Easy Chocolate Turtle Cake

turtle cake
Diana Rattray
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 65 mins
Servings: 16 to 24 servings
Yield: 1 9-by-13-inch cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
434 Calories
21g Fat
61g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16 to 24
Amount per serving
Calories 434
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 26%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 219mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 51g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 216mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy, delicious turtle cake is always a hit. The cake is easy because it's made with a cake mix, and delicious because of the rich caramel layer, pecans, and fabulous cocoa frosting. You could use a purchased frosting on the cake if you want to cut back on the time. It's a sweet, rich cake, almost like candy, so plan on small pieces.


For the Cake:

  • 1 (15.25-ounce) box German chocolate cake mix

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, divided

  • 1 pound caramels

  • 1/2 to 1 cup pecans, chopped

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

The Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4).

  2. Butter and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

  3. In a bowl combine the cake mix, butter, water, oil and 1/2 can of the sweetened condensed milk. Beat until well blended.

  4. Divide the batter; pour half (roughly 2 to 2 1/2 cups) of the batter into another bowl and set aside.

  5. Pour the remaining half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels and the remaining half of the can of sweetened condensed milk. Heat while stirring until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth. Don't let the bottom scorch.

  7. When the cake comes out of the oven, carefully spread the caramel mixture over the baked cake layer.

  8. Sprinkle the caramel generously with chopped pecans.

  9. Spoon the remaining reserved batter evenly over the caramel and pecan layer and spread gently to cover.

  10. Return the cake to the oven and bake for about 30  minutes longer. 

  11. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack. Let it cool completely before frosting.

The Frosting

  1. Combine butter, cocoa, and evaporated milk in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring until butter has melted and the mixture is well blended.

  2. Remove from heat and add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; blend well.

  3. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.