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A piece of turtle poke cake on a square white plate

Turtle Poke Cake

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With a caramel filling and a pecan topping, this Turtle Poke Cake is a twist on my family’s favorite Triple Chocolate Poke Cake. Pure decadence!

A piece of turtle poke cake on a square white plate

Turtle Poke Cake

I’ve loved turtles since I was a youngster. No, not the four-legged reptile, but instead the pecan candies with chewy caramel and chocolate. My family went crazy when I made my first poke cake and from there, the wheels started turning. How about a turtle version?

I poked holes in the baked cake and filled them with homemade caramel sauce. Followed up with a creamy chocolate buttercream and a sprinkling of pecans and chocolate chips, all the components for a turtle dessert were fulfilled. Unless you wait till the cake is fully cooled, the caramel will partially absorb into the cake, making it one of the richest, moistest chocolate cakes you’ll ever encounter.

I like an additional drizzle of caramel sauce over my slice before diving in. This isn’t a dessert for the faint of heart nor the calorie-conscious. I can’t think of a turtle dessert that is! But it’s worth the splurge.

A slice of turtle poke cake with a forkful in the foreground

Caramel Sauce

Two batches of my Microwave Caramel Sauce will be plenty for this recipe. You’ll have enough left to make a turtle sundae with some vanilla ice cream, fudge sauce, and toasted pecans. You can certainly use jarred caramel sauce but buy a premium brand. Check the ingredients and look for sugar, cream, vanilla, etc. You definitely want to avoid any artificial flavorings. Be forewarned, this turtle poke cake is hard to cut into beautiful slices. I refrigerated first, but it tastes best if left out on the counter for a bit before serving. But I don’t think anyone would complain if you used a spoon and scooped out a generous portion!

Collage of 3 trutle poke cake images

You’ll Need:

More Poke Cakes:

Needless to say, my kids (and they’re BIG kids now) loved this Turtle Poke Cake. I won’t deny that they all scraped off the pecans, but that’s a given around here.

A piece of turtle poke cake on a square white plate

The Recipe: Turtle Poke Cake

A moist chocolate cake saturated with caramel sauce and finished off with chocolate buttercream, pecans, and chocolate chips

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield 24 servings



  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup coffee, cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 1/2-2 cups caramel sauce (I used my homemade microwave caramel sauce, but any good quality store-bought is fine)


  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk


  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Caramel sauce to drizzle over slices, optional


  1. Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350º.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. In a large pyrex measuring cup or medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
  5. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and beat for a couple minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. When cake is done, let cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Then take a wooden spoon and using the handle end, poke rows of holes across the cake. Pour caramel sauce into the holes. Reserve any leftover sauce to use as a garnish. Cool to room temperature before frosting.
  7. To make the frosting, beat together butter and cocoa. Add vanilla and mix well.Then alternate adding milk and powdered sugar till all is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Frost cake.
  8. Sprinkle cake with pecans, then chocolate chips.
  9. To serve, cut slices and drizzle with caramel sauce.


This is a moist and gooey cake. You may want to refrigerate to make it easier to slice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 391Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 341mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 2gSugar: 55gProtein: 4g


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28 comments on “Turtle Poke Cake”

  1. Lovely. Beyond words, Liz. I recently made a Whiskey Cake that was a four stage process. I am turning it into a poke cake the next time I make it. Great recipe for Sunday Suppers.

  2. Okay, I am so making this with carob. That ooey gooey goodness is irresistible!

  3. I’m not a big sweet eater, Liz, but I have a weak spot for caramel and pecans. Your poke cake is gorgeous!

  4. I’ve always loved the amazing chocolate, caramel and nut turtles…I knew we thought alike the first time I read your blog and every time I come back it gets better and better. This is amazing. I have the Granddaughters two afternoons a week and we bake. This is first on the list!

    These brownies are really AMAZING !! Chocolate and caramel – I can only imagine the heavenly taste

  6. I’m ready to splurge! Spoon me up a nice big bowl please!

  7. I love turtles too! Who couldn’t love chocolate, caramel and pecans?!

  8. I recently bought a can of caramel sauce from the Borden sweetened condensed milk folks-it’s pretty good! I’ve only been adding it to iced coffee, cake would be better:@)

  9. This is super rich and tempting chocolate cake!

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