These bakery-style Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies have been a favorite for years! I bake up a fresh batch for just about any occasion because they’re an absolute crowd-pleaser. With a chewy edge, gooey center, chocolate, caramel, and sea salt, EVERYONE loves them!
Why are these chocolate chip cookies so good?
One unique ingredient in these cookies is lightly ground oats. They add so much texture to these cookies and help to create that ooey gooey center. The oats don’t absorb as much as moisture as flour so you’re left with a very soft dough.
To get the perfect consistency, dump your oats into a food processor and pulse about 5-6 times. It should look like the photo below.
You also want to make sure to use old fashioned rolled oats as opposed to quick oats. They’re much heartier so they don’t retain as much moisture and absorb into the cookie.
Another important step to take these cookies to the next level is to really whisk together the butter and sugar. This goes for almost any cookie recipe. You can use an electric mixer to make it easier but I like to make these cookies by hand.
There’s just something about manually mixing your dough that makes the end product so much more satisfying!
The butter and sugar will look somewhat separated at first but keep whisking until you get a smooth and silky consistency. This lightens your cookie dough and creates a more homogeneous cookie.
How to bake caramel into cookies
This step is actually very simple but takes a little extra time. For this salted caramel cookies recipe, the caramels are baked on top rather than inside the dough!
I like to use Werther’s soft caramels here because once melted into the cookie, they don’t stick to your teeth like crazy. It just gives a soft and silky caramel bite – leave the homemade salted caramel for another recipe!
One important thing to keep note of is the size of your caramels. Using the Werther’s soft caramels, I cut them in half before adding them to the dough. To make this easier, chill the caramels for about an hour before cutting.
You want to make sure your caramels are proportionate to the size of your cookies, otherwise a large caramel piece in a small cookie will cause it to spread too much in the oven. You’ll be left with a puddle of melted caramel and hardly any cookie.
If you plan on making smaller cookies, cut your caramels a bit smaller. Again, I halved mine but you could quarter them as well for a more standard cookie size.
The caramels are then wedge into the center of each cookie dough ball before baking. This allows the caramel too melt with the cookie and not outside of the cookie! The older version of this recipe had the caramels mix in to the dough which would cause the caramel to melt everywhere.
By containing the caramel into the center of each cookie, these can bake into perfect salted caramel chocolate chip cookies.
To bump up the caramel, the warm cookies are topped with even more caramel! Since we’re using soft chew caramels, the extra bits will just melt into the warm cookies, creating extra thick puddles of caramel.
Why chill cookie dough before baking?
The reason being, the dough is partially made up of oats. The chew of the oats adds a great textural element to these cookies, but it also needs a little extra time to hydrate.
Allowing the dough to chill for just 30 minutes gives the oats a chance to plump up and hydrate which then creates a stronger dough.
You’ll notice that right after the dough is mixed, it’s rather thin. If the dough were to be baked right away, it would likely bake into thin and sad puddles of cookie dough.
Chilling also gives the dough a chance to firm up, making it scoopable and spreadable. Once chilled, the dough is thick, no longer sticky, and easily holds its shape.
This is perfect for baking and for wedging in the caramels before baking!
Why you want to under bake these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies
You’ll notice the cookies might look a little underdone but that’s exactly what we’re going for.
As the cookies cool, they’ll continue to bake and settle from the residual heat. Thus, giving you a cookie that looks exactly like the ones above.
Using this method will help you get that perfectly chewy outside and soft inside.
And don’t forget the sea salt on top! My favorite is by Maldon and that little box has lasted me so long. I’ve hardly made a dent. Sprinkle some on top of the WARM cookies so that it sticks. It not only looks great, but it enhances the flavor of these delicious salted caramel chocolate chip cookies.
For more delicious chocolate chip cookie recipes, check out my:
- Big Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram or comment below if you make these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card, the buttons above or below this post, or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!
Watch how to make these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies:Print
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 10 cookies
These salted caramel chocolate chip cookies are crisp and chewy on the outside and gooey on the inside. With pieces of caramel baked in the center, there’s a bit of chocolate and caramel in every bite. A pinch of flaky sea salt on top of each cookie helps bring out the caramel flavor even more!
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (40g) old fashioned oats
- 1 cup (132g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (180g) dark chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup Werther’s soft caramels, chilled
- Flakey sea salt for sprinkling
- First cut the caramels. Make sure they’re chilled for easy chopping. Unwrap and chop each caramel in half, filling 1/2 cup. Return the cut caramels to the refrigerator and keep 1/4 cup worth whole and at room temp to soften.
- Add the oats to a food processor and pulse 5-6 times. You should be left with some finely ground bits with some larger chunks. See photo in post for reference.
- Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and melted butter.
- Whisk in the vanilla and eggs.
- Fold in the dry ingredients until combined. Then, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Cover and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
- When ready, preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a large cookie scoop (3 tbsp worth), scoop 4 cookies onto the large baking sheet. Then press two half pieces of the chilled caramel into the center of each cookie. Mold each cookie dough ball in your hands to help contain the caramels. Top with a sprinkle of extra chocolate chips if desired (see picture in post for reference). Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes. The edges should be a nice golden brown and the center still slightly underdone.
- Using the remaining room temperature caramels, tear in half and flatten out each half into a thin disk. Place the caramel disk into the center of an existing caramel puddle on the freshly baked cookies. Each cookie gets one half of a room temperature caramel.
- The caramel will slowly melt into the cookie to create DOUBLE the caramel goodness. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt then transfer to a cooling rack. Continue to bake the rest of the dough.
- Allow the cookies to cool for about 20 minutes, then enjoy!
- Prep Time: 18 minutes
- Chill Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: salted caramel chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies, caramel cookies
Jo Thrasher • Jo Eats says
Love that you have an option to halve the recipe. Not that I wouldn’t want the whole batch though!
Hah I was worried 20 extra large cookies was too much for some people! Although once you try one, you’ll understand why a big batch is necessary.
Sue Baxter says
The scooped cookies are chilling and while I rest my arm I have a few comments.
1. I tried to chill the caramels, which turned them to rocks. So, I let them sit to room temp and cut them with kitchen shears. I then
put them in a small bowl with a bit of flour coating them so they would not stick together while I prepared other things and when I looked next the caramels had started settling together like silly putty might do. I quickly separated them again and put them in the fridge and when I took them out to use they were all stuck together again. A hammer was involved in the next step.
2. I tried, really tried, to make sugar and melted butter look like your photo but you must have the arms of a blacksmith because I simply could not achieve your look. Finally I just added the eggs and vanilla and then I was able to whip up to the consistency you picture. (I am 76 and a very experienced baker but not strong)
3. The chips went in then the caramels but there will be some REALLY gooey cookies judging by the clumps of caramel.
These will be an intermission treat at the outdoor theatre tonight. I’m going to sprinkle some with a Bourbon Smoked salt and some with salty smokehouse almonds that I chopped.
I’ll be back when they are baked with my rating. They look like they will be amazing. BTW I got 37 scoopsfull using one of those old fashioned aluminum scoops.
I’m sorry to hear you had some struggles along the way! For 1. Are you using the Werther’s SOFT caramels? I found that those don’t harden up as much as regular caramels. If you did use them, it might be better to chop them and then refrigerate them on a plate so they don’t all glob together. Love the flour idea though. 2. I definitely can skip my upper body workouts at the gym with all the butter whipping I do! It does take some effort to really merry the butter and sugar together. In that case, I would recommend an electric mixer so it can do all the work for you. 3. Yep, you definitely have to make sure the caramel pieces are evenly distrusted among the batter. Otherwise, some of your cookies will just be caramel puddles. Hopefully my tip for the caramels will help with this. LOVE the bourbon smoked sea salt on top! That sounds amazing! I hope your cookies turn out for tonight 🙂
Hi. I am a diabetic and wanna reduce the sugar amount. How much sugar should i reduce to ensure the texture of the cookies are not affected. What would be the least amount of sugar portion
Reduce the amount of caramel in the cookies and swap out all of the sugar for coconut sugar. Unfortunately reducing the amount of sugar will drastically change the cookies.
Swati Hingorani says
Hi! I’ve made your recipe before and loved it. I wanted to ask if I could freeze half the dough to bake it later?
Absolutely! After the scooped dough is chilled in the fridge, transfer to a freezer safe bag and when you’re ready to bake, leave them out at room temp for about 30-45 minutes then bake.
Swati Hingorani says
Oh I’m thrilled to hear that! I may even double the batch then LOL and just have a stock of these cookies ready to go in the freezer! Thanks for getting back to me 🙂
Love this recipe and have made them several times. I always use jumbo eggs when baking and because this recipe makes them flat and chewy, I add an egg yolk. This results in a cookie that is just a bit cakey, which I prefer. Either way, they’re delicious and I’m always asked for the recipe.
Thanks for sharing Cindy!
Ashley Johnson says
Hey are the oats needed for this recipe
I haven’t tested it with just flour but it could work.
I loved this recipe! Gave some to my husband and in-laws, and they loved it too! Definitely 5 stars for the flavour profile. I just had one question. I followed your recipe exactly, but my cookies came out super thick and didn’t flatten out like yours did in the pics. I have no idea why this would happen, I did kept my cookie dough balls on the tray in the fridge overnight, but didn’t take them out until later that day. Do you think I kept it in the fridge to long? Is there a max time limit for keeping cookie dough refrigerated? I look forward to hearing from you! 😃
Hi Cerise – It sounds like it’s an issue with the flour. When measuring, make sure to spoon it into your measuring cup and don’t shake it or pack it down. This leads to too much flour in the dough, making it harder for the cookies to spread.
A very good base to substitute other goodies,such as Heath bar bits and chopped nuts
I found that the caramel candy tends to get chewy.when baked, so i.did melt them and stirred in a tablespoon of cream into them. Let them cool and scooped them.intp small balls. After chilling the dough balls, I imbedded the caramel back into the center of the cookies before baking. There was less caramel oozing during baking and the cookies were more uniform.
Such a good idea!
Could I substitute the Kraft caramel bits/morsels for the Werthers??
Yep I’m sure that would be fine, they just won’t be as soft and melty in the cookie.
Natasha Schneider says
These are delicious! Can I turn this recipe into bars? My son’s birthday is coming up and it would be easier to make these and serve them warm in a pan as bars.
Oh I haven’t tested it but maybe!
I have made these several times. They are AMAZING! There is a delicate balance between the chocolate, caramel, and salt and they are chewy and gooey at the same time. My husband and friends request that I make them often!
Yay so glad to hear it!
Can I use butterscotch chips in place of the caramel?
If you plan to do this, I suggest my butterscotch chocolate chip cookies 🙂
The cookies came out great, but I could only make 5 medium sized cookies. Also, I adjusted the chocolate chip amount because it was not proportionate to the amount of cookie dough. In order to obtain 10 cookies, the recipe must be doubled, but not the chocolate chips.
Anne Green says
I started baking these several years ago and get many compliments on them. Have you changed/updated this recipe in any way lately? It seems to be a little different from what I remember 🤷🏻♀️
Yes I updated the recipe! There were some issues with the caramel melting too much in the oven, so I just adjusted the recipe so that the caramels sit on top of the cookies 🙂
Made these in a bake-off with my kids and they turned out so great!!! Chewy and crunchy in all the right places! Thanks for the recipe!
Yay! Thank you!!
Fantastic recipe. I make these for the guests in my airbnb and people swoon! Kraft makes caramel morsels and I use these along with Heath toffee bits to really wow the guests. I often get asked for the recipe.
Janey Bakarbessy says
I love this recipe and definitely gonna make them smaller and I need to get the Ghirardelli chocolate but we don’t have them here in the Netherlands. Good thing I am a flight attendant and flying upcoming Monday to Austin where I can buy them and perfect your recipe better. Thank you so much this one I will keep making them.
Is there a way to make this recipe gluten free?? Your GF chocolate chip cookie recipe is a staple in our house and I’d love to try these.
I followed your recipe step by step and I have the most amazing cookies to give my mom. I usually bake people goodies as gifts. I only got 8 cookies bs 10, but they’re perfect! I can’t wait to make more of your recipes!!