Easy chocolate-covered peanut butter protein balls made with crunchy peanut butter for an irresistible crunch. The fudgy peanut butter interior with a hard chocolate exterior makes for the perfect combination of salty and sweet.
This plant-based version of peanut butter balls is a slightly lighter variation than the classic but you'd never guess so with how delicious they are! Vanilla protein powder is the "secret" ingredient in these. When combined with the peanut butter and maple syrup, the flavors of the protein powder add a fudgy sweetness to the balls and taste just like the inside of a peanut butter cup. Natural sweetness has never tasted so good.
Ingredients and substitutions
These peanut butter truffle balls come together using just a few simple ingredients:
- Crunchy/chunky peanut butter: for best results, be sure to use natural peanut butter that only has peanuts (and salt if desired) listed in the ingredients. Teddie's super chunky is my favorite to use in this recipe. Alternatively, use your favorite nut butter (almond butter, cashew butter, etc.) or a nut-free butter (granola butter, sunflower/pumpkin seed butter)
- Vanilla protein powder: powdered sugar or flour is typically used in peanut butter truffles/balls, but we are using protein powder as the texture is somewhat similar to powdered sugar! I love KOS vanilla protein powder for its taste and additional nutrients. Almond flour works, but the result is not as smooth and creates a gritty texture. Oat flour creates a slightly dry ball so I recommend using protein powder for best results.
- Pure maple syrup: natural sweetness that helps the balls stick together.
- Vanilla extract: added for additional flavor.
- Salt: just a pinch is used, omit if desired.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips: Enjoy life dairy-free chocolate chips are a great option. Swap with vegan white chocolate or dark chocolate of choice.
- Coconut oil: helps melt the chocolate and make it smooth enough to coat the balls. Swap with avocado oil for additional healthy fats.
- Sea salt flakes (optional): a sprinkle of sea salt flakes completes each ball. Swap for hemp seeds, crushed peanuts, or toasted quinoa (see variation section below).
How to make chocolate peanut butter protein balls
After grabbing the handful of ingredients needed, it's time to make space in your freezer. Make it easy to slide in a small baking sheet (that can lay flat, without being disturbed).
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Next, grab a medium-sized mixing bowl and a spatula. Stir together the crunchy peanut butter, protein powder, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt until combined. The texture should be similar to cookie dough (see photo below).
To make the balls, use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop. Scoop about a tablespoon of the batter, and roll the dough into a ball using your hands. Repeat this process until the batter is gone. I prefer to do a little less than a full-size tablespoon. Use a teaspoon for bite-sized balls or a full tablespoon for larger balls. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet and slide them into the freezer to chill for 10-13 minutes.
Next, melt chocolate and coconut oil. Let chill for a minute or so before dunking each chilled ball into the melted chocolate. This prevents the chocolate from melting the peanut butter. Roll the ball in the chocolate (using a fork) to ensure it's fully coated. Gently tap the fork on the side to help remove excess chocolate as you remove it (and place it back on the parchment paper). Finally, freeze again for 12-15 minutes. Remove and enjoy!
Tips for making the best chocolate peanut butter balls
- Peanut butter. The kind of peanut butter used in the recipe is very important. Ensure it is an all-natural peanut butter with just peanuts listed in the ingredients. Salt is also okay. This will result in the best flavor and texture. I prefer crunchy for added texture, but creamy is a great option as well - use your favorite!
- Parchment paper. Be sure to line a baking sheet (or extra large plate) with unbleached parchment paper to prevent the balls from sticking.
- Chill time. After making the peanut butter mix into balls, be sure to chill for 10-13 minutes. Anything less results in a not fully set ball and anything more is too cold to dip into the melted chocolate.
- Melted chocolate. Stir the chocolate every 30 seconds as it melts in the microwave (or melt using the double boiler method) to help the chocolate melt evenly. Additionally, let the chocolate cool for 1-2 minutes before dipping.
These chocolate-covered peanut butter protein balls can be customized to suit your taste buds, and cravings, or even be made as a holiday treat. Here are some of my favorite variations:
Crunchy peanut butter is my go-to as it adds texture, but other add-ins work too! Fold in any of the following:
- Hemp seeds or flax seeds
- Crushed peanuts
- Toasted quinoa (add ¼ cup of cooked quinoa to a sheet pan and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until golden and crisp).
- Rice Crisps (Use One Degree or 365 for organic, gluten-free rice krispies)
These can also be sprinkled on the tops of the balls after they've been coated in chocolate. For a holiday flair, top with sprinkles - what's better than a chocolate peanut butter truffle on the dessert table?!
- Chocolate. Swap semi-sweet chocolate for dairy-free white chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips.
Storage and serving
This recipe is versatile as the peanut butter truffles can be served as a sweet yet healthy snack or as a dessert. If serving to a group, be sure to serve chilled, over ice as the chocolate will begin to melt as it sits at room temperature.
My preferred storage method: Store the balls in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a month. When ready to enjoy, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly.
For much softer truffles, store them in the back of the fridge in an airtight container.
Easy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Protein Balls
- mixing bowl + spatula
- microwave-safe bowl
- measuring cups & spoons
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter* I used Teddie's Super Chunky
- ¼ cup KOS vanilla protein powder
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- large pinch sea salt optional
- ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil**
- Combine ingredients. Add peanut butter, protein powder, maple, vanilla, and sea salt to a medium bowl and stir with a spatula to combine. The texture should resemble cookie dough, see photo in the blog post for reference if needed.
- Form into balls. Use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop and scoop out about a tablespoon size of dough. Roll into a ball using your hands and place it onto the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until the batter is gone. *I do a scant tablespoon but feel free to use a teaspoon for bite-sized balls or the full tablespoon for larger balls. Freeze for 10-13 minutes or until the ball is set.
- Melt chocolate. Add chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl or wide glass. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Let cool for 1-2 minutes.
- Coat. Remove the balls from the freezer and coat each ball in the melted chocolate by dipping the ball and rolling it in the chocolate. Remove with a fork, tapping the sides to remove excess chocolate. Place back onto the parchment paper and top with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes. Freeze again for at least 15 minutes and enjoy!