Our easy Homemade Turtles are made with chewy caramel, toasted pecans, and rich chocolate for one of the BEST Christmas candy recipes that you really can (and should!) enjoy all year round. They can be made without a candy thermometer in under 30 minutes for a fun treat that makes a great edible gift for friends and neighbors!

Make sure to also check out our Rolo Pretzels, Easy Caramel Pecan Brownies, and Chocolate Thumbprint Turtle Cookies next!

Easy homemade turtles candy on an overturned baking sheet with parchment paper on it.

Whenever I go to a candy counter or quality chocolate shop, I'm torn between my two favorites: English toffee with almonds or the chocolate pecan turtle clusters made with chewy caramel. The flavor and texture of nuts, chocolate, and toffee or caramel are totally irresistible!

But they are also really fun and easy to make at home. Plus, they taste better and fresher since they are made with the freshest ingredients.

And if you use whole pecans and your imagination, you can kind of see how they got their name since they really do kind of look like little baby turtles with chocolate shells on their backs and pecan legs sticking out.

Why this recipe works

  • We're making easy homemade turtles here by using premade caramels melted with a little evaporated milk. But you can always use the homemade caramel recipe in this chocolate salted caramel pretzel bark instead!
  • Melting chocolate chips with coconut oil gives them snap and shine without needing to go to the trouble of tempering chocolate.
  • Nobody cares about turtles looking picture perfect! They somehow manage it without any decorating skills required thanks to the beauty of the chocolate and a whole pecan or sprinkle of salt on top.

Ingredient Notes

  • Pecans: Whether you choose to chop your pecans or use them whole, you'll want to toast them first to bring out the best of their nutty flavor.
  • Chocolate: I wanted milk chocolate turtles, so I used milk chocolate chips and added a little coconut oil to help them melt smoothly and set up with a nice snap and shine. If you want dark chocolate turtles, the Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers work well without needing to add the coconut oil.
  • Caramel: You'll want chewy, soft caramels that will melt smoothly if you aren't making caramel from scratch for these pecan turtles.
  • Salt: This is totally optional but you won't believe the difference that a sprinkle of salt makes on your homemade turtles. My favorite is Maldon flaky salt, but you could use any coarse sea salt or fleur de sel if you have it on hand.
Ingredients for making homemade turtles.

How to Make This Recipe

Start by toasting whole pecans, either in the oven or on the stovetop. I think it's easiest to do this in the oven by simply spreading the pecans on a baking sheet and popping them in a 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes until they have a nutty aroma. Set a timer so you don't forget, and consider shaking the pan halfway through just to make sure they toast evenly.

But you can also toast pecans in a clean pan on the stovetop over medium heat by stirring the pecans occasionally for 3-5 minutes until slightly darkened and the nuts start to smell fragrant and warm. Be careful not to burn them. Let the pecans cool before handling.

Whole pecans on a baking sheet for toasting.

In a medium bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels with evaporated milk. A little cream or half-and-half will also work just as well. Microwave in 20-second bursts of heat, stirring between each interval, until melted and smooth. At first it won't look like it's working, but after 2-3 minutes the caramels will melt smoothly. Set aside to cool slightly.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Either arrange whole pecans in groups of 3-5 or chop the pecans and spoon tablespoonfuls of the nuts into small mounds.

Spoon about 2-3 teaspoons of the warm caramel over the pecan clusters, trying to make sure it touches all of the nuts to hold them together.

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a medium bowl by microwaving with 20-second bursts of heat again. Stir between each interval, stopping when the chocolate is almost fully melted but not completely so you don't overheat the chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted.

Spoon about 2-3 teaspoons of melted chocolate over each cluster of caramel and nuts, swirling the top with the back of your spoon for a decorative finish.

If desired, press a whole toasted pecan in the top of the chocolate or sprinkle with some flaky Maldon salt before the chocolate has a chance to firm up. Both are delicious, but I have to say that I'm very partial to the ones with that extra salt on top. They are so, so good!

Let the candy set until the chocolate sets up completely before removing the turtles from the parchment paper. If you find that the caramel is sticking to the paper too much, try sticking them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and the caramel should release easily after that.

Freshly made homemade turtles with melted chocolate still on top before it has had a chance to set up.

Recipe FAQ's

Can I make turtles that are fully-coated in chocolate?

You can freeze the caramel and pecan centers, then dip them so they are fully covered in chocolate. You will probably need double the amount of chocolate though so you don't run out.

Can I make these in muffin tins instead of on a baking sheet?

You could definitely line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners to hold your candy turtles as you assemble them.

Recipe Tips

  • Storage: Keep the turtles in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks. They are fine at room temperature if your house is cool, but they usually do best in the fridge.
  • Freezing: These freeze beautifully for at least 2-3 months in an airtight container. Just let them thaw on the counter for 30-60 minutes to warm up before enjoying.
  • Sticky turtles: We are dealing with caramel here, so naturally your turtles are likely to be a bit sticky. But after sticking them in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes the caramel should release easily from the parchment paper. But it's best to store them sitting flat in a single layer with small squares of parchment paper between them.
Caramel covered in chocolate over chopped toasted pecans.

More Candy Recipes

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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.

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Easy Homemade Turtles Candy Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Amy Nash
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 -30 turtles
Our easy Homemade Turtles are made with chewy caramel, toasted pecans, and rich chocolate for one of the BEST Christmas candy recipes that you really can (and should!) enjoy all year round. They can be made without a candy thermometer in under 30 minutes for a fun treat that makes a great edible gift for friends and neighbors!

Equipment

  • baking sheets
  • parchment paper

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ½ cups whole pecan halves
  • 1 (11-ounce) package soft caramels, unwrapped (about 55 caramels)
  • 3 Tablespoons evaporated milk, half-and-half, or cream
  • 1 (11.5-ounce) package milk chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil or shortening
  • Maldon flaky salt for decorating (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Start by toasting the pecans on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 8-10 minutes or on the stovetop over medium heat stirring the pecans occasionally for 3-5 minutes until slightly darkened and the nuts start to smell fragrant and warm. Be careful not to burn them. Let the pecans cool before handling.
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray, then arrange clusters of 3-5 pecans spaced apart slightly from each other for each turtle. Alternately, you can chop your pecans and make small piles of about 1 tablespoon each of the chopped pecans. Consider reserving a handful of whole pecan halves for decorating the tops of each turtle.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels and evaporated milk, half-and-half, or cream. Microwave in 20-second bursts of heat, stirring between each interval, until melted and smooth. At first it won't look like it's working, but after 2-3 minutes the caramels will melt smoothly. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of the warm caramel over the pecan clusters, trying to make sure it touches all of the nuts to hold them together.
  • Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a medium bowl by microwaving with 20-second bursts of heat again. Stir between each interval, stopping when the chocolate is almost fully melted but not completely so you don't overheat the chocolate. Continue to stir until the chocolate is fully melted.
  • Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of melted chocolate over each cluster of caramel and nuts, swirling the top with the back of your spoon for a decorative finish.
  • If desired, press a whole toasted pecan in the top of the chocolate or sprinkle with some flaky Maldon salt before the chocolate has a chance to firm up. Let the candy set until the chocolate firms up completely before removing the turtles from the parchment paper. If the caramel is sticking to the parchment paper too much, try sticking them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and the caramel should release easily after that.

Notes

  • Storage: Keep the turtles in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks with a layer of parchment or waxed paper between them. They are fine at room temperature for 1-2 weeks if your house is cool, but they usually do best in the fridge.
  • Freezing: These freeze beautifully for at least 2-3 months in an airtight container. Just let them thaw on the counter for 30-60 minutes to warm up before enjoying.
  • Caramel: I used Kraft caramels, but Peter's or Werther's would also work. If you want to make the caramel from scratch, my favorite caramel recipe for turtles is the one in my Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark recipe.
  • Chocolate: I used good old Nestle Tollhouse milk chocolate chips, but Ghiradelli or Guittard also make excellent chips. Or you could chop up a bar of milk chocolate (we like the Pound Plus bars from Trader Joe's) and use that instead.
  • Pecans: Really you could make these turtles with any nut you like, or if you have a nut allergy, I love subbing chopped pretzels for pecans.
  • Toasting pecans: But you can also toast pecans in a clean pan on the stovetop over medium heat by stirring the pecans occasionally for 3-5 minutes until slightly darkened and the nuts start to smell fragrant and warm. Be careful not to burn them. Let the pecans cool before handling.
  • Fully-coated turtles: You can freeze the caramel and pecan centers, then dip them so they are fully covered in chocolate. You will probably need double the amount of chocolate though so you don't run out. These are less sticky and messy once finished, but they don't look quite as much like traditional turtles.

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 36mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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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.

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