This Buckeye Candy recipe is one you are going to want to hang onto! It’s shocking that so few ingredients can turn into something so irresistible. Buckeyes are basically a peanut butter cookie ball dipped in chocolate, but I swear they are more than the sum of their parts. And super fast and easy! You probably have the ingredients already. Candy dipping can be a tricky technique; I have tons of tips for how to make them perfect every time!
Table of Contents
- What makes buckeye cookies so amazing?
- Tips to make the best buckeyes
- Wait. Is a buckeye a cookie or candy?
- Easy buckeye recipe ingredients
- How to make buckeye candy
- How do you keep buckeyes from sweating?
- How to store
- Do buckeye candies go bad?
- Can you freeze buckeyes?
- Buckeyes recipe frequently asked questions
- More incredible candy recipes to love!
- Buckeye Candy Recipe Recipe
My grandma passed away last year, and at the risk of sounding disrespectful, we were all pretty stoked to go through her closet.
I know, I know, I sound like a monster. I don’t think grandma would mind though. Grandma Joanne was an awesome lady who lived a happy life. She raised 3 kids while working full time as a teacher back in the 60s. She loved researching family history, and was an… interesting cook. (One of these days I will share her recipe for Enchilada Loaf. Read: Velveeta and cinnamon. 😱)
Grandma also happened to have a killer wardrobe of Christmas sweaters and polyester pantsuits dating back to the 70s. She was known for her colorful and outlandish clothes, and we all wore rainbow to her funeral. (It was actually so great.)
I snagged one gem of a sweater to wear to future ugly Christmas sweater parties. I didn’t even think about the kids. But this year, Truman and Charlotte both had spirit week at school, and Ugly Christmas Sweater Day landed on Tuesday.
I sent this text to my family: “Truman and Charlotte got in a huge fight over who gets to wear grandma’s sweater for Ugly Sweater Day. I’ve never been more proud.”
My sister said, “Bahahaha. Omg, that explains their faces. Her shame! His glee! Poor Char!”
Charlotte is wearing a second-place-compensation sweater dug out of her dad’s closet. (Which is actually a totally rad Star Wars holiday sweater with AT-AT’s on it. Don’t feel too sorry for her.)
After Truman wore Grandma’s sweater to school all day, it was agreed that Charlotte could wear it to church youth group that night. Even after a year of being in my closet, and Truman wearing it all day, she paused as she put it on, and said wistfully, “Aw. This sweater still smells like Grandma.”
We all gathered to bury our faces in it for a moment, and breathed in.
What makes buckeye cookies so amazing?
On to the recipe! My grandma never made Buckeyes; this is a Midwestern treat and we’re from California. But my best friend Sarah is from West Virginia, and she’s talked about these for years. I got the recipe from her mom (Thanks Anne!) and finally gave them a try. Now I’m OBSESSED.
They are basically like homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter cups! But in a cute truffle shape. And a WAY higher ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. Genius, right!?
The dough is ridiculously easy to put together. I looked up lots of different recipes and didn’t see any that were just like Anne’s.
Many recipes are just a mixture of peanut butter and powdered sugar. The problem is that the final Buckeye ends up being cloyingly sweet. No thanks. Peanut butter is delightfully nuanced and salty, and we definitely want that reflected in our Buckeyes.
Anne’s recipe uses some flour in place of some of the powdered sugar. This serves the purpose of stiffening the dough without adding more sweetness, just like you do for cookie dough. The recipe calls for only 1/4 cup flour, so it’s not a ton. If you are serving gluten free friends, or are nervous about eating raw flour, then you can replace it with powdered sugar.
I did make one special change to the traditional recipe: we’re chopping up some salty roasted peanut into teeny tiny crumbs and adding it into the peanut butter ball mixture. I LOVE the texture this adds. It’s exactly like the texture of a Reese’s, which, if you are a hard line addict like me, you would know is not perfectly smooth.
Tips to make the best buckeyes
This recipe is so simple, but there are a few techniques you need to know that will make life so much easier.
- Put the toothpick into the buckeye before freezing.
- Chill the peanut butter balls thoroughly before dipping. If they aren’t cool enough, the chocolate won’t stick as well, the balls start to lose their shape, and it might even fall off the toothpick into the chocolate.
- Only remove 10-12 peanut butter balls at a time from fridge for dipping, so they stay cold.
- Use an electric griddle to keep chocolate warm (without scorching) for the dipping process. Pictures below!
- Use premium ingredients! When you have a recipe with so few ingredients and flavors, you want the best of the best so they can really shine. Now’s the time for high quality peanut butter and chocolate! USE THE JIFFFF my brother once got peanut butter all in my hair while administering a blind taste test just so that we could actually be sure Jif is the best. We’re doing the work over here, guys. 😉
- Use high quality dark chocolate (I like Ghirardelli). Cheap chocolate does not melt smoothly! And add shortening so that your coating is smooth and glossy.
- Tap off excess chocolate after dipping. For the best looking buckeyes, make sure you don’t end up with a huge pool of chocolate at the bottom after dipping. Let the extra drip off as much as possible before setting back onto the tray. They should be as round as possible!
- Heal your toothpick mark! It’s easy to do with your finger, and makes the candies look so much better. I’ll show you.
- Store at room temp for 1-2 days, and then in the fridge to avoid weeping.
I have lots of other tips and tricks in the how-to section below, explaining all the best techniques for dipping and storing!
Wait. Is a buckeye a cookie or candy?
Deep, deep Christmas questions guys. Technically, it’s candy! Just like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only better. But if Grandma’s been calling them cookies for your whole life, embrace it, and don’t bring it up at the dinner table. Let’s keep grandma’s heart rate where it belongs.
Easy buckeye recipe ingredients
As you can see, the ingredient list for these Buckeyes is VERY small. You might have all the ingredients right now! It’s such a simple process. Be sure to look at the recipe card to for full ingredients measurements and instructions.
- powdered sugar
- peanut butter
- roasted salted peanuts
- chocolate chips
How to make buckeye candy
First things first! Add your butter to a large bowl (I use my stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat it with some (not all) of the powdered sugar. I like to beat a little powdered sugar and butter together before adding any peanut butter, to make sure we get out any potential butter chunks. (Once the peanut butter is added, chunks are hard to get out.) Sometimes your butter is not as soft as you think it is! Creaming it with a little powdered sugar gets all the lumps out.
Stir in some vanilla extract to help this mixture come together. It should look just like a thick buttercream frosting…because that’s what it is! But we’re not done yet.
Use a food processor to chop up a couple tablespoons of roasted salty peanuts. You can see how finely I chopped them. It only took a few pulses to get them like this.
They are starting to cling together and be sticky, and if I had kept going, it would eventually have turned into homemade peanut butter. But we’re not going that far: we want this deliciously nutty, tender texture mixed in with the dreamy creamy peanut butter balls. I’m in love with the very subtle texture this adds to the Buckeyes! You can totally skip it if you want to.
Add in your peanut butter and the finely chopped peanuts.
Here is the dough after I’ve added all the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and chopped peanuts.
After adding the flour and salt to the peanut butter mixture, the dough becomes very stiff, which is perfect. DON’T skip the salt! Use 1/2 teaspoon if you have kosher salt, if not use 1/4 teaspoon table salt. People’s biggest complaint about Buckeyes is that they are too SWEET. Adding some flour and salt helps stiffen and flavor the dough without making it overly sweet.
Now we are ready to roll! Get your station all set up. You need a lined pan, some toothpicks, and a cookie scoop or spoon.
Here is a visual for how big to make the Buckeyes. You want each ball of dough to be about 15-20 grams, (or a half ounce) and about 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches across.
Once you have them all rolled, put the toothpicks in them right away! You want to freeze the peanut butter balls with the toothpick in them, so that dipping is fast and smooth.
(Buckeyes and Ben and Jerry’s. we are living the good life over here this Christmas 😂)
Toss them in the fridge or freezer until chilled (you can’t skip this step!) and then start melting your chocolate in the microwave. Do this in a measuring cup. A deeper bowl is better than a wider bowl.
SHORTENING added to the chocolate is the big secret ingredient for buckeyes. This helps stabilize the chocolate so that it dips nicely, and helps prevent the chocolate from weeping and sweating once it’s hardened.
Traditionally, people added paraffin wax to the chocolate to achieve this. And you can totally try that if you want! It works even better than shortening I hear. (And COMPLETELY eliminates weeping issues, so I see why people do it.) But it’s not an ingredient I keep on hand, and shortening does well enough for my low-key kitchen, so shortening it is for me.
(Do you like my retro towel? Another find from Grandma Joanne’s linen closet! 😆)
My favorite hack for dipping candy in melted chocolate is to set up your dipping station on an electric griddle with a towel on top. This keeps the chocolate the perfect dipping temperature without the risk of scorching it (the risk you would take if you dipped the balls in chocolate that is in a pot on the burner, for example.) I got this tip from my friend Dorothy from Crazy for Crust while researching chocolate dipping for these Oreo Truffles a few years ago. Genius!
And now we dip! When I dip you dip we dip. The little white spots are frozen crystals because I had JUST pulled these from the freezer. You want them ice cold when you are dipping!
If they are not cold, you run the risk of your peanut butter balls falling right off into the chocolate. No buckeye casualties please! Dunk them in the chocolate QUICKLY, don’t linger, because otherwise they start to melt.
Make sure to let the chocolate drip as much as possible before setting it down on the lined pan. You don’t want a pool of chocolate hardening on the bottom of your buckeye. You can see from the photos that I am still working on this technique, not all of mine are perfect. Once you dip, turn the buckeye on its side, twirl it around a few times to shake off the chocolate, then turn it vertical again and carefully swipe it against the top edge of your measuring cup, to get that last stubborn bit of chocolate off.
At this point, if you want to go non-traditional, you can dip them in crushed peanuts or sprinkles. Make a well, dip the buckeye, and use your fingers to press the topping into the sides.
Then line them up on the pan to harden.
Toss the whole pan back in the fridge for about 10 minutes at this point, to firm up that chocolate. Don’t try to take the toothpick out when the chocolate is still melty! You will think you won’t smudge it BUT YOU WILL. Don’t ask me how I know.
I was mystified with how people had perfectly smooth peanut butter buckeyes in all the photos I saw. How did they dip them if there is no mark?? Turns out, it’s actually really easy to do. Touch the mark with your finger until the heat from your hand has melted the peanut butter a bit. Then swirl it around until the hole is covered, tap it once or twice, and voila. Perfect looking buckeye!
Sarah’s family didn’t have the internet telling them how to heal buckeye toothpick marks when she was growing up, so they solved the problem by dotting the hole with chocolate, which of course turns it into a buckeye boob. Haha!! They always got a good laugh out of this and now you can too 😂
If you like, you can drizzle the top with melted peanut butter! Doesn’t look as much like a buckeye but it sure is pretty :)
How do you keep buckeyes from sweating?
So this is the biggest issue with buckeyes! Paraffin wax is the ingredient you need to avoid weeping entirely. All professional chocolatiers use some sort of preservative like this to stabilize their chocolates at room temperature. (Shortening, what I use in this recipe, helps, but does not entirely solve the problem.)
The at-home trick to make up for lack of wax or fancy preservatives is to toss them in the fridge.
The problem is that when you freeze or refrigerate chocolate, it releases moisture as it warms up, so anytime you try to bring it to room temperature, your poor buckeyes are going to weep and cry.
Even if you don’t put your final buckeyes back in the fridge to speed up the chocolate hardening process, Buckeyes will weep right after you dip them (because you MUST chill the peanut butter balls if you want to dip successfully). And even if you let them harden completely at room temperature, they will still weep a little from the peanut butter being so cold. What to do?
Here is my poor sweatin’ buckeye. I was too impatient to take my photos to wait!
How to store
Here’s what I do:
- If you have time, and are serving these within 24 hours, let the chocolate harden completely at room temperature. They will weep a little at the start (because of the chilled pb ball), but it will quickly evaporate and you will be left with perfectly bite-able buckeyes. Only choose this method if you like to eat room temperature buckeyes. Transfer them to a tupperware as soon as they are stable enough, storing in a single layer so they don’t smudge each other. Store them on the counter for 24 hours or less (After this they start to get dry, so transfer to the fridge.)
- If you want to have these buckeyes on hand for eating for 2-3 days, store in the refrigerator. Keep them in a sealed tupperware, and separate any layers with parchment or wax paper. If you like to serve them cold, serve them straight out of the fridge (be aware, they will start to weep right away.) If you like to serve them room temperature, spread them out in a single layer and let them get all their tears out, making sure none of them are touching. They must suffer alone. Then serve on a platter or cookie plate.
- If you are making these buckeyes for a future event or for adding to your Christmas plates later, freeze the buckeyes. Line them up in a tupperware, with parchment or wax separating the layers (or add them to a large ziplock) and freeze for 2-3 months. DO NOT THAW AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. I tried this, it does not work. It’s too big of a shock for these poor buckeyes and they cry real tears. Instead, take your freezer package and put it straight in the fridge to thaw overnight or over 5-6 hours. Once they are chilled but not frozen, serve them right away chilled, or spread them out in a single layer to weep a little and evaporate before moving to a platter for serving.
Do buckeye candies go bad?
Not for a long while! These candies are great for making ahead because of this. Perfect for getting your Christmas plate treats done ahead of time.
They are unlikely to mold or spoil because of the ingredients used, just the same way that sometimes you may be tempted to save this year’s Halloween candy for NEXT year.
That said, even if they are not spoiled, they definitely taste best when eaten fresh (just like any candy.) The best way to keep them fresh is to keep them in the freezer.
Can you freeze buckeyes?
Because these freeze so well, buckeyes are a GREAT make ahead option for the holidays or any party or event you want to get ahead on!
Spread out the buckeyes on a large baking sheet. Stick them in the freezer and let them flash freeze for 30-60 minutes. Once they’re flash frozen, put them in a single layer to a ziplock freezer bag or freezer-safe container and seal well. They will last 1-3 months, but the longer you have them in there, the more stale they will become. I think the sweet spot is a month or less.
To eat, take the bag of buckeyes out of the freezer and sneak one frozen, if you love cold chocolate! Let them thaw out in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Do not thaw straight from the freezer or they will weep like crazy! Once they are thawed but chilled, spread out in a single layer to let them un-chill, then transfer to a platter to serve.
Buckeyes recipe frequently asked questions
Buckeyes are named after the nut of the Buckeye tree. They were created as a nod to the famous trees in Ohio! They are dark brown on the outside, with a small lighter brown spot, or eye, on the top. The nuts themselves were originally named by Native Americans for its resemblance to a buck’s eye.
Nope! As mentioned above, the original Buckeyes refer to the nut of the Buckeye tree. They are quite common in the area and Buckeyes are the state nut of Ohio. People even started to use the term to refer to Ohio residents themselves. It’s in honor of this heritage that the mascot is the Buckeye!
While it’s often called a cookie, think about it. It’s a sweet peanut butter filling surrounded by a chocolate shell. Basically, like a peanut butter cup, which is DEFINITELY a candy! They are a little different than a peanut butter cup though, because the ratio of peanut butter filling to chocolate is WAY higher, and so much better because of it. The filling also tends to be a better texture and the chocolate has a bit of a snap to it. There is a reason buckeyes have their own cult following, people!
It’s hard to entirely prevent condensation from a chilled candy (without adding preservatives), but there are a few things you can do to help. If you freeze the peanut butter balls before dipping, be sure to keep them covered as they await dipping. When storing completed buckeyes, keep them in an airtight container with parchment or wax paper separating the layers. When thawing from the freezer, thaw completely in the fridge to slow down the evaporation process, then lay them out in a single layer so they have space to weep a little and dry out.
Store in an airtight container in a single layer without letting the lid touch the top. If you have a bunch and want to pile them up, make sure to separate layers with parchment or wax paper. They’ll last that way stored right on the counter for about 2-3 days. If there are any left after that, I recommend freezing. Flash freeze them in a single layer, then transfer to freezer ziplock bags also in a single layer. They’ll be good there for up to 2 months.
Nutritional information will depend on how big you make them. We are rolling today’s candy to true buckeye-size, which makes them about 190 calories each. Well worth it for the occasional treat! (Unless you are like me who can throw down like 5 of these in one afternoon.) You could always roll them out smaller so they go further.
More incredible candy recipes to love!
Candy making doesn’t always have to be difficult! As someone who doesn’t love the stress of hard-to-make candies, check out these easy and delicious candies that even a beginner can make and love.
- Mom’s Easy Fudge Recipe >> smooth, creamy, decadent, and pure nostalgia for me
- Homemade English Toffee Recipe >> another classic that is always a huge crowd favorite
- Caramel Nougat Pecan Rolls >> sweet vanilla nougat wrapped in buttery caramel and pecans – it is candy perfection!
- Easy Penuche Fudge Recipe (Brown Sugar Fudge) >> did you even know there’s a brown sugar white chocolate fudge? It’s SO good!
- Homemade Peppermint Bark >> Ridiculously easy to make, and way better than store bought
- Oreo Truffles >> another SUPER easy recipe that everyone loves. I mean c’mon, oreos
- Dulce de Leche from Condensed Milk >> thick and creamy, and can be made in the slow cooker or instant pot
- Chocolate Stuffed Snickerdoodle Truffles >> Kind of like a cake pop, but with snickerdoodle bars. YUM!
- Peanut Brittle Recipe from She Wears Many Hats
Buckeye Candy Recipe
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup peanut butter, not natural, use Jif or Skippy
- 3 tablespoons dry roasted salted peanuts
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour*
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, high quality
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips, high quality
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons shortening
- sprinkles, optional
- chopped peanuts, optional
- melted peanut butter, optional
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
- Make the peanut butter balls. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 1/4 cup softened butter (this is a half stick.) Beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
- Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat this mixture until it has become smooth and creamy, like frosting (it IS frosting!). Scrape the sides.
- Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup peanut butter. (Regular peanut butter is better than natural peanut butter because it is smoother from added oils.) Beat this mixture until smooth, scraping sides.
- In a food processor, add 3 tablespoons dry roasted salted peanuts. It's not a lot! Pulse in the food processor until they have turned to crumbs, then keep going until the crumbs start to stick together in clumps. See photos.
- Add the chopped peanuts, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (use 1/4 teaspoon table salt) to the bowl and beat well. The mixture will be very thick! Use a sturdy spatula to scrape down the sides and bring it all together.
- Use a cookie scoop or spoon to shape the dough into buckeye-size balls. This is about 1 or 1 and 1/2 inches across, or if you want to weigh them, between 15-20 grams (or about a half ounce.) Use your palms to roll the dough into a nice ball shape.
- Place the buckeyes on the baking sheet. Place a toothpick into the center of each ball, pushing it all the way down. (Do this BEFORE freezing!)
- Freeze the buckeyes for about 30 minutes. Or if you don't have room in the freezer, chill for at least 1 hour.
- Melt the chocolate. In a glass measuring cup, add 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup dark chocolate chips.** Add 1 and 1/2 to 2 tablespoons shortening.***
- Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. I like to stir with a mini rubber spatula that I can put right in the microwave. Return to the microwave and heat for another 30 seconds, and stir again. Continue until there are still a few lumps of chocolate chips remaining, then don't heat anymore, but instead stir it until the lumps are smoothed out. Chocolate scorches easily, so be careful. Heat in 15 second increments if you are nervous. The chocolate should run off your spatula in a thin, steady stream. It should not glob. (A technical term.) Add a bit more shortening if your chocolate is gloopy. Don't microwave further.
- Dip the buckeyes in chocolate. Take half of your peanut butter balls out of the freezer (leave the rest to continue chilling!)Dip the balls in the chocolate one by one, letting the chocolate drip off, then gently scraping off the bottom of the chocolate on the edge of the measuring cup (so the chocolate doesn't pool at the bottom). Place back on the lined pan to harden. Dip them about 2/3 of the way, so there is a little peanut butter peek-a-boo at the top. This is the signature Buckeye look! Dip them quickly. Don't linger in the chocolate, or the peanut butter will start to melt.
- If your peanut butter balls keep falling off their toothpicks as you are dipping, your peanut butter balls are not cold enough. Stick them back in the fridge, or bite the bullet and clear out your freezer of all of last years fishsticks and freezer burned broccoli florets you intended to eat. Then you can freeze your peanut butter balls, which really is the best method. Continue dipping the second half of the peanut butter balls, keeping any extra balls in the fridge or freezer until the very last minute before dipping.
- Optional dippers. If you want to jazz up your buckeyes (not traditional, but hey it's fun) dip them in chocolate sprinkles or crushed peanuts. Do this just a moment after dipping. Dip your peanut butter ball and hold onto it, letting the chocolate set up for about 5-10 seconds. Then make a well in your bowl of sprinkles or nuts and dip the buckeye into the well. Use your fingers to press the sprinkles into the edges of the candy. Place back on the lined pan and let cool completely.
- Drizzle. If you want a pretty drizzled look, melt peanut butter (or more chocolate) and use a spoon to drizzle it over the top of the buckeyes.
- Place the pan of buckeyes back in the fridge or freezer for about 10 minutes (or longer) to firm up completely.
- Cover the toothpick mark. Once the buckeyes are chilled and the chocolate is nice and hard, remove all the toothpicks. Use the pad of your finger to "heal" the toothpick mark. Move your finger around and use your body heat to melt the peanut butter a bit, then smooth out the hole as best you can. You can smooth with a paring knife or a small spoon too. (Or you can cover the mark with a dot of melted chocolate so you have buckeye boobs, like Sarah's family does.)
- Serving. Serve these buckeyes chilled, straight from the fridge if that is your preference. I prefer to serve them room temperature, which means they need time to weep and recover. (It's tough being a Buckeye.) Take them out of the fridge and lay them out in a single layer. The buckeyes will sweat and release condensation. Just keep waiting. Eventually they will come to room temperature and the moisture will evaporate. Serve right away.
- Storage. You can store these buckeyes at room temperature for about 24 hours, tightly sealed. Then you can skip the whole emotional weeping process. Eventually the peanut butter mixture will get dry and crumbly though, so if you don't plan to eat right away, refrigerate or freeze them.Refrigerating: Store in a single layer in a tupperware or ziplock, or separate layers with wax/parchment paper. When ready to serve, spread them out in a single layer to let them weep a little (it's not much) as they come to room temperature. You can store them in the fridge, remembering to give them time to weep and dry out before serving. Refrigerating is my least favorite way to store. It makes the peanut butter dry out faster. If you need to store for a while, it's best to freeze.
- Freezing. Buckeyes are great for freezing. I have a stash in my freezer right now! They will last 2-3 months, and probably longer, but they might start to get funky freezer smells if you go too long. When completely chilled, place in a ziplock bag and toss in the freezer. Plan time to thaw in the fridge overnight, then lay them out in a single layer so that they can weep and evaporate before serving.