Homemade Turtles Recipe – Shugary Sweets

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Homemade Turtles with a crunchy pecan base, fresh buttery caramel, and topped with melted chocolate, these candies are a must make this holiday season! And our recipe shows you just how easy they are with 3 ingredients!

Be sure to also check out our Turtle Brownies, Turtle Fudge, and Chocolate Caramel Cookies.

Homemade turtle candy on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Why These Turtles Are The Best

Going to any fancy fudge or candy shop, turtle candy is one of my first choices to grab out of the case.

But making them at home is not only more economical, they also taste fresher!

  • Utilizing ready-made ingredients like soft caramels and chocolate chips makes assembling these candies a breeze.
  • This recipe is extremely forgiving and allows you to adjust the ingredients to your preferences or dietary needs. 
  • No ovens or long cooking times here. These homemade turtles only need a microwave and a bit of counter space to come together.

Of course using our homemade caramel recipe is the best bet for delicious results!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make homemade turtle candies.
  • Pecan Halves – Pecan halves create the illusion of a turtle’s arms and legs. And when covered in caramel and chocolate, they make an unmistakable and classic flavor combination. However, if you’re looking for a nut-free alternative, they’re easy to swap out with things like pretzel rods or Chex cereal. Toast the pecans for best flavor!
  • Soft Caramels – For ease and convenience, this recipe utilizes ready-made soft caramels, like Werthers. If you’re up to the task, you can also use ¼ batch of our homemade caramel. I prefer NOT to use the square wrapped caramels or caramel bits, as they tend to not result in a soft texture.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet chocolate chips melt quickly and evenly in the microwave and compliment the sweetness of the caramel without overdoing it.

PRO TIP: If you’re going to scale up this recipe, consider buying your chocolate in bulk. Stores like Trader Joe’s, Costco, or baking supply stores sell large bags and bars of chocolate for a fraction of the price. Just chop up the bar and melt it like chocolate chips.

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make homemade turtles.

Arrange Pecan Halves – Take 4 pecan halves and arrange them like an “X” on a parchment-lined sheet tray. This is where the signature look of the turtle comes from. Space the “X” formations about 2 inches apart so they don’t connect when covered with caramel and chocolate. 

Add Caramel – Melt the caramel in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, making sure to stir and scrape down the sides of the bowl after each interval. Once the caramel is melted, dollop a tablespoon onto the middle of each turtle, connecting the pecans.

Coat With Chocolate – Next, melt your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl the same way you did with the caramel. Then, top the caramel with a tablespoon of melted chocolate to finish off the turtle’s shell. Allow the candies to set for several hours (if you can wait that long) before transferring them to an airtight container. 

Homemade caramels stacked on eachother to serve.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you want to take the flavor to the next level, toast the pecans in the oven or on the stovetop before arranging them into the turtle formations.
  • If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the caramel and chocolate in a double boiler on the stovetop.
  • Be sure to mix the melting caramel and chocolate after each 30-second interval in the microwave to avoid over-cooking.
  • Once your turtles have fully set, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If you store them in the fridge or freezer, be aware that the chocolate will likely bloom and discolor.
Homemade turtles cooling on parchment paper after assembling.

Recipe FAQs

How long can you store homemade turtles?

At room temperature, homemade turtles will last a week in an airtight container. Avoid storing them in the fridge or freezer, so they don’t become discolored.

Can I make Turtles nut free?

Traditionally, turtles are made with pecans and caramel coated in chocolate. If you’re looking for a nut-free alternative, use bits of pretzel rods to stand in for the pecans.

Why are they called turtles?

These popular candies get their name from their final shape. Once you pile caramel and chocolate onto pecans laid out in a star formation, you end up with a candy that resembles a turtle and its shell! 

What’s the difference between chocolate turtles and millionaire candy?

Although made of the same ingredients, chocolate turtles are a layered candy, whereas millionaire candy is made by combining pecans with caramel and then coating the sticky, chewy mixture with chocolate. 

More Easy Dessert Recipes

Pecans topped with caramel and chocolate on parchment paper.

Homemade Turtles with a crunchy pecan base, fresh buttery caramel, and topped with melted chocolate, these candies are a must make this holiday season! And our recipe shows you just how easy they are with 3 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1 package (12 ounce) soft caramels
  • 2 cups (12 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Line counter with large sheet of parchment paper. Arrange pecans about 2-inches apart (3 to 4 pecans per candy).
  2. Melt caramels in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth. Or, if using our homemade caramel recipe, when the caramel reaches temperature, use a small Tablespoon cookie scoop and dollop the top of each pecan turtle with caramel. You’ll need about ¼ of the caramel in our recipe. Pour the remaining caramel into a prepared dish, or if desired, make more turtles!
  3. Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth (about 1-2 minutes total). Dollop a Tablespoon or so of chocolate on the tops of each caramel turtle. Allow to set.

Notes

  • You’ll need about 3-4 pecans per turtle, depending on the size. For that authentic turtle “look” we use 4 pecans. For best flavor, toast the pecans before using!
  • For the caramels, you can use homemade caramels (like we prefer), you’ll need about ¼ of the batch. Or use a package of store bought soft caramels. Werthers soft caramels are perfect for melting.
  • Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
  • Do not refrigerator or freeze turtles or the chocolate will change color.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1 candy

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 108Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.


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