This delicious turtle cake is a chocolatey wonder, overflowing with caramel, and topped with chopped pecans. It is guaranteed to wow your guests!

Chocolate Turtle Cake on a plate

Do you need an easy dessert recipe for a school function, family gathering, or backyard BBQ? This turtle poke cake is the perfect thing. Chocolate. Caramel. Pecans. Delicious!

What is a poke cake, you may ask? Well, just as the name implies, it is a cake that has had holes poked all through it for the purpose of adding some filling. For example, in our banana split poke cake and banana pudding cake it’s vanilla pudding. In this recipe, it’s caramel.

This turtle cake recipe is so ridiculously easy to make you are going to wonder where it has been all of your life. It is rich, decadent, and completely irresistible. I’m telling you this is dangerous to make if you don’t have anyone to share it with because you are going to want to eat every bite!

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ingredients for Chocolate Turtle Cake

Ingredients You’ll Need

You know we love a good doctored up cake mix recipe and just like our coconut cake and pistachio cake this one has a few special add-ins to take the store bought mix to the next level.

  • Boxed Chocolate Cake Mix – If you have the time, you can use your favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe but boxed works just fine.
  • Box Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix – Make sure it’s instant pudding!
  • Sour Cream – This will make your cake extra moist.
  • Vegetable oil – You want to use vegetable oil, not olive oil when baking.
  • Water
  • Eggs
  • Caramel Topping – You’ll likely find this in the aisle of your store with ice cream toppings.
  • Chocolate Frosting – You can buy canned or make your own.
  • Pecan halves – You can sub these with walnuts if you wish but traditional turtle candy is a combination of caramel, chocolate and pecans.

Instructions

Step 1 – Preheat. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2 – Prepare pan. Prepare a 13×9 inch pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray and lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Step 3 – Mix batter and pour. In a large mixing bowl stir together boxed cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, and eggs. Once combined, pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan.

Step 4 – Bake. Bake your cake for 20 – 25 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely.

poked Chocolate Turtle Cake

Step 5 – Poke. Once your cake has cooled completely, use the end of a wooden spoon or another similar sized item to poke holes across the entire top of the cake. Do your best not to poke the hole all the way through the bottom of the cake so that the filling doesn’t run out in the next step.

caramel filled Chocolate Turtle Cake

Step 6 – Add caramel. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake. Using a knife, spread the caramel over the cake making sure it gets in all the holes.

Step 7 – Chill. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour. This gives the caramel time to set up a little so it doesn’t ooze out of the cake.

Chocolate Turtle Cake topped with pecans and caramel drizzle

Step 8 – Frost. Once the cake has chilled remove it from the refrigerator and spread the chocolate frosting over the cake. Sprinkle the top with chopped pecans and serve.

Chocolate Turtle Cake on a plate and cake pan

Why is it called turtle cake?

This cake is named after the traditional turtle candy, as they contain the same basic ingredients: chocolate, caramel, and pecans.

They call the traditional candy ‘turtles’ because the appearance of the finished product resembles a turtle in its shell. It was created by the DeMet’s candy company in 1918 and is still being sold today.

It’s such a popular treat that most things containing chocolate, caramel, and pecans borrow that turtle moniker, and we are definitely fans! If you are too, check out our turtle brownie cake, rolo pecan bites, and almost no bake turtle cheesecake cups.

What Can You Add to a Box Cake Mix to Make It Taste Better?

You can add pudding mix in various flavors to make a delicious, moist cake like we do for our triple chocolate cupcakescoconut cake, and lemon cupcakes.

In this recipe we use a box of instant chocolate pudding and sour cream to add additional flavor and moisture to the cake. It elevates the box of cake mix and makes it taste like homemade!

Chocolate Turtle Cake on a black plate with caramel

Can You Freeze Turtle Cake?

Yes, you can! This makes it easy to prep ahead of time.

To freeze, you will follow Step 1 through 4. Let the cake cool completely, then wrap it in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer aluminum foil. You can store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To use, remove from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Once thawed, remove the aluminum foil and plastic wrap, then pick up with Step 5 and follow the rest of the instructions.

How to Store It

Store leftovers by covering it tightly with lid or plastic wrap and storing it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

I highly recommend baking your cake in this 9×13 inch metal baking pan. Once it has cooled completely you can snap the lid on and it keeps your cake nice and fresh. Makes transporting to a party super easy too!

piece of Chocolate Turtle Cake on a black plate

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Servings: 16
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Chill Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins

Chocolate Turtle Cake

This Turtle Poke Cake is a rich chocolate cake soaked in caramel sauce, and covered in chocolate frosting, pecans, and caramel. It is a super easy dessert recipe that is great for parties!
Chocolate Turtle Cake on a black plate
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients

  • 15.5 ounce Boxed Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 3.4 ounce Box Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 3 Eggs
  • 20 ounces Caramel Topping
  • 16 ounces Chocolate Frosting
  • 8 ounces Pecan halves, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare a 13×9 inch pan by spraying with nonstick spray and lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine boxed cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, and eggs.
  • Once combined pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely.
  • Once cooled use the end of a wooden spoon or another similar sized item to poke holes across the entire top of the cake.
  • Pour the caramel sauce over the cake. Using a knife, spread the caramel over the cake making sure it gets in all of the holes.
  • Place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  • Once the time has passed remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the chocolate frosting over the cake.
  • Sprinkle the top with chopped pecans.
  • Cut and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice, Calories: 551kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 33g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g, Monounsaturated Fat: 13g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 501mg, Potassium: 267mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 52g, Vitamin A: 153IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 87mg, Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclaimer: We are not certified nutritionists. Nutrition facts are an estimate and are provided as a courtesy. They are generated by an online API which recognizes ingredient names and amounts and makes calculations based on the serving size. Results may vary.
Author: Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate poke cake, chocolate turtle cake, poke cake, turtle cake