Old-fashioned peanut butter balls are a classic chocolatey treat. Best served chilled, they’re rich, crunchy, and best of all, no-bake! They're similar to buckeyes, but completely covered in chocolate, and with crispy rice cereal for a delicious crunch factor. While these are a great speedy treat, they're also perfect for holidays and gifting.
This recipe holds no surprises and tastes exactly like mom, grandma, or whoever-in-your-childhood made them. Super basic pantry ingredients are all you need, and ahem, paraffin wax (optional). More on that below. For some more old-school no bake treats, whip up a batch of rocky road or icebox cake.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Peanut butter: we prefer the texture of smooth peanut butter but you can swap in half crunchy if you like. Do not use natural peanut butter in this recipe. It's too dry and crumbly for the balls to hold together.
- Chocolate: Semi-sweet baking chocolate is a safe bet, however, any chocolate you like, including white chocolate, will work.
- Crispy rice cereal: Make sure you buy crispy and not puffed rice cereal. Totally different.
- Paraffin wax: this makes chocolate coatings super shiny and more stable at room temperature. If you don't have or don't want to use paraffin wax, substitute an equal amount of butter, shortening, or coconut oil. Fat will help keep the chocolate glossy, but it won't keep it as solid at room temperature as paraffin wax will.
Step 1: melt the butter and peanut butter together in a heat-safe bowl.
Step 2: mix in the powdered sugar.
Step 3: stir in the crispy rice until well combined.
Step 4: scoop into small balls, rolling with your hands to even them out.
Step 5: dip in melted chocolate.
Step 6: set aside to harden, then store in the fridge or freezer.
- Serve chilled: while these are stable at room temperature, peanut butter balls are at their best when chilled.
- No natural peanut butter: it's too dry and crumbly for the balls to hold together. This recipe is developed with sweetened PB in mind.
- Don't leave the rice cereal out: these need a bit of texture and that crunch is perfect!
If you like more peanut butter, and less cereal crunch, reduce the amount of cereal to 1 ½ cups. Keep in mind the "dough" will be stickier if you do this.
If you don’t own or want to use a microwave, follow the same directions using a large pot on the stovetop.
Finishing the peanut butter balls with a drizzle of melted white chocolate is optional but very pretty.
How to Store Peanut Butter Balls
Storage: keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Freezing: place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. These can be served right from the freezer but are best chilled, not frozen.
It might sound weird, but really, a touch of edible paraffin wax in melted chocolate makes it both shiny, and helps it melt more slowly in your hands. Almost every chocolate coated candy you've ever eaten has probably had some form of wax in it!
That being said, if you're hardcore against a smidge of it in your food, you can substitute it with shortening or even coconut oil. It won't have the same effect but it will still look and taste good.
If using it, be very sure to get the specifically edible type (not what's used in candles!), which is sold in the canning section of most grocery and hardware stores. This is the same kind of wax that's often used on the outside of hard cheeses.
How do you roll peanut butter balls without sticky hands?
A mini cookie scoop makes all the difference! It's less rolling because the balls are already mostly formed. When rolling, if it's a bit sticky, lightly wet your palms with a bit of water.
What's edible paraffin wax made from?
Food-grade paraffin wax is considered edible, and is made from vegetable oils, palm oil, and synthetic resins.
Can I freeze peanut butter balls?
Definitely! They can be frozen for several months and taste just as good after freezing. We recommend storing in the freezer!
More Chocolate Recipes
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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Balls
- Mixing bowl must be microwave safe
- Fine mesh sieve
- Small cookie scoop optional
- Parchment paper
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 ¾ cups crispy rice cereal
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 teaspoons food-grade paraffin wax
- Combine the peanut butter and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Melt the two together on medium power until they can be stirred smooth without any lumps. Stir in the vanilla.
- Use a fine mesh sieve to sift the powdered sugar into the bowl. Stir to combine. Add the crispy rice cereal and stir until the cereal is well coated and everything is evenly mixed. Place the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Once slightly firm and chilled, use a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) to scoop the peanut butter dough. Use the palm of your hand to firmly pack the scoop with peanut butter before releasing it onto a plate or tray that will fit in your freezer. Once all of the peanut butter is scooped, place the plate or tray in the freezer for 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Finely chop the chocolate and the wax. Place the two in a deep microwave-safe vessel (a 2 cup glass liquid measuring cup works well here). Microwave the chocolate and wax together on medium power until they are melted and can be stirred smooth.
- Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer. Drop one into the melted chocolate and use a fork to gently stir it around and coat it in chocolate. Use the fork to lift the ball out of the chocolate. Scrape the bottom of the fork against the edge of the measuring cup to wipe off any excess chocolate, then gently slide the ball onto a piece of parchment paper. Repeat until all of the peanut butter balls are coated in chocolate.
- Leave the peanut butter balls to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes, before packing them carefully into a container and storing them in the fridge or freezer until needed.