Homemade Turtles

Chewy caramel and sweet chocolate with a crunch of toasted pecans made right at home.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins
1 dozen

A decadent combination of our favorite dessert components, turtles are the ideal treat to satisfy a hankering for chewy caramel and sweet chocolate with the savory crunch of toasted pecans.

While they may seem like a tricky confection to make, our turtles recipe makes the whole process quite simple using ingredients like sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup for a foolproof caramel.

Homemade Turtles on parchment paper
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christina Daley; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

How to Make Homemade Turtles

Boil brown sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup, and butter for a few minutes on the stovetop to create a rich and aromatic caramel. While the mixture is still hot, stir in vanilla and pecans, and scoop the sticky filling into mounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Then, chill until the mounds set into chewy disks of caramel and pecan.

Melt semisweet chocolate, and dunk the mounds in the chocolate. Remove to form a thin layer of chocolate on the mounds. Finish the disks with a sprinkling of flake salt before placing them back in the fridge to encourage the chocolate to solidify.

The final product is a thin layer of chocolate covering a salty-sweet filling that is both toothsome and creamy as it melts in your mouth.

Don't fuss with getting the chocolate coating pristine either. The beauty of homemade turtles, and homemade candy more generally, is that they should feel scratch made. These take time and care. It should show.


  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • Flake salt (optional)


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Finely chop 1/2 cup toasted pecans, leaving the remaining 1 1/2 cups whole.

  2. In a medium saucepan, stir together brown sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 240°F, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract and baking soda.

  3. Add chopped and whole pecan halves and stir for one minute until caramel begins to thicken slightly. Working quickly, use a spoon to scoop 2 tablespoons of mixture in a mound on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used, yielding 12 caramel-pecan mounds. Transfer baking sheet to refrigerator until mounds have solidified and are no longer warm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

  4. Over a double boiler or in the microwave, melt chocolate until smooth. Coat each caramel mound in chocolate, gently lifting the mound out of the chocolate with a fork allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Return chocolate covered mound to its place on baking sheet. If using, sprinkle surface with flake salt while chocolate is still warm. Repeat with remaining mounds, chocolate, and flake salt. Once all turtles are coated, return baking sheet to refrigerator to allow chocolate to harden, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

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