Chocolate Caramel Bars with Streusel are sweet, gooey, and irresistible. Don’t be intimidated as the homemade caramel layer is super simple to make!

This Caramel Bar Recipe was first shared in 2011 and drastically needed an update. I recently took a few samples to a small luncheon with some neighbors and these buttery caramel squares were a hit!

2 Caramel Bars with Streusel on a square white plate

Why You Must Make

  • These caramel squares have a buttery shortbread crust, homemade caramel filling, chocolate chips, and a marvelous crumb topping!
  • The homemade caramel is easy to make!! The recipe is much less intimidating than standard caramel recipes and tastier than semi-homemade versions made with packaged caramels.
  • There are four delicious layers in every single bite.
  • This recipe comes from Nick Malgieri, the baking guru and cookbook author, though adding chocolate chips was my idea.

Recipe Tips

  • PRO-Tip: I use salted butter in my recipes. Salt is a flavor enhancer and is needed for both sweet and savory recipes. There’s not enough salt in the butter to make the bars taste salty.
  • For easy removal from the pan and simple cleanup, line your baking pan with nonstick foil. You can also use regular foil and spray with a cooking spray like Pam.
  • PRO-Tip: Chill your crust before baking as the tiny cold butter pieces will release steam in the oven, making a lighter, less dense crust.
  • When you make the crumb topping, take your time and pinch together some of the crumbs to make larger pieces for your crumble.
  • I used Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips in this recipe, but you can also use bittersweet or even milk chocolate chips.
  • Chill these caramel bars before cutting to make the cleanest slices, but allow them to come to room temperature before serving.
Caramel Chocolate bars on a white ceramic tray

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Streusel?

Streusel is a German word meaning to sprinkle or strew. It’s a crumble topping made of flour, sugar, and butter that’s sprinkled on cakes, muffins, bars, coffee cakes, and more.

How Do You Make Caramel?

Many recipes used melted caramel candies and cream to make caramel as a shortcut, but the version in this recipe is easy to make from scratch. Butter, corn syrup, dark brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk are mixed and gently boiled, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until it thickens and darkens.
It should reach 240° F if you prefer to use a thermometer to gauge doneness.

How Should You Store Homemade Caramel Chocolate Bars?

Since it’s summer here, they’re best kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. After that, they freeze well and will be good for up to 3 months. Just defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bring what you plan to eat to room temperature before indulging.

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2 Caramel Bars with Streusel on a square white plate.

Chocolate Caramel Bars with Streusel Recipe

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Yield 24

Easy Chocolate Caramel Bars with a crumb topping!


Crust and Topping:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups flour


  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Line a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick foil or regular foil (spray with non-stick spray).  Buttered parchment will also work. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  3. Beat the 2 sticks of butter with the sugar till light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add vanilla, then slowly add in flour, scraping the sides of the bowl till the dough is smooth and flour incorporated.
  4. Put ¾ of the dough into the prepared pan and pat firmly to form the bottom crust.  Set aside the remaining dough and chill the crust as you prepare the caramel.
  5. Combine all filling ingredients except vanilla and chocolate chips in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Then allow the mixture to boil gently, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until it starts to darken and thicken. 
  6. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  7. When the caramel has cooled slightly, spread it evenly over the prepared crust.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips, then reserved crumbs.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbly.  Cool in the pan, then remove the bars to a cutting board using the foil and slice to the desired size. 
  9. Store at room temperature for a day or two, then refrigerate.  Wrap well and freeze any you will not eat within a week.


Adapted from Nick Malgieri.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 32mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 30gProtein: 4g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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Side view of a stack of chocolate caramel streusel bars on a white plate.
Photo circa 2011. Note the streusel topping was not pinched into larger crumbs like in the updated photos.