Vegan turtles made with dates, chocolate, and pecans. The dates provide a rich, gooey caramel like center using real food and no dairy. These homemade no-bake treats are easy to make and are a huge hit around the holidays.
Oh my gosh, one bite of these and you will be obsessed! These vegan chocolate turtles are the perfect little salty sweet treat. I've made these a few times and am so excited they are finally up on the blog. Every time I make them they get rave reviews. I originally stumbled across a similar recipe from Minimalist Baker and fell in love.
I love adding these, along with my dark chocolate peanut butter balls and dark chocolate holiday bark, and chocolate covered cashews to my cookie tray around Christmas. You just can't go wrong with a no-bake real food holiday treat!
Reasons to Love This Recipe
REAL FOOD INGREDIENTS - All the flavors of a classic chocolate turtle, but made with simple, healthier ingredients.
EASY - These take less than 30 minutes to make.
SALTY SWEET - I love a good salty sweet treat. The sweetness from the dates and chocolate and the sea salt sprinkled on top is the ultimate combination.
DIETARY NEEDS - Gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and vegan.
A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below. Here are some specific notes and substitutions.
DATES - I prefer Medjool dates as they are softer and have a more caramel like taste. If your dates aren't pitted, be sure to remove the pits.
ALMOND BUTTER - Used to help make the "caramel" center a little extra creamy. You can use any nut butter you'd like if you don't have almond butter.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS - I recommend using either semi-sweet (make sure it's dairy free) or dark chocolate chips. You can also use chopped chocolate from a chocolate bar. When in doubt, I always like using Hu Chocolate Gems.
How to Make
These chocolate pecan turtles are easy and fun to make. Just follow these simple steps.
STEP 1: Place pitted dates and almond butter in a food processor. Mix/pulse on high until a large ball is formed.
STEP 2: Remove date ball from food processor and roll into 12 individual balls. Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet.
STEP 3: Place 3 pecan pieces upside down on each date ball and push down slightly to flatten and so that the pecans will stick. Flip each piece over so that the caramel center is on top (see photo).
Note: I like to place the pecans upside down and then flip over so the chocolate goes on top of the dates/caramel center. If you'd like, you can place the pecans right side up and then add chocolate on top of pecans. Either way works.
STEP 4: Melt chocolate with coconut oil in a small bowl by microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring between intervals.
STEP 5: Evenly spread melted chocolate over the top of each "caramel center."
STEP 6: Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow chocolate to fully set in the refrigerator or freezer. It takes about 25 minutes in the freezer or about an hour in the fridge.
Now you can enjoy this healthy recipe for these vegan dark chocolate turtles!
If your dates are on the hard side/seem like they are stale, fret not, they are still good! All you need to do is soak them in some extremely hot water for 10 minutes, drain, and then your dates will be brought back to life and are perfectly good to use.
Make sure you are using the creamy almond butter (or nut butter of choice) and not the dried almond butter from the bottom of the jar.
For an extra festive treat, try adding some unsweetened shredded coconut or sprinkles to the chocolate topping before the chocolate sets.
Make bite-sized turtles. Make 24 date/caramel balls instead and use a single pecan on each turtle.
Typically yes, all ingredients used in traditional turtles are gluten free. And my "healthy" homemade version of this popular candy is gluten free.
A food processor is a better choice for getting the dates chopped and blended. I have not tried using a blender, but if you do try, make sure you have a high powered blender and let me know how it goes.
These vegan chocolate turtle candies should be stored in the fridge and will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
You can also freeze them to extend their shelf life. They will stay fresh for 3 months in the freezer. Plus, they are quite delicious frozen, so I highly recommend freezing some as well 🙂
More Better-for-You Desserts
Eat Clean.Be Healthy!
Vegan Chocolate Turtles
- 1 food processor
- 1 Baking sheet
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (10-12 dates)
- 1 tbsp. creamy almond butter
- 42 pecan halves
- ½ cup vegan semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- ½ tsp. coconut oil
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place pitted dates and almond butter in a food processor. Mix/pulse on high until dates break down and a large ball is formed.
- Remove date ball from food processor. Roll into 12 individual balls. Place balls on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Place 3 pecan pieces upside down on each date ball. Push down slightly to flatten and so that the pecans will stick. Flip each piece over so that the caramel/date center is on top. Note: I like to place the pecans upside down and then flip over so the chocolate goes on top of the dates/caramel center. If you'd like, you can place the pecans right side up and then add chocolate on top of pecans.
- Melt chocolate with coconut oil in a small bowl by microwaving in 30-second increments, stirring between intervals. Don't overheat the chocolate. Once the majority of the chips are melted just keep stirring to allow the remaining pieces to melt.
- Using the back of a spoon, spread chocolate evenly between each date/pecan cluster. Finish by sprinkling each piece with sea salt.
- Allow chocolate to fully set. You can place in the fridge for about an hour, or the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Finished turtles should be stored in the fridge. Enjoy!
- If your dates are on the hard side, soak them in extremely hot water for 10 minutes to allow them to soften up before blending.
- Make sure you are using the creamy almond butter (or nut butter of choice) and not the dried almond butter from the bottom of the jar.