This buckeye balls recipe is a Midwest holiday tradition! Easy, no-bake creamy peanut butter filling covered in rich chocolate that resembles the nut from the buckeye tree. For more peanut butter fun, try my peanut butter eggs or Reese's peanut butter hearts.
I once flew home and spent the week in Chicago as a surprise to my father – he thought he was getting a package, but instead he got me. Thankfully, he was okay with the trade off.
And I brought treats with me, like some sort of sugar-delivery Santa. One container of Cranberry Bliss Fudge and a container of this Midwest tradition: Buckeye Balls.
What are buckeye balls?
Have you heard of Buckeye Balls? When I moved to New England, I discovered that people had NO IDEA what I was talking about.
Eventually it came to light that most people knew what they were, just by a more literal name of “Peanut Butter Balls”. It made me feel better to know that other people appreciate these easy, no-bake treats.
Okay, there's another key to these – the design of the chocolate coating. If you want them to be truly traditional buckeye balls, you have to leave a small circle of peanut butter exposed on the top so that they look like that poisonous nut.
I'm not gonna lie – I'm not sure WHY we always wanted to make a food that looks like a nut that could kill you, but I'm still on board with it. They're just so freaking good.
Ingredients for traditional buckeye balls
For the classic buckeye ball recipe, you'll need:
- Creamy peanut butter
- Unsalted butter, room temperature
- Powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Semisweet or dark chocolate
- Coconut oil or vegetable shortening, if needed to thin chocolate out more
Buckeye balls are a holiday tradition
I used to make these with my family every single Christmas. It was the one recipe us kids were allowed to do ourselves, and it always turned the kitchen into a big, peanut buttery, chocolatey mess.
It was amazing.
What kind of chocolate should I use?
As for the chocolate, I could definitely have gone the route of trying to use raw cacao powder and coconut oil, but it all came back to the texture – it just wasn't smooth enough.
So, I kept the chocolate coating simple – just use good chocolate. This is key, and I'm not just trying to sell you on spending more money (trust me, that's not my goal in life).
You have to use a good chocolate in order for these to be a success. Sub par chocolate will just make them… sad. And you don't want sad dessert, now do you? Of course not.
Making a healthier peanut butter filling
If the quantities of butter and powdered sugar in the peanut butter filling makes your stomach churn a little, I have some good news: I went on a mission to make them as healthy as I could and still retain its creamy, decadent texture.
- Over time, I've put more effort into utilizing the bag of coconut flour and coconut sugar that I have in my pantry. They're both so useful in so many things, but they're not a 1:1 substitution for most things, which means I just have to do quite a bit of trial and error.
- I tried using both the coconut flour and sugar and discovered that the sugar just made things grainy, which is the exact opposite of what I'm going for.
- Eventually I realized that just using a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup maintains the creamy texture, and you can use a lot less than you would with solid sweeteners.
Thankfully, I finally got the quantities right for this recipe:
- 1 ½ cups peanut butter, organic or otherwise
- ¼ cup honey, maple or agave syrup
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
How to store buckeye balls
Place your set buckeye balls in airtight containers (with parchment paper between layers) in the fridge or freezer.
If you're like me, you're going to pop one of these in your mouth every time you walk past your fridge, and then suddenly the container is empty.
Pro tip: Use clear containers where you can see the how many are left – they're essential to help you with your self control – don't say I didn't warn you! ;)
Classic Peanut Butter Filling
Healthier Peanut Butter Filling
- 12 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon Coconut oil or vegetable shortening, if needed to thin chocolate out more, a little at a time
Peanut Butter Filling
- Cover two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together – you can use a spoon or spatula to start, but you'll need to use your hands to really combine it eventually.1 1/2 cups peanut butter1/2 cup unsalted butter3 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)pinch salt
- Use a small cookie scoop (or just measure out 2 teaspoons for each) to scoop out an even amount of dough and roll them in the palms of your hands to form a ball. Place balls an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Place baking sheets in fridge.
- In a double broiler (with a small amount of water in the saucepan that doesn't touch the bottom of the top pan), bring water to a simmer.12 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate1 tablespoon Coconut oil or vegetable shortening
- Add chocolate and stir constantly until chocolate has melted.
- Turn heat down to the lowest setting and remove your peanut butter balls from the fridge.
- Using a candy dipper or a spoon, dip each ball into the chocolate until either completely covered or where only a small circle of peanut butter is exposed on top (this is the traditional process). Transfer to prepared baking sheet to cool.
- Leaving the completed buckeye balls on the baking sheets, place back in fridge for at least 30 minutes to set completely.
- Place in airtight containers (with parchment paper between layers) until ready to serve. Enjoy!
The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.