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This recipe for salted caramel shortbread bars is filled with three layers of delicious. The bottom layer is a buttery shortbread, the middle layer is a chewy salted caramel and the top is a smooth layer of melted chocolate. 

A salted caramel shortbread bars with a bite taken from it

Happy December all! Molly here from What Molly Made sharing another recipe, just in time for the holidays! Another year (almost) in the books, and another recipe to celebrate all the festivities ahead as we close out the year.

This recipe is one of my favorites because its one I learned to make from my best friend’s mom when we were little. Though I’ve tweaked the recipe some, the memories of their cozy home and big Christmas tree come flooding back when I smell the shortbread in the oven.

This time of year shortbread is one of my go-to recipes. I love these almond shortbread cookies and make them as part of my Christmas cookie spread. But this year I’m adding these salted caramel shortbread bars to the roundup because you can’t beat shortbread + caramel + chocolate.

Rachel sprinkles sea salt on a Salted Caramel Shortbread Bar

If you haven’t smelled shortbread baking in the oven then I highly recommend you make this recipe for just that reason. No Bath and Body Works candles required!

I also love shortbread because it’s just about as simple as it comes. You only need 3 ingredients, that I can almost guarantee you have in your pantry and fridge as we speak: butter, sugar and flour.

AND you don’t even need to think ahead of time to let the butter come to room temperature. Cold butter is better. Which means you could essentially decide to make shortbread on a whim and there’s a very good chance you won’t have to plane or make a special trip to the grocery store. That is ALWAYS a plus in my book.

So let’s chat about how this shortbread comes to be so buttery and delicious.

How to Make Shortbread

Start making the shortbread by putting the three ingredients (butter, flour and sugar) in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the ingredients together until it’s crumbly and starts to turn into a dough consistency.

When it’s combined, press it firmly into the bottom of your baking pan. Make sure it’s really packed in there so it holds up when it cools and you don’t have crumbs all over the place.

Bake the dough for this recipe at 350°F for about 30 minutes and allow to cool.

Once it’s cooled you’ll start adding the other two layers! Lucky for us and our schedule they’re really quick and you don’t need to bake anything else, so turn those ovens off!

Three Layers of Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

  1. We’ve talked a lot about the shortbread portion of this recipe, but it’s worth noting one more time. It’s that good.
  2. The salted caramel is the middle layer and the layer that brings the nutty and salted flavors to the table. It’s just sticky and chewy enough, but not too messy.
  3. The chocolate is a thin drizzle but adds a lot of extra flavor to this recipe. It also make the caramel shortbread bars look pretty and holds the sea salt on top in place.

The honorary layer in this salted caramel shortbread bar recipe is the sprinkling of sea salt on the top. I guess you could call this layer optional, but I really don’t think you should do without it! I’m a huge lover of sweet and salty so this is a must for me.

Just be sure to sprinkle on the salt when the chocolate is still warm so it sticks!

If you have a Christmas party to go to I highly recommend this as an option! Or you can even add it to your tins of Christmas cookies you give out to friends and family.

Salted caramel shortbread bars layered with shortbread, salted caramel and melted chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt

Shortbread Layer

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks butter, cold
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Caramel Layer

  • ½ cup 1 stick butter
  • 1 ⅓ cups brown sugar packed
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • sea salt
  • Preheate oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Put all shortbread ingredients in a large bowl and using a pastry blender or two knives, work together until you get crumbles that start to turn into a dough-like consistency. Press the mixture firmly into prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes, or until it’s just slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • While cooling, make the caramel layer. Mix together all ingredients expect vanilla in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and mix in the vanilla and sea salt. Pour the caramel layer over the base layer of shortbread and allow to cool completely. You can place it in the refrigerator or freezer at this point to speed up the cooling process.
  • Place the chocolate chips in a medium microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Repeat the process until chocolate is melted and smooth. Place the chocolate in a plastic bag or piping bag and cut off a small bit of the tip. Drizzle over the caramel layer and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Immediately Chill before cutting into one inch bars.


Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 64mg | Sugar: 27g | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Caramel Shortbread Bars
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