Turtle Ooey Gooey Bars are an easy dessert bar inspired by the classic pairing of chocolate and pecan. These buttery bar cookies are packed with chocolate and topped with caramel sauce and chopped pecans. You’ll quickly return for seconds!
A combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans is hard to resist.
For me, at least. As I’m sure it is for may other people, too.
SAVE THIS TURTLE OOEY GOOEY BAR RECIPE TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
What is a “Turtle” treat?
If you’ve ever seen a turtle candy, you might notice that the pecan half smothered in caramel and coated in a chocolate shell looks like a turtle! That’s exactly how these candies got their name, and now the name “turtle” has become synonymous with the combined flavors of chocolate, pecans, and caramel.
The turtle candy flavor combination can be used in a bunch of different dessert recipes, too, like these Turtle Cheesecake Cookies.
You’ll find more turtle desserts down below, too!
What makes these Turtle Cookie Bars “ooey-gooey”?
You know when something comes out of the oven just underbaked enough to have that gooey consistency? I know it’s not technically correct, but I honestly prefer most of my desserts that way! The key to these irresistible ooey-gooey turtle bars is a boxed cake mix combined with sweetened condensed milk, and not over baking them.
What ingredients do I need?
Gather together these simple pantry ingredients before baking:
- Chocolate fudge cake mix (really, any chocolate cake mix will work!)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini semisweet chocolate chips)
- ½ cup of pecans, chopped
- ½ cup Sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup jarred caramel sauce (like caramel ice cream topping)
How to make Turtle Ooey Gooey Bars
Making these gooey caramel sweets is pretty simple! They come together in just a few easy steps!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Start by lining an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving the edges a bit longer than the sides so you can easily lift out the baked bars for cutting. Spray the parchment paper with some cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Combine chocolate cake mix, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl and mix until fluffy and well-combined. Add in the chocolate chips and pecan pieces, then mix again.
- Note- If some chocolate chips and pecans collect in the bottom of the bowl, don’t worry! Just sprinkle them on top of the batter before you put the bars into the oven.
- Now press about 2/3 of the dough into the prepared baking dish. The dough will be thick, like cookie dough. Spray your hands or a rubber spatula with cooking spray and use either to press cookie dough evenly across the bottom of the pan.
- Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the dough and spread it to the edges. Pour the caramel topping over the condensed milk and carefully spread that to the edges as well.
- Divide the remaining dough into pieces and flatten them out as much as possible. Place them on top of the caramel layer into a single layer, covering as much as possible.
- Bake for 29-31 minutes. The middle should look set, and the edges will be firmer, like a brownie edge. Don’t overbake, or the bars will lose their gooey texture!
- Allow the bars to cool for 1 hour before removing the parchment and cutting them into 16 slices. These bars are so rich and delicious that you might even want to cut them up smaller!
How to store leftover Turtle Bars
Store these gooey chocolate caramel sweets at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store slices in an airtight container.
Can these Turtle Ooey-Gooey Bars be frozen?
Yes, these dessert bars keep well in the freezer for up to 2 months. Make sure to wrap them well in plastic wrap, foil, or freezer bags to preserve freshness.
Let the frozen bars thaw and come to room temperature before enjoying them.
Turtle fans will love these recipes:
These desserts have lots of chocolate, a caramel layer, and pecans to top them off!
- Rolo Pretzel Turtles are a classic candy people love to make during the holiday season. I’ll eat them anytime!
- Turtle Tassies are chocolate cookie cups with dark chocolate and caramel filling and topped with chopped pecans.
- Turtle Dream Bars are an easy no-bake dessert with an Oreo cookie crust, a creamy cheesecake layer, and then the classic turtle ingredients of chocolate, caramel, and pecan pieces!
- Turtle Parfaits are a simple layered dessert made with dark chocolate pudding, whipped topping, caramel sauce, and pecans. These are perfect when you want the turtle candy flavors without the heaviness of other desserts.
Need more Ooey-Gooey Bars?
Combine chocolate cake mix, condensed milk, pecans and caramel to make the ultimate turtle bar dessert.
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Turtle Ooey Gooey Bars
- 15.25 ounces chocolate fudge cake mix chocolate cake mix will work well, too.
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup min semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup chopped pecan pieces
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ¾ cup caramel sauce
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 X 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Leave the sides a little higher than the pan so the bars can easily be lifted out after they've cooled. Spray the parchment paper lined pan with some cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, beat together the dry chocolate cake mix, butter, egg, and vanilla extract until fluffy and just combined. Do not over mix. Add in the mini chocolate chips and pecan pieces and mix again. There will most likely be chocolate chips and pecans at the bottom of the bowl. No big deal, just set them aside and sprinkle them on top before putting into the oven.
- Press about 2/3 of the dough into the parchment-lined pan. The dough will be thick like cookie dough. If you have trouble spreading it, you can press it down with your hands or lightly spray a spatula with cooking spray to help spread it.
- Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the the dough, spreading it to the edges. Pour the caramel sauce over the condensed milk and carefully spread that to the edges as well.
- Taking small pieces of the remaining dough, press them as flat as you can and cover the caramel with them as much as possible in a single layer.
- Bake for 29 – 31 minutes – the middle should look set and the edges will be a bit firmer like a brownie edge. Be careful not to over bake or the bars will lose their gooey texture.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before removing them by the parchment and cutting into 16 slices. These bars are so rich and delicious that you might even want to make them smaller. For clean edges, run a large knife under hot water and dry before making each slice.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.