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These decadent Turtle Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a layer of caramel and loads of chocolate and pecans on top!  

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Two turtle bars stacked on each other on a wooden board; the top has a bite out of it.  A glass of milk in the background.

With my sweet tooth, there are very few desserts I don’t enjoy.  However, there are certainly ones that seem to simply rise to the top of the list!!  As soon as I created these Turtle Bars, I knew I had a new favorite!!!

These amazing treats have a thick shortbread cookie layer, gooey caramel and lots of chocolate and crunchy pecans giving all the flavors of a classic turtle!  I mean, who can resist a dessert with a layer of rich caramel flowing throughout the center of it?!  

Whether you make these for a bake sale, a weeknight meal or as part of your Christmas baking, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Ingredients needed to make Turtle Bars laid out on a white background.

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter – I recommend using salted butter in this recipe.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Salt
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Caramel Bits – I use the bag of Kraft Caramel Bits, but you could also use their soft caramels.
  • Heavy Cream 
  • Chocolate Chips – I like using semi-sweet chocolate chips to balance out the sweetness of the bars.  You could also use dark chocolate chips.  You could use milk chocolate, but might find it to be too sweet.
  • Pecans – Halved or chopped pecans will work for this recipe.
Close-up of a turtle bar with a bite out of it.

How to Make Turtle Cookie Bars

Make the Shortbread Base 

You’ll begin by creaming the butter and sugar.  I recommend doing in this in a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer.  Then you’ll add the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt and stir until combined.  

Lastly, you’ll stir in the flour and press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan.  You’ll bake the crust and reserve the remaining shortbread mixture for the top.

​Make the Caramel Layer

For this layer, you’ll heat caramel bits and heavy cream in the microwave (or in a small saucepan on medium heat) until smooth.  This will be poured over the crust to create a thick layer of caramel.

Assemble and Bake

Once you’ve spread the caramel over the crust, you’ll sprinkle the semisweet chocolate chips and remaining shortbread dough on top.  

Lastly, you’ll press the pecans into the bars and bake them.  Having the pecans on top will toast them just a bit and bring out so much flavor!!

Caramel turtle bars ready to go into the oven.

Let the bars cool completely on a wire rack before cutting….if you can wait! 🙂

How should I serve Turtle Bars?

​These are exquisite just as they are.  However, if you want to really impress, serve them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream….swooooon!!!!

Caramel bars baked and cut into squares.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I store leftover turtle bars?

Store leftovers in an airtight container.  You can keep them out at room temperature for 3 days or up to a week in the fridge.

Can I freeze turtle bars?

Absolutely!!  These freeze wonderfully – which makes them super nice for the holiday season!

Do I need to line the pan with parchment paper?

For this recipe, it’s really not necessary.  The shortbread crust is butter and therefore comes out of the pan super easily!

Can I use jarred caramel sauce?

Yes, BUT with a slight change.  Pour a 12-13 ounce jar of caramel topping into a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of flour.  This will ensure that it’s not too runny in the final product.  Do NOT use the plastic containers of caramel sauce or caramel syrup – these are too runny for this application. 

Two caramel filled turtle bars stacked on a wooden board with a piece of parchment paper.

Other Cookie Bars You’ll Love

Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Bars

M&M Cookie Bars 

Congo Bars

Oatmeal Bars

Two turtle bars stacked on each other; the top has a bite out of it. A glass of milk in the background.

Turtle Bars

Author: Kelsey
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 38 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
These decadent Turtle Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, a layer of caramel and loads of chocolate and pecans on top!


  • One 9×13-inch pan


  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • One 11 ounce bag caramel bits
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar.
  • Stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt.
  • Add the flour and mix until combined.
  • Press about 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan (reserve the rest of the later) and bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the bottom crust is baking, prepare the caramel.
  • Add the caramel bits and heavy whipping cream to a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.
  • Pour the caramel over the cooked crust and spread to an even layer.
  • Sprinkle with chocolate chips then the remaining shortbread mixture.
  • Top with pecans, pressing them down gently.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  • Let cool then cut into squares and serve.


Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 2.2g | Fat: 16.8g | Saturated Fat: 7.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5.4g | Cholesterol: 25.8mg | Sodium: 72.2mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 303IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 11.8mg | Iron: 0.5mg
“Dance Around the Kitchen” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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