Turtle Brownies – Sugar Spun Run

Must Try

Topped with caramel, pecans, and chocolate, these turtle brownies are oh so decadent! My version uses an easy homemade caramel for the best results and includes a how-to video tutorial.

The Most Indulgent Brownies

My turtle brownies have all the irresistible components of turtle candy: gooey caramel, rich chocolate, and crunchy pecans. The caramel in my version is homemade (of course) and covered in plenty of chopped pecans (toast yours for extra flavor!). A drizzle of chocolate on top is both for looks and taste. It’s such a decadent way to make a turtle dessert!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Carefully crafted to be decadent, but not too rich. I intentionally made the brownie layer different from my typical favorite brownies from scratch because I wanted the whole thing to be balanced.
  • Uses a real homemade caramel sauce for the best flavor and texture. Don’t be intimidated by this, I’ll be walking you through all the steps in detail.
  • Still a handheld treat despite it’s decadence! These turtle brownies are admittedly a little messy to eat, as the caramel will start to spill off just a little as it sits. But there’s no fork needed (unless you want to use one, which is totally fine).

What You Need

There are two main components to these turtle brownies: the brownie layer itself and the toppings (which really consists of 3 separate parts: caramel, chocolate, and nuts).

Ingredients for Turtle brownies
  • Corn syrup. This is necessary for our caramel sauce, it prevents gritty sugar crystals from forming in caramel candy. I often get pushback when I use corn syrup because people think it’s the same thing as high fructose corn syrup, so here’s a gentle reminder and easy read explaining that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are not the same. If you are not located in the US and can’t find corn syrup, glucose syrup should work just fine here instead.
  • Baking powder. I don’t use baking powder in many of my brownie recipes, but these turtle brownies benefit from a little lift from a leavening agent.
  • Eggs. Room temperature eggs work best, so try to set yours out ahead of time. Usually I’d have you mix these really well with the sugar to create crackly brownie tops, but don’t worry about that here since we’re covering our brownies.
  • Chocolate chips. I typically use semisweet chips in my brownie recipes, but I’m using use milk chocolate chips in these turtle brownies, since milk chocolate is most commonly used in classic turtle candies.
  • Pecans. Use chopped pecans so they’re easy to bite into. If you really want to amp up the flavor, consider toasting your pecans before adding them on top!

SAM’S TIP: If you want a turtle dessert that doesn’t involve making homemade caramel, try my turtle cookies or caramelitas!

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Turtle Brownies

Make the Caramel Topping

Collage of four photos showing caramel sauce being prepared on the stove.
  1. Cook the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves. Keep the heat low and do not crank it up to make this process go faster–caramel requires patience! If you see sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan, you can brush them down with a damp pastry brush.
  2. Increase the heat to just below medium and cook until the caramel reaches 340-345F (171-173C). Immediately remove your saucepan from the heat.
  3. CAREFULLY and gradually stir in the cream. Do this slowly, as your caramel will start to bubble vigorously when the cream is added!
  4. Stir in the butter one piece at a time. Let the caramel cool in its pan, or pour it into a separate (heatproof) dish to speed up the cooling process.

Make the Brownies

Collage of four photos showing brownie batter being prepared and baked in a square pan.
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients and sugar together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and stir until everything is combined, then fold in your chocolate chips.
  3. Spread the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean or with a few fudgy crumbs.
  4. Let the brownies cool for a bit before adding your toppings.


Four photos showing caramel, pecans, and chocolate being added to brownies.
  1. Pour your (cooled) caramel over the brownies (it’s okay if they brownies are still a little warm when you do this). Use an offset spatula or knife to spread the caramel evenly overtop.
  2. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the caramel.
  3. Melt together chocolate and cream (we’re making a simple ganache) then pour this over the nuts. Top everything off with a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
  4. Cut after the chocolate and caramel have had time to solidify, and enjoy!

SAM’S TIP: Turtle brownies can be pretty messy, so I recommend cutting them as you need to instead of cutting all of them at once. If you cut all the squares and allow them to sit the caramel will start to slowly pool over the edges. Keeping them in their baking pan helps contain everything.

Overhead view of brownies topped with caramel and pecans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use store-bought caramel sauce?

I really recommend making the caramel from scratch. You can use a store-bought one but 1) it just honestly doesn’t taste as good and 2) it seems to be thinner than my caramel sauce, making for much messier turtle brownies (and these are already a little messy!). 
If you really don’t want to whip out the candy thermometer to make the caramel as written, you could always make the caramel layer from my caramelitas instead and use that.

Why is my caramel runny?

By design, the caramel topping won’t be as solid and tidy as the caramel layer in my millionaire’s shortbread, but it should be thick enough that it’s not waterfalling off your brownies. If yours is excessively runny, it’s either too warm still, or it may have needed to cook longer. Make sure you’re using an accurate candy thermometer (this is the one I use and like, affiliate), that way you know exactly when your caramel has reached the right temperature and consistency!

Can I use box-mix brownies?

I find that box-mix brownies aren’t quite as sturdy or thick as the ones I prefer to use for this recipe, but they should still work. They just might be a bit messier to consume. Follow the instructions on the package for preparing.

Turtle brownies made with homemade caramel, pecans, a chocolate drizzle, and sea salt.

These turtle brownies would make an amazing a brownie sundae with some vanilla ice cream 🤤


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Two turtle brownies stacked on top of each other with the top brownie missing a bite.

Turtle Brownies

Topped with caramel, pecans, and chocolate, these turtle brownies are oh so decadent! My version uses an easy homemade caramel for the best results. Recipe includes a how-to video!


Course: bars, brownies, Dessert

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Servings: 12 brownies

Calories: 437kcal


For the caramel (see note)

Prevent your screen from going dark


To make the caramel:

  • Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan and stir frequently over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved. If you notice any sugar adhering to the sides of the pan, lightly dip a pastry brush in water and use it to sweep away the sugar.

    1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, ¼ cup (60 ml) water, 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup, ¼ teaspoon table salt

  • Turn heat to just a notch below medium and continue to cook without stirring until mixture turns caramel in color and reaches a temperature of 340-345F (171-173C).

  • Remove from heat and very carefully and slowly drizzle in cream. Mixture will bubble aggressively, so use caution.

    ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream

  • Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until mixture is smooth.

    3 Tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter

  • Stir in vanilla extract and allow caramel to cool completely before using (you can speed this up by placing it into it in the refrigerator).

    1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the brownies

  • Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly grease a 9×9” (23x23cm) square baking pan, or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

    1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar, ⅔ cup (83 g) all-purpose flour, ½ cup (50 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder, ⅛ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon table salt

  • Add melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and stir together very well until mixture is completely combined.

    ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Stir in chocolate chips.

    ½ cup (85 g) milk chocolate chips

  • Spread evenly into prepared baking pan and bake in preheated 350F (175C) oven for 23-25 minutes. When finished baking a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean or mostly clean with just a few moist crumbs.

  • Allow brownies to cool for 20 minutes (they do not have to be fully cooled) before adding toppings.

  • Spread caramel sauce evenly over the top of the cooled brownies, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle chopped pecans over top of caramel.

    Caramel sauce, ¾ cup pecans

  • In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and heavy cream on high for 25 seconds. Whisk together until smooth. Drizzle over top of brownies.

    ½ cup (85 g) milk chocolate chips, 2 Tablespoons heavy cream

  • Sprinkle with sea salt, cut and enjoy!

    Sea salt


This recipe makes 1 batch or 1 cup of my thick caramel sauce. I’ve tried this recipe with store-bought sauce and found it to be too thin and so I recommend using the sauce linked here. The sauce may be prepared up to a week in advance and stored (covered) in the fridge.


Store the brownies in the pan you’ve baked them in to prevent too much caramel spilling off of them. I store at room temperature (tightly covered) for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator (tightly covered) for up to 5 days. If kept at room temperature, the caramel will slowly spill over the edges of the brownies, this is fine and normal.


Serving: 1brownie | Calories: 437kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 110mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.

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