Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies


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pretzel topped brownies on a parchment lined sheet pan

With salty crunch from pretzels and a ribbon of caramel, Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies are rich, fudgy and quick to make. They bake in an 8×8 pan and make 9 larger or 16 bite-sized brownies. 

Much like Banana Bread, I’m a firm believer that a person can never have too many brownie recipes. And while I’ve tried and loved many versions, the one that I turn to again and again is an absolute classic from the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. I love that it has cheesecake swirled into the chocolate, but my favorite thing about that recipe is that it takes almost no time at all. Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate. Fold it into a few other kitchen staples. Bake it in an 8×8 pan for 30 minutes. It’s the dessert I make when we just want something sweet and homemade for after a weeknight dinner or when we invite neighbors over to have a drink on the deck. I make it for baby showers and share it out at potlucks.

It’s a reliable, delicious brownie recipe. So of course I had to go and mess with it. 😉 Nothing crazy here, just the richness of caramel, the crunch of pretzels, and a pinch of salt to balance the sweet. They’re still simple to make, but feel extra special.

adding salted caramel to brownie mixture


  • Unsalted Butter – I tested this recipe with unsalted butter, but it will work with salted butter as well and will have a bit more salty flavor.
  • Unsweetened Chocolate – This recipe uses chopped unsweetened chocolate. Look for a good quality baking chocolate like Baker’s. In a pinch you can use chocolate chips, but the brownies will be a bit sweeter. 
  • Individually Wrapped Caramels – I just use the classic Kraft caramels in this recipe. Don’t forget you’ll need to unwrap them before you can melt them.
  • Heavy / Whipping Cream – The heavy whipping cream combined with melted caramels to give them a texture that is sturdy but still soft when cool. 
  • Pretzels – Any shape pretzel will work. 
  • Sea Salt – For that true “salted caramel” flavor, sprinkle the brownies with a bit of flaked sea salt. Totally optional, but great if you are a salty-sweet person. I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
  • Flour, Vanilla Extract, Eggs, Sugar – Classic baking ingredients you’ll need to finish these brownies.

brownies just out of the oven

The Texture of Caramel Swirl

When these brownies come out of the oven, the caramel is super melty. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t often slice into them and eat them this way, but they are messy! Once the brownies cool, the caramel will firm up and hold its shape. Choose your own adventure here, but just be aware of the potential for warm, melty caramel to go everywhere if you don’t wait.

brownies on a piece of parchment paper

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4.25 from 8 votes

Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

With salty crunch from pretzels and a ribbon of caramel, these brownies are rich, fudgy and quick to make. They bake in an 8x8 pan and make 9 larger or 16 bite-sized brownies.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 brownies


  • 8x8 baking pan
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Saucepan


  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter (1/2 cup)
  • 3 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 40 Individually Wrapped Caramels, unwrapped (or an 11-oz bag of Kraft caramels)
  • 1/4 cup Heavy / Whipping Cream
  • 20 Pretzels
  • Flaky Sea Salt (optional; I like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.
  • Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking pan. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat combine butter and chopped chocolate. Heat, stirring frequently, until just melted.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Pour melted butter and chocolate into the bowl, whisking quickly to incorporate the warm ingredients.
  • Fold in flour until just combined. Pour into baking pan.
  • In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave caramels and cream in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until melted and completely smooth. (This should take about 2 minutes total.)
  • Drizzle caramel over brownies and use a butter knife to swirl caramel into chocolate. (I like to sort of fold some of the caramel in so that there are spots of brownie on top mixed with swirls of caramel.)
  • Place pretzels in a single layer on top.
  • Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Let cool before slicing and serving. (Note: will slice best if the brownies have cooled completely. The caramel is extremely messy until it has cooled, but also extremely delicious. Around our house, we can rarely resist slicing into them and eating a few while they’re still warm despite the mess of sticky caramel. Just consider yourself warned.)
  • Store brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Caramels / Heavy Cream - Melted caramels with some heavy cream will give you a shortcut caramel that holds its shape when it cools but is still soft. If you have another favorite homemade or store-bought caramel sauce that will hold its shape at room temperature, feel free to just swirl that into the brownies. I’ve made these using a thick store-bought caramel sauce as well. 
Recipe generously adapted from Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies, Gourmet June 2007.


Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 119mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 275IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $6.00
Calories: 267
Keyword: baking, brownie, chocolate, easy baking, easy dessert recipe, salted caramel, sweet and salty
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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