You’re going to love these chocolate caramel pecan bars! Each bite is sticky, soft, and sweet. And this recipe is dropping right in time for a Memorial Day BBQ this weekend! They’re perfect for a crowd and everyone is sure to eat them up. These bars have layers of caramel, pecans, and chocolate, all between a buttery oatmeal base and topping. I like to make a homemade caramel sauce to make these bars extra special and delicious.
I didn’t use to be a big fan of nuts in my desserts and even still, I’m pretty particular about which sweets I’ll add nuts to. Let me tell you though, these bars are one of my exceptions. The pecans add a nice toasty crunch that pair so well with the caramel, chocolate, and oats. The caramel soaks nicely into the oatmeal cookie base creating a wonderful chewy texture. I like using dark chocolate to break up the sweetness and balance out all the flavors. These bars come together pretty quickly too so let’s get to it!
Ingredients for Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
You probably have most of these ingredients on hand already. I like to make homemade caramel but you can even use store-bought. Let’s go over what you’ll need to whip these up!
- Brown Sugar
- Baking Soda
- Chocolate Chips
How to Make Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
These bars come together quickly and are a pretty simple process!
- Make the oat base and topping. The mixture of oats, the dry ingredients, and butter will create the base, which is also used for the topping.
- Create the base. Press two-thirds of the oat mixture into your pan and bake it. Set aside the leftover third for the topping.
- Add the caramel, pecans, and chocolate. Once the base is slightly cooled, you’ll start layering the other components. Make sure to spread the caramel out to the edges of the base so you get some in every bite. Then sprinkle on a layer of pecans, followed by a layer of chocolate chips.
- Add the oat topping. Use the remaining oat mixture to create the topping, but this time do not press it down. This is important to get that crumbly texture on top where the pecans and chocolate can still peak through.
- Bake and enjoy! Another quick trip to the oven to get the topping baked and the other ingredients melty and toasted. Cool, cut into bars, and eat em’ up.
Tips for the Best Homemade Caramel
These Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars are super easy to make but caramel can be a little tricky if you haven’t made it before. Follow these tips and pictures as a guide, for the best results!
- Don’t leave the caramel unattended. While the caramel is cooking on the stove, it can very quickly go from the perfect amber color to burnt sugar so you want to keep a close eye on it. Make sure to immediately remove the pan from the heat once it reaches the perfect copper color, to keep it from cooking any further. The images below show the color you want for the sugar and then how it will look after the cream is added.
- Don’t stir the caramel. Once the caramel is on the stove, you want to leave it undisturbed to help prevent sugar crystals from forming on the side of the pan. These sugar crystals can ruin the whole batch of caramel. Once the caramel starts to turn an amber color, I like to lift the pan slightly above the burner and gently swirl the pan to mix.
- Don’t rely on a candy thermometer. I’ve found that candy thermometers are pretty inaccurate when using them for caramel because of the high temperature it needs to reach. I recommend using the thermometer as a guide but ultimately gauging when the caramel is done by looking for a deep copper color. It might take a couple of tries to get it just right but it really makes a difference!
These chocolate caramel pecan bars are so delicious, they’re quick to whip up, and are perfect for a summer BBQ. I hope you give them a try! Happy Baking friends!
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
- 1⅓ cup (280g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (55g) water
- 1 cup (210g) heavy cream, at room temperature
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
- 2 cups (265g) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (180g) old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup (215g) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (320g) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (220g) caramel, homemade recipe below or store-bought)
- ¾ cup (90g) pecans, chopped
- 1 cup (160g) dark or semisweet chocolate chips
- Homemade Caramel: Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pan with water, using a pastry brush to prevent the sugar from crystalizing.
- Allow the mixture to cook undisturbed (don’t stir!). The mixture will be cloudy at first, then boil and become clear, before turning a golden amber color. Continue brushing down the sides of the pan with water as needed. Remove the mixture from the heat as soon as it turns a deep golden copper color. The temperature on a candy thermometer should read about 350°.
- Once the sugar is off the heat, immediately whisk in the heavy cream in a slow, gentle stream. The mixture will bubble up vigorously but will settle once all the cream is added. Allow to cool slightly before using.
- Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a ¼ sheet (9½ ” x 13”) pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper to create a sling, with an overhang on all four sides.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla. Mix until combined but still crumbly.
- Add two-thirds of the oat mixture to the bottom of the prepared pan and press it down to create an even layer. Set aside the other third of the oat mixture for the top. Bake the oat base for 18 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- Add the caramel on top of the baked and cooled oat base and spread it to the edges of the pan. Evenly sprinkle on the pecans, followed by the chocolate chips.
- Loosely crumble the remaining oat mixture all over the top but do not press it down. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate is slightly melted.
- Cool completely, cut into squares, and enjoy!