These addictive chocolate chip caramel pretzel cookies are stuffed with a generous caramel filling and crunchy pretzels. The salty pretzels combined with the chewy caramel make an irresistible combination!
This simple and delicious chocolate chip pretzel cookie dough will take you less than half an hour to make, as the no-mixer dough does not need to rest in the fridge! The cookies are filled with soft caramel candies that melt into a delicious caramel center.
The chocolate chip cookie dough is made with lots of softened salted butter, brown sugar, and pure vanilla extract for flavor. Instant Clearjel (a bakery ingredient you can use at home) thickens the dough so that we can use more butter without the cookies spreading in the oven. The Instant Clearjel and the little bit of vegetable oil in the cookie dough provide a super soft and chewy texture.
Similar to my Bakery-Style Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, this quick and easy no-mixer dough can be made with a bowl, a wooden spoon or spatula, and your hands!
About the secret bakery ingredient in this recipe
This bakery recipe uses Instant ClearJel, a type of cornstarch that serves as both a thickener and a binder. It’s tasteless and has no artificial ingredients. You can also use Instant Pudding mix (when it's listed in the recipe), which contains Instant Clearjel as the second ingredient!
It’s often used by professional bakers because it produces a smoother and glossier consistency than cornstarch, tapioca, or other starches. Even better, it enhances moisture and texture in cakes and thickens and stabilizes frostings. Here are a few brands I recommend:
Although it's not often available in grocery stores, it's sold in a variety of online stores--just make sure whatever you purchase is labeled as INSTANT (cooktype and original clearjel will not work the same). It's also frequently found in Amish Markets. (Learn more about Instant Clearjel in Baking→)
🍯 How to Make a Caramel Cookie Filling
Each cookie is stuffed with two soft caramels, providing a very generous chewy caramel center! Simply press two caramels together and fold them in half so they are the right size.
I recommend using Werthers "soft caramels," as they have the best texture of all the caramels I tried. When the cookies are warm, the caramel is melted, soft, and gooey. Once the cookies cool, the caramel is chewy like the caramel candy. I like to heat my cookies for about 10 seconds in the microwave for a warm gooey cookie, but they are addictive either way!
⭐ Decorate Theses Cookies For the Holidays
These caramel pretzel cookies are filled with chopped-up pretzels and topped with another pretzel for decoration. The pretzels add the perfect amount of texture and salt to the cookies. I decorated these for Valentine's Day, but you can change the sprinkles and M&M color to match any holiday or occasion!
I dipped half of each decorative pretzel with the same chocolate dip that I use for cake truffles. Then I sprinkled them with Valentine's Day sprinkles before the dip dried. Dipping the pretzels in chocolate is an optional step--you can also simply press plain pretzels into the top of the cookies!
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
Store these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They're best served within 2-3 days, if they last that long! You can also freeze the cookie dough, as described below.
Yes, you can make the cookie dough a few days ahead and keep it in the fridge, although I recommend scooping the cookie dough into balls the day you make the dough and storing them in the freezer. Then you can bake a few cookies any time you have a cookie craving.
Freeze rows of unbaked cookies in between layers of parchment paper, and wrap them in plastic wrap or store them in airtight Tupperware. Allow the cookie dough balls to come back to room temperature before baking.
I made several batches of this cookie recipe with different caramels and found the Werthers Soft Caramels to be the clear winner:
*I found that Kraft Caramel squares did not melt at all during baking and were way too firm and chewy in the cookies, especially at room temperature.
*You can use those little Kraft caramel bits mixed into the cookie dough with the chocolate chips (instead of as a filling)--they stay chewy and do not melt, but are delicious.
I don't recommend omitting the pretzels, as they provide texture and salt to balance the sweetness from the cookies and caramel. If you do decide to leave them out, I'd recommend upping the salt a bit--although I haven't tried this.
I have not tried this recipe without Instant Clearjel, as it is one of the ingredients that gives the cookies their soft and chewy texture, and keeps them from spreading too much in the oven.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
Thanks for Reading. ❤️
Caramel Stuffed Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 225 grams (1 ½ cups + 3 Tablespoons) All-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
- 48 grams (6 Tablespoons) Instant Clearjel (Please make sure it is labeled as "INSTANT." Instant Clearjel is a bakery ingredient you can use at home–see Note #1)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
- 170 grams (¾ cup packed) brown sugar
- 100 grams (½ cup) sugar
- 1 egg(s)
- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 T + 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Other Cookie Ingredients
- 1 ½ stick (6 ounces) Salted Butter
- ¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I use Nestle Tollhouse)
- 80 grams (1 cup) chopped Pretzels (¼-1/2 inch pieces) (You can smash them in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin.)
- 44 Werther's Soft Caramels (See Note #2)
- 22 whole Mini Pretzels for decoration (I used Rold Gold Tiny Twists)
- ½ cup M&Ms ((optional) I used Valentine M&Ms)
Dip the Pretzel Decorations (optional)
- Use premade chocolate dip or make the simple chocolate dip in this Cake Truffle recipe. Dip half of each pretzel in the dip and place them on a parchment-lined tray. Immediately sprinkle the dipped pretzels with your choice of sprinkles before the dip dries. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden in the fridge.
Prepare the Caramel Filling
- Unwrap all the Werther's soft caramels. Press 2 together then fold them in half so that each double caramel is more of a square shape instead of a rectangle.
Make the Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
- I recommend preparing your pretzels and caramels before beginning the cookie dough (so that the dough doesn't get too soft at room temperature).
- In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients until blended.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the softened salted butter, and mix until the dough comes together with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula. Use your hands as needed to combine the ingredients into a uniform dough, as the dough will be thick. Make sure the butter is fully incorporated.
- Reserve a few chocolate chips for the tops of the cookies. Add the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pretzels and mix them into the dough, using your hands as needed.
- Using a 1.5-ounce scoop, scoop the cookie dough and place the balls onto cookie sheets/ sheet pans lined with parchment paper. (If you don't have a cookie scoop, you can just divide the dough into 22 equal cookie dough balls).
- Stick your prepared double caramels into the bottom of each cookie, pressing the cookie dough around it. Make sure the caramel is fully encased in cookie dough so that it can't escape.
- Press the reserved chocolate chips into the tops of the cookie dough. If using plain (undipped) pretzels decorations, press them into the tops of the cookie dough. *Because M&Ms tend to crack as they bake, we will be pressing them into the warm baked cookies. If you are not concerned with cracked M&Ms, you can press them into the dough at this time).
- Bake the cookies on the middle or top rack (avoid bottom rack) in the 325 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the edges are set and the top is only slightly shiny. The cookies will look slightly underdone but will continue to bake on the cookie sheet as they cool. Avoid overbaking (if they are baked even a couple of minutes too long, they will be less chewy).
- Right after they come out of the oven, lightly press the M&Ms and a dipped pretzel decoration on top of each warm cookie, then allow the chocolate to cool so that it will stick to the cookie. Serve at room temperature for a chewy caramel center, or heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds for a gooey, soft caramel center. Enjoy!
- Read my article Instant Clearjel: a Magical Bakery Ingredient to see why I think this ingredient is worth having in your pantry. Instant Clearjel is what gives these cookies their extra soft and chewy texture and keeps them from overspreading in the oven. Instant Clearjel must always be whisked thoroughly with other dry ingredients before being added to wet ingredients to avoid clumping. I use Prepared Pantry Instant Clearjel–use the code AMYCAKES to get that linked 18 oz package at 50% off! Make sure whatever brand you purchase is labeled as “Instant.” Cooktype or Original Clearjel is a different product that does not work the same in baking.
I made several batches of this cookie recipe with different caramels and found the Werthers Soft Caramels to be the clear winner.*I found that Kraft Caramel squares did not melt at all during baking and were way too firm and chewy in the cookies, especially at room temperature.*You can use those little Kraft caramel bits mixed into the cookie dough with the chocolate chips (instead of as a filling)--they stay chewy and do not melt, but are delicious.
These sound amazing and can't wait to try them! Is there an alternative to the instant clearjel?
Thank you for checking! Unfortunately, I haven't tried a substitute for these without the instant clearjel--Without it, I worry that the dough would spread way too much and the caramel would escape, and they wouldn't be as soft and chewy.