Homemade pecan turtle candy that’s sugar-free and low carb? Oh baby! These delicious keto caramel pecan clusters are a truly special treat. Be ready to fight with your loved ones for the last of them!
When I was a kid, Pecan Turtles were the epitome of high class dessert in my mind. Despite the fact that they were sold in every drugstore and convenience mart, we didn’t get to have them very often. They were special treats, usually reserved for the holidays.
But oh, oh that combination of chewy caramel, toasted pecans, and rich chocolate. It was magical stuff and I always considered Turtles to be something to aspire to. Not until later did I realize that they were fairly plebeian and the brand was not even of the highest quality.
Still they retained near mythical proportions in my my head, especially when I got a chance to try the caramel pecan turtles from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Now those were something special, my friends! Pure sweet chocolate-y happiness.
Sugar Free Pecan Turtles
Until recently, I never wanted to try my hand at a sugar free version because I knew I couldn’t get the caramel gooey enough. I knew that although they would be tasty, they wouldn’t live up to the mythical pecan turtles in my head if the caramel part recrystallized.
But once I mastered my gooey, soft sugar free caramel sauce, I knew I had a chance at making truly delicious, chewy keto Turtles. Now, the caramel here isn’t exactly the same as my caramel sauce, it’s formulated to be thicker so it doesn’t run all over the place. But the flavour profile is very much the same.
You will also notice that I only put 3 or 4 pecans per cluster. You could do five and make it in the shape of a proper turtle. But it’s easier and a bit lower in carbs if you just do 3.
Tips for Sugar Free Turtle Candy
The caramel sauce is critical here. You need the right consistency and the right thickness, so that it clings to the pecans and doesn’t run all over your pan. To achieve this you need:
- Swerve Brown or another brown sugar substitute (such as Sukrin or Lakanto)
- Another sweetener that doesn’t harden or recrystallize, such as Bocha Sweet, allulose, or xylitol (no, you can’t use Lakanto or Sukrin here. They are both erythritol based, just like Swerve, so they will recrystallize too much)
- Xanthan gum to help thicken the sauce after boiling
- No water added to the sauce, you don’t want to thin it out
- To let it cool for a while after it’s finished cooking
Only then can you spoon it over the clusters of pecans. Make sure you do this on a rimmed cookie sheet, spread with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Then you’re going to set the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour or so, to help it firm up. Trust me, this is a necessary step so that you can get your turtle clusters off the parchment or silicone.
For the chocolate topping, you want to use butter to melt the chocolate. Normally I prefer to melt chocolate with cocoa butter or coconut oil. But those both make it too thin for this purpose. Butter tends to thicken the chocolate a bit more, again so it doesn’t run everywhere as you are trying to coat your turtles.
You can use milk chocolate instead of dark, if you prefer. Lily’s milk chocolate would be delicious.
To salt or not to salt? The turtle candies of my youth did not have sea salt on them. But oh my heavens, it’s a delicious addition. I highly recommend!
Seriously. Keto Pecan Turtles, where have you been all my life???
More Keto Candy Recipes
Sugar Free Pecan Turtle Candies
- 6 tablespoon Swerve Brown
- 3 tablespoon Bocha Sweet (or allulose or xylitol)
- 5 tablespoon butter divided
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 4 ounces sugar free dark chocolate chopped
- More sea salt for sprinkling, if desired
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sweeteners and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Bring to a boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes, watching carefully so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and add the cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously.
- Return the mixture to heat and bring back to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, watching carefully. Sprinkle the surface with xanthan gum and whisk to combine. Whisk in the salt. Let the caramel cool until thickened but still pourable, about 1 hour
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Spread the pecans out on the mat in a single later and bake 7 to 10 minutes, until toasted. Arrange the pecans in clusters of 3 or 4, making about 20 to 24 clusters.
- Drizzle a few teaspoons of caramel over each pecan cluster, making sure some caramel is touching each of the pecans. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer to set the caramel.
- In a small bowl set over a bowl of barely simmering water, combine the chocolate and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir until melted and smooth, then drizzle over the chilled clusters.
- Sprinkle with sea salt if desired, and let set.
Absolutely delicious and easy to make.
Linda Ann says
You should caution people who have dogs, to not let them near these candies. because they are deadly to dogs. We all do our best to keep our fur babies safe, but a word to the wise is prudent.
So BochaSweet used to say that their product wasn’t xylitol and not toxic to pets. They seem to have changed their labels, though!
These sound perfect for my husbands work christmas getogether. I’m going to make with clusters of almonds, pistachios & pecans (our pecan crop was almost non-existent this year). Thank you for a wonderful recipe.
Elizabeth Vlug says
Hands down my favourite treat! I always have a stash in the vault, aka the freezer. So so good. Thanks for all your recipes and tips! Happy Thanksgiving too, well at least here in Canada.
Since family members have digestive issues with sugar alcohols, can powdered stevia be used in place of the xylitol, bocha sweet, or allulose? Do you know if Stevia will recrystallize?
No, sorry it cannot. It doesn’t have bulk and it doesn’t caramelize.
Okay the first batch of sweeteners and butter burned and set off the smoke alarms and scared my dogs. The second batch I watched and stirred soooo carefully… also set off the alarms but I didn’t quite burn it. It’s cooling now as I type! Fingers crossed! It really has to be boiled at a low heat. I am beginning to think this recipe is above my skill level. I gave it 5 stars because in the right hands these little morsels will be delicious!!
I don’t think it’s your skill level, I think it’s your stove and cookware! Some electric stoves are hard to control and if your pan is a thin material, that’s problematic too.
I have AllClad cookware, but my electric stove is a million years old so that could be the problem.
BUT I can back to say the candies were delicious, the caramel was smooth costly and they’re gone already.
Also I had about a tablespoon of leftover caramel and my husband spread it on low carb bread with some peanut butter. It was sooooooo delicious!
Glad they met with approval!
I made the turtles and while delicious, my caramel seems to have crystallized somewhat. Would that happen from stirring do you know?
Did you use the same sweeteners as I did?
I Live In an apartment, and I have no chance of being able to fit a cookie sheet in my freezer unless I empty everything else out. Will it still work in the fridge?
It takes the caramel a while to firm up, which is why the freezer is preferable. It may take longer in the fridge but give it a try!
Can I omit the xylitol or what can I substitute
The three options are listed right in the recipe.
Sara Howard says
How long do these stay good?
At least a week or two.
Diane Levac says
Made these yesterday and they are to die for! My caramel set within about 1/2 hour but I was ready because I toasted the pecans before starting the caramel and already had them arranged in bundles on a parchment line sheet.
Thanks for all you do Carolyn! You are the best!
These taste great, although my caramel never really “set” even sitting in the freezer overnight. They’re still super gooey. I’m wondering if it’s the sweeteners, or if I should have let the mixture “cook down” more… I used the last of my Swerve (2.5T), filled in the rest with Lakanto Monkfruit (3.5T), and Xylitol (3T). It’s possible I slightly overshot the butter. I’ll have to look into getting some Swerve Brown and Bocha Sweet for next time. My link is an instagram pic of how they turned out.
Can I use 2 cups of peanuts, instead of pecans
Will that make a difference? I’m sure that will change the nutritional value as well?
It’s totally fine for making them but yes, will definitely change the nutritional.