These Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls remind me of the “buckeyes” my mother-in-law used to make for us each Christmas, but these healthy peanut butter balls are naturally sweetened with dates!
I’m actually SHOCKED at how authentic they taste.
My mother-in-law’s recipe calls for powdered sugar to create a thick peanut butter truffle, with crisp rice cereal mixed in for texture. I tried recreating a healthy grain-free version years ago, but the “crunch” was never quite the same as the original, so this year I decided to try adding in some crisp rice cereal to my date-sweetened batch.
The result is amazing.
These peanut butter balls are slightly salty and sweet, with a satisfying crunch that isn’t too overpowering. When you coat them in a layer of melted dark chocolate, they’re downright irresistible!
They’re naturally gluten-free, dairy-free (as long as you use vegan chocolate chips), and are also loaded with fiber and protein to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. I think they’d be fun to bring to a holiday cookie exchange, and we gave them as teacher gifts for my son’s school this year.
I hope they’ll help make your next special event a little sweeter, too.
SPECIAL TREAT | Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Soy-free, Egg-free, Vegan
These peanut butter balls have a crisp center and are coated in dark chocolate, for a healthy buckeye copycat. Sweetened with dates, they're loaded with fiber to help balance your blood sugar!
- 1 cup Medjool dates , pitted (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup peanut butter , all-natural and drippy in texture
- 2 tablespoons flax or chia seeds , ground
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup crisp rice cereal*
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (about 6 ounces)
Place the pitted dates in the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, and process until broken down. (Mine usually forms a big, sticky ball.)
Add in the peanut butter (you want it drippy in consistency, so I like to use it at room temperature, rather than from the fridge), the ground seeds, and salt, and process again until a crumbly, uniform dough is created. I usually watch the mixture turn into a big ball first, and then it breaks down into crumbles if you continue processing for a minute or so. Scrape down the sides if necessary.
To the crumbled mixture, add in the crisp rice cereal and process briefly again, just until the cereal is broken down slightly. You still want some texture from the cereal, so don't turn it to dust. You should be able to pinch the dough with your fingers and roll it into a ball easily with the cereal inside.
Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough and roll it between your hands to create 20 balls. Arrange them in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet and place them in the freezer to firm up.
Arrange a heat-safe bowl over a small saucepan filled with an inch of water to create a double-boiler. Bring the water to a boil and place the dark chocolate in the bowl to melt. Stir well, and remove the pan from the heat once melted.
Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer and coat each one with melted chocolate. You can coat just the tops of each ball, or you can use the spoon to coat the bottoms, too. Place them on parchment paper to ensure that they will be easy to remove and serve later.
Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of each chocolate-coated ball, if desired, while the chocolate is still warm. It should firm up quickly.
Serve chilled from the fridge or at room temperature. For best texture, I recommend storing these in the fridge until 30 minutes before you plan on serving them. They should keep well for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, if you don't eat them all before then.
- *Kellog’s Rice Krispies are NOT gluten-free, but Erewhon, Nature’s Path, and Enjoy Life brands all offer certified gluten-free options.
- Feel free to swap out the nut butter in this recipe, if you don’t care for peanut butter. I have a feeling almond butter or sunflower seed butter would work well.
- If you don’t want to use dates, try using this recipe instead.
- If you’d prefer to make your own naturally sweetened chocolate coating, use this recipe.
As always, if you make any modifications to this recipe, please leave a comment below so we can all benefit from your experience.
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