Salted Caramel Nut Clusters

Healthy Holiday Treat Series recipe #3: a plant-based twist on chocolate turtles (#1: Festive Peppermint Brownies, #2: Gingerbread Loaf). These nut clusters are made with whole ingredients – dates & nuts – and flavored with a surprising spice mix – chili powder. These sweet, spicy, and crunchy components come together to create a delicious combo!


Salted Caramel Nut Clusters


While it’s an option to use pure maple syrup or agave in this recipe, we went with dates because they’re a whole, natural fruit and they offer a sweet caramel-like taste. Dates are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant and offer a nice dose of fiber.


Salted Caramel Nut Clusters


When it comes to the chocolate in this recipe, we recommend a combination of dairy-free and dark (85%+). Visit this post for help choosing the right chocolate.

Equipment wise, I used this food processor for pureeing the dates and this parchment paper*Note these are affiliate links

Salted Caramel Nut Clusters

Salted Caramel Nut Clusters

A whole-food, plant-based twist on chocolate turtles. Perfect for you holiday sweets spread! Sweetened with dates and made with just 5 ingredients.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate nut clusters, salted caramel, Turtles
Servings: 15


  • 10 pitted Deglet dates
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt, plus additional salt for topping optional
  • melted dark chocolate (dairy free)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Combine dates, vanilla extract and water in food processor until smooth. 
  • Add date mixture, nuts, chili powder and salt to mixing bowl and stir until evenly combined. 
  • Place spoonfuls of nuts onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave at least 1 inch between each cluster. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes, melt chocolate while baking, per package instructions. 
  • Drizzle melted chocolate over each cluster. Add enough chocolate to hold cluster together but nuts do not need to be fully covered. Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Transfer to freezer for 30-60 minutes to allow to set up.


These also work with maple syrup and agave, simply sub in 1/2 cup for the Deglet dates and water. 
We recommend storing these treats in the freezer until ready to serve.
When melting chocolate for your Christmas treats we recommend 100% Cacao Baker’s baking chocolate.
If you are looking for something sweeter then its best to find a dairy-free brand and the higher percent of cocoa the better. Here are some dairy-free brands, although, depending on the percentage, many will still have sugar.
  • Green & Black’s
  • Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate
  • 70% and up of Lindt products (70%, 85%, 90% and 99% bars)
Did you make this recipe?Tag @whollyplantsblog on Instagram and hashtag it #whollyplants


*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We use the products and ingredients that we link to and recommend them because we believe they are the best choice for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating