The Best Chewy Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Crunchy, chewy bits of caramel and puddles of chocolate lace this vanilla-forward chocolate chip cookie! Aside from the extra step of making the hard caramel (which takes just minutes, no candy thermometer needed!), this is an easy, one-bowl recipe with no rest time for the dough!
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I’ve been in love with adding hard caramel (also called ‘burnt sugar’ in some of my recipes) to desserts since I first came across it in the Ovenly cookbook.

I was so taken with it (because it’s so good!), that I created the Burnt Sugar Ginger Cookies for The Cookie Book (I took these cookies to every book signing!).

To this day, it’s one of the most popular recipes from The Cookie Book.

I also use burnt sugar (aka hard caramel) in this Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream. This ice cream is BONKERS DELICIOUS and I highly recommend you give it a try!

So why add hard caramel to a chocolate chip cookie? This easy hard caramel recipe only takes minutes to make and gives these chewy chocolate chip cookies lots of little crunchy caramel bits laced throughout — it’s like a flavor explosion!

One cookie broken into two bits, the chocolate still glossy.

Why You Should Bake
The Best Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies STAT!

  • The hard caramel takes just minutes to make (it’s so easy!)
  • Aside from making the hard caramel, this is a one-bowl recipe 🥳
  • This cookie is perfectly chewy, the perfect cookie texture
  • Puddles of dark chocolate and crunchy bits of caramel are laced throughout the cookie
  • Cookie dough needs zero rest (yay!)

OK, let’s make some fabulous chocolate caramel cookies!

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A bunch of yummy cookies on a white surface.

What Caramel to Use in Cookies

You’ll make a quick hard caramel that takes minutes to make, no need to go to the store to buy caramels! You also *do not* need a candy thermometer for this caramel.

If you have soft, chewy caramels at home already, you can cut them in half or quarters and add them to the cookie dough in place of the homemade hard caramel.

However, this will result in a different cookie texture. The homemade hard caramel gives you little crunchy caramel bits in your cookies.

Note, this caramel isn’t like the homemade caramels you make as gifts around the holidays. This is a thin, hard caramel that turns into, well, caramel shards that are then cut up and folded into the cookie dough.

These are the best cookies, you will love. I promise.

Another cookie with a bite out of it.

Choosing Chocolate for Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

I tested this cookie with three different types of chocolate! I reached for my two favorite chocolate brands: Ghirardelli and Callebaut. Ghirardelli is a GREAT grocery store brand…I can’t say enough great things about their chocolate chips.

I used these Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chips as well as Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. The former are thicker chips, while the semi-sweet are smaller, more pointed chocolate chips.

I also tested chopped chocolate with my favorite (monstrous) Callebaut Chocolate Bar.

I love me some Callebaut but for this cookie, the Semi-Sweet Ghirardelli Chips won! They taste and look fabulous.

A bite out of a cookie on a piece of parchment paper on a plate.

Step-by-Step Instructions (with photos!) to Make 
Perfect Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Below are step-by-step photos (with captions) to make THE BEST Caramel Chocolate Cookies perfect every time! My biggest tips are:

  • Room Temperature Eggs and Butter. You’ll be able to cream your butter and sugar to perfection if it’s at room temperature; this will yield the perfect texture. Same goes for mixing in those eggs…
  • Make the Hard Caramel First. If you make the hard caramel first, it has time to come to room temperature before cutting and adding to the cookie dough. You can pop it in the freezer if it’s taking too long to cool down.
  • Place Chocolate Chips on Top of the Cookie Dough Balls. For pretty cookies that look similar to the ones in the photos, place 3 to 5 chocolate chips over the tops of the dough balls before placing the cookies in the oven to bake.
  • Don’t Over Bake Your Cookies. They will seem underdone when you take them out of the oven. That’s ok! They will finish baking on the hot baking sheet.
  • Shape Your Cookies Fresh From the Oven. Adding caramel (store-bought or homemade) to cookies will make your cookies spread whilst baking. Use the edge of a silicon spatula to nudge your cookies back into shape when they’re hot and fresh-from-the-oven. You’ll then pop them back in the oven for 1 minute more to finish baking (see Recipe for more details).

Let’s make some delicious caramel chocolate chip cookies!

Hard caramel on a baking sheet.
STEP ONE: Make your hard caramel and set aside to cool.
All the ingredients needed to make these cookies on a white surface.
STEP TWO: Gather your ingredients: brown sugar, butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, chocolate and hard caramel.
Butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a glass bowl.
STEP THREE: Cream the brown sugar, butter, sugar and vanilla until lighter in color and texture…
Perfectly mixed cookie dough.
STEP THREE: It should look like this!
Eggs getting put into dough.
STEP FOUR: Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first is well blended before adding the second…
A glass bowl with dough in it with a blue spatula.
STEP FOUR: It will look light and whipped, like this!
Baking soda, baking powder and salt being mixed into dough.
STEP FIVE: Stir in the baking powder, baking soda and salt…
Flour getting folded into dough.
STEP SIX: Mix in the flour until just combined and you still see streaks of flour.
Cookie dough with caramel and chocolate chips in it.
STEP SEVEN: Fold in the chocolate chips/chunks and chopped caramel until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Cookie dough balls on a lined baking sheet.
STEP EIGHT: Place 2-tablespoon size dough balls on the prepared baking sheet leaving 2 inches (5 cm) of space between the dough balls. *This photo doesn’t show the proper distance between dough balls.
Cookie scoop with cookie dough in it and some cookies and chocolate chips on a white surface.
STEP NINE: As soon as your cookies come out of the oven, use the edge of a spatula to nudge them back into a circle (they will spread while baking). Pop them back into the oven for 1 minute more.

Once done, let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes, if using.

The cookies will seem underbaked, but they will finish baking on the heat of the baking sheet out of the oven.
A cookie made with chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips on a white plate.

Butter vs Oil

When I started recipe testing this cookie, I started with a half butter/half oil cookie dough (you can see it in the cookie above). It was delicious, but there was something in me calling for an all-butter cookie dough.

You can use 1/2 cup (112 g) neutral oil such as grapeseed or sunflower oil, in place of 113 g (or half) of the butter. This works in a pinch if you find yourself with only one stick (113 g) of butter in the fridge!

I also tested this with an avocado/olive oil blend for half of the fat (using the measurements above). I get lots of people asking about using avocado oil in place of olive oil in my recipes.

For this recipe, it worked great. However, it did leave a bit of a very faint green hue to the final cookie.

Ideal Baking Temperature

Lastly, I sorted through the baking temperature. Since cookies baked with caramel will spread (caramel melts, it’s an unavoidable fact), I wondered if baking them at a higher temp 175°F (190°C) might quickly set the dough and lessen the amount of spread.

I found the difference in spread was minimal and I didn’t love how brown the cookies got, so I stuck with 350°F (177°C).

Chocolate Chips vs Chocolate Chunks

Lastly, I tested different chocolate chips vs chopped chocolates. See the Chocolate section above for more details!

The Baker’s Guide to Measuring Flour

One of the biggest (and most common) mistakes in baking is how we measure flour. If you find yourself without a scale, see my top tips on how to properly measure flour for the perfect amount every time!

Sea salt flakes on top of a cookie.

Best Baking Tools for
The Ultimate Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Electric Stand Mixer, I prefer the Artisan to the Professional. And while a mixer isn’t necessary for these cookies, I love it to cream the butter and sugar together!

Or Breville Handheld Mixer, this one has a bunch of speeds, dough hooks, whisks. I was never a fan of handhelds until I got this one!

silicon spatula for creaming the butter and sugar (if you aren’t using a mixer); and if you are, it’s great for scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl…as well as pretty crucial for making hard caramel!

My trusty scale for precision.

These heat-safe nesting glass bowls for mixing the cookie dough if you’re not using a stand mixer.

For more fun shopping, check out my Shop (aka my favorite things!).

A close up shot of chocolate chip cookies on a white surface.

I love chocolate chip cookies SO MUCH. And if you love them as much as I do, be sure to check out my Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies, Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies, Small Batch Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.

For even more chocolate chip cookies, check out The Cookie Book which has a full Chocolate Chip Cookie chapter.

Finally, for more cookie tips, head over to my 10 Favorite Tips for Better Cookies!

Enjoy your Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Rebecca Firth

The Best Chewy Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Crunchy, chewy bits of caramel and puddles of chocolate lace this vanilla-forward chocolate chip cookie! Aside from the extra step of making the hard caramel (which takes just minutes, no candy thermometer needed!), this is an easy, one-bowl recipe with no rest time for the dough!
5 from 7 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookies
Keyword: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Salted Caramel, Hard Caramel, Homemade, Recipe, Dessert
Servings: 36 Cookies

Ingredients

For the Hard Caramel

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

For the Cookie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups (330) g light brown sugar (packed)
  • 16 tablespoons (226 g) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon (19 g) real vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ¼ cups (439 g) all-purpose flour (how to measure flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups 255 g dark chocolate (coarsely chopped or chips)
  • Sea salt flakes for the tops (optional)

Instructions

For the Caramel

  • To make the caramel, spray a rimmed baking sheet heavily with nonstick spray and set aside.
  • Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium high and stir with a silicon spatula until the sugar liquefies, turns golden brown and no sugar crystals remain. Immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread evenly until it’s about ¼ to ⅛ inch (0.7 to 0.3 cm) thick. Set aside to cool and harden while you make the cookie dough. Once cool, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into shards of 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) and smaller. Careful, they’re sharp.
    Hard caramel on a baking sheet cooling and then it being shown all chopped up.

For the Cookies

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C) and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream your brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter and vanilla on medium speed for about 4 to 5 minutes or until light in color and texture.
    The butter, sugar and vanilla before it gets creamed in a glass bowl and then a photo of it after, looking whipped and fabulous!
  • Add the eggs one at a time, making sure the first is well blended before adding the second. Add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix on medium until everything is well blended, about 1 minute more. Take the bowl out of the mixer.
    Next step, mix in the eggs and then the leavening and salt. Close up of the bowls showing this step in cookie baking.
  • Add the flour and mix until barely blended and you still see streaks of flour. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well combined. Add the chocolate and chopped hard caramel and mix until evenly distributed throughout. Place 2-tablespoon size dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet leaving 2 inches (5 cm) of space between the cookie dough balls.
    Step two in making salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. Pouring flour into the bowl and then the cookie dough ready to be scooped.
  • Bake cookies one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 11 minutes. Take out of the oven and use the edge of a silicon spatula to nudge the cookies back into circles. Place back in the oven for 1 minute more. They will look slightly underbaked. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, and then transfer the warm cookies to a rack to finish cooling. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using and serve!
    Cookie dough balls on a baking sheet and the finished, fully baked cookies.

Notes

Mixer vs Your Arms

I mention an electric mixer in the instruction.
However, this perfect sugar cookie recipe is definitely a recipe that can easily be made with a large mixing bowl and spatula. Make sure you really cream your butter and sugar so that you get that awesome light cookie texture.
Additionally, you can use a hand mixer if you have one handy!

Cookie Storage

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
 

For Best Results

This dough is best if mixed and baked straight away; do not store the dough in the fridge.

Caramel Tips

Cleaning the Caramel Pan
To get the caramel off of the pan and/or spatula (or anything it gets on), simply soak it in hot water and it will melt away…no scrubbing needed!
When Making the Caramel
Have oven mits hand to handle both the pan the caramel is cooking in as well as the rimmed baking sheet your pouring it onto…that baking sheet will get hot (don’t touch it with your hand).
Use a silicon spatula (ideally) to stir and spread the caramel. If it resists spreading (it sets fast), don’t panic. Just try to get as thin as you can and then let it go…it’ll be fine.
You can also grab the baking sheet with an oven mitt on, and move the sheet to spread the caramel around.
Cutting the Caramel
I like to use a serrated knife (bread knife) for cutting the caramel. It will fly about, so don’t chop like you would herbs. You’ll need to move slow and deliberate so it doesn’t make a huge mess.
Also, I think I cut it a wee too tiny in the photos. I like to err on the larger side (of a pencil eraser in size), since it will be less prone to melting completely while the cookies bake and then you get that caramel crunch I love so much.
 

Want More Cookie Tips?

Head over to My 10 Favorite Tips for Better Cookies!
Thanks for baking with me! Please rate + comment this recipe and tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

Comments

Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

I love your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot, I look forward to chatting with you!

Rebecca xox

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10 Comments

  • Carli April 28, 2024 at 9:43 AM

    5 stars
    Super delicious. I didn’t have brown sugar so I skipped that, but followed the rest as is. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth April 28, 2024 at 10:05 AM

      Hi! Would love to know if you used more granulated sugar in place of the brown sugar? I’ve never made them that way!

      So happy you love them!
      R xo

      Reply
      • Carli April 29, 2024 at 12:07 AM

        5 stars
        Just used less sugar as the dough was perfectly nice and sweet. I will definitely try them again with brown sugar to get that chewy texture!

        Reply
  • S April 25, 2024 at 8:29 AM

    There’s an ingredient of 1 tsp of sea salt unaccounted for …

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth April 25, 2024 at 8:51 AM

      Hi! It’s on Step 3 of the instructions. Please reach out with any other questions! xo

      Reply
  • Gabby April 24, 2024 at 11:20 AM

    5 stars
    I made this recipe in tandem with some coffee ice cream as part of a culinary lab. It was heavenly.

    Reply
  • Sally March 9, 2024 at 6:53 AM

    5 stars
    Can’t wait to make these! The burnt sugar ginger cookies are my favorite.

    Reply