Turtle Bars

16 Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Cool 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 28 minutes

Turtle Bars are a sweet, crunchy combination of a shortbread crust, homemade caramel, and pecans all topped in chocolate. The ultimate easy homemade candy!

Turtle Bars are a great addition to the growing collection of Candy Recipes on the blog. They’re perfect to make around the holidays and serve with Chocolate Raisin Clusters, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, and other favorite homemade candies. 

Turtle Bars in stack


This simple bar recipe is based on classic Turtle Candies. The difference is instead of making individual candy pieces this recipe makes it all into one pan with a shortbread crust. Then you can cut the bars up as a shareable treat. 

Make these Turtle Bars for your next holiday party, as an edible gift, or as a delicious snack to have around the house. It’s simple enough to make, you’ll find yourself turning to this recipe again and again. With chocolate, caramel, shortbread, and pecans all in one recipe, it’s the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth. 

Turtle Bars are a multilayer chocolate treat that’s surprisingly easy to make. If your head is spinning at the idea of making a shortbread crust and the caramel from scratch, don’t worry! Making the shortbread crust is a simple matter of combining the ingredients to a stand mixer then pressing them into the pan, and for the caramel, you just have to boil the ingredients together while mixing them in a saucepan.

Turtle Bars in baking dish before chocolate topping

Homemade Turtle Bars are easy enough you can have your kids help you make them. The only part you may want to do yourself, depending on how old your assistants are, is the caramel, since it involves a hot stove. Making the Homemade Caramel is probably the trickiest part, and as long as you continuously stir it even that step is easy!

Why are they called turtles?

Turtles may seem like a strange name for a candy, but the combination of pecans, caramel, and chocolate have been called turtles since the 1930s. They got the name because the pecans beneath the chocolate and caramel looked like little turtle heads poking out. Which is just adorable!



  • Prep: Soften the butter a few hours in advance. Then preheat your oven and spray the baking dish with nonstick spray so they’re ready to go. 
  • Shortbread base: Add the flour, 1 cup of brown sugar and ¾ cup of butter to the stand mixer. Mix the ingredients together on medium speed until It’s a crumbly combination. Press the crumbly shortbread crust into the base of your prepared pan for the crust. 
  • Caramel: To make the caramel add ¾ cup butter, ½ cup brown sugar, and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Continuously stir the mixture until the caramel comes to a boil. Constantly stirring is the most important part because you don’t want the sugar to burn. After it’s boiled, pour the caramel over the shorbread base. Sprinkle the pecans over the top of that. 
  • Bake: Cook the caramel, pecans, and shortbread layer for 18-20 minutes. 
  • Chocolate: Take the caramel and pecan layer from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Cover the pan with a baking sheet to keep the heat in and let the chocolate melt for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, use a spatula or fork to spread the chocolate smoothly over the top. 
  • Serve: Pop the Turtle Bars in the fridge and let it set completely before slicing it into 16 squares. 

Turtle Bars cross-section in baking dish


  • Nuts: You can change up this recipe by using different nuts instead of pecans. Try using almonds, walnuts, or peanuts. 
  • Chocolate: Instead of using semisweet chocolate chips you can try milk chocolate, dark chocolate or even white chocolate. You could also do a layer of semisweet chocolate topped with a layer of white chocolate.
  • Salted: Salted caramel and chocolate make such a delicious combination. To bring that to this recipe, try sprinkling sea salt over the caramel along with the pecans. 
  • Graham cracker crust: Instead of a shortbread crust, you can put some graham crackers in your food processor and combine the crumbs with butter. Press the crumbs into the base of your pan to make a graham cracker crust. 



  • Serve: As long as your house is fairly cool, you can leave Turtle Bars at room temperature for up to 3 days. Seal them in an airtight container in the pantry to store them. 
  • Store: Let the Turtle Bars cool to room temperature, then cut, and store them in an airtight container. They’ll keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • Freeze: Kept sealed, Turtle Bars will stay good in the fridge for up to 4 months. 

top-down view of Turtle Bars in stack

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Turtle Bars

Turtle Bars are a sweet, crunchy combination of a shortbread crust, homemade caramel, and pecans all topped in chocolate. The ultimate easy homemade candy!
Yield 16 Bars
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Shortbread Base:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , softened

Turtle Layer:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar , packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecans , chopped
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips , about 2 cups


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13x9" baking dish with baking spray.
  • Add flour, 1 cup brown sugar and ¾ cup butter to a stand mixer on medium speed until crumbly.
  • Press into the baking dish evenly.
  • Add 1 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, heavy cream and ¼ teaspoon salt to a medium saucepan on medium heat.
  • Stir non-stop until mixture comes to a boil, then cook for 1 additional minute.
  • Remove from heat and pour mixture over the cookie base.
  • Sprinkle pecans over the caramel.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips over the baked bars as soon as they come out of the oven and let sit for 5 minutes to melt (you can also cover the pan with a baking sheet to keep heat in).
  • Spread chocolate carefully with offset spatula or fork.
  • Cool completely before slicing and serving.


Calories: 573kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 727IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 3mg

Turtle Bars collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. This recipe is delicious! I made with a gluten-free shortbread and cooked the caramel for 5 minutes once it came to a boil. I was short 40 g of the chocolate chips so the topping ended up with some light swirls in it. Not sure why but will make sure I have enough chips next time.

  2. When you bring the caramel to a boil, should it be a rolling boil or just starting to boil around the edges? Should you stir gently? My caramel seized up and I ended up with a granular sugar layer rather than smooth caramel. I could try to wet the sides of the saucepan, but it’s hard to do while constantly stirring.

    1. Try using your candy thermometer, as the texture of the caramel depends a lot on how to sugar cooks. We’re aiming for 245 degrees F, try not to go above this and make sure your saucepan is a good quality. How the metal that your saucepan is made out of conducts heat can make the difference between making great caramels and burning your sugar. Thank you for trying the recipe Sue!

  3. Ended up with a layer of liquid at top – did not come out in bars at all. So sad to waste all the ingredients

    1. I am so sorry, I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.

      Which one? I am so sorry so many got lost, I’m struggling to catch up with these that I just found. What was going on with the recipe?

  4. These are delicious! Even though the pecans fell into caramel layer making it disappear the taste is very good. What should be done to keep the caramel layer in tact?

    1. I am so sorry, I am just seeing this tonight. I am sure the recipe has long been cooked/or not but I still want to try to help.

      You probably need to cook the caramel a little bit longer to get it to thicken a bit more. Hope that helps!

  5. Anxious to make this but I seem to be overlooking the additional 1/4 cup butter in the shortbread. Ingredients read 3/4 cup but instructions say add 1/2 cup butter. Where does the additional 1/4 cup come in?
    Thank you!

    1. So sorry about that. 3/4 cup of butter is the correct amount. I’m not sure how that got adjusted in the instructions portion of the card. I’ve edited it to read correctly now.

  6. Would love to make these, but never got an answer about what to do with the extra
    1/4 Cup of butter from the Shortbread base. Thanks for your help

      1. I also had a problem with the caramel layer. Seemed like a lot of butter. Is it supposed to be 1 cup (2 sticks)?

      1. The caramel portion is wrong also and my dessert is ruined!! $15 wasted. YOU NEED TO PROOF CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU PUBLISH!!!!!!

        Not happy!

        1. I found your comment! I don’t know what happened to a huge amount of comments. I see now what your issue was. I would like to troubleshoot what went wrong with your caramel? Caramel, like fudge can be a bit tricky if not cooked long enough. How long did you cook your layer?