Turtle Cheesecake

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This Turtle Cheesecake Recipe is made with a graham cracker crust and plenty of caramel, chocolate and pecans! It’s rich, creamy and sure to be a hit!

This post is sponsored by Challenge Dairy, but all opinions are my own.

Whole Turtle Cheesecake

I am a big fan of turtle candies. The combination of chocolate and caramel is my jam. Not to mention the cute shape of them when you actually get them in their true shape. If you aren’t familiar, turtle candies are called “turtles” because the pecans are placed in a way that looks like turtle legs and the caramel and chocolate are placed so that they look like turtle shells. They are delicious and cute little candies that is great for the holidays.

But perhaps even though you love the turtle flavors, but really want a cheesecake. Well then, this cheesecake is for you!

What’s in a Turtle Cheesecake?

This Turtle Cheesecake is made with several layers of turtle flavors throughout. To start, there’s the crust. In addition to graham cracker crumbs, the crust has pecans right it in for extra flavor and crunch. The cheesecake filling has a layer of caramel with more pecan chips mixed in, a layer of chocolate and then a creamy brown sugar cheesecake. The whole cheesecake is topped with even more buttery caramel, smooth chocolate and crunchy pecan chips. Delicious!

How to Make a Turtle Cheesecake

First, you’ll make the caramel sauce – arguably the best part of this Turtle Cheesecake. It’s basically the same as my Homemade Caramel Sauce, with a few tweaks to make it a little thicker.

The first ingredient for the caramel is the sugar, which gets melted down. Once melted, butter is added, then heavy whipping cream. It makes the most amazing caramel sauce with such a smooth, buttery flavor. Seriously, that buttery flavor is to die for, which is why I used my favorite Challenge Butter.

You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again – Challenge Butter is a wonderful, high quality butter that is perfect for baked goods. Their butter is made from fresh milk at family-owned dairies and goes from farm to fridge in just two days. It has no added hormones, artificial flavors or fillers, which I’m a big fan of. I usually find it at Walmart, but it’s now also available in Kroger. And if you’re near a Harris Teeter, you can also usually find it there. If you aren’t sure, find a location near you where they carry it. It’s good stuff!

Best Turtle Cheesecake recipeBest Turtle Cheesecake recipe

When your caramel sauce is made, it’s time for the crust. Combine all the ingredients and bake for 10 minutes.

Next up is the filling. You’ll start by adding some of the caramel sauce to the crust, then making the chocolate ganache. Add the chocolate ganache in an even layer on top of the caramel.

The next part of the cheesecake filling is the cream cheese mixture. Again, I rely on my trusty Challenge Cream Cheese, which is as close to homemade as it gets with nothing artificial and no added hormones. It’s super creamy and perfect as the base of the cheesecake filling. It’s combined with brown sugar, vanilla and your usual ingredients for a silky-smooth filling.

Bake the cheesecake in a water bath, then refrigerate until firm.

How do you bake a cheesecake in a water bath?

While water baths can seem intimidating, they really aren’t hard and they are totally worth it. I have a tutorial on how I set up my water baths that is quite helpful. I not only use aluminum foil, but also a crock pot liner bag to ensure that water doesn’t get into the cheesecake. Works like a charm!

As for benefits of a water bath, it’ll keep your cheesecake from browning too much, sinking and will help prevent cracks. Definitely the way to go!

Once the cheesecake has cooled, it’s topped with some of the remaining caramel sauce, more chocolate ganache and pecan chips. There’s nothing quite a beautiful as a dessert covered in caramel and chocolate! Nothing quite as tasty either!

The final cheesecake is smooth, creamy and the perfect combination of turtle candy flavors and cheesecake. Such a fun holiday dessert that makes a great alternative to pumpkin! Bring it on!

Turtle Cheesecake overhead viewFavorite Turtle Cheesecake slice

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”Dzkbk2Gp” upload-date=”2018-11-06T00:23:44.000Z” name=”Turtle-Cheesecake-BLOG” description=”This Turtle Cheesecake is made with a graham cracker crust and plenty of caramel, chocolate and pecans! It’s rich, creamy and sure to be a hit!”]
Read transcript

You might also like Turtle candy desserts:

Turtle Brownie Cheesecake
Turtle Chocolate Layer Cake
Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes
Chocolate Turtle Poke Cake
Turtle Chocolate Cookie Cups
Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cake Roll

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Turtle Cheesecake | Easy Cheesecake Recipe with Caramel & Chocolate

Turtle Cheesecake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 slices
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Turtle Cheesecake Recipe is made with a graham cracker crust and plenty of caramel, chocolate and pecans! It’s rich, creamy and sure to be a hit!


Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112gsalted Challenge butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 5 tbsp (41g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (28g) pecan chips


  • 2 cups (268g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (112gsalted Challenge butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (28g) pecan chips


  • 4 oz (2/3 cup | 116g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tbsp (90ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 24 oz (678g) Challenge cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (144g) light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp (24g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (230g) sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs

Chocolate Drizzle

  • 2 oz (1/3 cup | 58g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) heavy whipping cream


1. To make the caramel sauce, pour the sugar into an even layer in a large saucepan.
2. Heat on medium-high heat, whisking the sugar until melted. The sugar will clump up first, but will eventually completely melt. This should take about 10 minutes.
3. Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and allow to cook until the sugar has turned to a little darker amber color. You may notice a nutty aroma. The change in color will happen quickly, so don’t let it go too long or get too dark or it’ll burn. Remove the caramel from the heat.
4. Add the butter and whisk until combined. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted and combined.
5. Slowly pour the heavy cream into the caramel and whisk until incorporated. I find it can help to add just a bit at a time until the caramel starts to thin out, then you can add the rest. Whisk until well incorporated and smooth.
6. Set about 1 cup of caramel sauce aside for topping. Add the flour and pecan chips to the remaining caramel and set that aside.
7. To make the cheesecake crust, preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
8. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
9. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
10. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in (see how I prepare my pan for a water bath). Set prepared pan aside.
11. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F (148°C).
12. Pour the caramel sauce with the pecans and flour into the bottom of the crust and spread into an even layer.
13. To make the cheesecake filling, put the chocolate chips in a small bowl.
14. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
15. Pour the chocolate into an even layer over the caramel sauce in the crust.
16. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar and flour on low speed until well combined and smooth. Be sure to use low speed to reduce the amount of air added to the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
17. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until well combined.
18. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly to combine after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
19. Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust, over the chocolate.
20. Place the springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
21. Bake for 1 hour 35 minutes. The center should be set, but still jiggly.
22. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed for 30 minutes. The cheesecake will continue to cook, but slowly begin to cool as well.
23. Crack the door of the oven for 30 minutes to allow the cheesecake to continue to cool slowly. This process helps prevent cracking.
24. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and remove the water bath and wrapping.
25. Pour about 1/2 cup of the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the cheesecake and spread into an even layer. If the caramel sauce has firmed up too much to pour, heat it up for about 10 seconds.
26. Refrigerate cheesecake until completely cool and firm, 5-6 hours. When the cheesecake is cool and firm, remove it from the springform pan and place on a serving dish.
27. Place the chocolate chips for the drizzle in a small bowl. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Allow it to sit for 3-4 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
28. Drizzle the remaining caramel sauce and chocolate sauce over the cheesecake and sprinkle with a few more pecan chips. Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve.


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 659
  • Sugar: 55.8 g
  • Sodium: 396.5 mg
  • Fat: 37.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 73.5 g
  • Protein: 10 g
  • Cholesterol: 119.4 mg

Keywords: Turtle Cheesecake, cheesecake recipe, how to make cheesecake, cheesecake water bath how to

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Collage of Turtle Cheesecake

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  1. Talitha Andrew

    I love this recipe. I made it for a friend and they are still raving about it. I have a question. The Carmel and I had a disagreement. When I put the butter in it clumped even with the constant whisking. I was able to fix but should I melt the butter first next time? The butter was room temperature and super soft.

    1. Lindsay

      So glad it was a hit! Yes, the caramel sauce can definitely be sensitive. You could certainly melt the butter next time to be sure it’s not too cool.

    1. Lindsay

      The flour helps with a creamier texture and can help prevent cracks, but you could leave it out. You could also replace it with half the amount of cornstarch.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s the third thing in the list of ingredients for the cheesecake filling. It says challenge cream cheese. Challenge is the brand that I use, but feel free to use whatever brand you prefer or is available.

  2. Starla

    This cheesecake is delicious! I enjoyed making it and it tasted so good. Definitely worth the effort.
    Would it freeze well, do you think?

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it should freeze well. Just be sure to wrap it well and maybe even store it in a Ziploc bag as well. Leave the toppings off of it. When you’re ready to use it, put it in the fridge to thaw.

  3. Carol Rowe

    This is a great recipe! It did take some time for the caramel and chocolate add ins, but it was worth it. I’ve been making cheesecakes for a couple of years and this is the best cheesecake I’ve made so far. First time I made caramel sauce from scratch; turned out very well. I did have to bake mine about 10 minutes longer, but my oven is crappy. Your recipe and accompanying directions were superb.
    I agree with everything Vamo posted on 10/16/22.

  4. Vamo

    This is the first time I think that I have ever reviewed a recipe – I spent hours looking for a cheesecake recipe and reading through reviews hoping to find the perfect one. So easy to find recipes, but not necessarily guarantees that they will actually be good, or work. This turtle cheesecake was incredible. The cheesecake itself was delicious and the timing and temp worked out perfectly for me. My pan measured 8.5″ (not sure if I measured wrong) but it was the perfect size. The cheesecake came up to almost the top of the pan and that was exactly what I was hoping for; a somewhat tall cheesecake. I used a 11×13″ pan of warm water on the shelf under the cheesecake. I know it was not following the directions, but it worked fine. My cake had a flat surface without any cracks and what I consider a perfect texture. The caramel sauce was so good. It definitely took some time to make and mine turned out a little thinner than I expected, but still worked fine. Next time I may cook a bit longer or use a little less liquid for a thicker sauce. The ganache was simple and of course delicious as well. We were traveling a few hours away, so I left the cake in the pan and put the caramel sauce, toasted pecans and drizzled chocolate on ahead of time. It sat in the fridge overnight, we traveled the next day and served it 1 day later. I ran a butterknife around the edges before removing them. Using the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan made it easy to remove and put on a serving platter. It looked beautiful and tasted amazing and we will be using this same recipe again at Thanksgiving. A plus to the recipe is that that there was enough caramel sauce and ganache to pour over icecream with some roasted pecans for the perfect Turtle Sundae. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe.

  5. Shirley Phillips

    How come when I made the turtle cheesecake withe brown sugar light 1 cup it turned light brown color like a caramel color and your picture didn’t

    1. Lindsay

      I think it was a little bit darker in color, it may just be harder to tell in the light of the photo. But also, different brands of brown sugar are darker or lighter. It could be that yours was a little bit darker than mine.

  6. Chrissy

    I was wondering if you’ve ever tried a cheesecake in a pretzel crust? I was thinking that this combo of chocolate and caramel and cheesecake might be amazing on a pretzel crust and then subbing more pretzels instead of pecans on top. It would be a sweet and salty delight. I’ve just never tried a pretzel crust with cheesecake so I don’t know if it holds up. Thoughts?

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t think I have. But I have used pretzel crusts on other things. That should be fine, just be sure to crush the pretzels enough. You don’t want them ground to nearly a powder but you also don’t want too many big chunks or the crust really won’t hold together well. It does tend to be more crumbly than a graham cracker crust.

  7. Ashley

    Hi there, I love this cheesecake recipe and have made it often. I have used the cheesecake base (as it always turns out perfect) and done other toppings as well. Do you think adding 1/2 cup of cookie butter would work in the filling or would I need to change something else? Thanks

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29