Homemade Turtles

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Homemade Chocolate Turtles — Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Caramel Pecan Turtle Recipe 

I’ve always loved Turtles and decided to make my own. Everything tastes better when it’s homemade, even Turtles.

Lately I can’t get enough of the pecan-caramel-chocolate combination. Crunchy, chewy, salty-and-sweet.

First there was Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, then The Best Turtle Brownies, and now these.

I first made Turtles in 2009. Holy antique photography but I don’t delete old posts because they remind me how far I’ve come and how far my daughter has come. She was in cloth diapers then and now she’s in glittery lip gloss.

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

These homemade turtles candies are no-bake, easy, ready in under a half hour, and you only need 4 ingredients.

Some Turtles in the photos below are coated with milk chocolate and others with dark. On some, I sprinkled sea salt to play up the salty-and-sweet aspect. On some I drizzled milk chocolate over a dark chocolate-coated Turtle and vice versa.

Between the salty-and-sweet component, the crunchy pecans, chewy and gooey caramel, and the rich chocolate, they’re hard to resist. Save this recipe for holiday candy-making, birthdays, or for a last-minute hostess gift.

Or just hoard them all for yourself.

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Ingredients in Chocolate Turtles

To make these homemade caramel turtles, you’ll need the following: 

  • Pecan halves (I used Trader Joe’s roasted, salted pecan halves)
  • Caramel squares
  • Cream or half and half 
  • Chocolate 
  • Sea salt (optional) 

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

How to Make Chocolate Turtles 

Homemade turtle candy is simple to prepare and requires no baking! Here’s a look at how the chocolate turtles are made: 

  1. Make piles of about 5 pecans each and top each pile with caramel sauce.
  2. I melted 25 caramel squares with 1/4 cup cream in the microwave (or use the stove). Take your time and stop and stir frequently so you don’t burn the mixture and have to start over. The caramel sauce is runny and loose when you first take it out of the microwave, but firms up quite a bit as it cools.
  3. After topping each pecan pile with caramel, cover with melted chocolate. 

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

What’s the Best Type of Chocolate for Turtles? 

I used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Bars because they melt smoother and easier than chocolate chips. You may use semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate. Pick your favorite! 

Can I Use Another Type of Nut?

Yes, but caramel turtles are traditionally made with pecan halves. However, roasted peanuts or almonds would also taste delicious here! 

Homemade Chocolate Turtles — Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

What Type of Caramels Should I Use? 

You want to buy soft, individually wrapped caramel candies (not hard caramels). I’ve made the chocolate turtles recipe with both Kraft brand caramels and Werther’s Baking Caramels and can recommend both. 

How to Store Homemade Turtles 

Store the pecan turtles at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Tips for Making Homemade Turtles Candy 

When making the pecan piles, I recommend overlapping some of the nuts so that the caramel doesn’t ooze straight through. 

Melting the caramel can be tricky, so I’ve given very detailed tips on how to melt it in the recipe card below. 

You’ll want to chop up chocolate bars for this recipe rather than use chocolate chips. Chocolate chips don’t melt as well and can seize up in the microwave. 

Homemade Turtles - Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Homemade Chocolate Turtles — Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 30

Homemade Turtles

Homemade Turtles

Fast, easy, no-bake and just 4 ingredients! Chewy, gooey, salty-and-sweet! Homemade always tastes better! Yum!!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pecan halves (I used roasted, lightly salted)
  • 25 caramel squares, unwrapped (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half, divided
  • about 16 ounces roughly chopped chocolate, melted (I used 8 ounces dark and 8 ounces milk, both Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bars)
  • sea salt, optional for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets or large platters with parchment paper. It’s helpful if they will fit in either fridge or freezer.
  2. Make small piles of pecans, using 5 to 6 pieces per pile. Overlap the pecans some to reduce gaps so the caramel doesn’t seep through.
  3. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the caramels, half of the cream (reserve the remainder), and heat on high power to melt. It will probably take about 3 to 4 minutes total, but you must stop and stir the mixture every 30 seconds so you don’t burn it. Alternatively, you can melt caramels on the stove over low heat, using caution and stirring frequently. **(see notes below on melting the caramels)
  4. Add about 1 tablespoon caramel to the top of each pecan pile; set aside.
  5. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add 8 ounces chocolate and heat to melt, about 1 minute on high power. Heat in 15-second increments until chocolate can be stirred smooth. I prefer working in smaller batches with chocolate and recommend doing the same and not heating all 16 ounces at once; melt additional chocolate as necessary.
  6. Add about 2 tablespoons chocolate to the top of each pecan cluster by dolloping it on top and letting it fall down the sides.
  7. Optionally add a pinch of sea salt to each Turtle.
  8. Allow Turtles to firm up at room temp (will take many hours) or in the fridge or freezer (about 15 minutes) before serving.

Notes

**Notes on melting the caramel: The first few times, stirring is almost futile but eventually the caramels soften enough to be stirred smooth. Take your time, don’t overheat or heat too quickly, and keep stirring; it will come together. If the mixture seems thick and needs more cream, add the remaining amount. I used 1/4 cup total and have made the recipe with both Kraft brand caramels and Werther’s Baking Caramels, but caramels vary and you may need less cream than I did. The caramel is runny and loose when it first comes together, but firms up quite a bit as it cools. 

Storage: Turtles will keep airtight at room temperature for weeks, or in the fridge or freezer for many months. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 308Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 103mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 22gProtein: 3g

More Easy Holiday Desserts: 

ALL OF MY HOLIDAY RECIPES! 

Christmas Crack – A highly addictive, salty-sweet, crunchy, EASY Christmas treat that’s IRRESISTIBLE!! Great for gifts and cookie exchanges because it stays fresh and everyone LOVES IT!!

Christmas Crack - A highly addictive, salty-sweet, crunchy, EASY Christmas treat that's IRRESISTIBLE!! Great for gifts and cookie exchanges because it stays fresh and everyone LOVES IT!!

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Reindeer Chow — A holiday twist on classic Muddy Buddies that’s EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and perfect for hostess gifts or cookie exchanges!!

Holiday Special K Bars — Super chewy, gooey, FAST, easy, no-bake cereal bars loaded with peanut butter, chocolate, and sprinkles!! Like scotcheroos but with Special K!

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Holiday White Chocolate Fudge — This EASY foolproof white chocolate fudge recipe is perfect for Christmas and holiday parties!

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Comments

  1. They came out good, but I had to double the amount of caramels I used. So if you use the Werther’s Soft Caramels keep that in mind when making them :)

    Rating: 4
    1. It can really vary depending on how many nuts you use, how “spread out” the nuts are, etc. but glad that they came out good!

  2. I tried these out (I know they will taste delicious) but the only thing is, that the process was difficult. The caramel slid off the pecans (not the chocolate) so make sure the caramel is smooth and not runny. That was my mistake that made this difficult. Other than that, I applaud the recipe and the baker behind the recipe! Bravo!

    Rating: 4
  3. I made these turtles last night mine were stuck on the parchment paper i put them in the freezer they hardened but then once they were out they continued to stick grrrrr. I think the 1/4 cup of cream is too much. I had 40 caramels i used less cream and they still stuck. I will try these again with a tablespoon at a time. They are so tasty and easy to make. Thank you for the recipe.

    Rating: 4
  4. I made these for the first time last year and they turned out great! I decided to make them again this year since they were a hit last year. I had carmels to make a few batches. My first batch I put 25 carmels to 1/4 cup of half & half and they turned out perfectly! The second batch I decided to make a double batch so I put 50 carmels and used 1/2 cup of half & half. The carmel mixture was liquidy but perfect to spoon. Instead of making the Homemade Turtles on parchment paper I decided to make them in my mini cupcake pan that makes 48 at once. So I sprayed the pan really good, then placed a layer of pecans on the bottom, poured the carmel on top of pecans, and then the chocolate on top of the carmel. Then I placed the pan in my freezer. I had the Homemade Turtles in my freezer for 1.5 hours (I forgot to take them out after 15 mins.). I had to let them unthaw a bit in order to be able to move them enough to get them out. As I was trying to get them out I noticed that the carmel was looser than my first batch. The carmel wasn’t stiff enough to hold together. I immediately push the tops of the chocolate back down and headed to my freezer to stick the Homemade Turtles back in the freezer. It’s been over 6 hours since I stuck them into the freezer. I am scared to take them out to see if they still are to soft and still haven’t gotten hard enough to get them out of the pan. I will try in the morning to see if they are firm enough to get out of the pan. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me that I could do to get the caramel firm enough to get them out of the pan and into gift buckets that I’m making for friends and family?

    Rating: 5
    1. Once you’ve already put the caramel on them, it’s not possible to change the structure of the caramel and make it thicker. I’m sorry that it’s not sick enough. Sometimes with doubling recipes, it doesn’t always work out to be exactly doubling them. And unfortunately it sounds like this was the case for you here.

  5. I just made these for mothers day after she mentioned liking turtles. This recipe really is easy. I followed it just as written. They came out with caramel bits instead of the squares, just like the morsels so I used those and it cut down on the microwave time and it prevented me from burning the caramel which I was concerned about. I put them in my deep freezer on wax paper so I’m hoping when I get up in the morning that they will come off the paper. I tried one and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I hope I never lose it!

    Rating: 5
  6. I love this recipe. Turtle’s are my husband’s fave’s.
    I am really writing you just say how sweet you are to have commented on everyone’s comment’s. I think that say’s a lot about the person you are.

    1. Wow that is really nice of you to notice that I reply to all my comments! I feel like if someone took the time to buy the ingredients, make the recipe, and came back to tell me how it went, the least I can say is great job and thank you for trying the recipe! I wouldn’t have a website without readers like you who did just that as well. Thank you for taking the time :)

  7. I made these today and couldn’t be happier as they turned out perfect! I used the Trader Joe’s roasted salted pecans but had to use 2-8oz packages as there were a lot of broken pieces but they’re great. I used dark chocolate & the caramels from Nuts.com and both are fabulous & I highly recommend!! I only used 1/2 of a 1/8 cup measuring cup to their 25 caramels & the consistency was perfect. I measured both caramel and chocolate more like how I thought they should look & topped them off with Maldons Sea salt flakes.. they look perfect & everyone loved them. Thanks for this great recipe & mine set up in no time without putting them in the cold.

  8. I made these the other day and it turned out perfect. I used about a bag and half of caramels and then 2 cups of chocolate pellets and that made about 40 turtles for me. Was great for a father’s day gift.

  9. I made these when I hosted my first AvaHour and it was such a hit! They were easy, albeit time consuming, but everyone was so impressed I made homemade turtles, it really was worth the time!

  10. Yummy recipe and beautiful pics as always, Averie!

    I can’t have pecans, so I’ll have to use almonds instead. 

    Thanks – pinning! 

  11. I made these last night and although they aren’t as good looking as your pics, they are delicious! I made half the batch with milk chocolate and half with white chocolate (my fav). What a difference to eat turtles with fresh ingredients!

    1. What a difference to eat turtles with fresh ingredients! = Isn’t that the truth!! Your white choc version sounds wonderful and creative!

  12. I made this to take to Christmas dinner today, and I’m so glad I did, they were such a hit!
    I made a couple of changes to your recipe, like I used rough-chopped macadamia nuts because I had some that needed to be eaten (they’re really bland when plain!), and I used a tart pan (it’s like a mini-muffin pan where the base of each spot is 1.5″ diameter) which I generously greased with butter because I detest using Pam if it can be avoided.
    I also figured out that for melting the caramels, the Ziploc containers with the screw-on caps (the heavier plastic ones, 2 cup size) were almost non-stick and worked way better than a ceramic or glass bowl. I only used about 1 or 2 tbsp of cream for 1/2 a bag of caramels at a time and that was enough to make it runny when hot and it firmed up really well but was still chewy.
    Once the caramel was firm, I popped them out of the pan and dropped them into the melted chocolate. I used the Lindt squares because they were on sale at the grocery store yesterday, and they melt into a really smooth, almost liquid consistency. After the chocolate, I set them on a parchment lined pan to set.
    I ended up with perfectly round “turtles” and they’re about 2 bites each.
    I’m so glad that I found your recipe with the caramels instead of making it from sugar and water or butter as that sounded really tricky & I don’t have a candy thermometer.

  13. I made these for Christmas and they were amazing! My family said they were better then the store bought ones. I always buy them for my husband but this year I packaged them up for him and he lived them so much I will always make them instead! Thank you!

    1. What a lovely thing to make for your husband and sounds like you scored some points :) Glad the recipe is a keeper!

  14. I just made turtles last night and I tried two different methods with the pecans, the first was clumping the pecans into mounds as your recipe states.
    The second method is to chop the nuts and cover a parchment lined cookie sheet with them. Pour the carmel on top of the nuts in circles the size you want your turtles to be and then cool (I cooled mine outside). When cool they easily come off the parchment & then can be topped or dipped. I found the second method to be faster & was able to make my turtles all the same size.

    1. It was probably on the thin side and you could have used less milk/cream so that it stayed thicker. That’s my guess. Thanks for trying the recipe.

  15. I made these tonight and they are delicious! My husband loves the store bought Turtles and he said these were way better than store bought! I made some milk chocolate and some white chocolate, as well as some with Score toffee bits sprinkled on top. Yummy! Thanks for the super easy recipe

    1. Glad they were voted way better than storebought! I love all your variations you made! I’d love to sample 1 of each :)

  16. Definitely add the cream to the caramel a bit at a time. Mine, like some of the others, is not setting up when prepared as directed. I made five dozen for a swap, trying to decide if it’s ok to give to others in cupcake holders (because of stickiness) or if I should scrap these and start over?

    1. Just put them in cupcake holders! People will love them, it’s homemade, it’s not from a factory, it’s the amazing thought that counts :) Thanks for trying the recipe.

  17. This is such a good idea for holiday gifts! I have to advise though, I made the recipe as written twice and both times it was a flop (using two different brands of caramel). The caramel is simply too loose, making it impossible to package them for gifts. It’s too loose to dip entirely even. I ended up melting my caramel in the microwave with no added liquid on the third try and that worked beautifully. Thank you for the inspiration :)

    1. Sorry the caramel was too runny for you as written. I have made them with Kraft brand and Werther’s brand caramels and both were fine; but caramels vary soooo much in their composition (how much water, sugar, and milk – if any) is included which will impact how runny or loose they are when melted, but it sounds like you figured it out and glad to hear things turned out okay!

  18. help! Made these today and have learned a lot! need to let caramel cool a bit or it runs all over. My question: even after several hours in fridge the caramel sticks to whatever I put them on…..ugh….help! want to give as gifts but not sure how to give them…..thanks!

  19. Hi Avery… made these today, when it is cold and snowing at my house. I left them out on the porch to firm up, but even after a few hours out there, the caramel is still pretty gooey/sticky. Is this expected?

    I used the square caramels as indicated in the recipe with 1/4 c heavy whipping cream.

    Thanks for posting this! I hope my mother enjoys her birthday treat!

    1. Yes if you know what a real Turtle tastes like, the inside has some looseness to it. I mean it should be as loose as caramel sauce, but it shouldn’t be rock hard. I don’t know if you’ve covered them with chocolate yet but that will encase everything and I think you’ll be set! Happy Bday to you mom!! So nice of you to make these for her!

  20. These were excellent!!! Instead of using parchment paper, I sprayed cupcake tins with some Pam and they turned out amazing! It was a much easier clean up as well. :) Although I did burn a bit of my chocolate while melting it in the microwave, I added some half and half to it and it turned out perfectly! Thanks for the recipe! I think they will be a hit for Halloween tomorrow!

    1. sprayed cupcake tins with some Pam <--- great idea and glad that worked out well for you! And glad you were able to save your chocolate. Yes, easy does it with the micro and chocolate. 15-second bursts usually is what I do! Enjoy your treats!

      1. I just copied you but mine aren’t coming out of the tin. Did yours pop out or did you have to loosen them abit? Maybe mine haven’t firmed up enough either.

  21. I have seen and ate Turtles but not sure if Trader Joe’s chocolate is available in my area, can you suggest an alternative chocolate….would Baker’s chocolate ( that comes in hunks) work? Wanting to put together goodie boxes for holidays and everyone would love these and the no-cook is even better! Thks

    1. Yes Baker’s Chocolate is fine. You want a fairly dark chocolate that melts smoothly. You probably could use chocolate chips, but for these, baking chocolate in hunks is preferred!

  22. I know this is probably a dumb question, but when you say square caramels – are you talking the Kraft kind or something else?

  23. Averie, these look irresistible! I had a craving earlier today for chocolate and caramel(big surprise there!) and these would have been perfect! Along with every other recipe of yours I just scrolled through… I’m totally drooling over them all! Pinned!

    1. You’re so sweet and thank you for pinning :) I can’t remember which board I saw it on today, but your Neapolitan Fudge. I really need to make it but I would seriously just pay you to make it for me. I wish I was your neighbor. I LOVE THAT STUFF :)

  24. Glittery lip gloss? Oh goodness — your daughter is MUCH trendier than me! I’m lucky if I make it out of my PJs… And it’s a miracle if I remember to put on mascara. I need lessons from her! Plus it’d give me an excuse to sample some of your baking… ;) These turtles look way better than any store-bought ones I’ve had before. Love all of that caramel & chocolate!

    1. She’s only 7, going on 17, but I let her do what she wants with makeup. She makes videos of herself applying it with her iPad. One day those videos will be so priceless :)

  25. These will be a perfect holiday treat to hand out to family and friends! A definite must-make. :)

  26. I have one word…YUM! Turtle cheesecake has always been a weakness of mine, but this looks like a delicious way to bypass all the effort of making a cheesecake when you don’t have that much time. I’m pinning this and now I have an excuse to go to Trader Joe’s! Thanks!!

  27. Hello,

    you just made my mouth run…………
    Very delicius Turtles:-)
    I must try them later to day.
    I always find inspiration in Blogland.

  28. Homemade is totally always better and these turtles are no exception!!! They look so gooey and crunchy and just….mmm! I feel like I’d be unable to stop eating them!

  29. Hoooooly smokes. This is the best thing my little eyes have seen in awhile. Homemade Turtles — what’s not to love? And four ingredients? Done and done. LOVE the extra special addition of sea salt, too!

  30. These would be great for the holiday! Do you need to worry about tempering the chocolate?