The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is an obvious winner for anyone who has ever tasted a peanut butter cup, and peanut butter balls, or buckeye balls, are no exception.
Named for their resemblance to the nut of the buckeye tree, these chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls are easy to make at home with very little work using the buckeye recipe that follows.
Video: How to Make Peanut Butter Buckeyes
Peanut Butter Balls
Discovering Buckeye Balls
Even though I grew up in the Midwest, where Peanut Butter Buckeye balls are popular, I was strangely oblivious to them until I moved to California. One day, a co-worker at my day job brought a tray of Buckeyes into the office, and I quickly devoured a few too many, rendering myself relatively useless from the sugar aftershock for the rest of the afternoon.
I remember going home and proclaiming my love for this new confection to my partner. He gave me the side eye. “How have you never heard of Buckeyes before?” was his response. Apparently, I have been missing out all my life.
Why Are They Called Buckeye Balls?
These chocolate-coated rounds of sweetened peanut butter look nearly identical to the nut from a buckeye tree, a tree native to the midwestern United States and the state tree of Ohio. This explains why the peanut butter balls are so popular in Ohio and the surrounding states like Indiana, where my partner is from.
The candy looks so much like the nut that, when he was a kid, my partner's parents would always instruct him, “Now, remember, you can eat these peanut butter ball candies, but don’t eat the actual buckeye nuts on the ground!” To this day, he still remembers that warning and repeats it every time he eats one.
Thie Buckeye recipe makes quite a few balls, so my own warning is to limit yourself to eating just a few of these Buckeye balls at a time. Otherwise, you may find yourself falling into the same sugar aftershock that I did when I initially discovered my love for these delicious little peanut butter balls!
Tips for Making Peanut Butter Balls
- It may sound fussy, but make sure to sift the powdered sugar into the peanut butter using a strainer or you'll wind up with clumps in your buckeyes balls.
- Also, keep in mind that you need to chill the peanut butter balls after forming them, and again after you dip them in the chocolate, so plan accordingly.
The Best Peanut Butter for Buckeyes
The best peanut butter to use here is one of the standard, mainstream brands like Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan. These brands have the added oils you need to keep the peanut butter from separating. Go for smooth and creamy over crunchy, though using crunchy peanut butter can add some interesting texture to your peanut butter balls.
Avoid natural peanut butters. Peanut butter balls made with natural peanut butter will end up drier and more crumbly.
How to Store & Freeze Peanut Butter Balls
Store buckeyes in an airtight container or ziplock back in the refrigerator. They should keep for several weeks.
They can also be frozen for up to three months.
More Peanut Butter Treats!
Peanut Butter Balls (Buckeyes)
- 1 1/2 cups (390 g) smooth peanut butter (not "natural")
- 1/2 cup (115 g / 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 1/2 cups (400 g) powdered sugar
- 3 cups (525 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Make the peanut butter filling:
Place the peanut butter, melted butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl and stir until well blended. Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into the bowl using a fine-mesh strainer and stir until the sugar is absorbed. Sift the remaining powdered sugar and mix in and a smooth stiff paste forms.
Shape the filling into balls:
Scoop up a small portion of dough (a small cookie scoop is great for this!). Form 1-inch balls by rolling them between your palms.
Place on a rimmed baking pan lined with a piece of parchment paper. Repeat until all the peanut butter filling is gone.
Skewer each ball with a toothpick; you'll use this to dip the balls in chocolate later. It's best to do this now because the balls might be too hard later.
Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator so the balls become firm enough to dip
Melt the chocolate for the coating:
Once the peanut butter balls have chilled, place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments on high power, stirring between each cook cycle, until the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
Dip the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate:
Holding the peanut butter balls by the toothpick, dip it in the melted chocolate until 3/4 of the ball is covered in chocolate. Leave the top of the ball uncovered so you can see a little of the peanut butter. Place back on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls.
Chill the buckeye balls:
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight for the chocolate to solidify. Once the chocolate is solid, wet your finger and smooth over the hole the toothpick has formed with your finger.
Store buckeyes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat:
Buckeyes can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks, or (wrapped tightly) in the freezer for several months.