Rich and delicious, these easy homemade Turtle Brownies are studded with crunchy pecan pieces and have a layer of creamy caramel in the middle. This easy recipe is perfect for last-minute treats for family movie night, or for a large gathering during the holidays!

We definitely love brownies around here! Some of our other popular brownie recipes are Fudgy Frosted Chocolate Mint BrowniesPeanut Butter Swirl Brownies, Gooey Swirled Nutella BrowniesIrresistible Mississippi Mud Brownies, Cream Cheese Brownies, and Thick, Fudgy, Chewy, Ultimate Brownies.

Turtle brownies stacked on top of each other.
Table of Contents
  1. Why We Love This Recipe
  2. What You'll Need
  3. How To Make Caramel Turtle Brownies
  4. Recipe FAQ's
  5. Tips for Success
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. More Brownie & Bar Recipes You'll Love
  8. Easy Turtle Brownies Recipe

I vividly remember the first time I ever had these easy turtle brownies. I was in high school at a family friend's party, and they served these up cold from the refrigerator. Everybody went nuts, and they were so delicious that I remember asking my mom to ask her friend if I could have the recipe.

This was the best turtle brownie recipe even back then, and I think I probably made these once a week for the rest of my high school days. Other than chewy brownies, my favorite high school treat was chocolate cupcakes with rainbow chip frosting. To say I had a sweet tooth is a bit of an understatement!

This turtle brownies recipe is what I would actually call semi-homemade because you start with a German chocolate cake mix. While I generally prefer my goodies to be homemade from scratch, there's just something about this box mix recipe that just rings every bell for me. It's got amazing textures with the slightly crunchy pecans, the soft, chewy caramel, and the gooey brownie. As a finishing touch, adding a sweet layer of powdered sugar to the top of the brownies just takes it to that next level.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • Made with a box cake mix instead of a brownie mix, it's super quick and easy to make turtle brownies!
  • Perfect for movie nights or festive treats.
  • You can customize them using your favorite caramels and different types of nuts.

What You'll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Brownies

  • German Chocolate Cake Mix - Using a brownie mix makes these turtle brownies super quick and easy.
  • Butter - You'll need softened butter, so use some that has been at room temperature for a while, or heat your butter briefly in the microwave.
  • Evaporated Milk - Helps make them fudgy.
  • Pecans - To add a bit of crunch and nutty flavor.

Caramel Filling

  • Caramels - I use unwrapped caramels.
  • Evaporated Milk - Makes the filling creamy.
  • Chocolate Chips - I use semi-sweet chocolate chips because the caramel layer has so much sweetness already, it's a good balance.
  • Powdered Sugar - For sprinkling on top to make these decadent brownies extra special!
Ingredients for easy caramel pecan turtle brownies.

How To Make Caramel Turtle Brownies

Prepare oven and baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lining it with a parchment paper sling with the paper hanging over the edge so that you can lift the brownies out after they have finished cooling for easy cutting. Alternatively, just spray the baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix caramels and evaporated milk. Place the unwrapped caramels in a large glass bowl along with ½ cup of evaporated milk and set over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Occasionally stir the mix until the caramels are completely melted and combined with the evaporated milk. It may take a while, but you can work on the brownie batter while the caramels are melting. Alternatively, you can microwave caramels by first putting both the caramels and evaporated milk into a large microwave-safe bowl. Then microwave it in 30-second intervals, stirring the mixture between heating times.

Caramels and evaporated milk in a glass bowl.

Make brownie batter. While the caramels are melting, combine the cake mix, softened butter, ⅓ cup of evaporated milk, and pecans in a large bowl and mix together using a large spoon until it all comes together. This brownie batter will be very thick, more like cookie dough.

Bake half of mixture. Divide the brownie batter in half and crumble or press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan, then bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until slightly set.

Assemble the brownies. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle ½ cup of chocolate chips on top in a single layer. Pour the melted caramel topping over the the entire pan of brownies. Next, crumble the rest of the brownie batter on top of the caramel, or use your fingers to make small discs of brownie batter to gently lay on top of the caramel. It's okay if some of the caramel bits peek through.

Bake brownies. Return the brownies to the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until the top is set. Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate brownies for several hours until they are well-chilled. When ready to serve, cut into small rectangles or squares. You can also generously dust them with powdered sugar, if desired.

Baked and cooled turtle brownies cut into 16 squares.

Recipe FAQ's

What is a turtle brownie made of?

A turtle brownie is made of the essential components of turtle candies, which is where they get their name. Chocolate, pecans, and caramel are the three main ingredients of turtle candies, so it just makes sense to add them all into an easy-to-eat brownie bar!

What makes brownies fudgy vs cakey?

Brownies get their fudginess from their high fat-to-flour ratio. These brownies are guaranteed to be fudgy, especially with the added caramel sauce in the middle!

How long do brownies last in the fridge?

To store these brownies, put them in an airtight container or wrap them in plastic wrap. You can keep these brownies in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, or at room temperature for up to 4 days. You can also freeze brownies for up to 3 months, but they are best enjoyed freshly baked!

Tips for Success

  • Letting the turtle brownies cool first before serving them will allow them to be properly set, so they're not crumbly or soggy when you serve them.
  • Serve warm brownies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for extra decadence.
  • Alternatively, serve brownies with heavy cream or whipped cream on top.

Substitutions and Variations

  • You can use vegetable oil instead of softened butter.
  • Use regular milk, half and half, or heavy cream instead of evaporated milk in a pinch.
  • Make your own fudgy homemade brownies from scratch instead of a box mix.
  • You can make your own caramel sauce from scratch using light corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream.
  • Add some peanut butter to the mix, or use my peanut butter swirl brownie recipe for the brownie base.
  • Use chopped peanuts in the brownie mix instead of pecans.

More Brownie & Bar Recipes You'll Love

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

Stay in the know

Easy Turtle Brownies

5 from 13 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18 brownies
Rich and delicious, these easy homemade Turtle Brownies are studded with crunchy pecan pieces and have a layer of creamy caramel in the middle.

Ingredients
  

Brownie batter

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Caramel filling

  • 60 unwrapped caramels
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lining it with a parchment paper sling with the paper hanging over the edge so that you can lift the brownies out after they have finished cooling for easy cutting. Alternatively, just spray the baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the unwrapped caramels in a large glass bowl along with ½ cup of evaporated milk and set over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally until the caramels are completely melted and combined with the evaporated milk. It may take a while but you can work on the brownie batter while the caramels are melting. Alternatively, you can microwave caramels by first putting both the caramels and evaporated milk into a large microwave-safe bowl. Then microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring the mixture between heating times.
  • While the caramels are melting, combine the cake mix, softened butter, ⅓ cup of evaporated milk, and pecans in a large bowl and mix together using a large spoon until it all comes together. This brownie batter will be very thick, more like cookie dough.
  • Divide the brownie batter in half and crumble or press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan, then bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until slightly set.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle ½ cup of chocolate chips on top in a single layer. Pour the melted caramel topping over the the entire pan of brownies. Next, crumble the rest of the brownie batter on top of the caramel, or use your fingers to make small discs of brownie batter to gently lay on top of the caramel. It's okay if some of the caramel bits peek through.
  • Return the brownies to the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until the top is set. Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate brownies for several hours until they are well-chilled. When ready to serve, dust generously with powdered sugar and cut into small rectangles.

Notes

  • Storage: Put brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, or at room temperature for up to 4 days.
  • These can also be made with a devil's food chocolate cake mix or other cake mix instead of German chocolate.

Nutrition

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 229mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 204IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

This post was originally published in August, 2016. The photos and content were updated in October, 2022.

Share This With the World

PinYummly

Related Recipes

About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    We can't do it all semi-homemade is a life saver. These look delish and have all of my favorite things in them!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh man, these look GOOD! Love the caramel filling, and I am so there with you on the rainbow chip frosting. It's the only frosting I still buy from a can, because it's just so tasty!

    1. I know! Same here - there is always a can of it in my pantry, just in case. 🙂 I'm so glad they brought it back!

  3. I thought that it was interesting that the "pecans" were not in the directions.  I chopped them and added at the same time as the chocolate chips.   I expected them to be thicker,  but turned out pretty good.

    1. Sorry about that! Yes, you could sprinkle them on with the chocolate chips, or just mix them into the brownie base, which is what I usually do.