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Fudgy chocolate cookies with pecans and caramel. Like your favorite turtle chocolate candies in cookie form!

chocolate turtle cookies
overhead image of chocolate turtle cookies

Pecans, chocolate, and caramel make up one of my favorite candies: chocolate turtles. I took all of those flavors and turned them into one irresistible cookie. And you know what? These over-the-top cookies give chocolate turtle candies a run for their money.

You’ll start with my standard chocolate cookie recipe. This chocolate cookie dough is so versatile and used most often for double chocolate chip cookies. You can also make s’mores crinkle cookies, inside out chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, and salted caramel chocolate cookies.

The cookie dough requires chilling, so make sure you plan ahead. You must chill this cookie dough because it is much too sticky to form into balls. Plus, chilling the dough will reduce spread. You don’t want flat turtle cookies, trust me.

chocolate turtle cookies on a white plate

After the cookie dough has been chilled, roll into balls. Then, roll each into some crushed pecans before baking.

After the cookies cool down a little, drizzle salted caramel all over each. Hubba hubba!

2 chocolate turtle cookies

Get to baking, I promise there won’t be a chocolate crumb left!

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chocolate turtle cookies

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2022 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Fudgy chocolate cookies with pecans and caramel. Like your favorite turtle chocolate candies in cookie form! This cookie dough requires at least 3 hours to chill.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 2/3 cup (55g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk (any kind, dairy or non)
  • 3/4 cup (105g) finely chopped pecans
  • homemade salted caramel

Instructions

  1. Preliminary note: This cookie dough requires at least 3 hours of chilling, but I prefer to chill the dough overnight. The colder the dough, the thicker the cookies.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and then beat on high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour into the wet ingredients. Beat on low until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Switch to high speed and beat in the milk. The cookie dough will be sticky and tacky. Cover dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this sticky cookie dough.
  4. Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This makes the chilled cookie dough easier to scoop and roll.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
  6. Scoop and roll dough, a heaping 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each, into balls. Roll each in chopped pecans. Arrange 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheets. The cookie dough is certainly sticky, so wipe your hands clean after every few balls of dough you shape.
  7. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes or until the edges appear set and the centers still look soft. Tip: If they aren’t really spreading by minute 9, remove them from the oven and lightly bang the baking sheet on the counter 2-3x. This helps initiate that spread. Return to the oven to continue baking.
  8. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will slightly deflate as they cool. Drizzle each with salted caramel.
  9. Cover leftover cookies tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months, with or without caramel. I find it’s best to drizzle with caramel right before serving, though. Unbaked cookie dough balls (before rolling in pecans) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, preheat the oven, then roll in chopped pecans. Bake as directed. Store any leftover caramel in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm the caramel up in the microwave for a few seconds before using in a recipe.
  2. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: chocolate turtle cookies, turtle cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Just wondering if the caramel hardens, or does it stay sticky? I would like to give these out but don’t want a mess on a cookie plate

  2. Sally, this was the first recipe of yours I have made and they turned out perfect! Your instructions are so easy to follow. I can’t wait to try more of your yummy sweets! Thanks 🙂

  3. Hi Sally, I’ve just made the cookies and would like to store them in a jar.Is there any way I can make them not stick together? I’ve tried putting parchment paper in between but they still sticks

    1. The caramel typically hardens after some time. If yours isn’t hardening, then I’m not sure how to stack them in a jar without sticking.

  4. OMG !! I just cant believe the taste of this cookies!!! thanks a lot!!! and hugs from Mexico city

  5. Hi Sally!

    I just wanted to let you know how much I adore you and your blog, and your recipes!

    I made these cookies for some coworkers and family around the holidays. Turtle anything is one of my favorites, and my family loved them as well. So much that my aunt requested me to make them (and other cookies) for my cousin’s wedding next Saturday… Looks like I will be baking 10 dozen turtles this week!

    Thanks again for your creative and fun recipes.. I can’t wait to try some more.

    Ashley

    1. Hi Sally,
      I just came across this recipe from a while ago. I wanted to know if I increase the size of each dough ball, will the cookies go flat? Is there a way to make a larger size cookie with this recipe?

      1. Hi Tim, you should be able to make larger cookies with this recipe – let us know if you give it a try!

      2. Hi Trina,

        Yes, I did give this a try. I increased the size for each cookie to about 60g per ball. The cooking time was necessary to increase to 18min because of the size. The cookies had good rise in the oven but fell flat when cooling. Just wanted to follow up and ask if there was any small tips that could help with holding the lift, baking powder maybe?

  6. Hey! These cookies look absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to make them! I have one doubt though, can I substitute the pecans with almonds? 

  7. Not to go too fan-girl crazy (my boyfriend makes fun of me because of how much I talk about your blog) but these cookies were SO good! Said boyfriend even messaged me while I was out shopping to tell me how good they were even though we ate one together before I left haha so they are THAT good! Thanks for all of the amazing recipes!!!

  8. Hi Sally. I just baked these yummy cookies. Thank you for your delicious recipes and tips. I’ve made a second batch, all rolled out with pecans n mini morsels, and stored individually wrapped in freezer. Wondering if I should thaw in refrigerator for few hours or bake straight from freezer???  We’re having a cookie baking contest next week for national respiratory therapy week and I’m working long stretch of nights. So had to partially prepare ahead.   I am pretty confident these turtle cookies will win at least one category!!!

    And congratulations on your beautiful baby!!!

    Thanks, Sue W

    1. Thank you for the congrats, Sue! I would bake straight from the freezer, maybe an extra minute or two.

  9. Hi Sally-I know this is a few years behind all the other comments, but I just stumbled upon these cookies when you posted your holiday cookie list. I was wondering if I could substitute crushed pretzels for the nuts? I have a nut allergy son who thought these looked amazing-minus the nuts . Thanks!

  10. You talk about chocolate morsels but they are not listed in the ingredients or in the recipe . Are they supposed to be ?

    1. Hi MJ! I reworked the recipe recently and leave the chocolate morsels out. You can roll the cookie dough balls in a mix of chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips if you’d like– that’s what I did before.

  11. This is going to sound like a really silly question…but I plan on making these tomorrow and just want to clarify – after rolling the dough into balls, do I flatten them? 

  12. Hi Sally can the dough it’s self  be frozen ? Or just the cookies after being made ?

    1. It sure can! Unbaked cookie dough balls (before rolling in pecans) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven, then roll in chopped pecans. Bake as directed.

    1. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

  13. I’m really happy that these cookies came out so good! Looked just like yours do in the pictures 🙂 and they don’t take up much time to make. The caramel sauce took me a couple tries to get it right, so in the future I will make the caramel sauce the night before because I’ll definitely make these again! 

  14. Hi Sally! Merry Christmas! Quick question: I made these about 2 years ago and they were divine. I’m positive, though, that I didn’t make a caramel sauce from scratch. I seem to remember melting down caramel candies (like Werther’s). Am I crazy?? This Christmas will be one of the most special you’ll ever celebrate! Enjoy your new baby and spoiling her on her fist Christmas! 

    1. You aren’t crazy!! You can melt down store-bought caramels with heavy cream or half-and-half to make a quick caramel sauce instead. (Like this.) I had this recipe originally use that method.

  15. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Made these today for a get together during the day and for a cookie exchange in the evening. Everyone loved them and demanded the recipe! Lol. I followed the recipe exactly, except I refrigerated the dough over night (because I was exhausted). I also quadrupled the recipe. Although I fried my hand mixer in the process… these cookies were a complete hit out of the park! Everyone raved about them! The homemade salted caramel was the secret weapon for these cookies, and I put a lot on each cookie, not just a drizzle, haha! I have now been volunteered to make these at EVERY event from now on!! Lol thanks for such a great easy to follow recipe!!

  16. Chocolate and caramel is definitely one of my favorite flavor combinations! And I loooove the addition of nuts; the added crunchy texture is so great in cookies. I was wondering if I could make these into Chocolate Turtle Thumbprint Cookies? For no other reason, I guess, than to have more caramel in there 🙂 I was thinking of rolling the dough balls in crushed nuts before baking, then filling with caramel and maybe drizzling some melted chocolate + some more caramel for looks (and sprinkling with more crushed nuts). Do you know if that would work and what the bake time/dough ball size would be for the cookies? Thanks!

    1. Sure, that could work! I suggest rolling the dough balls a little smaller so the thumbprints don’t over-spread. I’m unsure of the exact bake time. Let me know what you try!

  17. I have assisted my wife for decades making christmas cookies…but i had never made my own other than the tube ones you get at the store. So, this was my first attempt at making a n above average cookie from scratch. Followed the directions and amazed not only my wife but our card club friends and relatives as well. These are delicious and I made the salted caramel as well and they are fabulous! You created a baker from a 60 year old guy…thanks! P.S. My wife likes your cookie book that i bought her for Christmas!

  18. Hi Sally! Thoughts on using Dutch process cocoa for these instead of regular cocoa?

    1. I don’t recommend it, Erin! Dutch process is a neutral is usually reserved for recipes with baking powder (or no leaveners). Natural cocoa powder is acidic and is often used in recipes calling for baking soda because the two react with each other to allow your baked good to rise. I explain it in more detail in this post if you are interested!

  19. Sally- I wanted to add some chocolate chips into the cookies, because why not?! How much would you suggest?
    Thanks!

  20. Can cookies last longer refrigerated. I am in a family cookie exchange and I will not be able to bake or freeze five days prior. Thanks and Merry Christmas

    Carol

    1. Yes, they last longer when refrigerated. Merry Christmas to you as well!

  21. Great recipe! I doubled the recipe, but only included 2 Tb of milk instead of 4. Then, like one of your readers, I used my scoop to dip the dough into the pecans (and mini-chocolate chips) before chilling. It made it super easy to bake. They are delicious!

  22. These look delicious. I am wanting to ship these to family members that I can’t spend Easter with this year, do you think it would be best to drizzle with the caramel sauce and then ship, or put the sauce in a container so they can drizzle. I have a feeling the caramel sauce could get gross a couple days in a box making it’s way across two states though. Any ideas?

    1. Hi KT! I’m just seeing your question now. I don’t recommend shipping the cookies with the caramel on top. What about adding caramels to the dough like I do with my salted caramel pecan chocolate chip cookies? You could also try shipping the caramel along with the cookies, but I fear it would lose some freshness on the trip.

  23. I had leftover salted caramel and came across this recipe as a way to use up the leftovers. I made them last night and they are amazing! They look impressive and taste even better. I returned my bowl of dough to the refrigerator a couple of times to firm it up between batches, and they cooked perfectly. I also doubled the recipe and rolled half in mini white chocolate chips for my little ones who don’t like nuts.

    Since we just ate a salted caramel apple cake (hence the leftover caramel), I’m freezing the rest for Christmas, but I’m betting people will be sneaking these cookies out of the freezer from now until then. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  24. Hi Sally. Love all of your recipes! How much Carmel do you need? I doubled the cookie recipe so wondering if I need to double the Carmel recipe to end up with 2 cups of Carmel.

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Lauren, You are just adding a drizzle so one batch of caramel is likely enough for your cookies. If you do decide to make more, we recommend making two separate batches of caramel instead of doubling it. Happy bakine!