Homemade Turtle Candy

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Turtles Candy – Baked pecans covered in a delicious homemade caramel and topped with with melted chocolate! These treats make perfect neighbor gifts for the holidays!

If you’re on the hunt for candies and cookies to give out during the holidays, make sure you include these chocolate turtles! For the best of both worlds, you can also make turtle thumbprint cookies which have all the same flavors as these candies.

Chocolate turtles on a white plate

Chocolate Turtles

I absolutely adore the combination of chocolate, caramel, and nuts. I have a recipe for Chocolate Pecan Caramels that I simply love, and I don’t know why I have never tried making turtles before.

Guys, this Turtles Candy is simply amazing! Better than any turtle candies I have ever purchased. The crunchy pecans, the chewy caramel, the chocolate that melts in your mouth. Simply incredible.

Why are they called turtles? If you use your imagination, the pecans covered in caramel and chocolate look like little turtles. 😉

Step by step pictures of making homemade turtles

How to Make turtle candy

Don’t be intimidated about the candy making process, these turtles are really quite simple to make.

PECANS. You want to start by toasting your pecans. It makes a huge difference in the flavor of the finished product, so don’t skip this step. Just place your pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° for about 10 minutes. They will smell amazing!

CARAMEL. Before you start making your caramel, you want to arrange your pecans into little clusters. I line my pans with silicone liners, but parchment paper would work too. I like to use 3-4 pecans, depending on size.

As soon as your caramel is ready, quickly spoon the hot caramel on top of the clusters, making sure each pecan is covered with some caramel. Don’t worry about perfection, just work fast. If the caramel starts to set up, you can pop it back on the stove for a minute or two.

CHOCOLATE. At this point, you can let the caramel set up and add the chocolate later. Or you can add it now. When you are ready, just melt the chocolate and oil in a small glass bowl in the microwave at half power, stirring often. Then spoon a small amount of chocolate on top of each turtle. Use the back of your spoon to make a little swirl in the chocolate as you lift it.

Now all you have to do is wait for the chocolate to set up. Be patient, it can take awhile. Mine weren’t totally set up for a couple of hours. Of course, you don’t have to wait that long to eat one! 🙂

turtle candy Variations and substitutions

I don’t have time to make caramel what do I do? You can use soft store-bought caramels. You just need to melt them in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between them. If the caramels are a bit tough I would add a little spoonful of water to yield a smoother end result. Just pour this over the pecans to solidify them together.

Ways to mix it up?

  • Have the base be a pretzel, top it with chocolate and then with some caramel and a pecan.
  • Top with sea salt to give more contrast in flavors
  • You can also use melted white chocolate on top instead of milk chocolate

Close up of turtle candy on a white plate

How to Store Turtle Candy?

Regardless of whether you’re making these to give to neighbors, or just keeping a stash handy for yourself, 😉 store these at room temperature in a container so the caramel stays soft and no one breaks their teeth on them! 

The flavor combination of nuts caramel and chocolate is always a winner!

for more holiday goodies, try:

Every bite of these homemade caramel turtles is decadent. A perfect treat for chocolate caramel lovers!

Turtle Candy Recipe

4.73 from 22 votes
Homemade Turtles Candy recipe - Baked pecans covered in a delicious homemade caramel and topped with with melted chocolate! These treats make perfect neighbor gifts for the holidays!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rest 1 hour
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 36
Calories 6200 kcal
Author on lilluna.com


  • 3 cups whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • dash salt
  • 7 oz sweetened condensed milk (half of a 14 oz can)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil or shortening


  1. Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for about 10 minutes or till lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool. Arrange in clusters of 3-4 on silicone liners or parchment paper.

  2. Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 6 quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.
  3. Continue cooking and stirring till mixture reaches 235-240 degrees. I like to use the ice water test, it's more accurate. Drop a small spoonful of the hot caramel into a bowl of ice water. When you take it out, you should be able to roll it into a ball. Then it's done.
  4. Quickly spoon the caramel over the pecan clusters, making sure caramel is touching each of the pecans. Let sit to harden.
  5. Melt the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave at half power, stirring often till smooth. Spoon chocolate on top of each layer of caramel. Let sit for 1-2 hours, or till hardened.

Recipe inspired by Jamie Cooks It Up!


These would make an awesome addition to a cookie plate if you’re the type that makes plates of treats for the neighbors during the holidays. 🙂

Thanks for sharing this recipe with us Kara! For more amazingly delicious recipes by her, head over to Creations by Kara!!


Kara Cook

Hi! I’m Kara from Creations by Kara, and I’m addicted to creating pretty and yummy things. I love sharing home decor ideas, DIY projects, tasty recipes, and simple tips! I hope that I am inspiring women everywhere to use their creativity to build a better life.

More by Kara

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Recipe Rating


  1. My MIL and aunt-in-law make turtles and other amazing chocolate treats every Christmastime and I thought it was a big secret and complicated recipe! WHAT. Now that I’m far from home state, I’ll have to make some up myself. 🙂

    1. I melt chocolate pieces & put small rounds on paper, then I add pecans, then caramel sauce then another dollup of chocolate & put in freezer about 20 minutes. I get chocolate melts at craft store. This way there is a chocolate base for pecans & caramel sauce.

  2. I might just be missing it but I don’t see where the 1/2 tsp vanilla is used in the recipe? Is it added into the caramel mixture before the sweetened condensed milk? These look amazing and much easier than I expected!

  3. The recipe for turtles never adds the Carmel to the corn syrup, brown sugar, etc…….
    What ? ? ? ? ? ?
    So I added Carmel chips anyway with the rest of the ingredients and it is almost to soft and so so so sugary you almost collapse from sugar. They are horrible unless i just can’t cook. But seeing how you screwed the recipe…….. and wasted my money. Send me a reimbursement of $30 please ! ! !

      1. Your recipe didn’t tell her to add caramels pieces that’s what the sweeten condensed milk is for don’t be rude to lil Luna like you quoted u can’t cook don’t blame it on lil Luna.

  4. I made these tonight to bring to out of state friends of ours this weekend as a thank you for hosting us! They look (and taste lol) absolutely amazing! They are also my moms favorite candy whose 88th birthday is next week! I feel another batch coming soon!! Thank you for the incredible recipe (I must say I was tempted to cheat and buy Kraft caramels but I wanted them perfect!)

  5. 3 stars
    I have made these twice and both times the caramel has been rather soft. When you pick them up it starts slowly drooping down. I put them in a container in the fridge and as long as they were cold you get them out fairly easily. But as soon as they started getting to room temp, they stuck to each other and you had fight to get them out and the pecans broke. Any suggestions? They taste good but want to make these to put in christmas boxes for friends.

        1. 4 stars
          The homemade caramel never set, it was still soft. So I boiled the left over Caramel again to 240-250 deg, and I’ll see what happens… The Caramel is delicious. I put the ones I made in frig, and i will ‘ make Chocolate and hopefully they will be perfect.

  6. 5 stars
    Mine are currently setting up and look amazing. I don’t have a candy thermometer and I’ve never been good at the ice water method, so I made an educated guess and took the caramel off The STove when I thought it should be done. Its setting up so I think I guessed right.

    This recipe made a lot! I got just over 4 dozen. I also did some with PECANs and some with cashews instead of pecans.

    I lightly sprinkled coarse salt on top of the chocolate for salted caramel chocolate clusters.
    THANK you for The Recipe!

      1. 5 stars
        Just fyi, they turned out great with the dark corn SYRUP. The color was slightly darker but the taste and texture was spot on! I took them to a small new years eve party.. all 3 dozen were gone long before midnight. I had a little extra caramel so I put it in a dish, let it set up, cut it into squares and dipped it in chocolate for the people who were not a fan of nuts. They held there shape like a dream. These will be a new holiday tradition at my house. Thanks!

  7. 3 stars
    I just made these twice for my husband for valentines day. The first time the caramel ran all over the place so they all stuck together, I am going to call them alligators Lol. But being me I refuse to be out done, the second time I was for sure they were perfect but as they set they were so hard that one actually shattered into pieces that I accidentally drop on the countertop. Help me. This is his favorite candy and I would love to perfect it. I broke the first ones apart and put chocolate on them. He just walked in. Hope he likes them

  8. hello, I would like to know does the caramel come out soft or hard? I would like to try the recipe but I would rather a soft caramel.. thank you

  9. 4 stars
    Thanks for the recipe. flavor is excellent but my caramel was too hard. I think high altitude might cause this to cook differently. was very glad i used the ice water test but should have finished cooking at a fairly soft ball stage. made a 9 degree adjustment for my 4500 ft elev, but the candy was already at hard ball stage at under 215 degrees. (i tested my candy thermometer ahead of time to make sure it was accurate.) the candy didn’t boil up the sides of the pot, either, so maybe elevation affects that as well. I’d try the recipe again using a smaller pot and reduce the cooking time/temperature, cooking to soft ball stage only.

  10. 5 stars
    Each year i would go to a local candy store to buy turtles for my wife. The store was closed this year and i found this recipe. my wife and i made these and thoroughly enjoyed the turtles. absolutely delicious carmel recipe. thank you!

  11. The recipe calls for 1/2 tsp shortening or vegetable oil, but does not say how to use it. Can you explain, please. Thanks.

  12. 5 stars
    Easy to make! First time making caramel and it turned out great! my caramel was too hot the first minute or so and it really ran everywhere. so I went back after it had cooled down and thickened up and put more caremel on top of the pecans. Worked great! the only problem I had was with the chocolate. after 4 hours the chocolate still hadn’t set. I’ve put them in the fridge and hope that works. Any suggestions? i want to be able to layer them in my container and definitely can’t.

    1. I am glad you tried these! It does take a while for the chocolate to set. Did the fridge help? I was going to say, I like sticking them in there to set faster! I hope they did.

  13. 5 stars
    These turtles taste better than nestle turtles and they are so easy. My son and I doubled the recipe and substituted soy milk. we made three cookie sheets of turtles. they taste so good even without addition of chocolate. these are to die for!