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Cake Mix Turtle Bars

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Start with a chocolate cake mix and just a handful of ingredients and whip up these gooey chewy turtle bars in no time.

Plate with a turtle cake mix bar topped with more chocolate, caramel, and pecans, ready to eat.

 The classic turtle combination of chocolate, caramel and pecans is popular for a reason. Those flavors are so darn good together! Using a cake mix as a jumping off point makes getting these yummy turtle bars together really easy.

Layers of rich chocolate hug the caramel and pecan center. They are sure to be a home run with turtle fans.

These turtle bars may not look like much, but they are AH-MAZING!!  Think about this, melty chocolate chips and rich caramel wrapped up in chocolaty brownie-like goodness.  

Yup! It’s as good as it sounds.

 This recipe comes to me by way of my Great-Aunt Ellen.  It has been passed around and enjoyed by several branches of the family and for good reason.

mixing bowl filled with thick chocolate batter made from cake mix for turtle bars

 I originally shared this recipe here back in 2016. I figured it was way past time to dust off the recipe and share it with you again.

 I hope you enjoy the new pictures, fun video and printable recipe card. All upgrades from the original bare bones post.

Luckily these yummy bars are easy to make, so none of that was necessary the first time. But in case you haven’t given them a go yet, I thought I’d try to entice you. 😉

Making Cake Mix Turtle Bars

The recipe specifies German chocolate cake mix because that is what my great aunt always uses.  This is likely due to the milder flavor of German chocolate.

Did you know German chocolate isn’t named after the country or nationality? Instead it is a sweeter milder chocolate developed by a gentleman named German.

The namesake cake uses that particular kind of chocolate and is delicious.  Feel free to use whatever chocolate cake mix you have on hand though, any would be good. 

partially baked chocolate base covered with melted caramel, chocolate chips and pecans ready for more cake mix batter

After you mix up the batter for the cake layer, you partially bake half of the mixture. This creates a good base for the caramel layer and helps keep it from sinking to the bottom. 

Feel free to unwrap squares of chewy caramel candy or use the bits you find in the baking aisle that don’t have to be unwrapped. Toss on some chocolate chips and chopped pecans and you can see how wonderfully this is going to come together.

The trickiest part is getting the second half of the batter on top. I wouldn’t try to spread it too much, just gently dot on small spoonfuls of batter and try to distribute it as evenly as possible. 

pan of freshly baked turtle brownies next to bowl of melted caramel with chocolate chips and pecans nearby

After a few more minutes in the oven, they are done! Let them cool a bit before serving if you can stand to wait. 

These yummy bars are delicious on their own, or make a fabulous base for an ice cream sundae. They are sweet, gooey and delicious. 

plate with chocolate cake mix turtle bar and fork ready to eat

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store these turtle brownies?

Extra turtle bars can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. For longer storage, freeze bars for up to 3 months.

How do you serve these turtle bars?

You will be able to cut and serve prettier pieces if you allow the bars to cool completely before serving. They are quite gooey when they are warm.

Eat them at room temperature or warmed slightly in the microwave. They are great on their own or served with ice cream or whipped cream.

More Fun Chocolate Recipes

If you love German chocolate, you have to try making the cake too. I have two recipes so you are sure to find one that speaks to you. 

My great-grandma’s german chocolate cake with broiled coconut topping is a fun twist on the flavors you would expect. Or for the more classic coconut frosting, try Ellen’s German chocolate cake

Another fun way to turn a chocolate cake mix into a fun treat is to make easy whoopie pies. I filled mine with a peanut butter and marshmallow concoction, but you can fill yours with whatever you would like. 

Or for another treat inspired by classic turtle candies, make turtle chocolate chip cookies. They have caramel and pecans inside a tasty cookie treat.

piece of turtle brownie topped with caramel, chocolate chips and pecans on plate with fork ready to eat

Turtle Bars With German Chocolate Cake Mix

Servings: 16 Servings
Author: Carlee
Make decadent turtle bars using a cake mix for an easy but exquisit treat. They are perfectly gooey and delicious on their own, but pair perfectly with a scoop of ice cream for a memorable dessert.
4.89 from 9 ratings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 31 minutes
Total Time 41 minutes


  • 1 German chocolate cake mix
  • cup evaporated milk divided
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 12 oz bag caramels
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
Makes: 9 x 13inch rectangle


  • Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 9 x 13" pan.
  • Stir together ⅓ cup of evaporated milk and caramels. Melt over low heat on the stove or in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
    12 oz bag caramels
  • In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, butter and ⅓ cup of the evaporated milk. Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 6 minutes.
    1 German chocolate cake mix, ¾ cup butter
  • Pour melted caramel over parbaked cake. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.
    12 oz chocolate chips, 1 cup pecans
  • Drop small dollops of batter over the top of the chocolate chips and caramel, trying to cover most of the caramel. Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 345kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 4gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 143mgFiber: 2gSugar: 29g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

This looks like the perfect Valentine's dessert - and easy too!


Thursday 11th of February 2021

For sure! Thanks!

Cassie Tucker

Tuesday 15th of November 2016

"Turtle" desserts are my favorite! These look soooo good.

Thanks for sharing with the Tips and Tricks Link Party.


Wednesday 16th of November 2016

They rank up there for me too! Thank you!

Jessica Jarrell

Saturday 12th of November 2016

Oh yum! I've actually been craving a chocolate caramel brownie recipe and working on a recipe! Next to chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and caramel is one of my most favorite combinations. In fact, I usually have a small piece of dark chocolate with caramel every night for dessert 😀 I think these look pretty delicious Carlee!


Monday 14th of November 2016

It is hard to go wrong with chocolate and caramel, isn't it? Thanks, Jessica!


Saturday 12th of November 2016

Carlee these look terrific - I LOVE any turtle desserts! :) This post is going to be one of my features at Happiness Is Homemade Link Party #147 on Sunday - congrats! :)


Monday 14th of November 2016

Thank you, Katie!! Have a great week!


Friday 11th of November 2016

This is such a neat recipe! YUM!


Friday 11th of November 2016

Thank you!