This amazingly super easy recipe for Turtle bars comes together in minutes. They’re reminiscent of a Twix bar and a Turtle candy combined in a cookie bar form.
I had a hard time coming up with a name for this recipe because it resembles two different loves in my life: Twix bars and chocolate Turtles. In the end, I decided to keep my life easier and not name it after a copyrighted candy bar :). So Turtle bars, it is!
This Turtle bar recipe is so so easy. All you need is 3 ingredients to make 3 layers (plus pecans if you want). We start with refrigerated cookie dough on the bottom to make our soft and fluffy crust. Then we get a can of caramel and spread that on top for our second layer. The final step is melting chocolate chips on top of the caramel layer and adding a dusting of chopped pecans if your heart desires.
Now, we do have to quickly bake the cookie dough crust and the chocolate so it melts. But the bars themselves are technically no-bake as they harden in the fridge. Don’t these Turtle cookie bars sound exactly like your favorite candy? The textures and flavors are so good y’all: soft dough, gooey caramel, sweet chocolate, and crunchy pecans.
Clearly, it’s time for me to bake some more Turtle bars, my mouth is watering! These make excellent gifts, are great to make for the holidays or bake sales, and they are sure to be appreciated by your family as well.
No matter what you celebrate this season, I hope you take time to slow down and cherish as many moments as you can with your family. The real present from our families is their presence.
- Refrigerated sugar cookie dough (I’m using Pillsbury but any brand works).
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Dulce de leche (here’s my homemade dulce de leche recipe, made just with condensed milk).
- Chopped pecans (can use pecan halves and chop them before sprinkling on top).
How to Make Turtle Bars
Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil, being sure to leave an overhang so that you can easily pull the bars out after they are done.
Spray the foil with cooking spray.
Pat cookie dough out evenly into the prepared pan and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Handy dandy oven tip
Keep in mind that ovens vary in how fast and hot they cook. That is why you often see bake for __ minutes OR until ____ in instructions. The good thing is we usually get to know our ovens and know what to expect if we use them on a regular basis but I just wanted to give you a little heads-up since that came to mind.
Pour the can of caramel into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 1-2 minutes until it is soft and spreadable.
Spread it over your entire pan of cookie bars.
Sprinkle the entire bag of chocolate chips over the caramel mixture and then place the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the chips.
Remove from oven and spread the chips until you cover the entire top with chocolate.
Sprinkle pecans on top, if desired (and head below for instructions on how to make toasted pecans for added crunch and flavor).
Allow them to cool slightly and then score lines across the entire pan with a knife before allowing them to harden completely. I usually pop mine in the fridge to speed up this process.
Once completely hardened, remove the Turtle cookies from the pan by pulling up the aluminum foil and cutting them all the way.
- When stored in an airtight container, the Turtle bars will last for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 5 days in the fridge.
- You can also freeze the bars for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge before serving.
- If you have anyone who is allergic to nuts or if you’d like to make this recipe WAY more affordable, feel free to leave those out. I usually do, mainly due to the expense. But you can also use a different type of nut, like almonds, chopped walnuts, or peanuts.
- You can also use any type of chocolate, like milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate, or even white chocolate chips if you fancy!
- If you prefer salted caramel over plain old caramel, sprinkle some sea salt over the caramel layer.
- For added flavor, toast your pecans before dusting them on top. For toasted pecans, spread the chopped pecans/pecan halves evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for roughly 7 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through.
What is dulce de leche?
I used to prepare this from the can but boiling the can itself got me worried about all those chemicals that could be leaching into the food by heating up the metal. Now you can still do it if you like or you can check out this homemade recipe for dulce de leche. If you haven’t tried it in my Samoa brownies recipe, make sure you hop over there after you’re done with this post!
You can also prepare the caramel sauce in the microwave as well. Using a can of sweetened condensed milk, open the can, pour it into a bowl, and microwave it at 1 to 2-minute intervals, stirring after each, until it turns brown and caramelizes.
My recommendation is to give yourself permission to do things the easy way sometimes. Bee bop on over to the Mexican foods section of your grocery store and pick up a can or two of this caramel sauce instead.
Why are they called Turtles?
Chocolate Turtles candy has been around since the 1930s. It got its name because the pecan beneath the chocolate and caramel layers looks like a little turtle head poking out of a turtle shell.
Can I tempt you with these recipes?
- 1 16.5-ounce roll Pillsbury cookie dough
- 1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Line a 9x13 baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure it comes up and overhangs a bit so you can easily pull it out later. Spray this lightly with baking spray. Pat cookie dough out into the bottom of the prepared pan to cover it.1 16.5-ounce roll Pillsbury cookie dough
- Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow it to cool completely.
- Empty caramel into a bowl and microwave it at 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until soft and spreadable (about 1-2 minutes). Pour on top of the cooled cookie crust and spread to the edges.1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche
- Sprinkle the entire bag of chocolate chips evenly over the top of this and place it in a 350-degree oven until the chips become soft (3-4 minutes). Remove from the oven and gently spread the chocolate so that it covers the caramel. Sprinkle pecans over the top, if desired.1 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Allow the bars to cool until almost hardened and then score the bars into little squares with a knife before it hardens completely. Cover and refrigerate to harden all the way. Remove bars from the pan by using aluminum foil. Cut along the scored lines into little squares. Enjoy!
If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.