I’m pretty picky with how they end up. I’ve tweaked my mom’s recipe (and I’m not sure where she got hers) over the years to make them just right! The crust is even throughout, the chocolate layer is thick, the caramel is soft and gooey. The layers are just right and once these have cooled, you’ll get a bite of the BEST carmelitas!

Step by step process of making easy carmelitas -- showing the caramel being made and caramel consistency

How to make Carmelitas:

  1. Prepare the caramel filling: add caramels and heavy cream to a saucepan and melt, stirring frequently, until completely smooth.
  2. Prepare the crust: mix the butter, sugar, flour, oats, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Half of this mixture forms the bottom crust and the other half goes on top!
  3. Bake: Bake the crust first, then add chocolate and caramel in the middle, add the final crust layer, and bake once more!

Follow those 3 steps and you’re on your way to perfect carmelitas!

Step by step process of making carmelitas -- showing the based cookie baked and chocolate chips being added on top

Tips to making the BEST Easy Carmelitas:

  • It’s important you use a 9 x 9 baking pan (instead of an 8 x 8 pan) so you don’t have a huge “side crust.” The dough works perfectly in a 9 x 9 pan to make sure it’s relatively even and flat.
  • Using Milk chocolate chips are a must for these bars (in my opinion), BUT if you are worried about them being too sweet (or simply don’t like milk chocolate), then definitely use semi-sweet or dark chocolate in its place.
  • I recommend a good quality SOFT caramel. While it is kind of a pain to unwrap individual caramels, it is so worth it to go with a quality caramel!
  • Use parchment paper. Seriously these are ridiculously messy and difficult to get out of the pan if you don’t line it well. With parchment paper they are a breeze to pull out and clean up is even easier!
  • Let them cool completely before pulling them out or cutting them up. This isn’t one of those desserts that is best out of the oven, but rather, it’s best when they are completely cooled and set up. You can also chill these carmelitas for a little change – they’re delicious that way too!

Step by step process of making carmelitas -- showing the caramel being poured on top and then smoothed over


More Delicious Desserts:

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4.78 from 9 votes
The BEST EVER Carmelitas -- oatmeal bars with a thick layer of milk chocolate and creamy caramel. 
Print Recipe


4.78 from 9 votes
The BEST EVER Carmelitas -- oatmeal bars with a thick layer of milk chocolate and creamy caramel. 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword carmelitas
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Setting Up 36 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 -16 bars
Calories 177kcal
Author Chelsea


  • 9 x 9-inch baking pan
  • 2 bags (5 ounces EACH) soft caramel squares, unwrapped (I highly recommend Werther's Original SOFT caramels for these bars)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (145g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1-1/4 cups (160g) white flour
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats, do not use quick or steel oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (211g) milk chocolate chips


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Unwrap the caramels and add them along with the heavy cream to a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until completely smooth and then set aside to slightly cool and thicken.
  • In a large bowl, mix the softened/partially melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, baking soda, vanilla extract, and salt. Divide the mixture in half and press 1 half of it into the prepared 9 x 9-inch pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, then remove. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Pour the melted and slightly cooled caramel over the chocolate chips. 
  • Crumble the rest of the oatmeal mixture over caramel and then bake for another 13-18 minutes until the top layer is lightly browned.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for at least 1 hour before cutting into the bars. Best enjoyed within 2-4 days (store in an airtight container).


Nutrition Facts

Calories: 177kcal

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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The BEST EVER Carmelitas -- oatmeal bars with a thick layer of milk chocolate and creamy caramel. These bars can be prepared in 20 minutes or less!! via #carmelita #carmelitas #dessert #baking #holiday #bar #easy #quick


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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    These were absolutely incredible! Ive been loving all your recipes this holiday season.
    These were so easy and my family went nuts for them! Have you ever substituted applesauce or anything else for a portion of the butter?

    1. I am so happy to hear this! Thanks Elizabeth! I haven’t tried any substitutions for the butter, but if you do let me know how it goes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I helped my sister make Carmelitas since I was in my teens, I’m 64 now. They were my dad’s absolute favorite, my families also. They are fantastic to freeze, for it doesn’t take them long to start to thaw out. A few differences in our recipe to yours….we use semi sweet morsels, for the caramel we use ice cream topping mixed with a little flower to thicken and we add crushed walnuts with the caramel and morsels. I’ve already changed the ice cream topping flavor and also used pretzels instead of nuts for those allergic to them. Any way they are DELICIOUS..!! THANKS!

    1. I’m sorry I am not very experienced with gluten free flour and baking so I don’t really know. Wish I could be of more help

  3. Your ingredients say partially melted butter but the video shows completely melted butter. Which is the correct one?

    1. Partially melted butter is best, but melted will work too as long as it’s not hot! Hot butter will melt the sugar and cause the bars to be more greasy

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