Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars

Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars Recipe

With their flaky crust, smooth caramel filling, and deep chocolate glaze speckled with toasted cashews, these scrumptious cashew cookies are rich, habit-forming, and perfect for gift giving. The secret to the flaky crust? It’s not complicated pie dough, layers of transparent phyllo, or something even more exotic. No, this crust is made from simple supermarket soda crackers. The crackers take on a taste and appearance that would impress the most discerning cookie connoisseur. (The secret is revealed only to the baker when she inverts the cookies to cut them.)–Sara Perry

LC Christmas Party Conversation Starter Note

In Ghana at Christmastime, notes the author, cashew trees grow freely, and in courtyards throughout the country, they’re often decorated as Christmas trees. Who knew?!

Special Equipment: A 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan and a candy or deep-fry thermometer

Cashew Caramel Cracker Bars Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 35 to 40 bars


  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 35 saltine crackers, preferably Nabisco Premium Saltines
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • One 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan with a sheet of foil, shiny side up, leaving a few inches hanging over the longer edges.
  • 2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the butter onto the foil-lined pan, and brush to cover the bottom of the pan. Line the pan with the crackers (don’t worry if there are small gaps between the crackers).
  • 3. Clip a candy or deep-fry thermometer onto the side of the pan. Stir the brown sugar into the butter remaining in the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick syrup (248°F/120°C) on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and slowly, slowly whisk in the condensed milk until blended. Pour the mixture over the crackers, making sure all the crackers are covered.
  • 4. Bake the bars for 10 minutes. The top will be bubbly and brown. Remove from the oven, scatter the chocolate chips over the topping, and let rest until they soften and maybe even melt, about 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the caramel mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts and, using your fingers or the back of a spoon, press the nuts into the chocolate. Transfer the pan to the freezer until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.
  • 5. Invert the pan of caramely goodness onto a clean surface (don’t worry if you lose some nuts from the surface; they’ll be great for topping an ice cream sundae or for adding to cookie dough or just nibbling). Carefully peel back the foil to reveal the soda-cracker underside of the cookies. Using a sharp knife, cut the cookies along the cracker outlines. (This is easier to do when the cookies have begun to thaw slightly.) Invert and cut the squares into quarters for bite-size pieces or thirds for finger-size pieces.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Megan Chromik

Dec 21, 2009

These bars are absolutely delicious. They start with a crisp cracker layer that is covered with a buttery caramel layer. Both layers are topped with chocolate and chopped, toasted cashews. They effectively incorporate salty and sweet. For the best flavor, make sure your cashews are well-toasted and fragrant. The end result is something in between a candy and a cookie.

I’ve made something similar in the past, but there was no condensed milk in the caramel layer. The condensed milk makes the caramel layer softer and more creamy. I’ve also thrown all sorts of things on top, such as mini M&Ms, pretzel pieces, raisins, and other kinds of nuts, so you don’t have to stick with cashews if they’re not your thing. The bars are best eaten at room temperature. If you try to bite into one straight from the fridge, you’ll definitely end up hurting some teeth. Also, my freezer is not big enough to fit a sheet pan, so I left these in the fridge to harden instead. It takes a little longer, but the chocolate and caramel will still set up just fine.

  1. Yasmine O. says:

    I make these all the time, I have never tried them with cashews but always add my favorite—walnuts in top! So simple to make and so good.

  2. Michele Dipert says:

    These are wonderful!!!!

  3. Rochelle says:

    I was searching your fabulous cookie recipe collection for possibilities to convert into Passover recipes – meaning substituting for the flour. This recipe looks like a great one, subbing matzos for the crackers! Matzos are not usually salted so I will sprinkle some salt on them. Thank you! Since Passover begins on April 6th, I will soon have the opportunity to make these!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Rochelle, love the way you’re thinking! You may also wish to check in with us later this morning, as we’ll be posting a dozen or so Passover-friendly recipes, including some lovely meringue cookies that are Passover-friendly. Also flourless are these . You may also wish to check out our gluten-free section, which offers all manner of cookies and other sweets that contain no flour. (Of course, you could just make a batch of Homemade Nutella and grab a spoon…and maybe some matzoh…)

  4. Karen says:

    I have been making these for years and they are a family holiday favorite. Question though….I made them last night and for some reason the caramel all went underneath the saltines. It was horrible getting the foil off of the bottom. They taste exactly the same but are messy. Any thoughts as to what I did wrong this time? I feel like I did the same thing I always do. Thanks!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Karen, I wonder if you should have cooked the caramel a bit longer until it thickened up? A thinner caramel can seep between and under the crackers and cause the crackers to float and become encased in caramel (um, not necessarily a bad thing!).

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