How to make dreamy buckeye balls with just 4 simple ingredients. This easy small batch buckeye recipe is the #1 must have chocolate peanut butter holiday candy! It's a family favorite dessert.
Every Christmas since I was a little girl, I've made this buckeye candy recipe, or chocolate peanut butter balls. If you've never had buckeyes, they are my family's #1 must have Christmas candy. Believe it or not, they're even better than my no bake chocolate peanut butter Rice Krispie treats!
When I was a kid, we'd store all the Christmas candy in the stairs that led up to my room because there was no heat or insulation. So they'd stay nice and chilled the entire holiday season, and they were pretty easy to access on the way to my room.
What Are Buckeye Balls?
Buckeye balls consist of a creamy peanut butter center inside a chocolate coating. It just wouldn't be the holidays without a small batch of buckeye balls and Ritz cracker cookies to go with hot chocolate.
In fact, small batch buckeyes are one of our family's favorite Christmas recipes. They're perfect for Valentine's Day too, especially if your significant other loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
This buckeye balls recipe is super easy to make and only requires 4 ingredients. Kids can get in on the fun of making them too, as it's a very kid-friendly recipe.
Why Are They Called Buckeyes?
They're so named after buckeye nuts from the state tree of Ohio, the Ohio Buckeye tree.
Buckeye candy is mostly covered in chocolate but with a bit of the peanut butter uncovered on top. This way, they look like actual buckeyes, just like real buckeyes from the Ohio state tree.
Chocolate covered peanut butter balls are just that… They're completely covered in chocolate.
Ingredients and Substitutions Notes:
You'll need just a handful of ingredients to make this easy buckeye recipe…
- Salted Butter – While you can use margarine or plant-based butter, actual real butter makes the best candy. Just be sure to soften it at room temperature before attempting to mix.
- Creamy Peanut Butter – You can also sub crunchy peanut butter if you prefer the crunchiness. It's important to make sure the peanut butter you’re using isn’t a super greasy peanut butter; in other words, don't use a natural peanut butter. If it’s too oily, the chocolate may not want to coat the peanut butter mixture. I do use Skippy Natural, but it's not quite like the more natural peanut butters that have a lot of oil to mix in with the peanut butter.
- Powdered Sugar – or confectioners' sugar.
- Chocolate Melting Wafers – I usually prefer to use Ghirardelli melting wafers. You can also use chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate bars, almond bark, or Wilton candy melts.
How to Make Buckeye Balls
- Your first step will be to soften the butter and add it to a large bowl. You can soften it by either getting it out of the fridge and letting it sit beforehand, or put it in the microwave for a few seconds.
- Add in the peanut butter with the butter.
- Finally, add in the powdered sugar to the large mixing bowl.
- Mix everything together by hand or with an electric mixer until it’s blended well.
How to Shape the Peanut Butter Balls
- At this point, you’ll need to shape all of the dough into 1-inch peanut butter balls. You’ll take about a tablespoonful or small cookie scoop full of the peanut butter mixture and begin to roll it between your hands. Shape it into as round of a ball as you can and place it in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
- Add toothpicks (for dipping) to each ball. Or if you don't want to use toothpicks, you can avoid this step and use candy dipping tools.
- Once all of the dough is rolled into balls, chill the whole sheet in the fridge or freezer for about half an hour.
How to Melt Chocolate for Dipping
While your peanut butter balls are chilling, it’s a good time to melt the chocolate and get it ready to go.
Depending on the type of chocolate used, some people like to add shortening or paraffin wax to their chocolate as it melts. This allows for a thinner, more shiny, glossy coat and stretches the chocolate a little further too. If you use a good quality chocolate, you likely won’t need this step.
I started using Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers a few years ago, and I love them so much better than almond bark. They’re so much easier to work with, and they have fantastic flavor.
Depending on the chocolate you decide to use, you can melt it a few different ways:
- Melt it using a double boiler on the stove – This is basically a pan inside of another pan with boiling water in the bottom pan. It allows for more even melting without burning, and it also keeps the chocolate warm for dipping.
- Melt it in the microwave – This is usually the route I go. Just be sure to use a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate at 15 to 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, 'til the chocolate is melted.
- Melt in a fondue pot and make dipping a family affair.
How to Dip Peanut Butter Buckeyes
- Dip every single peanut butter ball, leaving the very top part undipped, so to resemble an actual buckeye. We’ve used a regular table fork in the past, as well as tongs or toothpicks. You can also use a dipping fork or tool to dip your peanut butter balls into the chocolate.
- At this point, you’ll need to chill the buckeye peanut butter balls for about 15-20 minutes in the freezer; then remove all the toothpicks and cover up the holes in the top of the ball with your finger (totally optional).
As you can see in most of my pictures, I didn’t really care about the holes being there… But if you do, just smooth it over. Then enjoy every bite-sized treat with a warm mug of hot cocoa made from homemade hot chocolate mix!
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's
Make sure the peanut butter you’re using isn’t a super greasy, natural peanut butter. If it’s too oily, the chocolate may not want to coat the peanut butter mixture. I do use Skippy Natural most of the time, but it's not like the more natural nut butters.
Put the melted chocolate in a deeper dish for dipping; I prefer my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup because I can use it in the microwave, and it’s the perfect depth and breadth for dipping.
My buckeyes usually have kind of a chocolate ring around the bottom. You can avoid this by letting excess chocolate drip off the buckeye after dipping; and just lightly press the bottom of the buckeye on a separate sheet of wax paper before putting it back on your cookie sheet.
Yes, you can. If you like to have a little crunch to your peanut butter balls, you most certainly can use crunchy peanut butter. I’ve also used honey peanut butter, which really does make delicious peanut butter balls.
Definitely store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. While they can sit out for a couple days, they'll last much longer, up to a week and a half to 2 weeks, in the fridge.
Depending on the type of chocolate you use, some people like to add shortening or paraffin wax to their chocolate as it melts. This gives the chocolate a more shiny, glossy coat; and it stretches the chocolate a little further too. If you use a good quality chocolate, though, you likely won’t need to add paraffin wax.
Let's Talk about Recipe and Flavor Variations
There are more than a few ways you can change up this recipe, swap out ingredients, or add more texture and flavor to these 4 ingredient buckeyes.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to the peanut butter mixture for even more delicious flavor in your peanut butter buckeye balls.
- Instead of dipping in milk chocolate or dark chocolate, dip the chilled peanut butter balls in white chocolate.
- Add Rice Krispies to the peanut butter mixture to make wonderfully crispy and crunchy Rice Krispie buckeyes.
- If you don't have crunchy peanut butter but still want a little crunch, add chopped peanuts or other nuts to the peanut butter mixture before shaping into balls.
- Add Mini M&M's or mini chocolate chips to the peanut butter mixture before shaping into balls.
- Once you've dipped the balls in chocolate, sprinkle sea salt, chopped nuts, festive sprinkles, or Christmas colored sugar on top.
- Drizzle melted chocolate or white chocolate over the top of dipped buckeyes.
More Candy Recipes to Make:
If you love this buckeye ball recipe, you'll love these candy recipes too…
Buckeye Balls Recipe
- Wax Paper or parchment paper
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together the softened butter, creamy peanut butter, and powdered sugar.
- Take about a tablespoonful or small cookie scoop full of the peanut butter mixture and begin to roll it between your hands. Shape it into as round of a ball as you can, and place it in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet lined with wax paper. Continue rolling the rest of the dough into balls.
- Add toothpicks, for dipping, to each ball.
- Chill the peanut butter balls in the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Add the chocolate to a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl; and melt, starting at 30 seconds, then stirring every 15-20 seconds, 'til melted and smooth.
- Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer, and using the inserted toothpicks, dip every single peanut butter ball, partially immersing each one into the melted chocolate.
- Chill the chocolate covered peanut butter balls in the fridge or freezer ’til set, probably about 15-20 minutes.
- Then remove all the toothpicks and cover up the holes with your finger (optional step).
- Store the buckeyes in a wax paper lined airtight container or festive Christmas tin in the fridge.
You can find my original recipe for buckeyes over at Adventures of Mel!