Homemade Turtle Candy is a quick, irresistible, no-bake treat! Made with chewy rich caramel, buttery pecans and creamy milk chocolate, these decadent homemade turtles make for the perfect salty-sweet gift or shared family confection!
Growing up, there was never much candy in our home. Instead of the occasional Laffy Taffy or handful of M&Ms, we had leftover peach cobblers or blueberry buckles. Don’t get me wrong, there were always Halloween hauls and Christmas stocking goodies (which I hoarded for as long as I could) but that was the extent of my candy connoisseur career. Hard to believe, I know!
These days, things haven’t changed much. I still don’t eat much candy, unless there are Turtles around. Crunchy, buttery, salty and sweet, Turtle Candies are my go-to homemade confection!
Y’all, I could eat about a dozen of these in one sitting. Soon enough, you’ll be in the same boat.
Perks and Highlights of the Best Turtle Candy Recipe
What are Turtles?
It was in 1916, in the Windy City of Chicago, that George DeMet brought the turtle to life! Made with rich milk chocolate, buttery caramel and nutty pecans, Turtles became a quick-hit with DeMet’s customers. With its round and slightly bumpy shape, pecans imitated the look of a real turtle which made for a fun, exciting new variety of candy.
Today, over a 100 years later, DeMet’s Turtles sell over 81 million candy products a year! We’re talking about 7,000 tons of chocolate and 13,000 tons of nuts, crazy right? Folks just can’t seem to get enough of these rascally reptiles.
Made with less than 5 ingredients, these Turtle Candies make for the perfect night-cap, midday treat or potluck offering. During the holidays, I make a few batches of these bad boys and offer them up in goodie bags to loved ones. I mean, who doesn’t like a sweet treat made from the heart?
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Caramels– any store-bought caramels will work but I chose to use Werther’s Chewy Caramels. Smooth and chewy, these caramels make for an incredibly sticky-sweet bite!
- Evaporated Milk– evaporated milk is unsweetened milk thickened and concentrated by the evaporation of water content. Its addition gives body and richness to our caramel while also offering up a bit of extra sweetness.
- Pecan Halves– these can totally be made using cashew, peanuts or even almonds! You won’t get that classic turtle look but this can be a great opportunity to use what you’ve got on hand.
- Milk Chocolate Chips– because there are so few ingredients, it’s important to use high-quality chocolate. I chose to use Guittard Milk Chocolate Chunks for the ultimate creamy, chocolatey goodness. Lindt, Ghiradelli and Baker’s are also great options!
- Flaky Sea Salt (Optional)– I like to finish off Turtles with a light sprinkle of Maldon Flaky Sea Salt. Not only does sea salt look fancy but, dang, that salty bite is crazy good!
TIP: Want to take these to the next level? Toast your pecans! Taking this extra steps adds a deep, roasted flavor that can’t be beat. Just place the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Allow to completely cool before shaping and spooning on the caramel.
How to Make Turtle Candy
Room Temperature: Short-Term Sweet Spot Got your candies wrapped up in a love affair with wax or parchment paper? Perfect, they’re ready for a short stint at room temperature. Place them in an airtight container, making sure they’re in single layers separated by parchment paper to avoid a sticky situation. They’ll be good for about a week in a cool, dark place. No need to refrigerate if you’re planning on devouring them soon!
Refrigerate: Cool Runnings If your house runs warm or you’re a fan of a firmer bite, pop your container of Turtle Candies into the fridge. They’ll stay fresh and fabulous for up to 3 weeks. Just give them some time to warm up a bit at room temperature before serving – nobody wants a tooth-chilling bite!
Freeze: For Those Who Plan Ahead Long-term candy hoarders, we’ve got you! Freeze your Turtle Candies by placing them in freezer bags or airtight containers with parchment paper between layers. These sweet treasures will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Remember to thaw them in the refrigerator and then bring them to room temperature before serving for the best flavor experience.
Pro Tip: Stay Dry, Stay Fresh Humidity is the nemesis of Turtle Candy. Keep ’em dry, and you’ll avoid a soggy catastrophe. Always ensure your storage containers are air-tight, whether you’re using bags or bins.
Best Candy Inspired Candy
To be honest, I’ve never been a huge candy-girl. I’ll take a massive slice of homemade pound cake over a Snicker’s bar any day. But, as a baker, I love taking inspiration from sweets and turning them into something of my own!
Here are a few of my FAVORITE spins on a few candy classics:
- Chocolate Turtle Cake
- Divinity Candy
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Candy Corn Buttercream
- Peanut Brittle
- Bourbon Balls
- Turtle Brownies
- Turtle Cookies
- 1/2 lb caramels
- 2 tbsp evaporated milk
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 6 oz milk chocolate chips (basically half of a 11.5 oz package)
- Melt caramels and milk together in a double boiler over hot water and continue to stir until combined (about 10 minutes).
- Place nuts on wax or parchment paper paper in groupings of 3. Spoon the completed caramel over the nuts, leaving the nut tips exposed. Let set for 30 minutes.
- Next melt chocolate over hot water as well or in the microwave then cool until room temperature. Spread over caramels and let set.