Turtle cookies are delicious chocolate cookies, rolled in pecans, filled with melted caramel and drizzled with melted chocolate.
 Many Turtle Thumbprint cookies on a baking sheet, each one has a caramel filling and chocolate drizzled on top.
Turtle cookies
I know I’m a nerd when it comes to anything food related, but I look forward to Christmas Cookie Exchanges as much as I look forward to Christmas morning!
My mom has attended one with her friends for years, and it’s a tradition I want to carry on each year with my friends! My mom would always come home with a huge tub of different cookies. She’d put them in the freezer so that we could take some out each night throughout the holidays and enjoy them for longer.
I usually make mint brownies for my cookie exchanges, but I’ve made these turtle cookies several times and they’re always a huge hit. They’re basically like a brownie bite with a caramel center, coated in pecans! YUM.
They look beautiful and impressive but they’re really easy to make!
How to make Turtle Cookies:
To make easy turtle cookies, start by make the cookie dough and letting it chill in the refrigerator. Chilling the dough is mandatory because it will yield a chewier cookie, and help the cookies hold together better as your roll them.
After chilling the dough, dip the cookie dough balls into whisked egg white, and then roll them in chopped pecans. 
Side by side photos of chocolate cookie dough rolled in crushed pecans, and then pressed down with a green measuring spoon.
 Use the back of a measuring spoon (I used a ½ tablespoon measurer) to press an indentation into each cookie dough ball.
Side by side photos of a chocolate thumbprint cookie empty, and then filled with melted caramel.
Bake the cookies. When they come out of the oven, re-press the indentation with the back of the measuring spoon, and fill it with melted caramel.
Side by side photos of a cookie sheet with turtle thumbprint cookies.
Allow the caramel to set, and then drizzle the cookies with melted chocolate. You could also skip the melted chocoalte and sprinkle them with sea salt.
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies | tastesbetterfromscratch.com

To make this recipe even easier, you could make the cookie dough one day in advance. Wrap it really well and refrigerate it.

Can I freeze turtle cookies?

You have two options for freezing these turtle cookies.  The first option is to make the cookie dough, freeze it, and use it to make the cookies.  The second option for freezing thumbprint cookies is to follow the recipe completely and make all cookies, allow them to cool completely, and then place them in a gallon freezer bag.  When you are ready to eat them, allow them to come to room temperature on your counter top.




Turtle Thumbprint cookies on a baking sheet. | tastesbetterfromscratch.com
Prep 1 hr 15 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 1 hr 25 mins
Add to Meal Plan



For the cookies:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter 1 stick
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg , separated
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans , finely chopped

For the Caramel:


  • Combine flour, cocoa and salt. In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture, just until combined. Chill dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
  • Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy.  Place chopped pecans in another shallow bowl. Remove dough from fridge and roll into small balls (however many cookies you want--I made 20 small ones).
  • Roll each dough ball in the frothy egg whites, and then roll and press in the chopped pecans. Place on a greased baking sheet.  
  • Use the back of a small measuring spoon to make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  • Bake at 350 Degrees F for about 10-12 minutes, or just until set. Don't over-bake as cookies will harden as they cool. 
  • As the cookies come out of the oven, gently re-press the indentations with a small spoon.
  • In a microwavable bowl mix the caramel bits and water. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until caramel is melted (1-2 minutes). Pour small spoonfuls of caramel into the indented cookies.  *Optional: Drizzle with melted chocolate (or sprinkle with sea salt)!


Adapted from The Kitchen is My Playground


Calories: 140kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 79mgPotassium: 58mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 155IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 0.6mg

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I originally shared this recipe December 2013. I updated in November 2017 with new photos and clearer instructions.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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  1. 5 stars
    I have made these several times with gluten free flour. They are easier than they seem and really good! They are like little gooey brownie bites. I am about tomake another batch tomorrow for quarantine comfort food. Thanks!

  2. I didn’t use exact Kraft carmel bits listed but Kraft caramel cubes and they hardened after I put in center. Like hard, couldn’t bite hard. What did I do wrong? I microwaved with tad water and stirred as directions stated.

    1. 4 stars
      I’ve been making a version of these for the last 20 years – I melt my caramel squares on the stove top 10 squares + 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream till melted over medium heat- stirring till melted and combined. Stays smooth melty creaminess – favorite cookie in my repertoire. I roll my in Hazelnuts – may try almons next time or coconut

    1. These are so tasty, great flavor!! However, my dough was really sticky when trying to roll balls and even though I tried to chill the dough in the fridge, they still flattened. The dough was so sticky I bypassed rolling them in the meringue. Is that what caused them to go flat??

  3. 5 stars
    Just made these for the first time and they’re a hit! Based on the size of cookie and depth of the caramel well, I needed more caramel and nuts than the recipe called for but obviously this will vary depending on technique and size.

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