Turtle thumbprint cookies have the best blend textures. Each chewy chocolate cookie is rolled in chopped pecans and filled with caramel!

plate of turtle thumbprint cookies with chopped pecans, caramel center and chocolate drizzle

Cookie season (aka the holiday season) will be here before you know it! I’m getting a jumpstart on my baking and made thumbprint turtle cookies. Have you ever had the turtle candies? They’re basically caramel, chocolate and pecans arranged to look like little turtles—super cute and really yummy. So imagine those candies in cookie form. Delicious, right? Chewy chocolate thumbprint cookies rolled in crushed pecans and filled with gooey caramel.

Why this recipe works: The ratio of texture is perfect. The chocolate cookies are chewy and hold their thumbprint shape. The chopped pecans stay stuck on the cookies thanks to egg whites. The caramel filling is easy to make simply by melting soft caramel candies.

turtle thumbprint cookie ingredients in bowls labeled with text

Overview: How to make turtle thumbprint cookies

  1. Make the cookie dough: Whisk dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat wet ingredients until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined.
  2. Chill the dough for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Shape cookies: Roll cookie dough into balls, dip in egg whites and immediately roll in chopped pecans. Use 1/2 teaspoon to create indentation in the center of each cookie.
  5. Bake cookies for 12 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. Make caramel filling: Melt caramel with heavy cream in the microwave until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon of melted caramel to the center of each cookie.
  7. Add chocolate drizzle: Melt chocolate in microwave on 50% power level. Use a spoon to drizzle melted chocolate over cookies.
photo collage demonstrating how to make chocolate cookie dough in a glass mixing bowl for turtle cookies
photo collage demonstrating how to shape and assemble turtle thumbprint cookies with caramel and pecans

Helpful tips

This recipe requires a few steps so my first tip is to read the entire recipe before getting started. That way you know what steps are required and you’re prepared! For accurate measuring, use a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients (it’s more accurate that measuring).

Have assembly set-up before removing dough from the refrigerator. The dough should be chilled so the cookies maintain their shape while baking. If the dough sits on the counter too long it will warm up. The dough will also warm up if you roll it between your hands too much.

Melt the caramel and chocolate on 50% power level in the microwave. Stop to stir frequently. this will ensure smooth caramel and chocolate that melts evenly.

stack of turtle thumbprint cookies. Top cookie with a bite and caramel dripping down.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are turtle cookies called turtle?

Turtle cookies are inspired by turtle candies. Turtle candies look like turtles. They have chocolate for the body, caramel for the shell and pecans for the feet.

Can I freeze turtle cookies?

Yes. You can freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months or you can freeze the baked and assembled cookies for up to 1 month in an airtight container. Defrost at room temperature before serving.

Why did my cookies spread?

The dough is likely too warm. Make sure the dough is chilled for a full hour. Before removing dough from the fridge, preheat your oven and set up egg whites and pecans. Avoid rolling the dough too much in your hands since your body heat will warm up the dough.

Why aren’t the pecans sticking to the dough?

Make sure the pecans are finely chopped. If the pieces are too big, they will fall off the cookies. Also, be sure the egg whites are lightly beaten before dipping the cookie dough balls in.

white plate with turtle thumbprint cookies next to white kitchen cloth, glass milk bottle and twine

I love baking with chocolate, pecans and caramel. If you enjoyed this cookies, then you will surely enjoy these decadent bourbon pecan pie brownies. The pecan topping is just like pie and has a gooey, crunchy texture. For a quick, no-bake recipe, try chocolate pecan truffles (also made with bourbon!)

This turtle cheesecake (Cooking Journey Blog)is pure deliciousness. It is topped with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and chopped pecans! I also love the looks of this chunky turtle ice cream (Cravings of a Lunatic blog).

turtle thumbprint cookies with pecans and chocolate drizzle on a white plate with caramel candies

While these cookies may require a few extra steps than the typical holiday cookies, they are totally worth it. Seriously though, there’s not a doubt in my mind that these cookies will be a crowd pleaser at your Christmas parties. They have all the textures and flavors of a good cookie. Chewy chocolate, gooey caramel and crunchy pecans—what more could you want in a cookie?!

If you try this recipe, leave a review below and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media. I appreciate the support!

stack of turtle thumbprint cookies and top cookie shows chopped pecans, caramel center and chocolate drizzle on top

Thumbprint Turtle Cookies

Turtle thumbprint cookies have the best blend textures. Each chewy chocolate cookie is rolled in chopped pecans and filled with caramel!
5 (3 ratings)

Ingredients

Turtle Cookies:

  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • cup (40 g) cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cup (133 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 lightly beaten egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup (150 g) pecans, finely chopped*

Caramel Filling:

  • 14 soft caramel candies, I used Kraft caramels
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, room temperature

Chocolate Drizzle (optional):

  • ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon shortening

Instructions 

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
  • With a stand mixer (or hand mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined, one more minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl if necessary. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture until just combined.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
  • Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Place egg whites in one small bowl and chopped pecans in a separate small bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, and then roll in pecans. Place balls about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  • Bake until set, about 12 minutes. Once cookies are removed from the oven, gently re-press the indentations. Prepare caramel filling immediately.

Caramel Filling

  • Place unwrapped caramels and cream in a bowl. Microwave together on 50% power level for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 20 seconds until smooth.
  • Transfer cookies to a wire rack and fill each cookie indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel mixture (it’s okay if the cookies are still warm).

Chocolate Drizzle (optional)

  • Place chocolate and shortening in a small bowl. Microwave together on 50% power level for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 20 seconds until smooth.
  • Transfer melted chocolate to a ziplock bag. Snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled turtle cookies.

Notes

Store turtle thumbprint cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Freeze chocolate cookie dough for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before baking.
Freeze turtle cookies (baked and assembled) in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature before serving.
Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 123kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 36mg, Potassium: 62mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 132IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

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