This Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Ball recipe is a healthier twist on a classic holiday treat. Made with simple and easy-to-find ingredients, they taste so much like a “buckeye cookie.”
Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
I think we all need some sweet treats around the holidays. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying classic family recipes (don’t touch my mom’s pecan pie recipe!), I do so love making healthier twists on recipes that help me enjoy the flavors of the season without feeling so blah after the season of celebration and fun food.
Oh-so many of us adore peanut butter balls and I hear Santa is pretty keen on them himself. They are kind of a classic around this time of year because they are all kinds of delicious. These Sweet Potato Peanut Butter balls are rocking all the amazing flavor of that classic recipe but are lightened up on the sugar, naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup, have the addition of sweet potatoes for a boost of natural sweetness and overall plant goodness and some oats to help bind everything together.
They are easy to make gluten free with certified gluten free oats and vegan when you use maple syrup and dairy-free chocolate. Need them to be nut-free? Just use sunflower seed butter instead of PB and they are good to go!
Heather from Happy Kids Kitchen helped me perfect this recipe so that it would fulfill your sweet holiday dreams and she has some amazing holiday recipes on her site with a healthier twist (like Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cookies)
Why these sweet potato peanut butter treats are awesome!
- No baking! Because, while I love baking, it is nice to not have to turn on the oven sometimes!
- Easily vegan, gluten free, and nut-free. A really great treat to make for a variety of eating styles and needs.
- A healthier twist on a classic holiday treat. All the taste but no sugar belly feels later.
- Made with 9, easy-to-find ingredients. You might even have all of them in your kitchen now!
- They are perfect “treat yo self” goodie to keep on hand or for sharing during this holiday season.
- Taste so much like a buckeye cookie! But with less added sugar and minimal added oil.
Tips and tricks
Be sure to stir your peanut butter well!
Natural nut butter naturally separates as it sits on the shelf, waiting for you to grab it and turn it into healthy peanut butter balls. The oil from the nuts will naturally rise to the top and the nut pulp will sink to the bottom. So when you open up a new jar, be sure to be give it a good stir!
I find using a knife or long spoon is best. Scoop the pulp up from the bottom of the jar and push some of the oil from the top down. Put on some of your favorite holiday tunes to help you pass the time while you stir your nut butter to the perfect even consistency.
Why happens if you don’t stir it well? You will end up with super runny nut butter for the first half of the jar and wildly dry PB for the second half of the jar. No bueno. Take the time and stir the PB well!
Take note of your peanut butter’s consistency.
Natural peanut butters usually consist of just blended peanuts, but some manufactures might add oil or leave more of the natural oils from the nuts in the butter. If you have a thinner PB, know that you might need to add some extra oats to firm these healthy peanut butter balls up. If you have a thicker batch, maybe add a little less oats or some extra mashed sweet potato to thin it out and make it easy enough to blend.
How should I cook my sweet potato?
Cook a whole, small to medium-sized sweet potato in the microwave, oven, or instant pot until a knife easily slides through the center. Slice potato in half lengthwise and allow to cool. Mash the inside of the potato with a fork.
Alternatively, you can use canned sweet potato puree. However, canned tends to be much wetter in consistency then baked and mashed potato. You may need to reduce the amount of sweet potato in this recipe or add extra oats to balance out the moisture in these peanut butter balls.
Can I use regular “old fashioned” rolled oats in these peanut butter balls? Yes, but you have to process them to break them down a little bit beforehand. Add 2 cups of the rolled oats to a food processor and pulse until more than ½ the oats are roughly chopped. Don’t over process or you will get flour. Dump chopped oats into a bowl and continue with the recipe as directed.
Are these gluten-free? They easily can be! Be sure to use oats that say “certified gluten-free” on the package and you are good to go.
Can I use almond butter instead of peanut butter? Yes, you can substitute any nut or seed butter you’d like. Make these work for your family’s needs or taste preference
Can I make these nut-free? You sure can! Simply use sunflower seed butter or well-stirred tahini instead of the peanut butter. Heads-up that tahini sometimes has a bitter flavor, so be sure to taste the mixture once it is processed in case you need to add more honey to balance the flavors.
IMPORTANT: Some people who have a nut allergy also have a sesame seed allergy (tahini is made from sesame seeds). So if you are making these for someone with a nut allergy, be sure to check with them that they are not also allergic to sesame seeds.
Make them even more festive!: Use colored sprinkles, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or whatever toppings you’d like to decorate the healthy peanut butter balls right after you dip or drizzle them with melted chocolate.
Other health(ier) holiday treats you’ll adore
If you love these sweet potato peanut butter balls, you are going to love these other cleaned up holiday goodies!
- Soft Carrot Gingerbread Cookies
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins
- Pumpkin Pie Chia Seed Pudding
- Breakfast Pumpkin Soufflé
- Healthy Cranberry Orange Carrot Muffins
Loving these peanut butter balls and are hungry for more?
Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Balls
- food processor
- 1/2 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato* see notes below
- 1/2 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter (the runny kind)
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon optional
- 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips less if you decided to drizzle instead of coating them
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Add sweet potato, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon to a food processor fitted with a metal "S" blade. (Alternately, you can mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, but it will take some extra“elbow grease”.)
- Blend everything until smooth. Scrape down the sides and blend again to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Add oats and blend again. You should have a sticky dough that can be rolled into balls. If the dough is too sticky to roll, you can add a tablespoon or two of more oats and blend again. Repeat until dough is the right consistency.
- Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined pan or plate. Place in the freezer to firm up while you melt the chocolate. TIP: I find having my hands *slightly* wet helps the dough from sticking to my hands.
- Melt chocolate, either in the microwave or a double boiler. Stir in the coconut. Dip the chilled peanut butter dough balls into the chocolate or drizzle the chocolate over top. Sprinkle with decorations like sprinkles, if desired.
- Place back into the freezer to harden. Serve or store in the fridge or freezer in an air tight container for up to a week.
The nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and may vary based on the product type, servings and other factors. If you are following a diet, please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor. Stay healthy!