Pretzel-crusted brownies with salted caramel

A delightfully decadent sweet treat!

These scrumptious squares that hit all the right sweet-salty notes. If you prefer, they can be made just as successfully with gluten-free pretzels and your favourite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. When crushing the pretzels, aim for pieces no larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm) in size. As for the caramel topping, be patient and follow the detailed instructions below. If you undercook it, it will not set up to be a firm but still chewy layer that holds its shape and you’ll be left with an extremely tasty but very runny glaze. If you like your desserts fully loaded, you might also enjoy my s’mores brownies or my salted caramel pretzel bark.

Pretzel crust

  • 1 cup (60 g) crushed pretzels
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (27 g) brown sugar, packed


  • 1/2 cup (114 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (220 g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) all-purpose flour

Salted caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup butter (60 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream
  • Few pinches kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

Additional pretzel pieces or flaky sea salt, for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Line an 8 x 8 inch (20x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Make the pretzel crust by mixing together the crushed pretzels, melted butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Press the mixture firmly into the base of the prepared pan and bake for 6 – 7 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
  • While pretzel crust is baking, make the brownie dough. Beat together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and beat until well blended. Add the cocoa and vanilla; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Spoon the batter onto the pretzel crust then spread evenly (an offset spatula is great for this). Bake 22 minutes at 350F.
  • While brownies are baking, make the salted caramel topping. Place the sugar and water in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the mixture has reached 175 C (350 F) on an instant-read or candy thermometer, at which point it should be a medium-dark amber colour.
  • While sugar is cooking, heat the butter and cream over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. Alternatively, you can do this in a heatproof vessel in the microwave.
  • When the caramel has reached 350F and achieved the desired colour, remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cream mixture – be careful as it will foam up and steam quite a bit. Return to the heat and cook over medium to medium-low heat until it reaches 245F (approximately 5 minutes), whisking constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and salt.
  • Pour the caramel over the baked brownies and spread out if needed to make an even layer. Let sit at room temperature for one hour, then gently press pretzel pieces into the caramel to decorate the top (or sprinkle with a bit of flaky sea salt), if desired.
  • Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2 more hours then cut into 25 small squares. Cover tightly and return the brownies to the fridge until ready to serve.

Makes 25 small squares.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

11 thoughts

  1. This looks amazing! I have learnt so much at your blog and it is incredibly impressive. I have a feeling that my recipes will now subconsciously be inspired by yours…
    Do check out my blog too! I would love to know your thoughts on it 🙂

  2. These were absolutely delicious. They did not last the night! Everyone loved them! I have never been successful with making caramel but your instructions were perfect. Thank you.

    1. That can happen as the water and any residual moisture in the sugar evaporates; humidity (or lack thereof) in your home can also play a role. The good news is – just keep heating those sugar chunks and they will melt and caramelize.

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