Turtle Cheesecake featured image
Turtle Cheesecake contains the flavors and textures of a chocolate caramel pecan candy cluster combined with a classic creamy cheesecake. A graham cracker crust is piled high with a cream cheese filling and covered with a turtle topping.
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This homemade Turtle Cheesecake takes indulgence to the next level, inspired by the classic turtle candy with its heavenly combination of chocolate, caramel, pecan, and creamy cheesecake layers. This mouthwatering dessert is perfect for special occasions, holidays, or simply treating yourself to a delightful, crowd-pleasing creation.

A buttery graham cracker crust sits below creamy cheesecake filling and is topped with a dulce de leche sauce, chocolate syrup, and plenty of pecan pieces.

Turtle Cheesecake hero image

Layered Turtle Cheesecake

Our caramel pecan Turtle Cheesecake takes only 20 minutes to prepare and combines the chewy, crunchy texture of a turtle confection with the rich and creamy decadence of a cheesecake dessert.

Don’t worry about the springform pan or baking the cake in a water bath because I will walk you through the simple steps to create the best bite of chocolate caramel cheesecake you’ve ever tasted!

Let me list the layers of turtle flavors that fill this decadent dessert: first, chopped pecans are combined with graham cracker crumbs to create the crunchy crust; then the baked base is coated in chocolate and caramel before the cheesecake is poured on top; finally it’s all covered with milky dulce de leche, more chocolate, and plenty of toasted pecans.

This easy turtle cheesecake is worthy of any special occasion –  don’t worry about the water bath, because it’s such a simple step that creates the creamiest cheesecake and reduces the chance for cracking. 

cutting a triangle slice of turtle cheesecake

Why We Love Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cheesecake

  • Easy to make with my step-by-step instructions.
  • Uses a handful of simple kitchen staple ingredients.
  • Creamy cheesecake complements the flavor of your favorite piece of chocolate caramel pecan candy.
  • Light, fluffy, smooth cream cheese mixture is a delicious contrast to the crisp crust, chewy caramel, and crunchy pecan pieces.
  • Perfect dessert for a dinner party, holidays, spring celebrations, potlucks, or simply when you crave a slice.
turtle cheesecake ingredients

Turtle Cheesecake Ingredients

  • Graham crackers
  • Chopped pecans
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salted sweet cream butter
  • Kraft caramel bits
  • Water
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Cornstarch
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Extra-large eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Dulce de leche
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Chocolate syrup

Substitutions and Additions

  • Create Your Crust: You can replace the graham crackers with vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies, Golden Oreos, or even Oreos to create your crust. 
  • Swap The Sauce: You can substitute caramel sundae sauce or a homemade caramel sauce for the dulce de leche if you prefer.
  • 9-inch springform pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Stand mixer or a handheld mixer
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Large roasting pan
  • Knife with a thin blade
  • Spatula
triangle slice of turtle cheesecake

How to Make Turtle Cheesecake

  1. Create The Crust: Stir together the graham crackers, pecans, and sugar. Add the melted butter and stir to coat. Spread and press the coated crumb mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes on the middle rack. 
    Pro Tip: I usually use a flat-bottomed 1-cup measuring cup to press the buttered crumbs.
  2. Melt The Caramel: Microwave the caramel and water in 45-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted and smooth.
  3. Cover The Crust: Remove the crust from the oven, sprinkle it with chocolate chips, and drizzle the melted caramel over the chocolate. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill.
  4. Make The Sugar Mixture: Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Set it aside.
  5. Form The Cheesecake Filling: Beat the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and well-mixed. Add in the sugar mixture and continue mixing until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, until no yellow streaks remain. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  6. Prepare The Pan: Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Wrap the outside of the springform pan in aluminum foil. Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared pan.
    Pro Tip: Be sure both pieces of foil are large enough to cover all the way up to the top outer edge of the pan. This will help ensure no leakage from the water bath.
  7. Make The Water Bath: Place the cheesecake pan into a large roasting pan and put them in the oven on the middle rack. Pour boiling water into the roasting until it comes up about 1 inch on the side of the cheesecake pan.
  8. Bake: Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door open about 1-2 inches. Leave the cheesecake to sit in the oven for 1 hour. 
  9. Chill: Remove the cheesecake from the oven, the water bath, and foil. Run a knife around the sides of the cheesecake, cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. 
  10. Make The Milky Mixture: Microwave the dulce de leche for 45 seconds, add the heavy cream, and stir until smooth. 
  11. Add The Turtle Topping: Remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan. Spread the dulce de leche mixture over the center, drizzle the chocolate syrup on top, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  12. Slice And Serve: Keep the cheesecake refrigerated before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
Turtle Cheesecake collage process

What is a Water Bath for Cheesecakes

A water bath, also known as a bain marie, is a method for baking delicate desserts. It helps create a humid environment while your turtle cheesecake is cooking and adds extra insurance against cracking. The process involves placing the springform pan in a larger pan with boiling water. This will help the cheesecake bake more evenly and will also keep the cake from drying out.

While you can make a cheesecake without a water bath, you won’t get the same results.

How To Remove Turtle Cheesecake from the Springform Pan

To remove your cheesecake from the springform pan, you must first make sure the cheesecake has been properly chilled and is still cold. Then, unbuckle the springform pan and remove the circular band. If it sticks, you can run a small knife around the inside edge of the pan, starting at the top and working your way down. Transfer your cheesecake to the serving dish and slice.

Baked Vs No Bake Cheesecake

Baked cheesecakes most often contain eggs and are baked low and slow. The texture is generally dense, rich, creamy, and smooth.

No bake cheesecakes usually contain gelatin, which acts as a natural thickening agent. The texture is generally more light and fluffy than its baked counterpart. In my no-bake cheesecakes, I use a whipped topping in my filling; it sets up firm in the fridge and has a soft and silky smooth texture.

Tip For Making The Best Turtle Cheesecake

  • It is helpful to use parchment paper circles at the bottom of the springform. This will help your graham cracker crust to release from the bottom of the pan when you are transferring the cheesecake to a serving plate.
  • It is very important to be patient while you are baking the cheesecake. The lower temperature and longer baking time will help keep the cheesecake from cracking.
  • It is essential that all of your cream cheese is at room temperature before mixing. This will help ensure your filling is smooth and creamy.

How to Store Turtle Cheesecake

  • To Store: Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze the ungarnished cheesecake for up to 2 months. Allow the cheesecake to thaw overnight before garnishing and slicing.
Turtle Cheesecake sliced on a plate

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Fat-Free Cheesecake?

I don’t recommend using a low-fat or fat-free product to make this recipe. Cheesecake isn’t really considered diet food! It is rich and creamy because of the cream cheese’s full fat.

Why is my CHEESECAKE BATTER lumpy?

The lumpy batter is the result of the cream cheese being too cold. When you add the other dry and room-temperature ingredients to the cold cream cheese, it won’t blend and emulsify with the ingredients completely, leaving little lumps of cream cheese speckled throughout the batter.

How Should I Cut My Cheesecake?

To get clean cheesecake slices, make sure that you are using a serrated knife. I find it best to dip my knife into hot water before cutting, and once the knife heats up, wipe off the excess water, and slice the cheesecake. Heat and wipe the knife in between each slice.

eating Turtle Cheesecake

Other Easy Turtle Candy Recipes

5 from 2 votes
Turtle Cheesecake featured image

Turtle Cheesecake

Serves — 12
Turtle Cheesecake contains the flavors and textures of a chocolate caramel pecan candy cluster combined with a classic creamy cheesecake. A graham cracker crust is piled high with a cream cheese filling and covered with a turtle topping.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Rest and Chill Time 9 hours
Total Time 10 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients
  

Graham Cracker Crust

  • cups finely crushed graham crackers
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup salted sweet cream butter melted and cooled
  • 1 cup Kraft caramel bits
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling

  • cups granulated sugar
  • tablespoons cornstarch
  • 32 ounces (4 8-ounce) packages of cream cheese softened
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 4 extra-large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Turtle Topping

  • ¾ cup dulce de leche
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Add the crushed graham crackers, chopped pecans, and sugar to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir. Add the melted butter and stir to completely coat the graham cracker mixture.
  • Spread and press the coated crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. (I usually use a flat-bottomed 1-cup measuring cup to press the buttered crumbs) Bake for 10 minutes on the middle rack.
  • Add the caramel bits and 1 tablespoon of water to a small heat-safe bowl. Microwave in 45-second intervals, stirring well after each interval, until the caramel bits are melted and smooth.
  • Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. While the crust is cooling, sprinkle the 1½ cups of chocolate chips over the crust. Drizzle the caramel over the chocolate chips. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill while you make the cheesecake filling.
  • Add the granulated sugar and cornstarch to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set it aside.
  • Using a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese and sour cream for 1-1½ minutes until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go and also the bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure all ingredients are well mixed.
  • Add in the sugar mixture and continue mixing for another 1-1½ minutes until well incorporated.
  • Lower the mixer speed to medium-low. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg until no yellow streaks remain.
  • Keep the mixer speed on medium-low and add the vanilla extract. Mix just until incorporated.
  • Remove the crust from the refrigerator. Tear 2 large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap the outside of the springform pan. Be sure both pieces of foil are large enough to cover all the way up to the top outer edge of the pan. This will help ensure no leakage from the water bath.
  • Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared and foil-wrapped pan. Tap the pan a couple of times on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
  • Place the cheesecake pan into a large roasting pan and place the roasting pan into the oven on the middle rack.
  • Pour boiling water into the roasting until it comes up about 1 inch on the side of the cheesecake pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door open about 1-2 inches. Leave the cheesecake to sit in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the oven and the water bath. Remove the foil. Carefully run a knife with a thin blade around the sides of the cheesecake. Cover the top of the springform pan with foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  • Just before you are ready to serve, add ¾ cup dulce de leche to a small heat-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds. Add the heavy cream and stir well until the mixture is smooth.
  • Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator. Release the springform pan sides. Use a sturdy spatula to remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake onto a serving plate or a disposable cake circle.
  • Spread the dulce de leche mixture over the center of the cheesecake top. Be sure to avoid the very edges. Lightly drizzle the chocolate syrup over the dulce de leche. Sprinkle the chopped pecans. Keep the cheesecake refrigerated before slicing and serving.

Jenn’s Notes

Storage:
  • To Store: Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze the ungarnished cheesecake for up to 2 months. Allow the cheesecake to thaw overnight before garnishing and slicing.
Tips:
  • It is helpful to use parchment paper circles at the bottom of the springform. This will help your graham cracker crust to release from the bottom of the pan when you are transferring the cheesecake to a serving plate.
  • It is very important to be patient while you are baking the cheesecake. The lower temperature and longer baking time will help keep the cheesecake from cracking.
  • It is very important that all of your cream cheese is at room temperature before mixing. This will help ensure your filling is smooth and creamy.

Nutrition Info

Calories: 793kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 450mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 54g | Vitamin A: 1498IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 2mg

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