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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!

chocolate turtles on black plate

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.

chocolate turtles on parchment paper

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.

pitted dates with pecans on top

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!

chocolate added to turtles

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.

two chocolate turtles on plate

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!

chocolate turtles on parchment paper

Easy Chocolate Turtles

5 from 13 votes
Chocolate Turtles are easy to make from scratch, using only 4 simple ingredients! Dates give these turtles an easy, caramel flavor.
prep15 mins Freeze Time:10 mins total25 mins


  • 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.
    pitted medjool date halves on pan
  • 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.
    pecans added to the dates
  • 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.
    chocolate added to pecan turtles
  • 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.
    turtle heads added to chocolate
  • 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.
    finished chocolate turtles with firm chocolate



Nutrition information is for 1 of 12 chocolate turtles. This information is just an estimate, and not a guarantee.
If you need a vegan dessert, be sure to check the label on the chocolate chips to make sure they're dairy-free.
For a simpler preparation, you can press 1 pecan half into each date half, then top with chocolate. They won't look like turtles, but they are faster and will still taste amazing!


Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 18IU | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: vegan
Keyword: chocolate turtles

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!

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. 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