Although you know me as “Iowa Girl Eats” — plot twist: I was actually born in Ohio! My family moved to Iowa when I was three and the rest, as they say, is history.
That said, nearly all of my extended family on both sides still lives in Ohio, aka The Buckeye State. Buckeye candies are no-bake, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls that resemble the nuts that fall from Ohio’s state tree, the buckeye tree.
Bet you didn’t see a geography lesson coming your way when you opened this recipe post!
What are Buckeyes?
The nuts from a buckeye tree are dark brown with a tan center, which serve as the visual inspiration for Buckeye candies. Creamy peanut butter fudge balls are dipped in melted chocolate leaving the tops exposed to resemble buckeye nuts. Now, buckeyes from the tree are not edible. Buckeye candies though?
Dare you to stop at just one!
The sight and scent of Buckeyes candies instantly transports me to holidays spent with my family in Ohio, where there were always Buckeyes scattered among other holiday treats on my Aunt’s cookie plates. The years when we didn’t make the trek “home” for the holidays, my Mom always whipped up a batch in our Iowa kitchen. No Christmas was complete without a tray.
I love that Buckeyes only require a handful of everyday ingredients to make. They’re not only gluten free, but easily made vegan, too! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Creamy peanut butter: you’ll want regular peanut butter vs natural-style (aka drippy/runny) peanut butter for Buckeyes. I use Jif Naturals which, despite the name, is not runny/drippy.
- Butter: softened to room temperature. Feel free to use regular or vegan butter.
- Vanilla extract: to give cozy flavor to each peanut butter ball.
- Powdered sugar: sweetens and thickens the Buckeye dough.
- Chocolate chips: melt dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips to dip the peanut butter balls in. Use an allergy-friendly baking chocolate brand like Enjoy Life if you need dairy free chips!
- Vegetable or coconut oil: just a bit helps the chocolate chips melt and coat the peanut butter balls smoothly.
What Does a Buckeye Taste Like?
Buckeyes taste like the chocolate peanut butter cups we all know and love (drool). I like to keep the powdered sugar and butter on the lowest end possible without the dough becoming sticky so the peanut butter can really shine.
I love Enjoy Life’s Dark Chocolate Morsels in contrast with the sweet peanut butter fudge ball, though you can use semi-sweet chocolate chips too. I think milk chocolate would make the Buckeyes too sweet overall.
How to Store Buckeyes
Buckeyes are fine to sit out at room temperature on holiday cookie plates for up to 24 hours, though if you’re keeping them around for longer than that, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they’ll stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.
Buckeyes also freeze super well. Simply arrange them in a gallon size Ziplock freezer bag then freeze flat.
Try These Irresistible Cookies
How to Make Buckeyes
Step 1: Make the peanut butter dough.
Start by creaming together peanut butter, softened butter, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds. You can use a stand mixer, or large glass mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer.
Next, gradually add powdered sugar until the dough is very thick. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and the paddle attachment, to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
If using a hand held mixer, beware that some peanut butter dough will go flying across your kitchen — it’s all part of the process! ;)
Step 2: Roll the peanut butter dough into balls.
Use a cookie scoop to scoop out 1 Tablespoon peanut butter dough then place onto two parchment or wax paper-covered half sheet pans and roll into balls. If the dough starts to stick to your hands, place the dough into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Once all the balls have been rolled, place the sheet pans into the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Step 3: Create a double boiler.
Since we’re dipping partially frozen peanut butter balls into warm chocolate, I like to melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler which helps keep the chocolate smooth and melted.
Fill a small saucepan with a couple inches of water then bring to a boil and place a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl on top, ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the boiling water.
Turn the heat down to low then add chocolate chips plus vegetable or coconut oil to the bowl and stir with a spatula until the chocolate is smooth and melted, 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Dip the peanut butter balls in melted chocolate.
One by one, press a toothpick into each partially-frozen peanut butter ball (not too deep or it will be hard to remove) then dip into the melted chocolate, leaving the top of the peanut butter ball exposed.
Gently spin the toothpick between your fingers to remove excess chocolate then place the Buckeye back onto the sheet pan and use your finger to gently press it off the toothpick.
Once you’re all done, use your finger tip, a spoon, or toothpick to smooth over the hole from the toothpick.
Voila, Buckeyes! I can’t accurately describe to you how nostalgic these make me — so yummy! Place the sheet pans in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set, 20-30 minutes, then dive in.
Whether this is your first or 50th time eating Buckeyes (the candy!) — enjoy, enjoy!
More Irresistible Chocolate Desserts
- Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Lava Cakes
- Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oreo Mousse
- S’Mores Icebox Cake
- Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce
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Buckeyes (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)
Buckeyes are chocolate covered peanut butter balls that resemble nuts from a Buckeye Tree. Sweet and creamy, they're an irresistible treat!
- 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural/drippy peanut butter)
- 6 Tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 16oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vegetable or coconut oil
- Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper or wax paper then set aside.
- Add the peanut butter, softened butter, and vanilla extract to the bowl of an electric mixer, or to a large mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer, then beat on medium-high speed until creamy, 30 seconds.
- Add 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until combined between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment if using then give the ingredients a good mix with a spatula to make sure there isn’t any powdered sugar stuck at the bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well combined between additions. The dough will be very thick.
- Scoop the dough out by the Tablespoon then roll into a ball and place onto the prepared sheet pans. If the dough becomes sticky, you can stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once all the dough has been rolled into balls, place the sheet pans into the freezer to harden for 30 minutes.
- Create a double boiler by adding a couple inches of water to a small saucepan then bringing it to a simmer. Place a heat-resistant bowl like a glass bowl or stainless steel mixing bowl on top, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, then add the chocolate chips and oil to the bowl. Turn the heat down to low then stir the chocolate chips with a spatula until they’re melted and smooth.
- Working with one sheet pan of peanut butter balls at a time (leave the other one in the freezer), stick a toothpick in the center of a ball then dip it into the melted chocolate, leaving the top of the peanut butter ball exposed. Don't stick the tooth pick in too far otherwise it will be hard to remove. Gently spin the toothpick between your fingers to remove any excess chocolate then place the peanut butter ball back onto the baking sheet. Use your finger to gently press it off the toothpick. Repeat with remaining peanut butter balls then use your fingertip or a toothpick to smooth out the holes on top of the Buckeyes. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes to set the chocolate.
- The Buckeyes are fine to sit out at room temperature for 24 hours on a cookie plate for example. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks when not eating.
- A drippy/runny natural peanut butter will not work for this recipe. I like Jif Naturals Creamy Peanut Butter which, despite the name, is not runny/drippy.
- Buckeyes freeze very well. Place the sheet pans with the Buckeyes into the freezer until frozen solid. Transfer to a gallon Ziplock freezer bag then freeze for up to 3 months.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin