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Peanut Butter Pecan Turtle Candy

Peanut Butter Pecan Turtle Candy is fun and easy to make and the perfect treat for my fellow chocolate and nut lovers! These cute turtles feature a peanut butter layer and a chocolate layer with crunchy pecans for a salty sweet bite of heaven.

Pecan turtle candy on a blue plate, ready to serve

If you’ve been following along for a while, you may remember my Keto Peanut Butter Chocolate Pecan Turtles from a couple of years ago.

They were so fun and easy to make that I figured I would revisit them, but provide a recipe for those who don’t follow a sugar-free or low-carb diet.

While I typically share recipes with less added sugar, these cute little turtle buddies are very sugar-forward.

As is true with many candy recipes, the amount of sugar used makes a difference to help keep structural integrity, and also to make the desert positively delicious.

But never fear, I have included a lower sugar option for my fellow friends that like to keep treats on the wholesome end.

What is Pecan Turtle Candy?

Traditional pecan turtles are made with a chewy caramel layer and a chocolate layer on top of strategically placed raw pecan halves, creating the shape of a turtle. 

The gooey caramel in traditional homemade turtle candy is made with heavy cream and brown sugar or store-bought soft caramels.

Rather than going the classic route with homemade caramel, I fully commit to a peanut butter layer. 

While the classic version is definitely delicious, I’m a big fan of peanut butter, and love the salty counterbalance it brings to the otherwise sweet treat.

Pecan turtles on a black cutting board.

Why This Recipe Works:

The best part is no fancy equipment or maneuvers are needed to make this recipe. That means no candy thermometer, double boiler, and no high fructose corn syrup.

The hardest part about this homemade chocolate turtles recipe is allowing the delicious turtles to set up in the refrigerator before getting after them.

Listen, I find these cheeky little turtles to be obnoxiously fun to make.

And this is coming from a human who can barely bring herself to decorate a cake in a way that’s even remotely presentable. 

The way I see it, this is a great project for kids and humans of all ages. Perfect for holiday gifts or cookie exchanges, these fun treats are a sure win for anyone who loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

Let’s discuss the basic ingredients for chocolate peanut butter pecan turtles.

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Pecan Turtle Candy:

Raw Pecans: Used to form the legs, arms and heads of the turtles, we use raw pecan halves. Be sure to look for halves that seem fully intact (unbroken) for the best looking results. You’ll need 60 pecans in order to make 12 turtles.

If you want to decorate the shells with another pecan half, allot for needing more. Pecan halves are often confused with whole pecans, which contain the outer shell. Just be sure you aren’t buying chopped pecans are badly broken pecans and you’ll be good to go.

Unsweetened Peanut Butter: To form a delicious peanut butter layer and also to serve as the glue that holds the pecans together, we use some unsweetened creamy peanut butter. Be sure to use peanut butter that is well-stirred without a lot of oil separation.

Powdered Sugar: To sweeten the peanut butter layer and to provide some structure to the peanut butter so that it is easily moldable, we use confectioners sweetener.

I have included a refined sugar-free option below, but powdered sugar is your best bet for texture and stability.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips: For the chocolate layer, we melt semisweet chocolate chips with a little coconut oil to create a chocolate shell. You can go off script here and use dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips.

Coconut Oil or Butter: Added to the chocolate chips to help them melt evenly, we need a little coconut oil or butter.

Now that we’re familiar with the basic ingredients, let’s make some adorable turtles!

How to Make Peanut Butter Pecan Turtle Candy:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. If you don’t have either, don’t panic. The homemade turtle candies shouldn’t do much sticking so you can go without a paper liner if need be. 

Add the ingredients the peanut butter and powdered sugar to a small bowl and mix until a thick moldable peanut butter dough forms.

If your peanut butter isn’t at room temperature because it has been chilling in the refrigerator, microwave it for 30 seconds, or until it becomes easy to stir.

Note: if you have a stand mixer, it is easiest to use a stand mixer rather than mixing the peanut butter and sugar by hand. The peanut butter should feel like cookie dough.

Peanut butter and powdered sugar mixed up in a bowl.

Arrange 5 raw pecan halves in the shape of a turtle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining pecans, keeping the turtle pecan clusters in a single layer.

Pecan formations on a cutting board to make pecan turtles.

Shape about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture into an oval/shell shape and press it onto the pecans. Be sure to press the pecans into the peanut butter firmly so that they stay put.

Pecan turtles with the peanut butter layer on top.

Place the turtle back on the baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining peanut butter and pecans.

Transfer the chocolate chips and coconut oil (or butter) to a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring very well in between each interval, until the chocolate is melted (about 1 to 1.5 minutes total).

Chocolate ganache in a mixing bowl.

There is no need to microwave the chocolate to a very runny consistency. The goal is for the chocolate mixture to be fairly thick and spoonable but not too runny.

If you need to allow the chocolate to cool off for a few minutes until it thickens a little, feel free to do so.

Drizzle about one tablespoon of melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer, forming a chocolate turtle shell.

If desired, decorate the shell with additional pecans or a sprinkle of sea salt.

Pecan turtles drying to be used as Christmas candy.

Place the whole baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer and chill until set up, about 2 hours.

Serve, and enjoy!

Store pecan turtle candy in an airtight container or in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

If you have leftover chocolate, use it for drizzling on ice cream for a chocolate magic shell.

Pecan turtles on a black cutting board.

This rich chocolate turtle candy recipe is so great during the holiday season when all your favorite candies come out to play.

Lower Sugar Option:

If you prefer using less sugar in your dessert recipes, here’s an option you may prefer. Rather than using powdered sugar, add 5 tablespoons of coconut sugar to your peanut butter mixture. 

I recommend lining a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper if you go this route because the gooiness of the peanut butter will be a bit messier than classic homemade turtles. I also recommend freezing the turtles to get them to set up rather than refrigerating them.

The upside? Less sugar and refined sugar-free. Two downsides are the peanut butter is much gooier this way, which makes it slightly more difficult to handle. In addition, because coconut sugar is a coarse grind, you will detect a little grittiness in the peanut butter layer.

If you’re okay with these two cautionary tales, feel free to proceed with this lower sugar version. Otherwise, stick with the original recipe for the best results.

Pecan turtles on a black cutting board, ready to eat.

And that’s it! For anyone who loves making homemade candy, this fun recipe is a treasure. 

If you’re looking for more candy recipes, also try out these gems.

More Candy Recipes:

If you’re looking for a thoughtful holiday gift, the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is always a good idea.

Chocolate and peanut butter forever!

Pecan turtle candy on a blue plate, ready to serve
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5 from 1 vote

Peanut Butter Pecan Turtle Candy

These homemade turtles are an absolute dream for anyone who enjoys the combination of peanut butter and chocolate! Easy to make and so fun for holiday gifts!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Chill Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 21 minutes
Course: Desserts & Treats
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 Turtles
Calories: 297kcal
Author: Julia

Equipment

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Layer:

  • ½ cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar *
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or melted butter, or avocado oil

Chocolate Coating:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips **
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or 1 Tbsp butter

Pecan Turtles:

Instructions

  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. If you don’t have either, don’t panic. The homemade turtle candies shouldn’t do much sticking so you can go without a paper liner if need be.
  • Add the ingredients peanut butter, powdered sugar, and coconut oil to a small bowl and mix until a thick moldable peanut butter dough forms. If your peanut butter isn’t at room temperature because it has been chilling in the refrigerator, microwave it for 30 seconds, or until it becomes easy to stir. Note: if you have a stand mixer, it is easiest to use a stand mixer rather than mixing the peanut butter and sugar by hand.
  • Arrange 5 raw pecan halves in the shape of a turtle on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining pecans, keeping the turtle pecan clusters in a single layer. Shape about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture into an oval/shell shape and press it onto the pecans. Be sure to press the pecans into the peanut butter firmly so that they stay put. Place the turtle back on the baking sheet. Repeat for the remaining peanut butter and pecans.
  • Transfer the chocolate chips and coconut oil (or butter) to a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring very well in between each interval, until the chocolate is melted (about 1 to 1.5 minutes total). There is no need to microwave the chocolate to a very runny consistency. The goal is for the chocolate mixture to be fairly thick and spoonable but not too runny. If you need to allow the chocolate to cool off for a few minutes until it thickens a little, feel free to do so.
  • Drizzle about one tablespoon of melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer, forming a chocolate turtle shell. If desired, decorate the shell with additional pecans or a sprinkle of sea salt.
  • Place the whole baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer and chill until set up, about 2 hours.
  • Serve, and enjoy!

Notes

*For a lower sugar, refined sugar-free option, use 5 tablespoons of coconut sugar instead of powdered sugar and omit the oil. After mixing, refrigerate for 15 minutes. This mixture will be gooey so I recommend freezing the turtles after preparing them to get them to set up.
**Use dairy-free chocolate chips for a vegan option (and use coconut oil instead of butter for the chocolate coating and the peanut butter mixture).
Store pecan turtle candy in an airtight container or in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 
If you have leftover chocolate, use it for drizzling on ice cream for a chocolate magic shell.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Turtle | Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 64mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 25g

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