Chocolate Turtles are a bite-sized treat made with crunchy pecans, caramel, and dark chocolate. Now, you can make a healthier version at home, using only 4 simple ingredients!
Why Is It Called a Chocolate Turtle?
Chocolate Turtles were first introduced in 1918 by Demet’s Candy Company. They are called “turtles” because the pecan pieces sticking out of the dark chocolate topping sometimes look like a cute turtle with a chocolate shell.
How to Make Them From Scratch
The store-bought candy features a gooey caramel over the pecans, but you can make Chocolate Turtles from scratch using something much easier at home– dates!
Have you ever tried date caramel? Dates have a natural caramel-like flavor, and a soft, sticky consistency that make the perfect filling for this recipe. No special equipment needed to make a fancy caramel sauce!
Step #1: To make these healthy chocolate turtles, you’ll start by splitting the dates in half and removing the pit. Make sure you buy soft & squishy dates for this recipe (not ones that look dry in a bulk bin) so they will “stick” to the pecans.
To make a turtle, press 4 pecan halves into each date half, making an “X” shape on top. (Like 4 little turtle legs!)
Step #2: Next, drizzle some melted dark chocolate on top of the pecans. I use about 1 teaspoon per turtle, but you can add as much chocolate as you like.
Just make sure that the pecan “legs” are sticking out a bit!
Step #3: Complete the look by slicing a few pecan halves in half cross-wise, to make a smaller turtle “head.” Press the half into the top of the turtle, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt for a nice contrast of sweet and salty flavor.
Place the turtles in the freezer to set for 15 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm. You can serve these right away, or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Update Note: I originally posted this recipe in December 2013, but have updated it in 2020 to make the the treat look more like “turtles.” For the original simple version, use only 1 pecan in each date half, then top with chocolate. It doesn’t look like a turtle, but it still tastes just as good!
Easy Chocolate Turtles
- 6 large, squishy Medjool dates
- 54 pecan halves (about 1 scant cup)
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips , melted
- Flaky sea salt
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet (use one that will fit in your freezer) and split the dates in half, removing the pits. Arrange them on the baking sheet. This recipe works best if your dates are soft and squishy, but if the dates feel dry, you can soak them in warm water for 15 minutes before getting started.
- Top each date half with 4 pecan halves, making the shape of an "X" on top. Press the pecans into the dates, so they'll stick in place.
- Use a spoon to drizzle about a teaspoon of melted chocolate over the middle of the pecans, making a shell on top. Make sure the pecan legs are still sticking out of the chocolate to create the "turtle" look.
- Cut 6 pecan halves in half, cross-wise, to create smaller turtle "heads." Place one half on each of the 12 turtles that have been coated in chocolate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt on top, the place the pan in the freezer to set until the chocolate is firm, about 10 minutes.
- Serve the chocolate turtles right away, or transfer them to an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to a week. You can serve them chilled for a crunchy texture, or let them come to room temperature again for a softer consistency.
If you try these Chocolate Turtles, please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from each other’s experience.
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite holiday treat? Be sure to try my easy Vegan Fudge and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies if you haven’t already!
Questions and Reviews
WOW! This looks amazing and so easy to make! It just so happens I have all the ingredients – can’t wait to try! I love the idea of using dates as “caramel”!
I’m excited over these vegan recipes lately, ever since I begun eating more vegan because of allergies it’s been hard to come across the great recipes as there was before, since everyone’s all about paleo.
Anyways, totally off tangent but these look delicious! Medjool dates are totally a magical little food. It always surprised me how sweet they really are.
I can’t believe I’ve never thought of something like this before, these are gorgeous!
What a clever recipe and so simple!!! I usually blend my dates to make caramel but the pecans in your turtles fit so perfectly in the date halves!! Its adorable! These would be good freezer treats for me since i like having stuff to grab and go with.
I just got done making these! They are so easy and delicious that I am going to have a hard time not eating them all before my husband gets home. Thank you!
Funny, I made these for TDay– little individual pecan pies. I filled my dates with raw almond butter, stuffed a pecan in it, and then dipped it in melted raw (is it raw after being melted?) unsweetened cacao paste. The sweetness of the date was enough for me (although I enjoy unsweetened chocolate). I sprinkled cinnamon or coconut flakes or finishing salt.
I was thinking of doing this for all my dried fruit/nuts/nut butters. For some reason, it is more satisfying combined like this than when I eat on each item individually.
So simple and easy to do 🙂 . I will make my own chocolate 🙂 Do you like the taste more with salt? Personally I prefer it without salt.
Megan, I wish I could see things the way you do – you make such simple, wholesome things into divine treasures! I’m really looking forward to surprising my family with these.
These would make wonderful hostess gifts! I have all the ingredients on hand and will make some this afternoon – yum! Just wondering, do they need to stay refrigerated (does the chocolate get melty at room temp?) Thank you Megan for all your inspiring healthy recipes!
I think if you left out the coconut oil, it would be more likely to stay solid at room temperature.
Where does it say coconut oil?
When I originally posted this recipe in 2012, I used to add a teaspoon of coconut oil to the chocolate to make it easier to spread on the turtles… but that also gives them a hint of coconut flavor and makes the chocolate melt WAY faster in your hand, so I took it out of the recipe.
Wow, these are genius! My Grandpa is the biggest Turtle fan and I always get him a box for Christmas, though now that I am vegan I will have to find an alternative and these are perfect! How cool! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Megan, I’ve been scanning your website for the past couple months and your simple ingredient recipes look and sound amazing, I can’t wait to try them. Thanks for sharing! I’ve noticed that you use medjool dates a lot and was wondering if you buy them from the store or if there is a certain online company that you order them from?
Did you soaked the pecans beforehand ?? or you can eat them raw?
Good one, Megan ! Thank you ….
Thanks for this fun & mouth-watering recipe!
My dad loves turtles, but he’s been dieting for various health reasons! Now I can load his stocking with treats, without loading him up on sugar!
Going to make these today. Keep the recipes coming! I find that the recipes on this site are by far the easiest and tastiest to make and please my family.
I’ve made these twice now and they are a real crowd pleaser!!!! Everyone LOVES them, and they really are easy!
this is probably the best thing i’ve tasted in the past twenty years. i stuffed mine with pecan butter instead of whole pecans and it is insane. i’m limiting myself to 2 pieces a day but i could easily eat the entire batch.
Just saw this recipe and needed something to take tonight to little wine gathering. I had all ingredients except for the dates … BUT I did have A bag of unsulphered sun dried figs from Costco. Delicious!
PS… I toasted the pecans a little on the stove before placing on the fig halves.
Megan, I truly can’t believe how lucky I am to have stumbled across your recipes. I have literally been making one a day since discovering your cookbook this past week (borrowed it from the library!), and I haven’t been let down yet! It started with the butternut squash pilaf… AWESOME! Served it with salmon the first night and folded it into eggs the next day. Then I made the Asian cabbage salad. I LOVE them at restaurants but typically avoid making them at home since the list of ingredients is usually daunting. Yours was approachable and delish! The next day came the turtles with dates. Oh my god, I died and went to heaven. Yesterday was the spaghetti squash casserole. It’s already gone. And now I just popped a batch of these fudgsicles into the freezer but from licking the bowl, I know they’ll be amazing. So that’s it… I’m buying your cookbook as soon as I return it to the library and encourage others to borrow it because I have NEVER found a resource that offers such delicious, reliable, easy, and fast recipes you can really feel good about eating! I’m beyond grateful and just had to let you know how appreciated you are. Please keep up the good work! I promise to try every last recipe you post! 🙂 Thank you thank you!
I am new at this e-mail so please bare with me please.
The turtles were so so good for me ,but at first I kept
saying to myself the nut was not going to stay on top
of the date but it did I was so happy I just ate them all
to myself. THANK YOU FOR CHANGING MY TASTE BUDS!!!!!
I made these turtles last night and gave them to my husband for his birthday. Oh my…so delicious!! I doubled the recipe so that we can share some with our guests. What a hit! I hope you don’t mind, but everyone asked for the recipe so I shared it with my facebook followers by linking to your site. Thank you for the recipe!!
There’s a reason some turtles live to be 150, it’s because they eat vegan.
I make these regularly. So good! Everyone I serve them to asks for the recipe!
I am just sitting here tearing up over a chocolate turtle recipe. My grandma used to make these. She suffered dementia for many years and was unable to even utter a coherent sentence. She died 6 years ago and even though I was supposed to sing in her funeral, I wasn’t able to attend due to illness. Seeing this pop up on your blog really caught me off guard in a good way. I haven’t thought about turtles in 20 years and now I can’t wait to surprise my mom with these for Christmas! Thank you so much!
I’ve making your original recipe since you first shared and everyone loves them (and are usually shocked that there’s no caramel – just dates!).
I have been making these for years so I thought I would share my version … I round the half medjol dates with my fingers and then place the pecans in place reverse side up and drizzle a bit of chocolate where the pecans meet … gently turn over and press down a bit adjusting the feet if needed and freeze for a few minutes then coat the rounded medjol date back in chocolate and refreeze … so the medjol date is the back of the turtle … I have never done the head piece or the salt but will definitely be adding salt next time … many thanks for all of your wonderful recipes and Happy Holidays to you and your family … Claire
I made these and they are amazing! I needed way more then 30 pecan halves. It should make 12 turtles. If you use 4 per turtle then the head. Still so awesome I will make again with my grandkids.
Ahh, thank you for that! I’ll update the recipe.
Thanks for this yummy, heathier recipe. Mine turned out really ugly. My husband thought they looked like trantulas and our guest thought they were flowers. But how they look didn’t stop us from enjoying them!
This was so simple and easy to make, yet SO SO satisfying and delicious! They came out super cute, too. Thank you!
I love all your recipes. I’m making the turtles tomorrow for my grandkids, Safsrs 7 & Leo 8 1/2. i know they will work because I made something much more complicated years ago when my son was 8, but much more sugar. Thank you so much
One of my favorite dessert snacks ever! So easy and tasty!