5-Ingredient Chocolate Turtles

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These homemade turtles are made with five simple ingredients, yet still amazingly decadent and taste just as good, if not better, than the store-bought candies. They’re also better for you!

I’m quite confident that my nanny (my grandmother on my mom’s side) introduced me to Turtles at a very young age. They were her favorite candy and she pretty much always had a box on hand. She liked to share so I’ve eaten my fair share of Turtles growing up. The combo of crunchy pecans topped with gooey caramel and smooth, rich chocolate simply can’t be beat. I can definitely see why nanny loved them.

Close up photo of homemade turtle candies made with pecans, date caramel and chocolate.

After seeing a few recipes for homemade chocolate turtles around the web I thought it’d be fun to make my own version — a bit healthier with Medjool dates instead of caramel and dairy-free dark chocolate chips for the chocolate.

Medjool dates have a lovely caramel flavor and sticky consistency so I knew it would work well. What I didn’t realize is just how easy the homemade turtles would be to make. Seriously, it’s kind of an issue because now I want to make turtles every night for dessert.

Homemade chocolate turtles on a white table.

You Only Need 5 Ingredients:

  • Medjool dates – Look for medjool dates that are already pitted or pit them yourself (it’s super easy). Two brands that I like are Natural Delights and Joolies. You can find Natural Delights in the produce section of most grocery stores (near the bananas) and Joolies are offered on Amazon and Thrive Market.
  • chocolate chips – I like using Lily’s chocolate chips to keep these dairy-free and low in sugar!
  • coconut oil
  • pecan halves
  • sea salt
Dates, pecans, chocolate chips, coconut oil and sea salt on a marble table top.

How to Make Healthier Homemade Turtles

Pulse dates – Place the dates into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the sea salt and pulse until the dates are completely chopped and form a large ball. The date mixture will be very sticky! Use plastic wrap to cover your hands, remove the ball from the food processor and wrap it with the plastic wrap and freeze for about an hour.

Food processor with date caramel.

Roll date balls – After freezing the date mixture should be much easier to work with. It should be harder and less sticky. Pinch off small pieces of the dates and roll into small balls. Place on parchment paper or a cooling rack.

Side by side photos of the process to make pecan turtles. The first photo is of balls of date caramel and then a photo of three pecan pressed into the date caramel.

Add pecans – After all of your date balls are formed, start adding three pecans to each ball in a triangle pattern. Make sure a little of each pecan sticks out. Place the turtle pecan-side down on the parchment paper or cooling rack.

Melt chocolate – Melt the chocolate by adding chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir the mixture until all of the chips have melted. Use a spoon to cover each turtle with melted chocolate.

Freeze – Once all of the turtles are coated in chocolate, transfer them to the freezer to allow the chocolate to set up. This should only take 10-15 minutes!

How to Store Homemade Turtles

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. If I’m making more than a week in advance I usually store them in the freezer and then take them out about an hour before serving!

Chocolate pecan turtle candies on a plate.

More Healthy Treat Recipes to Try:

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4.92 from 12 votes

Healthy Chocolate Turtles

These homemade turtles are made with five simple ingredients. yet still amazingly decadent and taste just as good, if not better, than the store-bought candies. They’re also better for you!
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 minute
Servings: 15

Ingredients  

Instructions 

  • Place dates into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add sea salt and pulse until the dates are completely chopped and form a large ball. The date mixture will be very sticky at this point. Using plastic wrap to cover your hands, remove ball from food processor, wrap it with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 1 hour. This step makes the date mixture much easier to work with. It becomes harder and less sticky.
  • Remove date ball from freezer and unwrap. Pinch off small pieces of the date ball and roll into small balls. Place on parchment paper or a cooling racking. Once you have all the balls made, start adding three pecans to each ball in a triangle pattern with a little of each pecan sticking out. As you press the pecans the date ball will flatten out a bit.
  • Lay each turtle pecan-side down on the parchment or cooling rack.
  • Melt chocolate by adding chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute in the microwave. The chocolate chips should be almost completely melted at this point. Stir the mixture together until all the chips have melted down. (The heating process can also be done on the stove if you prefer.)
  • Using a spoon cover each turtle with melted chocolate. Once they’re all covered, move the turtles into the freezer to allow the chocolate to set up. This should only take about 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and enjoy. Store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1turtle | Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 20mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Desserts
Keyword: chocolate turtles, healthier turtles, homemade turtles
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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29 Comments

  1. Great idea! My grandmother is also a huge turtles fan. I’ll have to make a batch for her to try too! If I don’t eat them all first ????

  2. Brittany! I love you so much for this recipe! I crave turtles from my childhood and now I can have them on the reg 😉

  3. Hi Brittany,
    great recipe, can’t wait to try it!
    what is the food processor that you used in your video? I always have an issue chopping dates and and frozen bananas.
    thank you,
    Milana

  4. 5 stars
    This was a perfect recipe for my students!! I have gluten, dairy, soy allergies. These
    worked so well for them! I hardly gave them the box of turtles and they were gone:)!

  5. Hi Brittany,
    This looks like a delicious recipe! 😋 I was hoping to try it out, but unfortunately I don’t have a food processor. Would it be okay to use a regular blender instead?
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Rebecca – I think a blender will work just fine, it might just be a bit tougher to get the mixture to mix together, but it should still work. Let me know if you end up trying these. 🙂

      1. 4 stars
        I found out in the process of making these that I actually do have a food processor. (I will definitely keep that in mind for the next time I make these!) That being said, this time I used the only thing I though I had that would work – a blender. It was definitely a bit of work to have to scape dates out of the bottom of blender every 30 seconds while I was trying to get them to the right consistency! To anyone out there considering trying this recipe, I would recommend investing in a food processor if you don’t already have one. Using a blender is kind of a hassle! Other than the blender thing, the actual end result was great. I ended up with 15 total in the end like the recipe said, although next time I’ll probably make the date balls just a little bit smaller. There was a bit too much date for my taste, but I will definitely be making these again!

        1. Thanks so much for sharing, Rebecca! And for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It’s super helpful for other readers. 🙂

  6. Do these melt when out of the refrig? I have seen the few coconut oil desserts melt in a couple of minutes at room temperature which is not pleasant. Would cacao butter work better? Or is there another solution to the melt downs.

    1. Hey Tanya, These shouldn’t melt, but they’ll soften a bit depending on how long they’re left out. I usually serve straight from the fridge and let them soften for a few minutes before eating.

    1. Yay!! That makes me so happy to hear!! Thanks for making this recipe and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    wow, it’s really wonderful healthy tips for us. It’s really good and valubale tips. Thanks for sharing this good article.

  8. 5 stars
    So yummy! Super easy to make, fun to look at and delicious. Will be a crowd pleaser once crowds are possible again
    Many thanks, I really enjoy this recipe and many others on your site.

    1. I’m so glad these turtles were a hit!! Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

  9. 5 stars
    Love these!!!! I was wondering, though, if I could just mix in chopped pecans with the dates. Making all the turtle legs is time-consuming and I don’t really care if they actually look like turtles. Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Hey Kathy – I’m sure that would work. I also have a ton of date energy ball recipes, which would probably be pretty similar to what you’re talking about. You can check them out here.