Caramel Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

5 from 1 vote
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Caramel Peanut Butter Cookie Bars are rich and indulgent peanut butter dessert bars stuffed with gooey soft caramel! They are so easy to make and the caramel stays so soft even after they’re baked. You will love this dessert bar recipe!

Stack of peanut butter caramel bars with bite taken out of top bar

I have the dreamiest cookie bar recipe for you today! It combines two of my favorite comforts: peanut butter and soft, gooey caramel. Put them together and you get rich caramel stuffed cookie bars – there’s nothing much more comforting than that!

  • If you ever had a caramel brownie or caramel chocolate chip cookie bars you already know adding caramel to anything takes it over the top! These caramel cookie bars are no different – rich, decadent, so good.
  • I’m sharing my tips for making caramel that stays gooey and soft – even after baking the bars. There’s nothing worse than biting into hard, overly-chewy caramel! You won’t have that problem with this recipe.
  • Also, the caramel stays inside the bars – ever make a recipe where is oozes out and burns onto the baking pan? I’ve been there and can guarantee you won’t have that problem with these.

These really are the ultimate comfort dessert! Peanut butter cookie bars stuffed with the perfect soft caramel recipe is a treat no one can resist.

For the bars, you will make a peanut butter cookie base that is soft and chewy once it’s baked. Once you make the dough you will divide it into two parts so you can create a sandwich with the caramel in the center.

  • Softened unsalted butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Packed brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg
  • Vanilla
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • All-purpose flour

Ingredients for the Caramel

This is the easiest caramel recipe! You only need five ingredients to make it:

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Unsalted butter
  • Kraft caramels
  • All-purpose flour
  • Vanilla extract
Close up shot of a stack of three peanut butter caramel bars on parchment paper

How to Make the Bars

Cream the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars for the cookie dough in a large bowl (or stand mixer). 

Add the egg, vanilla, milk, salt and baking soda and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and mix until the batter comes together.

Line a 9×13” baking pan with foil and the press half of the cookie dough into the bottom. Bake it for 10 minutes at 350°F.

While the bottom cookie layer is baking, make the caramel sauce. You will want to be ready by the time the pan comes out of the oven.

Heat the cream and butter in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the caramels one at a time and stir until they melt. Once the mixture is smooth sift the flour into the pan and stir until it’s incorporated.

Turn the heat to low and keep stirring the caramel until the bottom cookie layer is done baking. Just before you take it off the heat, add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Pour the caramel over the top of the bottom cookie layer leaving a ½” border. You don’t want to spread the caramel all the way to the edges, otherwise it will leak out when you bake the bars and burn on the sides of the pan.

To make the top cookie layer, break of pieces of the remaining dough and flatten them between your hand. Place them in an even layer on top of the caramel. Press the edges to seal them together.

Bake the bars for 10 to 15 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown on top. Cool the bars completely before slicing them.

Stack of three caramel peanut butter bars

Don’t Forget These Tips!

This recipe is all about timing. It’s not hard to do, but it’s important to have your ingredients prepped and ready before you start making these peanut butter caramel bars. 

Here’s a little review so you can make the best caramel peanut butter bars:

  • Unwrap all of the caramels before you make the peanut butter cookie dough. That way, they’re ready to go when it’s time to make the caramel.
  • Make the caramel while the base cookie layer is baking. The timing is important so you can pour hot caramel over the hot cookie bar base.
  • Make sure to keep the caramel layer in from the edges of the bars, about ¼ to ½”. You want to be able to seal the cookie layers together and if the caramel touches the pan it will bubble and stick.
  • It takes more time, but flattening the pieces of dough with your hands for the top layer will make it much easier to get an even cookie layer top that completely covers the caramel. If you just drop the dough on top and try to spread it, it will mess up the bottom layers.
  • Definitely wait for the bars to cool – it you bite in to one hot from the oven (tempting, I know!) you’ll burn your mouth. The caramel will be like molten lava! So, be patient and wait until they cool a bit.
  • Store these peanut butter cookie bars in an air tight container at room temperature. If you keep them in the fridge the caramel will harden and won’t be soft and gooey.

These are one of my favorite cookie bars! Whenever I make a batch of these caramel peanut butter cookie bars I can hardly keep away from – they are so tempting with all that soft caramel. They are perfect for when you need a stick-to-you-love-handles comfort food dessert. I hope you give them a try!

Other favorite peanut butter recipes:

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Peanut butter cookies sandwiched with gooey caramel are the best dessert! These are easy to make and the caramel stays soft for chewing!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Yield 24 bars
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients

For the Peanut Butter Cookie Bars:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

For the Caramel

  • cup heavy whipping cream + 1 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 11 ounce bag Kraft Caramels (around 38-40), unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. The foil is needed here because the caramel can get sticky!
  • Cream butter, peanut butter, and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg, vanilla, milk, and salt and baking soda. Mix until combined. Slowly add flour and mix until dough comes together.
  • Press half of dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. The dough will be sticky – spray your hands with cooking spray first. It will be a very thin layer of dough!
  • Bake the bottom layer of cookie dough for 10 minutes.
  • While the dough is baking, make the caramel.
  • Place the heavy whipping cream and butter in a heavy bottomed 2Qt sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add unwrapped caramels one at a time. Stir often until the caramel is melted and smooth. Sift the flour into the caramel (if you have a small mesh strainer, just place the flour in it and tap the side of the strainer until all the flour falls through). Stir until the flour is incorporated. Turn heat all the way to low until the bottom layer is done cooking, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Right before taking the cookie out of the oven, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • After 10 minutes, remove the bottom layer from the oven and pour the caramel over the top. Try to leave a ½” border around the cookie base. If the caramel touches the edges of the pan it will boil and stick.
  • Break off pieces of the remaining dough and flatten between your hands. Lay on the top of caramel. Continue until the entire pan is covered, pressing the edges to seal them together. A little of the caramel may peek through, that’s okay.
  • Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the bars start to get golden on the top. Cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate or caramel will get too hard to eat.

Recipe Notes

{Caramel recipe from “Extreme Brownies” by Connie Weiss}

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 73mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword brownies
Stack of peanut butter caramel bars with bite taken out of top bar and recipe title on top of image

Make the easiest Peanut Butter Cookie bars stuffed with caramel! These easy bar cookies have creamy caramel stuffed inside with a secret ingredient to make it stay smooth. These taste SO GOOD!

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52 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. 4th grade IS hard, I get it! I always thought my mom was sorta helicopter-ish but I was bullied hardcore and she never contacted anyone about it so maybe not lol. I just got the ‘ole “ignore them” platitude. Thaaaanks.

    Anyways. Comfort food is the best. Especially when it’s cookie bars. And pb. AND CARAMEL ooooh gooey caramels. mmmm

    1. I know. I have a love/hate with “ignore them”. Same with “sticks and stones” – I got that a lot as a kid. I never say it now, ha!!

  2. These look crazy good! My baby started middle school this year, so I understand how hard it is. Try to remember that you’ve given her wings, now let her fly. She is an amazing young lady. Things won’t always be cupcakes and rainbows at school, but she will learn how to deal with disappointments, annoying people and difficult situations. She will be proud of herself and gain confidence that she can conquer whatever life throws her way. Plus, as she navigates her day, she knows that she has the MOST amazing mom at home who loves her to the moon and back. “She believed she could, so she did!”

  3. Okay, I’m still stuck on the fact that some boy actually licked a necklace and rubbed it on your daughter’s arm… What’s up with that? I remember my daughter dealing with the 4th grade drama and it’s not a stage I wish to revisit. These bars though… I love Peanut Butter so much more than chocolate, and then with that thick layer of caramel! Well, these will be made at my house! Thanks for sharing:)

  4. Recipe sounds wonderful – and I’d love to tell you that school and friends and bullies will get easier, but it won’t for a while, hold out for college, it’s wonderful so far

    1. Oh gosh I know Linda! I think my own memories of my experience are why it’s so hard for me to let go. I still have scars from the emotional trauma. Luckily she has more of her dad’s personality and I’m hoping a lot of it will roll off her back, but she’s a girl…so who knows! Thanks for reading!

  5. Sounds like a winning combination to me, unlike girls and the 4th grade! There is so much drama! I try not to hover with my 5th grader too. These bars give me something else to focus on!

  6. Oh Dorothy, you are an amazing mom! I love that you are so involved in Jordan’s life – it shows just how much you love and care for her. You two will be the best of friends even when she grows up because of how much love, guidance and support you’ve given her. My kids haven’t started school yet but I’ve already told my husband come next September you can bet I’ll be volunteering in my oldest’s class and camping out as much as I can. I’m crying at just the thought of how both of them will adjust. So yup – I’m going to need comfort food and these bars are perfect! That ooey gooey caramel filling looks amazing – pinning!

  7. ohhh! That caramel looks FABULOUS! It’s so hard to get the perfect caramel in baked goods. Looks like you nailed it!