up close of chocolate pecan turtle clusters on a white plate

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters

Chocolate pecan turtle clusters are a super simple, four ingredient recipe. Toasted pecans, gooey caramel and chocolate make the perfect holiday treat.

up close of turtle clusters on a white plate

There’s a candy store in my hometown that is known for their chocolate pecan turtle clusters. Except they call them Gremlins.

A combination of toasted pecans, homemade caramel and coated in their special blend of chocolate.

chocolate pecan turtle clusters in even rows on a white plate

These turtle clusters, or gremlins, just scream holiday to me. But I wanted to make them a little bit simpler. Oh, and a fast treat that you can easily make right before the holiday.

How to Make Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters

Thanks to The Kitchn and their turtle sleuthing, I now know that turtle clusters are named after, you guessed it, their resemblance to real turtles.

And that the Turtle brand that stared it all began back in 1918. Except their turtles were made with peanuts, caramel and chocolate. Whereas the traditional turtle clusters you’ll find now are made with pecans.

So what makes these chocolate pecan turtle clusters easier than the rest?

Toasted Pecans

Toasting pecans in a dry pan on the stove top isn’t the most difficult thing to do, but it does require some time management.

toasted pecans on a baking sheet

I didn’t want to worry about my pecans burning, so I opted to toast them in the oven.

Plus, all I had to do was cluster them right on the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Toasted pecans done.

Caramel Sauce

Okay, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves here, we’re down to the holiday wire.

We don’t have time to be making caramel from scratch. Let alone risking the possibility that it’s going to burn.

bubbly caramel sauce in a saucepan

No, instead we’re opting for super easy “homemade” caramel sauce.

Unwrap those delectable caramels you found in the candy aisle but have yet to use. Drop them in a sauce pan {while your pecans toast} with some whole milk. Stir constantly until you have a thick, creamy, bubbly caramel sauce.

drizzling caramel sauce over pecan clusters

You should be right on time now to drizzle that no-one-will-know-it’s-not-really-homemade-caramel-sauce over your oven toasted pecans.

Do this quickly before your sauce starts to harden in the pan.

Chocolate Topping

I went for dark chocolate to create our turtle shell over the caramel. I think this helps balance out the sweetness of the caramel, and gives a rich, deep chocolate flavor.

Melt chocolate chips with some coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. We’re keeping things super simple here, so no need for double boilers.

pecans covered in caramel sauce on a baking sheet sitting next to a bowl of melted chocolate

The coconut oil helps add a nice shine to the chocolate once it’s dried.

All you have to do is spoon that melted deliciousness over the top of the caramel and let sit for about 10 minutes.

This gives everything time to harden and become the tasty candy know and love.

Maybe make some more?

Here’s the thing…this recipe makes 12 chocolate pecan turtle clusters. That’s really enough for you and a very small family get together.

bite taken out of a chocolate pecan turtle cluster

Definitely make extras if you don’t want to answer the question at Christmas “why didn’t you make more?”

Oh, and these easy homemade turtle clusters make excellent gifts. So if you’re running behind, or forgot that Christmas came early this year, these will do the trick.

Looking for more last minute holiday treats? Check these out:

Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites

Chocolate Cranberry Orange Energy Bites

Dark Chocolate Cashew Truffles

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Clusters
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Chocolate pecan turtle clusters are a super simple, four ingredient recipe. Toasted pecans, gooey caramel and chocolate make the perfect holiday treat.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, easy, easy recipe, four ingredients, holiday
Servings: 12 turtle clusters
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 20 caramels unwrapped
  • 4 Tbsp. whole milk
  • cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with baking spray.
  2. Place one Tbsp. pecans in a circle on prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the caramels and milk. Stir constantly until caramel is completely melted and bubbly.
  4. Remove toasted pecans and immediately drizzle with caramel sauce, making sure to cover pecans so they all stick together.
  5. While caramel cools, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together.
  6. Spoon melted chocolate over the caramel to create a shell over the top.
  7. Let cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

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