Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters Recipe

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These easy Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters are a classic holiday treat. Made with toasted pecans, homemade caramel sauce and chocolate, everyone adores this turtle candy.

Chocolate Turtle Clusters

Easy Homemade Turtle Candy

These chocolate pecan turtle clusters (aka turtle candy) are one of my favorite holiday treats. I make them every year, along with my Christmas crack, rum balls, and peanut butter balls. They’re easy to make, even if you’ve never made homemade caramel from scratch, and loved by all.

Turtle candy has been around for a long time and this recipe sticks pretty close to the original, with toasted pecans topped with caramel and melted chocolate. Simple but SO good!

This caramel pecan turtle recipe uses a homemade caramel sauce made with just a few ingredients. If you’re in a pinch, of course you can go the quick route and buy some canned caramel sauce at the store. However, the DIY version really is very simple to make and doesn’t take much time.

Chocolate and caramel just go so good together, don’t they? It’s quite a rival to the peanut butter-chocolate combo! If you like these, you will adore our Twix Cookies and our Rolo Stuffed Salted Caramel Cookies.

Chocolate Turtle Clusters on wax paper

What You’ll Need

These chocolate pecan clusters are made with just 8 ingredients – including those needed to make the caramel from scratch. Scroll down to the recipe box below for the measurements.

  • Pecans – Toasted pecans are the base of these turtle candies.
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar – The base of the homemade caramel.
  • Corn syrup
  • Sweetened condensed milk – Helps make the caramel soft and creamy.
  • Vanilla
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Shortening – Added to the chocolate for easier melting and hardening.
Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters

How to Make Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters

Turtle candy is perfect for beginner candy makers because it requires just a handful of easy steps.

  • Toast the pecans. Toast the pecans in a skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Arrange in groups of 3, leaving an inch between each cluster, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Make the caramel. Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously until it reaches 235F-240F on a candy thermometer. Stir in the vanilla.
  • Top the pecans. Add 1/2 tablespoon of caramel over each pecan cluster.
  • Melt the chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Stir in the shortening.
  • Add to the clusters. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of chocolate over the caramel on each pecan cluster.
  • Let set and serve. Allow the chocolate and caramel to cool completely and set at room temperature, then serve or store for later.
tops of Turtle Pecan Clusters

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips for making these chocolate turtles.

  • Stir the caramel constantly. After you add all of the ingredients, stir them constantly to prevent burning and be sure to keep a close eye on the temperature as well.
  • Use quality chocolate. Use a good brand of chocolate chips, like Guittard, Ghirdadelli, or Hershey, for the best flavor.
  • Give them a “turtle” shape. For the classic turtle shape, place 4 pecans in an X shape as the base.
  • Take care when melting the chocolate. While you can melt chocolate in the microwave, the double boiler method works best here since we’re using regular chocolate chips. Do not skip the shortening, as it’s key to the perfect texture when set.
  • Add a festive twist. If you’re making these for the holidays, you could add some red sprinkles on top for a fun festive look!
Chocolate Turtle Pecan Clusters on a plate

What Is A Candy Thermometer?

This type of kitchen thermometer is used only for things like melted chocolate, candy, and yes, homemade caramel. They work much quicker than a meat thermometer which can take up to 30 seconds for an accurate reading. You need to work a lot faster than that when you are using sugar.

How To Store Pecan Turtles

Store your pecan chocolate turtle clusters in an airtight container, with parchment paper between layers. It’s best to store them at room temperature, so the caramel doesn’t harden too much. However, you can refrigerate them if desired. I would leave them at room temperature for a few minutes so the caramel is easier to bite into.

More Pecan Recipes:

Process shots of how to make chocolate pecan turtle clusters
4.98 from 38 votes

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters 

These easy Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters are a classic holiday treat. Made with toasted pecans, homemade caramel sauce and chocolate, everyone adores this turtle candy.
Servings: 30
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes


  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon shortening


  • In a large skillet, toast the pecans over medium high heart for a few minutes.
  • Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the toasted pecans in groups of 3 leaving about an inch of space between each group. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Cook and stir continuously until it reaches 235-240F on a candy thermometer.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of caramel over each cluster, set aside.
  • Fill a pot about 1/4 of the way with water, and fit with a bowl that won't touch the bottom of the pot to create a double boiler.
  • Heat the pot over medium heat.
  • After letting it heat up for a few minutes, start to stir the chocolate chips until they are fully melted and smooth.
  • Stir in the shortening and spoon about 1/2 tablespoon on the top of each cluster.
  • Once the chocolate has cooled serve immediately or store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer of clusters.

Last Step:

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Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 51IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 0.4mg


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19 comments on “Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Definitively a more involved recipe than mixing ingredients but well worth the extra time to make. I made this recipe exactly according to direction, except my chocolate only came in 10 oz bags instead of 12 oz and I didn’t realize it until ready to melt it, but it was absolutely prefect! We loved these turtles

  2. 5 stars
    Made these for the first time, and they were way better than the turtles I get in Savannah Georgia. I would definitely make this again and again.