Easy Turtle Cake

Start with a box mix of cake, add a gooey layer of melted caramels, pecans and extra chocolate chips to make a rich and Easy Turtle Cake.

If you love variations of chocolate cake you’ll enjoy this recipe!

Moist piece of chocolate cake with caramel, pecan and chocolate chip layer in the center of two layers of turtle cake with frosting

Turtle Cake Recipe

We are a family of chocolate lovers.  All of us, all sides of the family love chocolate, especially chocolate cake.  A creamy caramel layer, chocolate chips and pecans make a German Chocolate cake mix even more delightful.

Our go-to chocolate cake is our Best Moist and Rich Chocolate Cake, but sometimes it’s nice to mix it up and surprise people. Using a box mix of cake saves time and make these recipes so much easier!

Turtle Cake is one of those tried and true rich chocolate desserts that everyone loves and grabs a piece of. 

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I recently made three desserts for our family reunion.  Chocolate Delight, Pistachio Pudding Cake and this easy Turtle Cake.  Chocolate cake covered in all kinds of gooey goodness always catches people’s attention first!

Piece of easy turtle cake from a box mix with a delicious chocolate, caramel and pecan filling in front of glass dish full of cake

Chocolate Turtle Cake

If you love chocolate and caramel this cake is the perfect dessert recipe to try!  Our Box Mix Turtle Cake with a cake mix is a chocolate cake with a rich layer of caramel and pecans in the middle. 

This Turtle Cake is so easy to make because it starts with a box mix, but the gooey caramel layer gives it that special touch that people really enjoy.  I like to frost with a jar of purchased Coconut Pecan Frosting, but chocolate frosting works great too.  Surely there are other options I haven’t tried yet that would also be delicious. 

Another delicious chocolate dessert using a German chocolate cake mix is our Marble Chocolate Cream Cheese Bars.  It’s a cross between a cake and a super easy cheesecake.

Turtle chocolate cake with a rich layer of caramel and pecans in the middle. 

Ingredients Needed to Make Turtle Cake

  • Box German Chocolate Cake Mix – or Devil’s Food Cake Mix or another box mix of chocolate cake
  • Eggs – mix up the cake batter according to the directions on the box
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kraft caramels – a bag of the squares of caramels that are individually wrapped and provide the prominent turtle flavor
  • Butter – makes the filling more rich
  • Evaporated milk – adds a richness and milky base to melt the caramel into
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – more rich chocolatey flavor that chocolate cake lovers crave
  • Pecans give the crunchy, nutty, distinction to a classic turtle cake
  • Can of icing – chocolate frosting OR a can of coconut pecan frosting if you want more of a German Chocolate cake flavor
Turtle cake ingredients are Kraft caramels, butter, pecans, evaporated milk, cake mix, semi-sweet chocolate chips and can of frosting on a wooden counter top

How to Make Box Mix Turtle Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 13 x 9 inch cake pan
  2. Mix cake mix according to directions
  3. Pour half of batter into greased pan, bake for 15 minutes
  4. Melt caramels, butter and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan stirring constantly
  5. Pour melted caramel mixture over baked cake
  6. Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over cake
  7. Pour remaining cake batter evenly over pan and bake about 20 more minutes until cake is set
  8. Frost with a can of icing, we like Coconut Pecan but chocolate icing works well too
Turtle Cake made from German Chocolate cake mix in a 9 x 13 baking dish and 3 pieces on small white plates.

Step By Step Instructions

Unwrap all of the caramels and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F and coat a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray.

Mix up box of chocolate cake mix according to the directions on the package.

Box of chocolate cake mix in a mixing bowl with eggs, oil and water

Pour half of the cake mix into a baking dish.

We usually have about 4 cups of cake batter. I don’t typically measure, I just guess when pouring.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until a toothpick is almost clean when inserted in the center.

Half a box of baked chocolate cake in a 9x13 glass pan

While the cake is baking use a medium sauce pan and add butter, evaporated milk and unwrapped caramels.

Kraft caramel squares with a stick of melting butter and evaporated milk in a medium sauce pan on the stove

Stir often over medium heat until caramels are melted.

Caramels melting in butter in a sauce pan

Once cake is out of the oven pour this mixture over the bottom half of the cake.

Melted milk caramel filling poured over a layer of chocolate cake

Then sprinkle a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped pecans or whole nuts if you like over the caramel.

This is the layer that really makes the cake!

Pecan pieces and semi-sweet chocolate chips sprinkled on caramel turtle cake filling

Pour the remaining half of the cake batter over the top of the filling.

Overhead view of half a box of chocolate cake mix batter poured on top layer of baked cake and caramel turtle filling

Scrape the edges of the bowl to get all of the batter possible and spread it all out over the nutty filling as evenly as you can without pulling up the nuts to the top.

Bake an additional 20 minutes until the top layer of cake is baked. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Allow the cake to cool and then apply a thick layer of your favorite frosting.

Moist chocolate cake soaked in caramel with a layer of pecans and chocolate chips and chocolate frosting to make an amazing turtle cake in a 9 x 13 pan

Tips for Making Easy Turtle Cake

  • Unwrap caramels before beginning the recipe – I always underestimate how long this step will take
  • Stir caramels continuous while melting to avoid burning in the pan
  • When cake is done baking cover with plastic wrap or use a tightly fitting lid to hold in moisture
  • Use a coconut pecan or chocolate frosting to give your cake a different finish
  • Sprinkle extra pecans on top if desired
Chocolate frosting on top of layers of chocolate cake with caramel and pecan turtle cake filling with another piece in the background on a white plate

Other Easy Cakes from a Box Mix

Printable Turtle Cake from a Box Mix Recipe

Close up best chocolate turtle cake with pecan pieces and gooey caramel layer oozing out of the middle with a fork in the background

Box Mix Turtle Cake

Servings 16 pieces of cake
Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life
Start with a box mix of cake, add a gooey layer of melted caramels, pecans and extra chocolate chips to make a rich and Easy Turtle Cake.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients
  

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs *follow directions of cake box mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil *follow directions of cake box mix
  • 1/2 cup water *follow directions of cake box mix

Turtle Filling

  • 1 bag Kraft caramels
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and spray non-stick cooking spray on a 13 x 9 inch cake pan.
  • Mix cake according to directions.
  • Pour half of batter into greased pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  • While baking melt caramels, butter and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan stirring constantly.
  • Pour melted caramel mixture over baked portion of cake.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans over cake.
  • Pour remaining cake batter evenly over pan and bake about 20 more minutes until cake is set.

Notes

  • Unwrap caramels before beginning the recipe – I always underestimate how long this step will take
  • A Devil’s Food or other chocolate cake mix works well too

Nutrition

Calories: 470kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 6gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 326mgPotassium: 294mgFiber: 3gSugar: 29gVitamin A: 252IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

Tried this recipe?Mention @PlowingThroughLife or tag #PlowingThroughLife!

Originally shared on June 25, 2019 with pictures updated on February 19, 2023.

9 Comments

  1. I am glad I found this recipe. This is my daughter’s favorite cake. I know it’s a easy cake but I couldn’t remember all the ingredients. Thank you for posting this. My daughter will be very happy when I surprise her with this cake.

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! We just use a can of purchased Coconut Pecan Frosting. Hope you enjoy 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Made this the other day and made sure to give most of it away…I could not have that decadence around or I would have eaten the whole thing myself!! Absolutely De-Lish!! Turtles are my favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a delicious cake!!! Much loved by everyone I have shared it with. Wanting now to make it for an event but time is limited. Can I make in advance just a few days in advance and freeze it?
    Thanks!
    Melanie

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! I haven’t tested this, but I think it would work okay. Hope you enjoy!

    2. Cathi Schoenhoff says:

      I have made this cake many times and often put it in the fridge ~ almost taste like candy!!

  4. Can you make these into cupcakes

    1. Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life says:

      Hey There! Good question! I haven’t tested this, but would be interesting to see if the layers would turn out. Hope you enjoy!

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