Protein Packed Peanut Butter Balls

By Ann Fulton

A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch! Recipes is easy to double and freezes well.
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A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch!





Over the years, my grandmother’s chocolate peanut butter egg recipe recipe has acquired a vast and devoted fanbase. The eggs (which can be rolled into balls if preferred) are pretty close to confectionary perfection, if not health food.

Built-in portion control is a plus, of course, and I have always subscribed to the everything-in-moderation approach. That said, for year-round snacking and dessert purposes, healthier versions of our favorite holiday treats are often appreciated. And some of us do have to be vigilant about sugar intake every single day.

For those reasons and more, I happily accepted an offer to prepare and taste test several chocolate peanut butter ball recipes that were provided to me by a registered dietician. Thanks to the quarantine, the whole family was present (and more than willing) to lend their critical taste testing skills.

As you can imagine, having been raised on my grandmother’s gold standard, my family has high standards where peanut butter and chocolate are concerned.

But there was a clear winner…

A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch! Recipes is easy to double and freezes well.

The picture above shows the un-dipped balls along with one of the other recipes. I rolled every batch into a different shape so I was sure not to confuse them once they were enrobed in chocolate.

My advance deal with Cheryl, a respected dietitian who also happens to know her way around the kitchen, was that I would share a recipe only if its taste lived up to its health appeal.

For instance, on paper, the eggs in the photo above seemed to have potential. A key ingredient was peanut butter powder, making them a low-fat, higher protein alternative to the typical treat. They were low in sugar, too. But as it turned out, the end result depended heavily on the brand of peanut powder used. Consistent results couldn’t be guaranteed.

A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch! Recipes is easy to double and freezes well.

The hands-down favorite is the following recipe. Given the healthy list of ingredients packed into these little balls, I was skeptical that my family would give them high marks.

The consistency is similar to a crunchy peanut butter cup, yet they aren’t crunchy per se. The ingredient list contains super foods like flax meal and oats (the quick variety-or ground up a bit if you have rolled on hand). Perhaps the most unexpected pantry ingredient is milk powder, which provides added protein and heft while keeping the fat content down.

Tip: for those who don’t typically purchase milk powder (sometimes called dry milk), it can be found in a box in the baking aisle near the evaporated and condensed canned milks. I did have trouble finding it during the first week or so of the quarantine but have seen it back on the shelves in the last two weeks.

In the end, this recipe, with its virtuous ingredient list, was not merely the clear winner in our peanut butter ball recipe testing adventure. Healthy or not, it was a treat my taste testers wanted again. For the record, my boys even enjoyed sampling the filling before it was enrobed in chocolate!

As for me, every afternoon I’ve been pulling one out of the refrigerator to soften a bit and enjoy with my coffee or tea. The texture of the filling is softer, and I think more appealing, when not really cold. A single chocolate-coated ball (which I get three good bites out of) tastes decadent and actually satisfies my mid-afternoon desire to snack, and I have come to look forward to one.

For now, I’ve pushed the tin to the back of the refrigerator, hoping to make the latest batch last a little longer. With three men currently under roof, it’s an uphill battle!

If you try, I’d love to know what you think. (And Cheryl would, too!)

A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch! Recipes is easy to double and freezes well.

To set the chocolate more quickly, place the dipped peanut butter balls in the refrigerator - or briefly in the freezer.

Protein Packed Peanut Butter Balls
Yield: 18 (1¼-inch) balls (or 24-36 smaller balls*)
A wholesome list of pantry staples comes together easily for a good-for-you treat with a protein punch! 
  • ¾ cup (192g) creamy natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup (160g) honey
  • ¾ cup (60g) nonfat dry milk powder
  • ¾ cup (65g) quick oats (or pulse rolled oats in blender or food processor to form a coarse powder)
  • 2 tablespoons (15g) flaxseed meal
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt, optional
  • 4 ounces (about ½ cup) good melting chocolate (dark or milk), plus more as needed**

In a mixing bowl, stir together the peanut butter and honey. Add the milk powder, quick oats, flaxseed meal and optional ¼ teaspoon salt, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Using your hands, roll the dough into balls about the size of large gumballs. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate to firm up, a few hours or overnight. (A firmer texture will make dipping in the warm chocolate easier. Cover them if you plan on leaving them overnight.)

When ready to dip, warm the chocolate in a double boiler until melted. (Tip: Use of a double boiler prevents chocolate from scorching. If you don’t have one, you can fashion one with two pots that are close in size.) Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and roll to evenly coat. (I use a dinner fork.) Allow the excess chocolate to drip off, and then place the dipped balls onto another parchment paper-lined baking sheet. The melted chocolate will set more quickly if you place them in the refrigerator or freezer briefly once finished.

Storage: Once set, you can transfer the balls to a tin or other airtight container. I like to store them in the refrigerator, moving some to room temperature before eating to allow the centers to soften. If you prefer, you may store them all at room temperature if your kitchen isn’t too warm. The chocolate peanut butter balls freeze well, too.


*The nutritional information is based on 18 balls, which are a fairly generous size three-bite size. You may absolutely roll them smaller for truly bite-size balls if preferred.
**A half cup of chocolate is about the right amount to coat the peanut butter balls, but for easier dipping, I find it helpful to start with a little more. If you don’t have melting chocolate, you may add a ½ tablespoon of coconut oil to each ½ cup of chocolate chips.

Nutrition information per ball (using yield of 18): 120 calories, 6 gm total fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 3 gm protein, 33 mg sodium, 16 gm total carbohydrate, 1.7 gm dietary fiber

Healthy tips:

  1. Look for all natural peanut butter, without added hydrogenated oils or palm oil.
  2. If you like extra crunch, try all natural crunchy peanut butter.
  3. You can also dust the peanut butter balls with crushed peanuts while the chocolate is still melted

A few more things:

  1. For those who enjoy the salty-sweet combination, a touch of flaky sea salt may be sprinkled on the chocolate before it sets.
  2. Cheryl’s original recipe calls for ½ cup of peanut butter, but my taste testers and I enjoyed the higher proportion of peanut butter to honey.
  3. I have yet to try, but I think pure maple syrup would be a lovely alternative to honey for those who enjoy. Also, agave would likely work well while offering a neutral flavor profile. Whichever sweetener you choose, feel free to taste before rolling, and add a little extra peanut butter if you’d like more creaminess and stronger peanut flavor.
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  1. Abby

    So yummy. Thanks for the dried milk with the personal delivery! Doesn’t get better than that!

    I tried 2 things differently…I didn’t have any melting chocolate so I threw in a handful of mini chocolate chips. The other truck is to roll them in graham cracker crumbs…they taste great and they aren’t sticky at all!

    1. Ann Post author

      Always happy to make a delivery and so glad you liked! I love the graham cracker crumb idea. Thanks for mentioning!

  2. Marci

    Ann… I have made both your PB and coconut eggs and they are absolutely delectable. However, since swimsuit weather is approaching I will certainly try this recipe. I have a request though… your eggs always look so perfectly shaped. (I gave up trying and just made logs!). Also, my dipping is mediocre at best. My hope was to give them away as gifts but I was too embarrassed to do that and ended up eventually eating them all myself (my hips have still not recovered). I wish you would post a video showing your shaping and dipping techniques. I CAN’T be the only one out there ending up with candy that looks like I made them blindfolded… can I? Please help!

    1. Ann Post author

      Marci, I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed the coconut and PB eggs and plan on trying these as well. The video idea is a good one. In the meantime, perhaps I can offer a few tips. First, in my PB egg post, I have a photo of how I often shape and slice the dough for even portioning. You can see it here: Alternatively, a kitchen scale makes dividing into equal portions very easy. Simply weigh the lump of dough and divide that number by the number of eggs you want. For example, for the pictured batch, I got a weight of 477 grams when I scooped it out of the bowl after mixing. (Some inevitably clings to the bowl or possibly gets sampled!) I went with 18 eggs, which goes into 477 26 times. I then placed my bowl on the scale and scooped out that much dough every time. Rolling into balls is easier than eggs – either way, you’ll want the dough to sit at room temperature to soften a bit if it’s been in the fridge. When making eggs, I start by rolling a ball shape and then flattening it with my palms and pinching one end to produce the desired shape. As for dipping the eggs or balls, I’ve tried every technique and the best (I think) is to use a dinner fork and eggs that are cold. (Otherwise they can become too soft when dipped in the melted chocolate and harder to manage as a result.) I try to roll it quickly, scoop from below with the fork and then carefully bounce it to allow some of the excess to drop off. I don’t worry about a little pooling, but you could use a dinner knife to scrape under the fork tines, where it won’t scrape the egg but it will remove a bit more of the excess chocolate. I try to slide it off the fork, tapping as needed, and onto the parchment-lined baking sheet without rolling it, as the top will be the prettiest. If you end up with sides that are exposed, you can “patch” them with a little melted chocolate, or leave them imperfect. At the end of the day, everyone will love them no matter what they look like! I hope this helps and that you enjoy the new recipe!

  3. Jane Link

    We used to make a similar treat when I was in Elementary school in Lebanon. It was a Catholic school and we took turns bringing in homemade treats to sell for classroom “extras” the the nuns needed. Our version did not have flax meal or honey. As I recall, they were sweetened with 10x sugar! In those days , we were not so health conscience!

    1. Ann Post author

      Jane, Such good memories! Our classic recipe relies on an abundance of 10x sugar as well, but I have to say these are a really satisfying option!