Back in the days when I was in college, we used to have awesome desserts in the cafeteria made by a friend of mine who worked in the kitchen.

Paula made these amazing bars that had to be six inches tall and piled with a creamy caramel layer, oatmeal clusters, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Alas, I am no longer in college, so I had to learn to make my own treats. A couple of years after I got married, I found an old Taste of Home cookbook at my mother-in-law’s house with a caramel oatmeal bars recipe inside.

Remembering my friend’s dessert specialty, I used the cookbook recipe as a guide. I added chocolate chips across the top (semi-sweet, not milk chocolate chips, simply because the semi-sweet are my favorite).

For the caramel filling, I used ice cream caramel sauce, even though the original recipe called for Kraft caramels because I thought that would be easier and save time (which it did!).

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

The first time I made these bars, it was for my ladies’ small group at church and they were gone in a hot minute! Since then, these bars have become a “signature dessert” that I’m known for (gotta be known for something, I guess–ha!).

This delicious and easy recipe that I’m sharing today results in the best chocolate caramel oatmeal bars that are irresistible and a definite crowd-pleaser.

I hope you’ll try this recipe the next time you need a new dessert idea to share with your family or friends!

The official name for these bars is “Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars” but I call them, affectionately, “Paula Bars”.

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars recipe

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars aka Paula Bars

Ingredients:

Here are the items you need.

2 cups quick oats or old fashioned oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup caramel ice cream topping

1 package (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.

For the bottom layer, combine oats, 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add melted butter, and mix until crumbly.

Sometimes I’ll use a pastry cutter to get it to a “coarse meal” texture, but you can also use a fork or wooden spoon.

Reserve 3/4 cup-1 cup oat mixture. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, create the caramel sauce by combining room temperature ice cream topping and the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a bowl and whisking until smooth.

Drizzle over the bottom crust while it’s still hot, carefully spreading to the edges.

To create the top layer, sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture evenly over the caramel mixture.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the caramel layer. You don’t have to use the entire bag of chocolate chips. But I won’t lie, you may be tempted to do so.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Your kitchen is going to smell so delightful!

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars easy recipe

Cool completely, cut into bars, and serve with ice cream if desired. They’re also great as a snack with a cold glass of milk! ;)

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

You can store these in an airtight container for about a week but they are best in the first three days.

My bars aren’t piled quite as high as Paula’s but they are just as chewy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

The perfect blend of the slightly salty crunch of the oatmeal plus the gooey caramel is what gets me every time! I could seriously eat the whole pan myself.

This is a great recipe to bake for:

  • Bringing to a potluck if you’re asked for a dessert.
  • An easy recipe choice for a bake sale because it doesn’t contain nuts.
  • To share them, wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap after they cool completely

But maybe make a second batch because they won’t last a long time at all! ;)

Enjoy!

Share this recipe on social media using the buttons at the top of the post if you think a friend would like it too. You can also find a printable recipe card below.

Looking for more dessert recipes that use oatmeal? I have a few ideas for you!

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Peach Cheesecake Bars with Oatmeal Crust

Old Fashioned Easy Apple Crisp

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Cookies with Flax

Recipe Card

Print and keep this recipe in your favorite recipe binder! This is the binder I have.

chocolate caramel oatmeal bars

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

Jennifer Thorson
Irresistibly chewy and delicious, these chocolate caramel oatmeal bars are great served warm or cold. They're also an easy, perfect choice for sharing as a nut-free dessert at potlucks or bake sales.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or white flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
  • Combine oats, 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar and baking soda in a large bowl. Add melted butter, and mix until crumbly.
  • Reserve 3/4 cup-1 cup oat mixture. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, create the caramel sauce by combining room temperature ice cream topping and the remaining 1/4 cup flour in a bowl and whisking until smooth. Drizzle over the bottom crust while it’s still hot, carefully spreading to the edges.
  • For the top layer, sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture evenly over the caramel mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the caramel layer. You don't have to use the entire bag of chocolate chips.
  • Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
  • Cool completely, cut into bars, and serve.

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars Pin

Random Side Note…

Back in February of 2014, when I first published this recipe, below was the photo I used for this post. My, how far we’ve come in food photography! 😅choccaramel

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8 Comments on The Best Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars (Easy Recipe)

  1. I love the nicknames we can develop for certain foods! I have some recipes from my mom that I’m pretty sure it’s not the technical name of things! This recipe looks delicious. :)

    • Thanks! Yes, I have lots of other recipes like that too! Like a dish we always had growing up called “Texas Skillet”, which makes no sense, because my whole family lives in North Dakota ;)

  2. Yum! One of my favorite desserts is Oatmeal Carmelitas so I’m sure I’d love these as well. I too am thankful for a nursing baby, ha ha! I’m always starving. :-)

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