Filed Under: Chocolate | Christmas | Cookies | Dessert

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe By Tessa Arias
December 12th, 2018
5 from 3 votes
5 from 3 votes

This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie recipe features a cocoa cookie rolled in pecans, filled with a salted caramel thumbprint, and drizzled with chocolate. A perfect Christmas cookie recipe! Click here to download my 10 Favorite Christmas Cookies!

Yield: 24 cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: There’s a reason that turtle flavored treats are so popular! That combination of pecans, caramel, and chocolate is heavenly.
Texture: The cookie is rich and soft, the pecans are crunchy, and the caramel is thick and gooey.
Ease: Definitely not as quick and simple as regular drop cookies, but these are well worth the extra hands-on effort!
Pros: Delicious and fun cookies.
Cons: A little messy and requires hands-on time.
Would I make this again? Yes.

To everyone who loves the turtle flavor combination of chocolate, pecans, and caramel, this Turtle Thumbprint Cookies recipe was made for YOU!

This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie recipe features a cocoa cookie rolled in pecans, filled with a salted caramel thumbprint, and drizzled with chocolate. A perfect Christmas cookie recipe!

These cookies are the ultimate turtle treat and are crunchy, gooey, and rich without being cloyingly sweet. I’m so excited that Christmas cookie baking season is in full swing. What are your favorite cookies to bake during this time of the year?

These Turtle Thumbprint Cookies are a total crowd pleaser. Everyone loves this recipe!

Chocolate, caramel, and pecan thumbprint cookies

If you take a peek down at the recipe directions, you may notice they are a tad more involved than your average cookie recipe. To achieve that scrumptious array of turtle tastes and textures a little bit of work is involved. Don’t worry! It’s nothing difficult by any means but do plan on spending a little more time on this recipe.

It’s completely worth it, promise! I mean, how mouthwatering does that gooey caramel pull look?!

This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie recipe features a cocoa cookie rolled in pecans, filled with a salted caramel thumbprint, and drizzled with chocolate. A perfect Christmas cookie recipe!

More Christmas Cookie Recipes:

Be sure to check out my Christmas Headquarters page for more holiday baking recipes! 🎄

This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie recipe features a cocoa cookie rolled in pecans, filled with a salted caramel thumbprint, and drizzled with chocolate. A perfect Christmas cookie recipe!

This post was originally published in 2013 and recently updated with new photos, weight measurements, and other recipe improvements. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

5 from 3 votes

How to make
Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
This Turtle Thumbprint Cookie recipe features a cocoa cookie rolled in pecans, filled with a salted caramel thumbprint, and drizzled with chocolate. A perfect Christmas cookie recipe! Click here to download my 10 Favorite Christmas Cookies!


For the Cookies:

  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (28 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (113 grams) pecans, finely chopped

For the Caramel Thumbprint:

  • 16 unwrapped caramel squares
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Fleur de sel, or other flaked sea salt, for sprinkling, optional

For the Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening


For the cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy. Add in the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. Reserve the egg white in a separate container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight, or until the dough is chilled and firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  4. Lightly beat the reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in the egg white, then roll in the pecans, pressing lightly to coat well. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly press down the center of each ball with your thumb.
  5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until set. Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let cool until just warm.

For the caramel:

  1. While the cookies are baking, combine the caramel squares and cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.
  2. When the cookies are warm, press down the center of each cookie again with your thumb or the opposite end of a wooden spatula. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each thumbprint. Sprinkle the caramel with Fleur de sel to taste. Let cool completely.

For the chocolate drizzle:

  1. In a small heat-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and oil in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Remove the chocolate to a small zip-top baggie and cut a small hole in one corner. Pipe the chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Favorite Brand Names: Gifts from the Christmas Kitchen via Dawn's Recipes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Diane @ Vintage Zest — December 2, 2013 at 10:48 am

    This looks wonderful! I have only made thumbprint cookies filled with jam/jelly, like the ones I just posted a week ago. I LOOOOVE salted caramel and the chocolate drizzle seems interesting with coconut oil. I have only used coconut oil in a few different recipes, so I’d love to try this!

    P.S. – Here is my thumbprint cookie recipe if you’re interested. 🙂

  2. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — December 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I love everything about these adorable cookies Tessa! My mom loves chocolate turtles and she would be thrilled to have a cookie like this this Christmas. Sending her the recipe!

  3. #
    Gaby — December 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I could eat at least 6 of these without blinking an eye. Delicious!

  4. #
    Laura — December 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Need to make these cookies yesterday!!

  5. #
    Sandy — December 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    These were called Choco-Caramel Delights in a Hershey’s cookbook a loonnnnng time ago. I have been making them for years and everyone LOVES them.

    • #
      Dee — December 13, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Hmm!?..I have most of the Hershey recipe books and I don’t see any recipe called Choco-Caramel Delights in them, or any that looks close to this pleaser. I enjoy trying several different recipes of a similar recipe to try and make specific recipes perfect for my family’s likes. This will be one I try this weekend for sure!

  6. #
    Lindsey — December 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    This recipe looks AMAZING and I cannot wait to make them! My only question is, could I use salted butter instead of unsalted?
    Thank you!

    • #
      Tessa — December 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Sure, just omit the salt in the cookie part of the recipe.

  7. #
    Kristin — December 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    What kind of cocoa powder did you use? I have Hershey’s special dark, but will that be too bitter? Should I buy regular?

  8. #
    Sarah — December 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I just made these and they are to die for. I now have a new favorite cookie recipe!

  9. #
    martha — February 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    pretzels Rollo’s and pecans are easier and quicker recipe is on the back of the Rollo’s

    • #
      Dee — December 13, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      I get that some folks prefer something quick and easy, but there are also those out there very willing to invest the time and attention to make things from scratch…omitting things they prefer not to be included in their foods as well as to make a spectacular cookie, cake, pie, dessert, or meal. I know this to be true, as I am one of those people. Please, keep the yummy delicious and beautiful recipes coming. There are people out there that want quick and there are people out there that wish to create it themselves.

  10. #
    Mimosa — August 3, 2014 at 3:57 am

    I made these today, my parents and sister where surprised that these cookies didnt actually contain a turtle nor that they did not resemble a turtle. The cookie part is nice and dense like a rich chocolate brownie, taking the left overs to school tomorrow for my friends!

    • #
      Tessa — August 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Haha! I think I’d be more surprised if the cookies DID contain turtle! Glad you enjoyed, hope your friends do too 🙂

  11. #
    Kristy @ Chocolate Slopes — November 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I’ll be adding these to my Christmas baking list this yea. Especially since turtles are my husband’s favorite!

  12. #
    Helen — December 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I looovvve Turtles! Surely going to try these – don’t know if I can squeeze it in for Christmas – so much baking, crocheting, so little time. Going to try for sure though, some time soon. Tk u for sharing yr recipe. Can’t wait!

  13. #
    Rosie Diehl — June 3, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Can u make Carmel sauce instead of Carmel squares?
    Will it work as well?

  14. #
    Bev — November 16, 2017 at 10:47 am

    For the caramel, can you use whole milk instead of whipping cream.

  15. #
    Cindy Walker — December 14, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I’m absolutely going to make these this year, they look delicious, and so interesting! Just wanted to share a tip I learned with a different recipe that uses those little wrapped caramels – they are much easier to peel if you toss them in the freezer for a bit first. Not as sticky 🙂

  16. #
    thefolia — December 14, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing…these look amazing. I can’t wait to get started! Happy feasting!

  17. #
    Tina Harper — December 19, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    This recipe is AMAZING!!!! Turtle Thumbprint cookies is now my favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

  18. #
    Lee — December 23, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Wowwie! These look AMAZE.

  19. #
    TFI — December 23, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    looks and sounds delicious !!!!!!

  20. #
    Jennifer Montgomery — January 7, 2019 at 8:11 am

    I tried it was amazing but I didnt use eggs so was a little hard , I guess. Is there any other alternative if we dont want to use eggs

  21. #
    Maria — November 24, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Can I freeze these if made ahead

  22. #
    Marne Conradie — January 28, 2020 at 1:11 am

    Absolutely tasty. And yes, you were right it’s quite messy but it’s worth it.

  23. #
    Dawne Craigie — April 15, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Made these at Christmas, they were the first to go! Will make double next year.

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