Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies: turtle love.

Just four simple players: caramel, chocolate, pecans, and sea salt.

Yet the the beautiful music these four friends make together – soft with crunchy, salty with sweet, nutty with chocolate with caramel – you’d think you were hearing a symphony, rather than a string quartet.

This sweet/salty whole is SO much more than the sum of its parts.

Call ’em Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies, as we do here. Or Turtles, their trademarked name in the outside world, where they’ve been a candy counter favorite (sans the added sea salt) for over 75 years.

A turtle by any other name would taste as sweet… and salty.

Now, let’s look at those four key ingredients.

So long as they’re fresh, it’s hard to get “bad” pecans; mostly, you’re just choosing your size.

But chocolate and caramel – well, let’s just say there’s a wide range of quality.

You can go the inexpensive route, with a bag of individually wrapped caramels, and chocolate drops; CVS probably has both.

Or, for this special time of the year, you can up the ante (yes, quality does cost more), and get something really tasty: like our Belcolade bittersweet disks, imported Belgian chocolate with rich, deep flavor; and our vanilla caramel, a brick of sumptuous, soft caramel, perfect for cutting into chunks and molding into the shape of your choice.

And how about salt? When we say “salted caramel,” we don’t mean plain old table salt. Coarse-yet-delicate Maldon sea salt is a good choice, as is most any flaky salt.

So, let’s get started.

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Place 2/3 cup diced pecans, or 32 medium pecan halves, in a single layer in a shallow pan. Toast in the 325°F oven until they’re just starting to become golden; you’ll probably also catch a nice whiff of toasted nuts. This should take 10 minutes or so.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, or grease lightly. Place the diced pecans in 16 small piles; or for each of the 16 candies, place 2 pecan halves side by side.

Divide 4 ounces of caramel into 16 pieces, flattening each into a disk. Or unwrap individual caramels, and flatten into disks. Place atop the pecans.

Heat in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or as long as it takes for the caramel to soften and begin to melt.

Remove from the oven; wait 1 minute, then top each cluster with one disk of chocolate, pressing it into the softened caramel gently.

Top each candy with a few flakes of Maldon sea salt, Fleur de Sel, or other coarse sea salt.

That’s it.

Allow the caramel and chocolate to cool and set before removing candies from the pan.

Now, here’s one issue you might face: the chocolate may “bloom,” developing opaque spots.

What can you do about this? Well, not much. The issue is the chocolate becoming just a tiny bit too warm before it cools.

The challenge is, you want the chocolate very slightly warm, so it holds onto the salt; but not so warm that it blooms.

Here’s a solution, if you don’t mind losing the look of the salt. Warm the caramel just the SLIGHTEST bit, just so it’s a tiny bit sticky. Sprinkle with the salt. Wait until it’s nearly cool (but still pliable), then add the chocolate.

When I made these, most turned out fine; about 1/4 of them bloomed. I’d suggest you click to the recipe, and browse the reader comments at the end; your fellow bakers have provided some interesting ideas on slightly different ways to prepare these candies.

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Pecan & Salted Caramel Candies.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Sandy

    Just made caramel pecan turtles this past weekend! I used the Merckens caramel block. But I streamlined the whole process (at least I think I did!). I first toasted pecans and then rough chopped them up. Then put some of the caramel block (cut into small chunks) in a small pan and poured in some half-n-half (sorry, did not measure). I put heat on low and melted the caramel and stirred until that and half/half all blended. Then I dumped the chopped pecans in the pan, stirred to coat the pecans and then used the cookie scoop (from KAF of course) to scoop out and drop on parchment paper laying on my granite countertop. Then melted some KAF bittersweet chocolate in the microwave. Dropped small amount on top of the caramel pecan turtles on the parchment paper, smeared chocolate around to cover top of the turtles then let them cool and set up. All this came from my little ‘ole brain! They are so delicious!!!!

    1. Paula

      Sandy, that sounds really easy! Did you put the salt on top of the chocolate, or did you skip the salt? I want to make these for a gathering next week. Thanks to all for the great tips, and to KAF for the delicious recipes!

  2. roynita

    Sandy that is exactly how I am going to make mine. I will use the caramel bits from KAF, mixed with some half-n-half until melted. Then combine the roasted pecans and drop on parchment. I used this same method last week as a cheesecake toping and while they loved the cheesecake, they said they were eating the topping as candy. That is when I decided to surprise them next week with the same toipping as candy and use a piping bag to put melted chocolate on top ff the candy. GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE. Merry Christmas everyone and have a blessed new year.

  3. Kelly

    I made these tonight using a trio of pecan halves, Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel caramels and bittersweet Belgian chocolate disks.
    So easy and they taste fabulous!!!

    Good to hear, Kelly – thanks for sharing your success here. PJH

  4. llc333

    Is there any reason that macadamia nuts would not work with this recipe?

    A local shop sells candy with the caramel, chocolate but with macadamia nuts & the candy is very good but too expensive, sixty cents a piece.
    You can certainly mix it up and try different kinds of nuts. Have fun! ~ MaryJane

  5. "said the hobbit"

    At Christmas I received a box of callets. Dark chocolate with chipotle and sea salt. We have a local confectioner Burns and Carlson and they always have something new to try. So….what could I do with this but, make your,oh so easy, turtles.I made a batch yesterday. OMG…they are amazing. I had planned on giving them as a birthday present………we taste tested so many that I have to make another batch today…….aww too bad. Thanks for the easy peezy recipe. Everyone needs a “go to” like this.

  6. Linda Cantwell

    My friends and I made turtles this year and even though they were beautiful at first, after setting out at room temperature, they spread into unattractive blobs. Do you have any idea why this would happen?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Perhaps you simply heated the caramel too much, and it gradually spread. Did you set them someplace cool once you’d made them? If they were stored someplace very warm, that might soften the caramel, causing it to spread. Try heating the caramel JUST barely enough to soften so you can press it down atop the nuts. Good luck – PJH

  7. Joanne

    I’ve been making a similar version for many years using the KAF Caramel Block, that I call Cashew Crabs… Make a cluster swirl of cashews, then top with tsp. scoop of melted caramel, then drizzle with white or dark chocolate. Looks fancy, but very easy and always a big hit on my homemade candy platter. I simply melt the caramel in the microwave, and while the caramel crabs are cooling, I melt the chocolate. Yum!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Wow, Joanne, those sound unbelievably good – definitely need to try them. It’s amazing how easy most candies are when you get right down to it, eh? Thanks for sharing here – PJH

  8. Catherine

    I make my own Carmel, however the chocolate, after everything cools, still gets chocolate on your fingers. What am I doing wrong? I used Bakers Chocolate. What should I use?

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Catherine, try using something a bit better in quality – Belcolade disks is what the recipe calls for. Guittard, Callebaut, one of those type of chocolates; I think you’ll have better luck. Also, are you sure you’re letting the candies set long enough? The chocolate should eventually become hard, not stay soft so that it gets on your fingers… PJH

  9. Barbara

    Since we don’t have the recipe sheets anymore, could you please post the calories, fat, carbs, protein and fiber of the recipes? I made these for Valentine’s Day and they are wonderful…but next time I will use KAF Carmel as cheaper Carmel becomes too hard.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Barbara, due to the nature of the somewhat unusual ingredients in some of our recipes, we can’t use a one-size-fits-all nutrition program to figure out the values in our recipes. A more specialized process takes more bandwidth, and we’re still working on figuring out how best to handle it. We hope at some point to be able to provide nutritional breakdowns for all of our recipes, and will certainly add your request to the many we’ve already received. Thanks for your feedback – and yes, we do love our caramel! 🙂 PJH

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