Chocolate and Caramel Turtle Cupcakes

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Turtle Cupcakes taste just like the candy of the same name! Chocolate caramel cupcakes are topped with the creamiest frosting, plus a crunchy pecan and even more caramel and chocolate!!

titled: Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes


Turtle Cupcakes

Turtle candies are a family favorite treat. Pecans slathered in ooey gooey caramel and covered in rich delicious chocolate… Who can resist?

I created these insanely delicious caramel pecan cupcakes in the same fashion! 

A moist delicious chocolate cupcake will melt in your mouth as the rich caramel sauce frosting dances across your palette. 

The nuts, chocolate, and caramel on top combine to create the perfect turtle cupcake. 

You won’t be able to get enough of this flavor combination, and you won’t have to!

Try my Double Chocolate Caramel Pecan Trifle for a more elegant occasion, or top apple slices with the same tasty trio!

ingredients for chocolate caramel cupcakes

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Choose your favorite, though gourmet brands tend to provide the best flavor.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda – You’ll need both to get enough lift in these chocolate caramel cupcakes!
  • Eggs & Milk – Bring both to room temperature before starting this recipe to guarantee a silky smooth turtle cupcake batter.
  • Instant Coffee Granules – Don’t worry, you won’t taste the coffee — it simply deepens and enhances the chocolate flavor!
  • Caramel Frosting – Make this from scratch with butter, powdered sugar, milk, and salt. The secret ingredient is brown sugar, which gives it that caramel flavor!
  • Pecans – These wouldn’t be true turtle cupcakes without the nuts, so you’ll need whole pecans to press on top. Leave them plain, or toast them in the air fryer or oven!
coffee granules and water in a small bowl

Tips and Tricks to Make Perfect Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

  • Dissolve instant coffee granules first.

You’ll need boiling water to do the job — I usually add water and granules to a measuring cup and microwave until boiling, then give it a good stir.

If you happen to have freshly brewed coffee on hand, that’ll do the job too! Either way, it needs to be piping hot when added to the batter.

  • Keep a close eye on baking times.

Overbaked cupcakes will be dry and crumbly. Avoid overbaking and know that the center will continue to bake a little as they cool in the pan.

Remove cupcakes from the oven as soon as a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

A few moist crumbs are fine, but wet batter means they need more time.

You can also test them by sight and touch. The tops will appear mostly matte with a little shine (but not wet) and should be springy when lightly tapped.

  • Make the frosting from scratch — no mixer needed!

All it takes is a saucepan and a sturdy spoon or spatula to prepare a batch of homemade caramel frosting.

Start with the ingredient amounts listed, then add a little more powdered sugar if it isn’t quite thick enough for piping.

And speaking of piping… You’ll need an open star piping tip to make the swirls shown in the photos.

But if you aren’t stocked with decorating tools, you can improvise by snipping an upside-down V into the bottom corner of a Ziploc baggie.

batter for chocolate and caramel cupcake

Prep Ahead

  • Bring eggs and milk to room temp
  • Dissolve instant coffee in boiling water
  • Add liners to muffin pan
  • Preheat oven to 350°F

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Muffin Pan lined with Cupcake Liners
  • Whisk – These have held up for over 10 years and are still as good as the day I bought them.
  • Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Large Saucepan – Make sure there’s enough room to stir in the powdered sugar!
  • Cooling Racks – Cool a large batch of treats without taking up a lot of counter space.
heating caramel frosting for turtle cupcakes

Serving Suggestions

Aside from a whole pecan, I like to top turtle cupcakes with even more caramel and chocolate!

You have a couple of options — either melt caramel candies and chocolate pieces for drizzling, or simply use chocolate ganache and caramel sauce.

If you have a big bag of pecans to use up, make yourself a whole nutty sweet spread!

Pair these chocolate and caramel cupcakes with toffee bars, Sandies cookies, and my famous pecan pie bombs for a decadent dessert table.

baked turtle cupcakes on a serving tray

Storing Leftover Chocolate and Caramel Cupcakes

Keep turtle cupcakes in an airtight container for 2 days at room temperature, or up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

The pecans will soften the longer they sit in the frosting, so wait to add those to your chocolate and caramel cupcakes if you know there will be leftovers.

You can freeze the chocolate cupcakes by themselves for 1-2 months, but wait to add the frosting until serving. Wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap, store in a freezer-safe storage bag, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Turtle Cupcake FAQ

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Both the chocolate cupcakes and caramel frosting can be made several days in advance, though the texture and consistency are best when fresh.

Storing frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container and stir well before piping. You may need to whip it with an electric mixer if it’s very dense.

Why didn’t my chocolate cupcakes rise?

This recipe calls for both baking powder and baking soda, so make sure you included both!

If you’re still having trouble, it could be that your leavening agents are stale. Baking soda should bubble when combined with vinegar, while baking powder should do the same with boiling water. When in doubt, open a new package!

Can I make caramel pecan cupcakes without caramel frosting?

Yes, but you’ll need to make up that caramel flavor somewhere else.

Try coring each cupcake and filling it with melted caramel or sauce, then top with chocolate buttercream. Don’t forget extra caramel on top!

tray of chocolate and caramel cupcakes

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turtle cupcake with caramel icing and a pecan on top

closeup of turtle cupcake

Chocolate and Caramel Turtle Cupcakes

Donna Elick
Turtle Cupcakes combine rich chocolate cake with silky caramel frosting and crunchy pecans. So tasty, you won't be able to stop at one!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Method Oven
Servings 24


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

Caramel Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  • Pecans, chopped
  • Chocolate, melted
  • Caramel, melted


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare muffin pans with liners. Set aside.
  • Place 1 cup of water with coffee granules in microwave and bring to boiling. (1 minute at a time).
  • In a large bowl whisk together; sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt, until well combined. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; whisk again until well mixed. Stir in boiling coffee (batter will be thin). Whisk well until you have a smooth batter. Pour batter into muffin pans, filling 2/3 full.
  • Bake 22-25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with caramel frosting. Drizzle melted caramel and chocolate over top. Garnish with a pecan.

Caramel Frosting

  • Melt butter, stir in brown sugar and salt. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add milk and return to heat. Bring to rolling boil, cool to lukewarm and stir in powdered sugar. Add a bit more if necessary for piping.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 295cal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 232mg | Sugar: 41g | Fiber: 2g | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes - PIN

Originally published November 2012, updated and republished April 2024

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  1. While its a good recipe, I wish it stated how high to fill the cupcakes or how high it would rise, or how many it would make.

  2. I made these for my granddaughter's softball team. They were amazing! Most of them were eaten by the parents. I also shared the link with my sister who made them to take to work. Every one raved about them. This recipe is a keeper!

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