Million Dollar Bars are made from layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate — and they might remind you of a Twix Bar. They’re super decadent and ridiculously easy to make with a few simple ingredients.
This post was updated on 3/22/22 with new ingredients, tips, techniques, and photos.
What is a Million Dollar Bar?
Million Dollar Bars go by many names: Millionaire’s Shortbread, Chocolate Caramel Shortbread, Thousand Dollar Bars, and homemade Twix Bars … just to name a few.
But have you ever wondered where Million Dollar Bars came from? The story goes that Million Dollar Bars are an adaptation of a 12th century Scottish shortbread recipe that just got more and more decadent as the years went by.
It’s thought that caramel came along in the 1950s and chocolate in the 1980s. Which is shortly after the Twix bar came to the US.
Coincidence? I think not.
As for the name “millionaire,” it likely came from Scotland as an indication of just how decadent they are.
If you like this old fashioned bar recipe, you’ll love my Hello Dolly Bars and Coconut Dream Bars.
You’re going to love these
Million Dollar Bars are so easy and impressive, and perfect for the holidays, potlucks, baby showers, or just coffee with friends.
Fast and easy. This recipe is filled with shortcuts that make putting these Million Dollar Bars together a snap.
Rich and decadent. Buttery shortbread + chewy caramel + rich chocolate; this is the formula for deliciousness.
Impressive. There’s something about layers that just makes these cookie bars look like, well, a million bucks.
Like a buttery Twix bar. If you’re on team Caramel Twix candy bars (sorry Peanut Butter Twix), these will remind you of your favorite candy bar, but butterier.
The ingredients in this recipe are simple and putting them together is a piece of cake.
Shortbread cookie crumbs. The shortbread layer is super easy to make by grinding up store-bought shortbread cookies.
I used 1 full package of Keebler Sandies Classic Shortbread cookies, which measured out to about 2 ½ cups of crumbs.
Butter. Butter helps hold the crust together and give even more rich flavor to the shortbread crust.
Sugar. The sugar is important as a binding agent in the crust. As it bakes, it melts, then firms as it cools, and helps hold the crust together.
Caramel bits. Millionaire Bar recipes often call for making homemade caramel sauce, with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, light corn syrup, butter, heavy cream -- and a candy thermometer. No need.
All you need are handy caramel bits. If you can’t find them in the baking aisle, check the candy aisle. You can also order them from Amazon.
Milk. You need just a little bit of milk or almond milk to melt the caramel.
Milk chocolate. I’m usually a die-hard dark chocolate lover, but this time, I had to go with a milk chocolate coating so I could get these as close to a Twix bar as possible.
Shortening. I prefer melting chocolate with shortening because once the chocolate cools, it won’t melt in your hands as quickly as coconut oil does.
Flaky sea salt. All this sweetness needs a little relief. Flaky sea salt adds the perfect saltines and a little crunch.
Cookie crust. There are tons of ways you can add your own twist on the crust. You can use graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, chocolate wafers, gingersnaps, pretzels, or even crushed up cereal.
Milk chocolate. You can use dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or even white chocolate.
Toppings. Add your own toppings like chopped nuts, pretzels, a drizzle of another type of chocolate, or M&Ms.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Crush the shortbread cookies in a food processor, blender, or in a zip-top plastic bag and a rolling pin.
Stir the shortbread crumbs and sugar together in an 8 x 8 square baking pan. I used this glass 8 x 8 Pyrex dish. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
There is no need to grease the pan first, there's plenty of butter to keep the crust from sticking to the pan.
Pat the mixture firmly into the pan. Use a spatula, your hand, or the bottom of a glass to press it into the pan.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes to a light golden brown.
Cool the cookie base in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or until it is firm. (Do not place a warm or hot Pyrex dish in the freezer).
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the caramel bits and milk in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until it is smooth and creamy.
Immediately spread the caramel mixture into an even layer over the crust. Be careful not to tear the crust.
Cool the caramel in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until it is firm.
Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwaveable bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to melt in 10-second intervals until it is smooth and creamy.
Immediately spread the chocolate layer evenly over the cooled caramel layer.
Let the chocolate dry for a couple of minutes, then add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Place the pan in the refrigerator and let them cool completely.
How to Cut Million Dollar Bars
To neatly cut Million Dollar Bars, remove the pan of bars from the refrigerator and let it sit out for about 5 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to soften just a bit so it doesn’t crack when you cut them into bars. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares or rectangles, to resemble Twix bars.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to three months.
Pat the shortbread crust firmly into the pan with a spatula or the bottom of a glass.
Give each layer plenty of time to cool before adding the next one. It will make it much easier to spread the caramel and chocolate layers neatly and evenly.
If you’re using a glass pan, cool the crust in the refrigerator, not the freezer. The rapid temperature change can cause the glass to shatter.
It’s thought that Millionaire Shortbread got its name because it is so decadent and rich.
A million dollar bar is a cookie bar recipe that is made up of layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate.
Yes, Millionaire Shortbread, with a buttery shortbread cookie layer, caramel center, and chocolate topping, is a lot like a pan of homemade Twix bars!
Yes, millionaire bars freeze beautifully. Just place then in a airtight container and place parchment paper or wax paper between layers.
Millionaire shortbread cuts quite nicely when it has been chilled first, and with a sharp knife. I like to remove the pan from the refrigerator and let it sit out for a couple of minutes to let the chocolate soften just a bit so it doesn’t crack when I cut it.
Hungry for more easy recipes?
Let's Stay in Touch
Follow Midwestern HomeLife on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and subscribe via email to receive all of the latest recipes!
Million Dollar Bars
- 2 ½ cups crushed shortbread cookies
- 7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 cup caramel bits
- 2 teaspoons milk or almond milk
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons shortening
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Stir the shortbread crumbs and sugar together in an 8 x 8 square baking pan. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
- Pat the mixture firmly into the pan. Use a spatula, your hand, or the bottom of a glass to press it into the pan.
- Bake the crust for 20 minutes to a light golden brown. Cool the crust in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or until it is firm. (Do not place a warm or hot Pyrex dish in the freezer).
- Melt the caramel bits and milk in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until it is smooth and creamy.
- Immediately spread the caramel mixture evenly over the crust. Be careful not to tear the crust.
- Cool the caramel layer in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until it is firm.
- Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to melt in 10-second intervals until it is smooth and creamy. Immediately spread the chocolate evenly over the caramel layer.
- Let the chocolate dry for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt. Place the pan in the refrigerator and let them cool completely.
- To neatly cut Million Dollar Bars, remove the pan of bars from the refrigerator and let it sit out for about 5 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to soften just a bit so it doesn’t crack when cut. Use a sharp knife to cut them into squares or rectangles, to resemble Twix bars.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to three months.
I've made these twice and both times the crust separated from the caramel. I refrigerated the shortbread crust for 45 mins before adding the caramel layer and again refrigerated for 45 mins. And when I cut them the crust crumbles.
Cara Lanz says
Oh, no, I'm so sorry that happened! I've never experienced either of those. For the caramel layer, I'm wondering if this happened when they were straight-from-the-fridge cold? Or if it still separated after they'd been at room temp for a bit. I find that as they warm up the caramel becomes quite gooey, but would love to know your experience. About the crust crumbling, that can happen if the crust wasn't packed quite firmly enough. I also wonder if it seemed dry to you before it was baked? Maybe a little more butter would help it hold together better. I want to help figure this out and would love it if you can tell me a little more. Thank you! Cara
Haven't made it yet, so I'm not sure about the 5 stars, but don't want to bring down your rating. Would it work to sprinkle the chocolate chips over the caramel while it's still hot and allow them to melt without having to melt them first? Or would this mess up the caramel too much?
Cara Lanz says
Hi, Nancy, I haven't tried it, but I think the caramel will still be too soft to be able to spread the melted chips without it affecting the caramel layer. Not that a layer of swirled caramel and chocolate would be a bad thing. Let me know if you try it! Cara 🙂
Hi any suggestion for swapping out the shortening?
Cara Lanz says
You bet! Coconut oil or vegetable oil will both work. Enjoy :). Cara
I had trouble with the shortbread separating from the caramel. Don't know if you have a tip to stop this from happening
Cara Lanz says
Hi, Ann, I'm so sorry to see this! I have not had this happen before. Without knowing the exact scenario, a couple of things I can think of is if the shortbread layer wasn't completely cool before adding the caramel layer, perhaps some moisture got trapped in between the layers? Or maybe the caramel needs a little more milk to make it gooeyer and stickier? Also, if it's happening when they're cold, the caramel may become "stickier" at room temp. If you can elaborate a bit more, I'd love to try to help you figure this out! Thanks, Cara
Cheri Barden says
What are caramel bits?
Cara Lanz says
Hi, Cheri, Caramel bits are small unwrapped caramel balls, or I guess ... bits. They're made by Kraft, here's a link to their product page so you can see what a bag of them looks like.
They're really handy. I find them either in the candy aisle or baking aisle, depending on the store. If you can't find them where you are, regular caramels also work. Hope that helps!