December 21, 2023

Turtle Cookies

Thick chewy chocolate turtle cookies studded with bits of freshly toasted pecans, stuffed with a salted caramel and drizzled with chocolate.

4 from 1 vote
Yield: 16 cookies
Jump to recipe

These turtle cookies get their name from the chocolate & caramel covered pecan candies that go simply by ‘turtles’ (called so because they apparently resemble the turtle shape).

For my spin on one of these cookie box classics, I went with a dutch cocoa drop cookie dough, added pecans and chocolate chips to the dough, stuffed the cookie balls with a salted chewy caramel, and rolled the dough in finely chopped pecans. Out of the oven they get the signature ‘turtle cookie’ finish: a zig zag of melted dark chocolate.


This recipe has origins in these chocolate peanut caramel cookies (which in turn are based on my egg white cookies).

Recipe Ingredients

Butter: Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature. It should be soft enough to cream but not melty. If using salted butter, halve the amount of added salt to the recipe. 

Sugar: Fine granulated sugar. 

Salt: Fine sea salt. If using table salt, halve the amount (table salt is saltier). 

Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract. 

Baking soda: Check the date to make sure it’s fresh. This will help the cookies spread. 

Cocoa: Dutch process cocoa will give you the best chocolate flavor. 

Flour: All purpose flour, of a medium to high protein content. I use KAF which is 11.7 %. 

Pecans: I tend to buy raw pecans and then toast them at home: on a cookie sheet in an even layer, at 350 F for 10 minutes. If you buy toasted nuts, it’s still best to freshen them with a shorter toast in the oven (5 minutes, same temp). Chop them very finely for the cookie and for dipping. 

Chocolate: This can either be milk, semi-sweet or dark depending on your preference. You have the option to add some finely chopped pieces to the dough itself (for a double chocolate pecan caramel cookie) or just drizzle some on after baking. 

Caramels: Chewy soft caramels. I like the ones from Trader Joes and the ‘Favorite Day’ from Target. 


How to make Turtle Cookies 

Have your butter at a warm room temperature, so it’s very soft. Add the flavorings to the butter

Then add the sugar and beat 

Beat in the egg 

Sift in the cocoa and flour 

Stir in the ground pecans (and chocolate, if using) 

Chill the dough 

Portion the dough 

Shape dough balls around the caramel 

Dip in ground pecans 

Melt & temper the chocolate, then swirl the chocolate over the cookies 

Storing the cookies 

Both the caramel and the chocolate (the latter when tempered correctly) will firm up so that the cookies are easily stored and won’t stick together. Store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh. 

Making Turtle Cookies Ahead of Time 

You can make the cookies up to the point of stuffing them with the caramel and dipping in the ground pecans (so stop right before baking). Set them on a parchment lined cookie sheet or plate and freeze them for 10 minutes until solid. 


Once they are rock hard, you can transfer them to a container or a ziplock bag for longer storage. Allow them to come to room temperature before baking. Drizzle the chocolate on them after the cookies are completely cool, as instructed. 


Adapting this recipe for dietary restrictions 


Gluten free turtle cookies: Use a 1 to 1 gluten free flour swap. I have also had success using oat flour in place of the all purpose (use 2 tablespoons more so 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons). 


Dairy free turtle cookies: Use a dairy free butter like miyokos for a 1 to 1 swap. 


Alternate nut turtle cookies: If you’re making these for someone who cannot have tree nuts, you can use peanuts. 

Turtle Cookie Recipe 

Turtle Cookies

Thick chewy chocolate turtle cookies studded with bits of freshly toasted pecans, stuffed with a salted caramel and drizzled with chocolate.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 8 hours
Yields: 16 cookies
4 from 1 vote


  • 113 g or ½ cup butter unsalted and softened
  • 200 g or 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g or ½ cup dutch process cocoa
  • 130 g or 1 cup all purpose flour high protein
  • 1/2 cup Finely chopped pecans
  • Chewy caramels
  • 50-75 g Semi-Sweet or Dark Chocolate


The day before baking:

  • Beat the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla for 2-3 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds.
  • Sift in the cocoa, the flour and the baking soda. Beat to combine.
  • Fold in the pecans and chocolate chunks. Cover the bowl and set in the fridge overnight to chill.

The day of baking:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Scoop 1.5 tablespoons of dough onto the prepared sheets. With each dough ball, shape it to make a little bowl, then press in a chewy caramel. Squeeze the dough around the ball so just some of the caramel is peeking out the center.
  • Dip the cookie dough in some of the ground pecans to cover the top.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • When the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate in the microwave (15 second increments, stop when ⅔ of the chocolate has melted then stir until smooth).
  • Use a whisk to swirl the chocolate over the cooled cookies or pour it into a piping bag and pipe it over the cookies in a zigzag pattern.

Did you make this recipe?

Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam


Rate + Review

What do you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Reviews

  1. Hello, going by the comment on Werther’s caramels didn’t work out, what brand of caramels did you use? I’d love to try this recipe but I do not want to be wasting my ingredients. I hope you answer this question. Thank you.

  2. 4 stars
    These cookies were delicious! However the caramels I used definitely didn’t give the desired effect. I used Werther’s squares, and they didn’t melt in the oven, and stayed rock hard on the cookie after baking 🙁 I think another brand of softer caramels would make this the perfect cookie. The actual cookie recipe itself is delicious, soft, and flavorful!