These Turtle Thumbprint Cookies are rich chocolate cookies filled with caramel and topped with a pecan half or a chocolate drizzle. A wonderful addition to your holiday cookie tray!

This Thumbprint Cookie Recipe will dazzle the eye as well as the palate! If you love turtle candy, you’ll go wild for these Turtle Cookies!

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies on a square white plate.

Why You’ll Love Turtle Cookies

  • The combination of chocolate, caramel, and pecans is irresistible!!
  • Thumbprint cookies look as good as they taste!
  • They’re perfect for the holidays, yet delicious to make any day of the year!

How to Make Slice and Bake Cookies

  1. Make the cookie dough.
  2. Roll the chocolate dough into a cylinder, then coat it with chopped pecans.
  3. Slice it into rounds.
  4. Bake, then create an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon. Do this while the cookies are still warm and pliable.
  5. Fill the well with melted caramel after these thumbprint cookies cool to room temperature.
Thumprint Cookie Recipe on a small white ceramic plate with a small bowl of cookies.

Recipe Tips

  • PRO-Tip: Wrap the log of cookie dough in plastic wrap, then place it in an empty paper towel tube to help maintain its shape. Store in the refrigerator if you plan to bake these up within a couple of days, or double wrap and store in the freezer to use later.
  • To defrost frozen cookie dough, just place the log of dough into the refrigerator and let defrost overnight.
  • Paint your log of dough with whipped egg whites to help the nuts adhere to the exterior of the dough.
  • To slice these “slice and bake” cookies, use a sawing motion instead of pressing down through the dough. Pressing down can cause your dough to compress and you’ll have oval cookies instead of round cookies. Try a serrated knife for the best results.
  • To create an indentation in each cookie, carefully press your index finger or thumb into the center of each cookie as they come out of the oven.
  • PRO-Tip: I recommend using the back of a spoon as these cookies are HOT!
  • Let cool, then fill and garnish your turtle cookies as desired!
  • How to finish off this thumbprint cookie recipe is up to you. I drizzled half with melted chocolate chips.
  • The rest I topped with a toasted pecan half, which could also be drizzled with chocolate for the FULL turtle experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are these called Turtle Cookies?

These turtle cookies are made with the classic trio that’s used in turtle candies: Chocolate, Pecans, and Caramel. The candy version got its name since the chocolate caramel center looks like the body of a turtle and the pecans look like the legs/head.

What are Thumbprint Cookies?

Thumbprint Cookies are made by rolling the dough into rounds, then using a finger (or thumb) to make an indentation in the center as soon as they come out of the oven. The divot is then filled with frosting, caramel, etc.

Can You Use Homemade Caramel Sauce for these Cookies?

Most homemade caramel sauce will be too runny for these cookies. A soft, homemade caramel recipe would work best.

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Turtle Thumbprint Cookies - chocolate thumbprints rolled in pecans and filled with caramel!

Turtle Thumbprints

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Yield 36

Chocolate thumbprints rolled in pecans and filled with caramel!


  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 egg (separated into yolk and white)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅓ cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzey's)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped pecans
  • 16 caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired
  • 36 pecan halves, if desired


  1. Beat together butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla until well blended. Sift flour, cocoa and salt into batter and mix on low speed till well combined.
  2. Form dough into two logs, each 8 inches long. Whisk egg white till frothy. Paint logs with egg whites and roll in pecans. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Cut each log into 16 slices (each about ½ inch wide). Arrange on baking sheets, about 1½ inches apart. Use fingers to reshape each cookie back into a circle if needed.
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press center of cookies with finger or end of spoon to make an indentation in each cookie (I used the flat end of a whisk). Allow to cool completely.
  5. Melt caramels and milk in microwave (about 60 seconds or less). Stir till smooth. Spoon a bit of caramel into the center of each cookie. Allow to cool till caramel is set.
  6. Melt chocolate chips and place into a ziplock bag. Snip off a corner and drizzle chocolate over each cookie. Or you can skip the drizzle and top each cookie with a pecan half.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 49mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 1g


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