M&M’s® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MemoriesInTheBaking #CollectiveBias

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, bar cookies are my absolute, all-time favorite treat.

Think about it: they’re delicious, easy, and very packable. Someone who bakes as much as I do needs to be able to transport baked goods without an epic fail, and bars are conducive to that. Whether I’m headed to holiday potlucks and parties or just to the office, bars are my jam.

And these bars are the best. Two layers of oatmeal cookie dough ,sandwich a luscious caramel filling, all filled and topped with holiday M&M’s® bling. Who could ask for anything more?

M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

Not me, that’s for certain. I’m trying to really focus on what’s important these days, and that can get hard when everyone is scrambling for holiday gifts. Let’s just say that while I happily shop for presents, I’m also happier when I can create memories that my children and I will share forever.

Some of my happiest memories are simple ones. For instance, I was fixing a seam the other day that had come unstitched, and my children sat there, watching me. I told them that even though I’m not much use at sewing, my grandmother taught me the basics. I’d go over to her house and she’d teach me. I still remember that when I was about eight years old, she and I made a little pink apron together for me. I still have it, put away for safekeeping.

M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

Other memories of people long gone come flooding back at unexpected times. We would visit my grandparents in New York every year when I was young, and at the time, I was an early riser. My grandmother (this is the other one) would get up with me, meet me in the kitchen and make me breakfast. I’d sit at the kitchen table with my juice and peanut butter sandwich (breakfast of champions!) and watch her bustle around, getting ready for the day. I never realized back then how tired she must have been, and how irritating it was to be up before everyone else with just a child for company. But she did it without complaining.

M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

While I hope that someday my children cherish happy memories of our time together, I can’t take any of that for granted. My children don’t really owe me anything at all. Instead, it’s my job to give them the best possible life with a string of wonderful moments. Baking together is one way that I can do that. We like to raid the holiday section at Target to get all the ingredients we need in fun holiday packaging, like Quaker Oats (which is available in holiday packaging at Target) and Glad®!

M & Ms Holiday Caramel Bars

This recipe is beautiful in its simplicity, making it perfect for bonding sessions with kids. Mine love to dump in  the ingredients, and they also help me pat the dough into the pan. It makes them nice and sticky. But by far, their favorite part is sprinkling those M&M’s® Holiday Baking Minis on top before baking. I mean, they get to eat as they sprinkle. I join them!

When we’re done baking, we let the bars cool, cut them into squares and pack them in Glad® Holiday Packaging containers. They’re so festive, and they let a whole batch of bars pack up tightly and efficiently.

M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars

All of my favorite holiday memories involve loved ones teaching me how to pass on traditions and skills to my own children, and I hope you feel the same way! For savings on great products like Quaker Oats, Glad®, and Mars as well as inspiration about making memories in baking, check this out!


M&M's® Holiday Caramel Oat Bars


Cookie Dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups Quaker rolled oats
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis, divided


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again. Gradually add the oat mixture, beating each time until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Press half of the mixture (it will be sticky) into the prepared pan, using a spatula coated in cooking spray to create a thin, even layer of dough.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. While the bottom layer is baking, make the caramel filling. In a saucepan, melt the caramels and heavy cream over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  7. When the bottom layer is out of the oven, sprinkle half of the M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis onto the base. Carefully and gently add the caramel and spread it over the surface of the bars. Take the remaining cookie dough and place it on top. It will not cover the entire surface, and that's okay. Just be as even as possible.
  8. Take the remaining M&M's® Holiday Baking Minis and sprinkle them over the top. Return the bars to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and nearly set.
  9. Cool the bars completely. Using a sharp knife, cut them into squares. Arrange the cooled bars in a Glad® Holiday Packaging container.




I fulfill many roles in life: wife, mother, teacher, everlasting learner. This site is dedicated to one role that expresses my creativity in ways that I find consistently challenging and rewarding: baker. Inventing new ways to enhance food, especially if that food involves chocolate or peanut butter (or both!), is a passion of mine. I look forward to sharing my ideas with you.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Sues

    These look delicious! And I so agree that it’s the simple things that are the best and make the biggest impact when you look back on your life 🙂
    Sues recently posted…TAZO Egyptian Ruby Tea CookiesMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Yep, I never realize it when the moments are happening, but then I look back and there they are!

  2. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice

    These bars look fantastic, Mir! So fun and festive for the season! I love anything with caramel, and when you add in M&Ms, it’s taken to a whole new level. Love this!
    Gayle @ Pumpkin ‘N Spice recently posted…White Chocolate Fudge PuddingMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Thanks, Gayle! I am all about thick caramel filling!

  3. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom

    Mir, love this post and these BARS!!!!! so festive! and you are right! There’s much more to the holiday season than baking and buying gifts. . love that you are creating memories and reminiscing on old ones!! I also love baking with my kiddos and like you, hope that they remember these times with me when they are older!!! love this post!
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom recently posted…Eggnog Cinnamon RollsMy Profile

    1. Mir

      It’s so funny because I try to make these happy memories for my kids, but I’ll never know which ones resonate until much later. Holidays are so much more fun with kids, though! We go all out decorating and having good times!

  4. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary

    Memories are definitely worth cherishing, and it is so weird how they can come flooding back to memory at the most unexpected time. Around the holidays, I especially get sentimental and find my self reminiscing. I LOVE that you still have that little pink apron!!! So cute! Anyways, these bars are unbelievable! Oatmeal cookie dough, caramel and M&M’s sounds pretty gosh darn fantastic! Plus I know you KILL it in the bar department, so I’m willing to bet these babies are off the charts delish! SO GOOD! Cheers, doll!
    Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary recently posted…Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Baked Goat Cheese & Honey BalsamicMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Yes, memories are so powerful. If I can make my kids remember my bar cookies, I’ll be pretty happy!

  5. Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks

    You are the queen of the bars and these are so fun! I’ve been thinking about my grandparents lately too with all the baking I’ve been doing. That’s awesome that you made a pink apron with your gram and that you still have it. My gram made my prom dress one year and I still have it. Enjoy your babies – they grow up in the blink of an eye!
    Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks recently posted…Peanut Butter, White Chocolate, and Cranberry CookiesMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Wow, your prom dress? That’s crazy impressive. And the years are already speeding up, so I’ve gotta slow them down. My baby isn’t a baby anymore, not by a long shot. I miss those little baby cheeks!

  6. Manali @ CookWithManali

    You make the best bars Mir, these look absolutely delicious! I think M&M’s taste extra delicious in bars!
    Manali @ CookWithManali recently posted…Peppermint MacaronsMy Profile

    1. Mir

      I agree, Manali! Though M & Ms are delicious everywhere. Especially with holiday colors!

  7. mira

    I’m glad you have fun baking together with your kids Mir! Love your dessert bars! These are super cute!
    mira recently posted…Garash CakeMy Profile

    1. Mir

      We usually do, Mira. But sometimes the flour goes flying! 😉

  8. Medha @ Whisk & Shout

    Cookie bars are the BEST. All the flavor of a cookie, the quantity of a brownie, and the ease of dumping everything in an 8×8 without chilling, rolling, cutting, or making like 20 batches 🙂 Love these 🙂
    Medha @ Whisk & Shout recently posted…No-Fuss Peanut Butter Vegan Brownie Sundae!My Profile

    1. Mir

      Oh, how I love the 8 x 8. And the bars. I’m too tired to roll anything!

  9. Amy

    I love these bar cookies, great for entertaining the masses.
    Amy recently posted…Butter Scotch CandyMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Thanks, Amy! The masses need cookies!

  10. Danielle

    I completely agree about bars, they’re one of my favorite ways to enjoy dessert. These bars look so delicious and festive too! I love anything with caramel in it!
    Danielle recently posted…Gingerbread PancakesMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Me too, Danielle. The caramel layer here is super thick!

  11. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    It’s always so nice to look back on Christmas memories 🙂 Caramel AND M&Ms? Sounds good to me. These look amazing!

    1. Mir

      They go great together, Dannii!

  12. Kate @ Framed Cooks

    These look so good, and I love the festive colored M&Ms! I know some lucky folks who are going to get these at my house this Christmas. 🙂
    Kate @ Framed Cooks recently posted…Roasted Vegetable FrittataMy Profile

    1. Mir

      They’ll love you forever, Kate!

  13. Michele @ Alwayzbakin

    I love making memories with my kids too. I bet your grandma was happy to have you there. Such a sweet story. And I wish I could reach in and grab one of these bars! Sinful!
    Michele @ Alwayzbakin recently posted…Mexican Wedding CookiesMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Yeah, I wish my grandmothers were still around. But I learned a lot from them!

  14. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg

    Mir – I agree that the memories are better than the gifts at the holidays. My grandparents used to take my sister, our two first cousins, and me on “Christmas Outings” to different places. We went to a bobsledding tournament in Lake Placid, Santa Land in NH, and the aquarium (to name a few). Even though we’re all grown up now, and some of us our having children (not me!), we continue to go out to dinner with my grandparents around the holidays, just the grandchildren. I hope that you have a Happy Hannukah and New Year. These cookies look delicious. 🙂
    Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg recently posted…Mint Chocolate Marshmallow BarsMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Those family traditions are what make the holidays so special! I’m glad you have wonderful memories, too. Thanks, Erin!

  15. David @ Spiced

    These cookie bars look insanely delicious! That caramel layer… And yes, I share the same memories about grandma. She would always get up way early. For a kid on vacation at Grandma’s house, that was like the best thing ever since it meant an early start to the day. It also meant more time with Grandma. Thanks for the trip down memory lane there!
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Wasabi Soy Party MixMy Profile

    1. Mir

      I think once moms start getting up early, it’s there for life. I’ll be an early riser when I’m a grandma too, thanks to my three kids!

  16. Amanda

    These definitely do look like a great bar to make with kids. This is the exact kind of treat I love to make around the holidays. I’m going to get in a lot of trouble with these bars, just so you know. I love bars that have a oat cookie dough base like this. And caramels? I won’t be able to stop at one!
    Amanda recently posted…Genoa CakeMy Profile

    1. Mir

      The caramel filling is the best part, Amanda!

  17. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust

    I can only hope that Jordan remembers happy things about me, and not that I’m crazy insane and stressed all the time, HA!!!
    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust recently posted…Thick and Fudgy Peppermint Mocha BrowniesMy Profile

    1. Mir

      She probably doesn’t even realize you’re stressed! I think kids are so oblivious.

  18. annie@ciaochowbambina

    Okay…I can’t keep up with you, lady! How’d I miss this one???? Gahhhh! That layer of caramel is killing me! And now – onto your story. I love everything about it. Everything. The memories of your grandmoms and the way you approach parenting. Beautiful, Mir. Thank you for sharing.
    annie@ciaochowbambina recently posted…Comment on Holiday Cheese Board by AnnieMy Profile

    1. Mir

      Aww, thanks, Annie! I’m all about a layer of caramel. And memories are where it’s at this time of year!

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