Topped with caramel, chocolate, and pecans these Mini Turtle Cheesecakes are a spin off the traditional candy. Easy to make with no water bath required, these bite-sized cheesecakes are completely irresistible, look great on a dessert tray, and perfect for any occasion!
Another delicious spin on turtles candy is our Mixed-Nut Turtle Pie that tastes like a candy bar!
Easy Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecakes
These mini cheesecakes are easy to make, with no water bath or springform pan required, and the bake time is only 15 minutes (though plan at least 5 hours for cooling). They’re sweet but not too sweet, with the cheesecake filling lightly flavored with vanilla and crunchy, sweet caramel, chocolate, and pecan topping.
These would be wonderful for Thanksgiving, as they’re perfectly bite-sized for everyone to grab just one, but can definitely be made anytime.
What Are Turtle Cheesecakes?
These mini turtle cheesecakes are a twist on traditional homemade turtles candy, which are pecans topped with caramel and chocolate. Turtle cheesecake keeps all of those elements – pecans, caramel, and chocolate – and incorporates them into a simple vanilla cheesecake with a graham cracker crust.
This easy mini cheesecake recipe requires just 7 ingredients, plus toppings as desired.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Graham cracker crumbs – My favorite cheesecakes always start with a graham cracker crust.
- Pecans – I add finely chopped pecans to the graham cracker crumbs for extra texture as well as that traditional pecan flavor.
- Butter – Helps hold the crust together and adds richness.
- Cream cheese – Soften to room temperature first, so it’s easier to mix and there are fewer lumps.
- Granulated sugar – Sweetens the cream cheese filling.
- Egg – Acts as a binder for the filling so it holds its shape.
- Vanilla – For just a bit of light flavor.
- Topping – I use additional pecans, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, and sea salt on these turtle cheesecakes.
TIP! Make Your Own Graham Cracker Crumbs
How to Make Mini Turtle Cheesecakes
Making these caramel pecan cheesecakes is super easy. Since these are mini cheesecakes, there’s no water bath required so they’re easier to make than even a basic traditional cheesecake.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Make the crust. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, chopped pecans, and melted butter until the mixture is moist. Spread into muffin tins lined with paper liners, pressing with the back of the spoon to pack.
- Make the filling. Beat the softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Blend in the egg and vanilla.
- Bake. Spoon the filling onto the graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.
- Chill. Once cooled, transfer to the fridge and chill for 4 hours.
- Add the toppings. Before serving, remove the paper liners. Top the cheesecakes with pecans, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, and sea salt. Chill again for 10 to 15 minutes to the toppings can set, then serve.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for making the best turtle cheesecake.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Using a room temperature egg and cream cheese helps ensure the filling ends up super smooth and creamy. Not only does cold cream cheese take longer to cream, it often results in a lumpy finish.
- Pack the crust tightly. To ensure the crust stays in one piece, use a spoon or the bottom of a thin glass to push down on the crust filling.
- Cool slowly. To prevent the cheesecake from cracking, it’s important to cool in steps – first in the pan, then on the cooling rack, and finally in the fridge.
Video: Mini Turtle Cheesecakes
There are many fun ways to decorate turtle cheesecakes but they all include caramel, ganache, and pecans as that’s what makes them turtle cheesecakes. They’re so pretty on a dessert table! Here are a couple ideas:
- Drizzle the caramel sauce and ganache over the top with crushed pecans.
- Dollop on caramel sauce, then a dollop of ganache over the caramel, and press a half pecan on top. (This will give the more traditional turtles look.)
- Do a few of each kind to show variation.
- Storing leftovers. These mini cheesecakes can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- To freeze. To freeze, wrap them individually or place them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag with parchment paper between the layers to prevent sticking. Freeze for up to 3 months then thaw in the fridge before serving.
More Cheesecake Recipes:
- Oreo Cheesecake
- Sopapilla Cheesecake
- Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
- Instant Pot Cheesecake
- Peppermint Cheesecake
- No Bake Apple Cheesecake
Mini Turtle Cheesecakes
For the Cheesecakes
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped pecans
- 3 tablespoons butter , melted
- 8 ounces cream cheese , softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Topping
- caramel sauce
- chocolate ganache (1/2 cup semi-sweet chips, melted and combined with 2 tablespoons butter until combined and silky)
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 slot muffin tin with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and melted butter until combined and moist. Spoon mixture evenly into the paper liners (about 1 & 1/2 tablespoons each); press with the back of a spoon so they’re packed.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Then blend in the egg and vanilla until just incorporated.
- Spoon filling evenly into the muffin cups on top of the graham cracker crust.
- Bake for 15-16 minutes or until centers are set. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- Once they are cooled completely, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, carefully peel away the paper liners. Top with pecans, caramel sauce, chocolate ganache, and sea salt.
- Chill cheesecakes again for 10 to 15 minutes to help the ganache set.