Carmelitas Are Filled with Chocolate, Pecans, and Gooey Caramel

the pioneer woman's carmelitas recipe
Grab a Jar of Caramel Sauce for Easy CarmelitasWill Dickey

Chocolaty, nutty, and filled with rich caramel, carmelitas are a delight for folks of all ages! The original debuted in the 1967 Pillsbury Bake-Off when Erlyce Larson introduced her recipe to the world. Reminiscent of a crumb bar, these delectable bake sale treats feature a gooey, crunchy layer of pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel sauce nestled in a buttery oat crust. They're a great after-school snack for kids, but easy to pack up and carry to a potluck. Wait the full hour so they have enough time to cool and set before slicing them into bars. Of course, if the prospect of warm chocolate and oozing caramel is too tempting to resist, go ahead and sneak a bite. No one is looking!

What are carmelitas?

Carmelitas are one of the richest bar cookies you'll ever try! Both the bottom crust and topping are formed from a single stir-together cookie dough made of flour, old-fashioned rolled oats, light brown sugar, baking soda, melted butter, and vanilla. Half of the dough is pressed into the bottom of the baking pan, then it is topped with the simplest filling: chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel sauce. This recipe calls for gently heated caramel (as in the ice cream topping) straight from the jar, which is so much easier than unwrapping and melting individual candies as is the case in some other caramel recipes! Finally, the remaining cookie dough is crumbled over top and these bars are baked. A sprinkle of flaky sea salt is the finishing touch.

Can carmelitas be made ahead of time?

Carmelitas can be made up to three days in advance and stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature.

Yields: 24 servings

Prep Time: 25 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 45 mins


  • Baking spray with flour, for the pan

  • 2 c.

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 c.

    old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 1/2 c.

    firmly packed light brown sugar

  • 1 tsp.

    baking soda

  • 1 c.

    (2 sticks) salted butter, melted

  • 1 tsp.

    vanilla extract

  • 1

    (12-oz.) jar caramel sauce for ice cream

  • 2 c.

    semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 1/2 c.

    pecan halves, chopped

  • 1 tbsp.

    flaky sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with baking spray with flour, line it with parchment paper leaving at least a 1-inch overhang, and spray again.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add the butter and vanilla, and fold to combine.

  3. Press half of the mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until just set, about 10 minutes.

  4. Heat the caramel sauce in the microwave until pourable, according to the package directions.

  5. Sprinkle the crust with the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour the caramel in as even a layer as possible over the chocolate and nuts. Crumble the remaining oat mixture evenly over top.

  6. Bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

  7. Allow the bars to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Slice into 24 pieces and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

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