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Easy Texas Turtle Sheet Cake

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Howdy my chocolate-loving friends! I’m so excited to share with y’all today a decadent chocolate dessert that takes just over 30 minutes of hands-on time to make – Easy Texas Turtle Sheet Cake. This incredible cake has become one of my most requested recipes, and for good reason. It starts with a luscious, ultra moist chocolate cake base that gets topped with a velvety layer of gooey caramel, crunchy chopped pecans, and a shiny chocolate ganache icing. With its combo of textures and flavors in each bite, this cake is pure chocolate bliss!
I know some of you may be wondering if a cake with a fancy name like Texas Turtle Sheet Cake is difficult to whip up. Let me tell you, it’s called easy for a reason! With just a few simple ingredients and steps, you’ll have a showstopping chocolate dessert the whole family will love. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, bringing a dish to pass to the church potluck, or looking for an indulgent birthday cake, this Turtle Sheet Cake is sure to be a hit. Once folks get a taste, they’ll be begging you for the recipe!

What size pan do I need?
You’ll want to use a standard 13×9 inch sheet cake pan for this recipe. Be sure to grease it real good before baking.

How long does it take to make?
From start to finish, it takes about 35 minutes – 15 minutes prep time and 20 minutes bake time. Factor in cooling time too!

What can I serve with it?
Turtle sheet cake tastes real good with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream. Fresh berries also make for a nice accompaniment.

Should I make the topping while the cake bakes?
Yes siree, making the tasty caramel pecan topping while the cake bakes saves time. Just let the cake cool completely before pouring it on top.

How do I store any leftovers?
Cover any leftover cake tightly and store it at room temperature for up to 4 days. The flavors get even better as they mingle!

Can I make it without dairy?
You sure can! Substitute dairy-free milk and butter in the cake and topping. It’ll still taste amazing.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


  • For the cake:
  • 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour (270g)
  • 1 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar (350g)
  • 3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (90g)
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (250mL)
  • 1⁄2 cup canola oil (125mL)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water (250mL)
  • For the caramel pecan topping:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (220g)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (85g)
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream (60mL)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups chopped pecans (150g)
  • For the chocolate ganache:
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (180g)
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy cream (80mL)

Instructions :

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan – I like using butter or nonstick cooking spray to make sure the cake doesn’t stick.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the cake: 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar, 3⁄4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Break up any large lumps and make sure it’s well combined.
  3. Add in the wet ingredients: 2 large eggs, 1 cup whole milk, 1⁄2 cup canola oil, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer or whisk, beat vigorously for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth and no flour pockets remain.
  4. Slowly pour in 1 cup of hot water from the tap. Mix until fully incorporated. The batter will be very thin – this is correct!
  5. Pour and spread the thin batter evenly into your prepared baking pan. Make sure you get it into all the corners.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean when the cake is ready.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan placed on a wire rack. This takes about 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step!
  8. While the cake cools, make the caramel pecan topping. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup packed brown sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1⁄4 cup heavy cream. Bring to a boil then let bubble for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat and stir in 1 1⁄2 cups chopped pecans.
  9. Pour the warm topping evenly over the cooled cake. Smooth with a spatula or spoon to spread it to the edges.
  10. For the ganache, melt 1 cup chocolate chips with 1⁄3 cup heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second bursts, stirring between each until smooth and silky. Carefully spread over the pecans.
  11. Let the cake sit for 1 hour before slicing so the topping can set up. Enjoy your incredibly decadent cake!

Cooking Tips:

  • Use cocoa powder instead of chocolate for a deeper, darker chocolate flavor.
  • Substitute chopped walnuts or hazelnuts for the pecans.
  • For a more decadent cake, use heavy cream instead of milk.
  • Top with ice cream for an over-the-top turtle sundae cake experience!
  • Leftover cake can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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