These healthy “Butterfingers” have the same crispy, crunchy texture of the popular name-brand candy bars, without any of the high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives. They’re not even that difficult to make, once you know what you’re doing!
It took me seven attempts to figure out what I was doing, so I’m hoping to save you some time by sharing what I’ve learned in the process.
The concept of making Butterfingers is surprisingly easy. The filling is essentially a hard candy mixed with peanut butter, to create a crispy, crunchy, and buttery texture. To make the hard candy base, you simply need to boil pure maple syrup or honey until it reaches the “hard crack” stage, at 300-degrees Fahrenheit. For this purpose, you’ll need a candy thermometer on hand. I tried making this a few times without the candy thermometer, and it simply won’t work without it. Trust me on this, and save yourself some precious maple syrup!
This recipe can be made with honey or maple syrup, depending on your preference and dietary needs. I prefer the rich, complex flavor of the maple syrup, but either way, you’ll be left with a delicious, crunchy candy bar that’s sure to impress!
Healthier Homemade Butterfingers
makes about 20 bars, depending on size
Adapted from this recipe
1 cup pure maple syrup, or honey
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (to prevent crystallization)
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 cups dark chocolate chips, as desired for coating
butter or coconut oil, for greasing the saucepan
Pour the maple syrup or honey into a small saucepan, and stir in the cream of tartar until dissolved. This is the ONLY time you will stir this mixture!
Attach the candy thermometer to the saucepan, making sure that the stem of the thermometer is not touching the metal sides, or bottom, of the pot. Ideally, the tip should be submerged in 2-inches of syrup, for the most accurate results. (See notes below) To prevent the maple syrup from boiling over, use your finger to spread of bit of butter or coconut oil around the inner rim of the saucepan.
Bring the maple syrup or honey to a boil, over low-medium heat, and allow to heat up to 300F. This may take longer than you expect– close to 10 minutes of boiling! Do not stir the mixture.
While the sweetener is boiling, measure out the cup of natural peanut butter and salt. You’ll want these two ingredients ready to go when the maple syrup or honey is ready, because things will move quickly once the boiling is done! You’ll also want to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, so it’s ready when the time comes.
When the maple syrup has reached 300F, remove the pan from the heat immediately! It will burn quickly after that, so be sure to watch closely!
Quickly mix in the peanut butter and salt, stirring as fast as possible. The mixture will become difficult to stir as it cools. (I mixed mine in a separate mixing bowl, but I think mixing it directly in the saucepan would be a better idea– it would keep the mixture warmer and more malleable.)
Transfer the peanut butter mixture to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and press it into a relatively flat sheet, according to desired thickness. Use an oiled-knife to score the bars, as it’s easier to cut into them while the mixture is still a bit warm. Place the pan in the fridge or freezer to cool completely.
You could actually stop right here, with some perfectly delicious peanut butter candy, but for an authentic “Butterfinger” you’ll want to coat each bar in a layer of melted dark chocolate.
I use my oven to melt my 70% dark chocolate chunks, by placing them in an oven-safe bowl at 350F for about 5 minutes. (A microwave works, too!)
Coat both sides and edges of each bar, and place them on parchment paper to set. For best texture, place the coated bars in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.
These bars are most crunchy when served directly from the freezer, but they are delicious at room temperature, too– just a little softer.
Healthier Homemade Butterfingers
- 1 cup pure maple syrup , or honey
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-2 cups dark chocolate chips , as desired for coating
- butter or coconut oil , for greasing the saucepan
- Pour the maple syrup or honey into a small saucepan, and stir in the cream of tartar until dissolved. This is the ONLY time you will stir this mixture!
- Attach the candy thermometer to the saucepan, making sure that the stem of the thermometer is not touching the metal sides, or bottom, of the pot. Ideally, the tip should be submerged in 2-inches of syrup, for the most accurate results. (See notes below)
- To prevent the maple syrup from boiling over, use your finger to spread of bit of butter or coconut oil around the inner rim of the saucepan.
- Bring the maple syrup or honey to a boil, over low-medium heat, and allow to heat up to 300F. This may take longer than you expect-- close to 10 minutes of boiling!
- While the mixture is boiling, measure out the cup of natural peanut butter and salt. You'll want these two ingredients ready to go when the maple syrup is ready, because things will move quickly once the boiling is done! You'll also want to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, so it's ready when the time comes.
- When the maple syrup has reached 300F, remove the pan from the heat immediately! It will burn quickly after that, so be sure to watch closely!
- Quickly mix in the peanut butter and salt, stirring as fast as possible. The mixture will become difficult to stir as it cools. (I mixed mine in a separate mixing bowl, but I think mixing it directly in the saucepan would be a better idea-- it would keep the mixture warmer and more malleable.)
- Transfer the peanut butter mixture to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and press it into a relatively flat sheet, according to desired thickness.
- Use an oiled-knife to score the bars, as it's easier to cut into them while the mixture is still a bit warm. Place the pan in the fridge or freezer to cool completely.
- For the chocolate coating, melt 1-2 cups of dark chocolate chunks, by placing them in an oven-safe bowl at 350F, stirring after 5 minutes until melted completely. (A microwave works, too!)
- Coat both sides and edges of each bar with melted chocolate, and place them on parchment paper to set. For best texture, place the coated bars in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.
- These bars are most crunchy when served directly from the freezer, but they are delicious at room temperature, too-- just a little softer.
Per Serving: Calories: 292, Fat: 21g, Carbohydrates: 24g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 3g
Because candy-making has a bit of a learning-curve, here are some helpful notes that may prevent any disasters during the process.
- Once you have a candy thermometer, be sure to test it! (This would have also prevented a couple batches of scorched maple syrup on my end.)
You can test your thermometer by placing it in a pot filled with at least 2 inches of water, and bringing it to a boil. Boiling water should read about 212-degrees Farenheit. If your thermometer is off, adjust accordingly!
- To prevent the maple syrup or honey from boiling-over, swipe a small amount of butter or coconut oil along in the inner rim of the saucepan. (I don’t know why this works, but it does! Otherwise, there’s a good chance it will boil over…)
- The thermometer’s temperature-reading will vary, based on the level of liquid in the saucepan. My smallest 1 1/2 quart sauce pan is too wide to have the liquid level cover enough of the thermometer’s tip, and as a result, I didn’t get an accurate reading. I ended up compensating for this measurement by figuring out how many degrees “off” my thermometer was with such a low level of liquid. (To do this: Boil exactly 1 cup of water, and see what the thermometer reading is. For mine, it only reached 180F, but I know the boiling point for water is actually 212F. So, there was a 32-degree difference, which I accounted for by only boiling my maple syrup to 268F, which would be the equivalent of 300F. Math is fun, huh?) You could also make life easier by simply doubling the recipe–> 2 cups of maple syrup will more than cover the thermometer, and will result in a more accurate reading. You’ll also have LOTS of leftovers!
While this is probably one of my more challenging kitchen endeavors, the result is more than worth it. I’m pretty proud of this authentic crunch!
I hope I’ve taken out some of the guess-work for you, so you can enjoy these healthier Butterfingers in the near future. I’m pretty sure you’ll impress-the-pants-off your friends and family with these homemade candy bars!
Reader Feedback: Have you ever tried making candy before? If not, would you be willing to try it now?
Questions and Reviews
You are a genius! These look so amazing!
This is brilliant. Cant wait to try it.
Wow, these look totally yummy. I just had someone ask me to makeover their favorite childhood candy bar, The Butterfinger. I’ll send them to your site to check out your recipe. Ahh, the synchronicity, eh? The candy thermometer has always daunted me but I don’t know why. Maybe if Santa brings me one I’ll give it a try:-)
Wow! Thanks for all your hard work in developing this recipe. I don’t know why I’m so afraid of candy thermometers (well, not of the thermometers themselves, but of using them!)…I need to get over that. 🙂
I was completely afraid of candy thermometers, too. However, after burning and/or under-cooking batches of maple syrup and honey, I decided to get over it! 😉
Another great idea! Can’t wait to try.
These look amazing!! I don’t have accesss to cream of tartar. Could I sub something? Thanks:) Love your recipes!!
I’ve read lemon juice will work as an acidic component to stop crystallization. I’m gonna try it!
look yummy! I wonder if almond butter could be used for those who don’t do peanuts.
Almond butter will definitely work! I’d probably add a bit more salt to the recipe, to compensate for the natural sweetness of the almonds.
Wow, made my day!
Wow girl, I am very impressed!! It’s a bit too complicated and messy for me to ever make, but great job, they look delicious! If you sold them, I’d buy one 🙂
I have a nut-free child due to allergies. Any idea if Sunbutter would work like peanut-butter? The one I try to purchase is pretty close to natural (when I grab the right one) and we do tons of substitutions with it. Thanks in advance!
Yes, sunflower butter should work just fine!
I tried this and have ended up with a delicious pile of crumbly peanut butter fudge tasting candy. I am not sure if I took it too far or not far enough, or if it is because I added a splash of vanilla, anyhow it seized up in the pan and did not pour or spread. Now I am going to figure out how to use this delicious concoction to make a bon bon!! Will definately try again, even the failure is delish!!
I’m impressed that you’ve already tried it! It seems that candy-making involves a few trials to get it “just right” but I’m glad it tasted good, regardless! 🙂
In some troubleshooting tips that I read online, they mentioned that you could add water to the boiled sugar if it gets too hard to pour, which will eventually soften the mixture, then you simply boil it again until the water dissolves and pour it quickly out of the pan. However, I don’t think this will work once you’ve added the peanut butter! So, perhaps it’s better to pour the melted syrup over the peanut butter in a separate bowl, so that the peanut butter mixture doesn’t wind up stuck in the pan…
Really enjoy your recipes and ideas. Now that it is cooled it it crumbles into a fine powder with nuts from the peanut butter in it. Should be awesome on oatmeal. I gave up refined sugar last June and am starting to think about avoiding the holiday backslide by nailing down some good recipes. I usually bake cookies and make candy all through the holidays. 🙂
Oh you are my hero. This is my ultimate favorite, and I cannot wait to try it out! I love the simple recipe too! 🙂
Oh, my gosh, this is amazing! No, I’ve never made candy before, but this would make me try it. I love butterfingers; it’s one of those processed junk foods that are hard to forget!
Wow, wow, and more wow! Those look SOOOO good!
I made a mistake with the thermometer (you tried to help!!!) and the maple syrup didn’t harden. I mixed in the PB and put it in the freezer to cool, but now its the consistency of a very soft caramel. Any hope in fixing this?
Once the peanut butter has mixed in, I don’t think you can boil it again to make it any crispier. However, you could always add in some crunch with some crispy cereal, nuts or coconut! Personally, I’d roll that soft caramel into balls, and dip them in melted chocolate– you’d have gooey peanut butter caramel truffles! Yum. 🙂
That’s a GREAT idea, thanks!
You are a genius! You will be my son’s hero once I make this recipe! I’ve never made candy before, but this will be my first attempt because it’s my son’s favorite candy bar that he gets once a year. 🙂
How do you keep these fresh? If you wanted to give these as gifts, what would you wrap them in?
I would probably wrap them individually in parchment or plastic wrap, then store them in the freezer as long as possible before gifting them. I haven’t left mine out overnight, so I’m not sure what their texture will be like– I assume they’ll be a little softer? You might add a little note on the package to “freeze for best texture” or something like that. Hope they enjoy their gifts! 🙂
Just wanted to chime in here and say I made them! And I wanted to thank you so much for all the tips – I have a candy thermometer that I long suspected did not measure accurately but it never occurred to me to work around it like that…
As for the butterfingers – well, I never bothered with the chocolate! The peanut butter/honey mixture was dead on flavor-wise and once frozen, the crunch was perfect too! I never even had to bother with Halloween candy this year because I had this in my freezer, so thank you thank you THANK YOU for that!!!
o m g! these look amazing i cant wait to get my electric back just to make these !!! and i have all the ingredients already so there really at top of my list (priorities ;-)!)
Just made these for the 2nd time! They are SO good! I have made the “unhealthy” version before and the 2nd time making these I used the technique I used when I made the unhealthy recipe. I poured your fully cooked mixture onto a silpat mat and spread it out with a spatula, waited about 30 seconds and then folded half of it on top of the other half and repeated the whole process until it felt too firm to be able to do it again. They came out more layered and crunchier when they cooled and I didn’t have to freeze them 🙂
Holy crud, that’s very clever. I can’t stand cold/frozen goods (waaay too sensitive teeth, let’s face it) so this is a wonderful solution. Thank you!!
I LOVE YOU! thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! been dying for a butterfinger but refuse to eat the darn things because of all the crap in them!
Thank you!! I made these with homemade sunflower seed butter. Amazing! Haven’t even coated them with chocolate yet and they are awesome!
I will have to try this recipe sometime. It looks delicious! My mom and I love your website. Every recipe that we try turns out!
These look so good! I don’t, well, very rarely eat things that I don’t make. All the chemicals in food just make me feel off. I don’t like it, so I’m always looking for things to make that are made with natural healthy ingredients. I can’t wait to try these.
Do u think agave syrup would work instead of maple syrup?
The flavor would definitely be different, and probably sweeter, but it might work. Since I’ve never tried it, I couldn’t tell you for sure. Please come back and let us know if it works for you!
I just tried this recipe. It turned out like toffee with an of taste. Would that be because it got too hot? I used much more honey with a little bit of maple syrup. It did have an off smell right near the 300 mark. Next time I’ll just use all maple syrup I just didn’t have it on hand today.
They turned out great, and so easy! I didn’t coat all sides withe the chocolate but just put a layer on top of the bars. Also I stirred a bit if water and shredded coconut into the melted chocolate. Worked great. Thanks for the recipe.
Thank you for your recipe and DETAILED tips and instructions! These were wonderful…but, I’m sure I would have wrecked a batch or two of Maple Syrup if you hadn’t suggested boiling water first and “adjusting” the hard crack temperature based on the results! I LOVE this candy!!!
Wonderful! I used maple syrup with tahini and got halva. Really good.
Thank you! I cannot — MUST NOT — eat artificial vanilla or hfcs but Butterfingers used to be my favorite candy bar. My husband (whose culinary skills stop at boiling water and making a sandwich) and my girls made these for me for Mother’s Day. They weren’t crispy (can’t say where they went wrong??) but they were delicious.
Just finished making the candy. Before we even put it in the fridge, we tried it and it is AMAZING!! We are super excited to try it once it’s covered in chocolate. Holy smokes! Thank you so much. 🙂
Look forward to trying these. The oil on the sides of the sauce pan is used to keep the sugar crystals from climbing up the sides, and potentially falling back in the mixture. This would make the mixture very grainy by forming larger crystals. This is also why you don’t want to stir the mixture while it is boiling.
Several batches later – must give up. A failure. It would have been easier to but the company,
Thank the stars above…. I have been looking for a recipe like this and cringed at all of the recipes containing candy corn. Yuck! Pure maple syrup is my fave sweetener and I can’t wait to try this now. Thank you!
I am featuring my favorite healthy candy bar recipes and I must use this, Check out the other top icks and see your recipe featured. http://wp.me/p3DSWe-vE
I am so excited to make thee as a Valentine’s Day present. What grade of maple syrup would you recommend? I have both.
I usually use Grade B for everything, but Grade A might provide a more authentic “candy” flavor.
What size pot is everyone using? I have a 1 qt copper bottom pot that will not have 2 inches (or even one) of maple syrup covering it. 🙁 I guess I can double it but I am not sure how much of this I will want lying around! 😉
I’ve attempted this twice. The first batch came out ok, but weren’t as crunchy as the real thing, the second batch I messed up by trying to be clever and substitute sugar for some of the maple syrup. This does not work, at all. I panicked when my sugar/syrup mixture was still grainy as it was getting up to temperature and stupidly stirred it. What I ended up with as a result was a sort of hard, crumbly fudge (like Scottish tablet, if you’ve ever had that), but peanutty. It was lovely, and we’ve been crumbling it over ice cream as a treat, but it definitely wasn’t butterfingery.
I’m going back to basics and trying again with your exact recipe later. My first attempt may have failed because I tried to convert your cup measurements to weight measurements. This time I’m going to bite the bullet and measure using a measuring cup. I would like to know how you know you’ve filled a cup with something as solid as peanut butter though. Do you just squish it down until it won’t squish any more? If so, how do you get it out of the cup again without leaving half of it stuck to the sides? These are the questions that made me go in search of conversions to grams 🙂
Oh, one more thing, my mixing bowl and the peanut butter were both cold when I poured the maple syrup in, and I think it might have cooled too quickly (the second time it never even made a spreadable goo, it just turned instantly into dry, crumbly fudge), is it a good idea to try warming the bowl and the peanut butter?
I think you can use a small silicone spatula to scrape off the peanut butter and it will all come off clean from the measuring cup 🙂
I know I’m late to the game, but for what it’s worth, a better way to “calibrate” your thermometer is to put several ice cubes in a glass and add just enough water to fill any “air gaps”. Then put your thermometer in. It should read 32 degree F. The boiling water technique is good, but varies depending on the atmosphere/pressure/elevation, and some may take a rigorous simmer to be a boil, misguiding their “final” temperature. 🙂
I cannot believe I have not reported back! My family LOVED THESE! A true keeper. I made them as written and everything was fine in my 1 qt. pot.
I made these today, and my while family loved them! Thank you!!
These are delicious! I used honey and substituted almond butter. Just the honey and nut mixture at room temperature reminds me of Mary Janes. And frozen with chocolate they remind me of Heath bars. While they didn’t turn out like Butterfingers, this is still my new favorite recipe. I am going to have to keep these in the freezer at all times!
I am on the gaps diet and cannot do cream of tartar. Any substitutes?
So I just attempted these and burned the honey and my fingers. Boo 🙁 Oh well, time to clean out the pan and try again…next time I will go low(er) and slow. Your recipes never fail me, so I will push through the pain and try again 😉
These were fantastic. This was my first time making candy so I followed her tip about boiling water first to adjust the thermometer. I followed the recipe to the tee and used maple syrup. These came out tasting better and with the same texture as a real butterfinger.
I made them as directed, poured onto the parchment and cut them, within a minute it was hard as rocks. It’s in the fridge now. What did I do wrong?
Hi. I was wondering if there was a stove top way to melt the dark chocolate? I don’t have a mircrowave and an oven safe bowl. Thanks for this recipe, sooo different.
If you have a bowl that will fit on top of a small saucepot, you can create a “double boiler” over your stove top. Just boil some water in the saucepan, and the bowl on top will gently heat up from the steam– so you can put the chocolate in that bowl to melt.
Got it! Thanks.
I tried making these with sunflower butter instead of peanut butter (kids can’t eat peanuts) and I have a crumbly, powdery mess… any idea what happened?
My guess is we boiled it too long… I think it doesn’t need to go to 300 degrees…
Oh lord help us! This recipe is amazing. My daughter has been craving Butterfingers, and I just cannot bring myself to buy that stuff and put it in her body. I am entirely sympathetic, though, and I finally decided to look for a recipe. I am utterly shocked at the texture and flavor of the peanut butter filling (I’m melting the chocolate as I type). Mineral rich maple syrup, and peanut butter…. Awesome! Thank you for posting this recipe! It is going in the family cookbook!