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Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

I’m not exaggerating when I say these caramel pecan dream bars are my new go-to dessert. 

I whipped up a batch of these beauties over the weekend, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. 

They’re easy enough for a casual treat but impressive enough to serve at a party. Trust me, your friends and family will beg you for the recipe.

Two square slices of caramel pecan dream bars on a white plate.
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Why You’ll Love These Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

These heavenly bars start with a buttery yellow cake mix crust that comes together in a snap. 

But the real magic happens when you pour on a luscious filling made with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chopped pecans, and toffee bits. 

Every bite perfectly balances creamy caramel, nutty crunch, and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. 

And believe it or not, there’s even more to love:

Dessert Bliss: These bars are a guaranteed hit at any gathering. They look great, smell heavenly, and taste like a dessert dream.

Time Saver: Thanks to the cake mix crust and easy filling, these babies are fast but do not sacrifice taste. They’re the perfect dessert for busy bakers who want to impress without spending hours in the kitchen.

Freezer Friendly: One bite, and you’ll wish you didn’t have to share. So, make a big batch and save some for later. 

Caramel pecan dream bars sliced in a baking pan with parchment paper.

Ingredients

Whether you need a show-stopping dessert for your next party or just want to treat yourself, these caramel pecan dream bars are the answer. 

Here’s what you’ll need to make them:

  • Yellow Cake Mix*: The convenient base that transforms into a buttery crust with minimal effort.
  • Softened Butter (or Margarine): Binds the crust together for the perfect tender foundation. 
  • Egg + Yolk: The essential binder that marries the crust and gooey filling. They also add richness and structure to each bite.
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: The secret to the bars’ luscious, caramel-like filling. 
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the overall flavor with its subtle, sweet aroma. 
  • Chopped Pecans: Add a satisfying crunch and nutty depth to the filling. Toast them for an even more intense flavor.
  • Toffee Bits or Bits o’ Brickle Baking Chips: The ultimate flavor and texture booster. These melt into the filling, creating pockets of caramel-toffee goodness.

*Note: the original recipe calls for an 18-ounce box of cake mix plus the butter and a whole egg for the base. 

Since the larger boxes are no longer available, you’ll use a 15-ounce box with the same amount of butter and an egg yolk instead of a whole egg.

Ready to bake caramel pecan dream bar in a baking pan.

How to Make Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

Once you try these dreamy bars, you’ll be hooked. In fact, you might want to make a double batch because these babies disappear fast! 

Luckily, they couldn’t be easier to recreate:

1. PREP. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

2. BASE. Mix the cake mix and butter until crumbly, then add the egg yolk and press into the pan.

3. FILLING. Blend the sweetened condensed milk with the remaining egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the pecans and toffee bits, then pour the filling over the crust, spreading it out evenly.

4. BAKE for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.

5. ENJOY! Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars. Serve and enjoy!

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Slices of caramel pecan bars stacked on a white plate.

Tips For the Best Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

With a recipe this easy, you don’t really need tips. 

But don’t worry! I still have a few, just in case:

  • Cake mix variety. To change things up, try different cake mix flavors, such as white, yellow, butter, or even chocolate.
  • Butter vs margarine. Butter provides a richer taste, but you don’t need to let margarine come to room temperature. It’s up to you which you prefer. 
  • Toffee bits. Use plain toffee bits (like Heath brand) from the baking aisle near the chocolate chips. Avoid the ones with chocolate if you want an authentic caramel flavor.
  • Pecan swap. If you don’t have pecans on hand, you can substitute walnuts or almonds.
  • Condensed milk drizzle. When pouring the condensed milk mixture over the crust, drizzle it evenly from the edges and move towards the center. This ensures the filling is well distributed.
  • Avoid overbaking. When done, the center may jiggle a bit, but it will set up as the bars cool.
  • Cool completely. Allow the bars to cool fully before cutting to get clean, neat slices. Chill the bars in the fridge after they have cooled to room temperature for even easier cutting.

How to Store

I’ve never seen leftovers, but if you have some, here’s how to store them:

To Store: Wrap the tray in plastic or transfer cold leftovers to an airtight container (stack them with parchment to avoid sticking). Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To Freeze: Wrap the bars tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe container or ziptop freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. 

Thaw frozen bars overnight in the refrigerator. Then, let chilled bars come to room temperature before serving.

More Pecan Desserts You’ll Love

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie Brownies
Pecan Pie Bars
Candied Pecans

Caramel Pecan Dream Bars

Course: DessertCuisine: American
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

239

kcal

I’m not exaggerating when I say these caramel pecan dream bars are my new go-to dessert. They’re so good, your friends will beg you for the recipe.

Ingredients

  • For the Base:
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix

  • 1/3 cup softened butter or margarine

  • 1 egg yolk

  • For the Filling:
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1/2 cup toffee bits or bits o’ brickle baking chips

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (leave some hanging over the side for easy removal).
  • In a large bowl, stir the cake mix, softened butter, and egg yolk until crumbly. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan to form the crust.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the sweetened condensed milk, whole egg, and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans and toffee bits until evenly distributed, then pour over the crust and spread flat with a spatula.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.
  • Let the bars cool completely in the pan and then chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge. Use the excess parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Bake in a 9×9-inch pan for thicker bars. Cook for 30-40 minutes.
  • The base will be crumbly. This is okay as it will absorb moisture from the filling as it bakes.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

2 thoughts on “Caramel Pecan Dream Bars”

    • Hi Valerie!

      Yes, you can totally add coconut to this recipe.

      I suggest about 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes in the crust. You’ll need to add an extra 1/4 cup of butter to help it all stick together.

      Alternatively, you could add it to the filling. 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes mixed in with the condensed milk would work quite well, it will just change the texture of the top layer a little.

      Let me know how they turn out 🙂

      Reply

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