Turtle Ice Cream is a decadent homemade ice cream recipe packed with chocolate chunks, toasted pecans, and swirled with caramel and chocolate fudge.
A traditionally churned vanilla almond ice cream base is made in the French style, using an egg custard to give us a super creamy and rich result.
This Turtle Ice Cream Recipe is naturally gluten free and completely amazing. You'll be so happy you decided to make it.
You've come to the right place if you love making homemade ice cream. This site is all about homemade ice cream recipes and teaching you how to make ice cream from scratch. Turtle Ice Cream is my new favorite, and I can't wait to share it!
Prefer your ice cream recipes with more pizazz? Apple Pie Ice Cream might be more your style.
You might also like this deep fried ice cream.
Why You're Going to Love this Turtle Ice Cream Recipe
It's Packed with Flavor - We are adding so many things to this ice cream! Rich caramel sauce, decadent fudge, chopped chocolate and toasted pecans all work together to give this ice cream the perfect turtle ice cream flavor.
Traditionally Churned - French ice cream bases are extra creamy and rich due to the fact that they are made with tempered egg yolks. Don't worry, I'll show you how to cook the ice cream base, it's easier than you might think.
Vanilla Almond Flavor - The base for Turtle Ice Cream isn't your basic vanilla. We're using both vanilla extract and almond extract to make it extra special.
Like Turtle Tracks, but better - You can buy turtle tracks ice cream at the store, but it will never be as good as turtle ice cream that you make yourself.
Ingredients in Homemade Turtle Ice Cream
Creamy caramel and rich chocolate fudge take this turtle ice cream recipe to the next level! Get your ingredients ready. Detailed ingredient measurements and steps are in the recipe card below.
Egg Yolks - These create the base for our ice cream custard. We'll gently heat the egg yolks to pasteurize them, but you can also purchase pasteurized eggs if you prefer.
Granulated Sugar - For sweetness and texture, plain, white, granulated sugar is the perfect choice.
Whole Milk - The first of our dairy items adds bulk and aids in getting the perfect creamy texture.
Kosher Salt - A bit of salt helps to balance the sweetness of the ice cream add-ins.
Heavy Cream - A mix of both heavy cream and whole milk is what gives us the perfect rich ice cream texture.
Vanilla Extract - Vanilla is a must for most ice cream recipes. It elevates the simple flavors of the sugar and cream.
Almond Extract - Almond extract plays really well with vanilla and gives our turtle ice cream that extra special flavor that makes it stand out.
Toasted Pecans - Buy already toasted nuts, or take a few minutes to toast your own raw nuts on the stove. Roughly chop the pecans into small pieces, about the size of a pea.
Semi Sweet Chocolate - I always use chopped chocolate bars in my ice cream rather than chocolate chips. I enjoy the different sizes and textures that doing it this way creates.
Caramel Sauce - You can purchase caramel ice cream sauce, or make your own if you have a recipe that you like.
Fudge Sauce - To save time, use a store-bought hot fudge topping. You can also use a homemade chocolate sauce if you prefer.
How to Make Turtle Ice Cream from Scratch
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until smooth and pale yellow in color. Then add the milk and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk to a simmer and then remove from the heat, being sure not to let it boil.
- Add about ½ cup of the hot milk to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk constantly to combine (this is called tempering the eggs).
- Add the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot milk. Heat the saucepan on low. Stirring constantly, heat until the base has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. This takes a few minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl to remove any pieces of egg that may have cooked. Then add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Stir to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap making sure to have the wrap touching the surface of the ice cream base. This will keep it from forming a skin as it cools. Refridgerate the ice cream base for at least 3 hours.
- Churn the ice cream mixture in the bowl of your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer's instructions. Mine took about 20 minutes. When ready it will be thick and the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
- In the last two minutes of churning, add all but one tablespoon of the chopped pecans and chopped chocolate. Churn until they are evenly distributed.
- Spoon half of the ice cream into a shallow container or loaf pan. Top with half of the chocolate sauce and caramel sauce and lightly swirl with a spoon. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, then top with the pecans that you set aside.
- Press plastic wrap or waxed paper to the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until solid. Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.
These numbered steps match the numbered photos above and are for illustration purposes. For the complete list of ingredients and instructions, please see the recipe card below.
How to Store Turtle Ice Cream
Homemade turtle ice cream will store easily in the freezer. Store your turtle ice cream in the freezer in an airtight container with a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper pressed on top of the ice cream for up to one month.
Tips for Making This Turtle Ice Cream Recipe
Use quality ingredients – When making homemade ice cream, you’ll want to make sure you are using high quality ingredients for the best outcome.
Chill out – If possible, always start with chilled ingredients. This is important for homemade no-churn ice cream recipes and ice cream maker recipes.
Don’t skimp on the fat – High fat milks and creams are essential when making homemade ice cream. Opting for a low-fat option often leads to icy ice creams and inconsistency in the texture.
Don’t go crazy with the add-ins – If you’re adding in additional ingredients, pick one or two and make sure they are chopped into pieces no larger than a blueberry or pea.
Don’t skimp on the sugar – Sugar not only adds sweetness to homemade ice creams, it also helps with the texture. Sugar is essential for the creamy texture in ice cream. See notes below on how to reduce sugar in your add ins instead.
Take shortcuts - Use store bought chocolate sauce and caramel sauce to make this recipe easy. That said, you can definitely use homemade versions if you like.
Be Careful with Almond Extract - Using too much almond extract can overpower the recipe. Be sure to add just what is called for.
Toast the Nuts - Place pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. It's easy!
No Churn Turtle Ice Cream Directions
Chill a shallow container or a loaf pan in the freezer while you mix the ice cream ingredients.
Pour the ice cream mixture into the prepared pan, layering as directed, and freeze for 3-4 hours. Stir the ice cream every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours to help add air. This will help create a creamy, smooth texture.
For thicker ribbons of fudge and caramel, save some of the sauces and add them to the ice cream just before the last time you stir it.
Turtle Ice Cream Add Ins
Our Turtle ice cream recipe is already packed full of add-ins, including chocolate chunks, pecans, fudge sauce, and caramel. You can adjust and swap the add-ins, but I don't recommend adding extra ingredients to this ice cream recipe.
- Swap out the caramel sauce for peanut butter sundae sauce or butterscotch topping.
- Instead of chopped chocolate, use chopped Snickers bars or chopped Oreo Cookies.
- To make white turtle ice cream, use chopped white chocolate in place of the chocolate and Ghiradelli white chocolate sauce instead of the hot fudge.
- If you don't enjoy pecans, use peanuts, almonds, or walnuts instead. You can also leave the nuts out entirely and replace them with more chocolate.
Low Sugar Swaps for Turtle Ice Cream
This is not a low sugar recipe. With caramel and chocoalte sauce, we are definitely adding a lot of extra sugar to this ice cream recipe. In moderation, I think it's totally fine.
If you'd like to reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe, keep everything the same, but use lower sugar ingredients as your add ins. I don't suggest reducing the sugar in the ice cream recipe itself, as the texture will not be right.
For chocolate, try Lily's no sugar added chocolate.
Sugar free or low sugar chocolate and caramel sauces can be purchased at the store as well.
What is the best hot fudge sauce for homemade ice cream?
To keep this recipe simple, a store bought fudge sauce can be used. Look for it near the ice cream in your supermarket. Here I often find Mrs. Richardsons, Smuckers, or Hershey's hot fudge, and occasionally there will be gourmet options too. Ghirardelli fudge sauce is always amazing, so if I can find that, I use it.
You can also make your own hot fudge sauce for this recipe, or for topping any of our ice cream flavors. Try this recipe for homemade chocolate sauce, or this one for turtle sauce. If you try the turtle ice cream sauce, you can leave out the caramel, since this one has both flavors mixed together.
Can I make Turtle Ice Cream with a Chocolate Base?
Chocolate turtle ice cream sounds delicious! If you'd prefer to have the base of this ice cream be chocolate instead of vanilla, use this Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe, but omit the marshmallow swirl. Add the chocolate and nuts in at the end of churning, then layer the ice cream with the syrups as directed.
How To Keep Nuts from Getting Soggy in Ice Cream
By nature, nuts will soften when surrounded by any type of liquid. In ice cream recipes, there is a period of time where the nuts will absorb some of the ice cream base before the ice cream is totally frozen.
To keep nuts completely crunchy in ice cream, you should not add them in at all, but instead serve them on top of the ice cream when you serve it.
Alternately, you can stir them into the ice cream when it's partly hardened, rather than adding them to the machine.
What is in Turtle Tracks Ice Cream?
Are you wondering what flavor "turtle" is? Turtle Tracks uses chopped Turtles chocolate candies and chocolate covered pecans in a vanilla ice cream base swirled with caramel. This Turtle Ice Cream recipe is slightly different than Turtle Tracks, but it has the same amazing flavors and textures built in.
Why is Turtle Ice Cream Called Turtle?
The original turtle chocolates are named as such because they resemble turtles. A turtle candy is caramel covered pecans dipped in chocolate. When made with four or five pecans, the chocolate covered treat resembles a turtle's shell and legs.
More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
If you like this Turtle Ice Cream recipe, you will go crazy for these other homemade ice cream recipes that are packed with sweet extras.
- Banoffee Pie Ice Cream is the delicious pie you love, in ice cream form.
- Mississippi Mudd Ice Cream is another remake of a classic desert into an ice cream recipe. You'll love how chocolatey it is!
- If you enjoy ice cream with nuts, you should make Black Walnut Ice Cream or Toasted Almond Ice Cream next.
Our Favorite Ice Cream Making Tools Are:
- Cuisinart 2QT Ice Cream Maker - Works with ice cream, sorbets, and frozen yogurt.
- Loaf Pan - You can use any 9 x 13 loaf pan or a shallow pan, but we like this one.
- Ice Cream Scoop - Make sure you have a good ice cream scoop. This is one of our favorites.
- Ice Cream Bowls - You can use any bowl, but we think these are fun.
- Ice Cream Containers - We love keeping a couple of ice cream containers on hand for when we make homemade ice cream.
Note: Each of these links will take you to the exact product on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn a little from each qualifying purchase.
Did you make this Turtle Ice Cream Recipe? Leave a comment below letting us know what you thought and if you changed the add-ins.
- 4 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup caramel sauce
- ½ cup fudge sauce
- Chill the ice cream bowl for at least 24 hours or until solid. You should not hear any water sloshing around when you shake the bowl.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until smooth and pale yellow in color.
- Add the milk and salt to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Be sure not to boil.
- Add about ½ cup of the hot milk to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk constantly until combined.
- Then, add the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot milk.
- Heat the saucepan on low. Stirring constantly, heat until the base has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. This should take a few minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl to remove any pieces of egg that may have cooked.
- Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract and stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap making sure to have the plastic wrap touching the surface of the ice cream base. This will help keep it from forming a skin while chilling. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until cold.
- Churn the ice cream mixture in the bowl of your ice cream machine according to your manufacturer’s instructions (mine took about 20 minutes), until it is thick and the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
- In the last two minutes, add the chopped chocolate and all but one tablespoon of the toasted pecans. Churn until they are evenly distributed.
- Spoon half of the ice cream into a shallow container or a loaf pan.
- Top with half of the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce and lightly swirl with a spoon.
- Repeat with remaining ice cream, caramel sauce and chocolate sauce. Top with remaining pecans.
- Press plastic wrap or wax paper to the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until solid.
- Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving.
- This is a traditional, or french-style, ice cream which is made with a custard base that contains eggs.
- The almond extract gives the ice cream an extra boost of nutty flavor. You could omit if you would like, but I think it gives the base more of a turtle taste. Be sure to use a good quality almond extract. Also do not be tempted to add more almond extract, as it can taste artificial if you use too much. The vanilla extract helps round out the almond flavor.
- Toasting the pecans helps bring out the flavor. You can toast them in the oven or in a skillet. I like to place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly so that they don’t burn.
- You can use storebought sauces, or make them yourself if you prefer.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 733Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 228mgSodium: 326mgCarbohydrates: 73gFiber: 3gSugar: 63gProtein: 12g