Several years ago, Sarah and her daughter Katherine shared their favorite peanut butter protein balls recipe. It’s a snack recipe that they rely on during the busy back to school and holiday seasons. They use dairy-free milk powder, but I recently tried the recipe with dairy-free protein powder, and it worked perfectly! I’ve updated the recipe with that option, and some additional notes.
Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Protein Balls made Just for You
Band camp, cross country, soccer, and dance descend on Sarah’s household in the fall. And tae kwon do?
It’s year round, baby. To keep her team fueled, she’s always looking for easy protein options that won’t weigh them down. After all, running five miles isn’t fun with a homemade breakfast sandwich bouncing around in your stomach. So she leans on these dairy-free peanut butter protein balls, which are adapted from her own childhood.
The original recipe calls for corn syrup, and a lot of it. So in addition to making this classic snack dairy free, Sarah made it lower in sugar and switched to a different sweetener. Below are some other customizations that you might like.
Sarah and her daughter have fun rolling these dairy-free peanut butter balls in all types of coating, from coconut to 70’s inspired wheat germ. We’ve listed her suggestions in the recipe. But instead of rolling the mixture in coatings, I opted to stir some mix-ins right into the dough. For the ones pictured, I added ground cinnamon or allergy-friendly mini chocolate chips. I used Enjoy Life’s white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips, both of which are dairy-free and top allergen-free.
Sarah opted to use dairy-free soymilk powder, which her family likes. I don’t usually keep this ingredient on hand, so I decided to test the recipe with protein powder. I used Primal Kitchen Unflavored Collagen Peptides (they also have flavored versions, which could be fun). I found that I needed much less protein powder before the dough became quite thick. So I’ve recommended starting with a lower amount, and adding more as desired. The amount you need will vary with different types of dairy-free protein powders. Keep in mind, the dairy-free peanut butter protein balls will continue to set up more as they sit.
Peanut Butter Alternatives
Of course this recipe will also work great with almond butter, cashew butter, or even nut-free sunflower seed butter. And you can use homemade if you wish. Sometimes Sarah makes her own peanut butter with the How to Make Peanut Butter guide at Texanerin, and we also have a Roasted Nut Butter Recipe that works well with almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and several other types of nuts.
Special Diet Notes: Peanut Butter Protein Balls
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, optionally grain-free, optionally nut-free, optionally peanut-free, optionally vegan, plant-based, and vegetarian.
For soy-free, dairy-free peanut butter protein balls, I recommend using the protein powder option with your favorite dairy-free, soy-free protein powder.
- 1 cup peanut butter, nut butter, or sunflower seed butter (for nut free)
- 1 cup powdered dairy-free milk (we like Original Better Than Milk Soy Powder)
- ⅓ cup honey or agave nectar (for vegan)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (omit if the nut butter is salted)
- Gluten-free rice cereal
- Coconut flakes
- Powdered sugar
- Cocoa powder
- Dairy-free mini chocolate chips (We used Enjoy Life)
- Chopped nuts or sunflower seeds
- Ground flax seeds or wheat germ
- Add the peanut, nut or seed butter, dairy-free milk powder and honey to a medium bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined, or with your hands as it gets thick.
- Pinch off a small section of the dough and roll into a ball that's approximately 1-inch in diameter. Continue with the rest of the dough.
- Roll the balls in your desired coating, or leave plain.
- Place on waxed paper.
- Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate any leftovers.
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We love this recipe. To add a good sensory touch and to make the mixing easier, we wash our hands thoroughly and do the initial mixing of the ingredients with our hands in a large bowl. Much easier to mix this way and it is fun for the kids to be involved. Fun to lick our fingers clean when we’re done mixing!
That’s fantastic! Thanks for the fun tip Sarah.
That’s a great idea!
Do you think pure maple syrup could be substituted for honey or agave? Both of those are far too high in excess fructose for our son who has fructose malabsorption.
Yes, maple syrup should work Kim.
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These would be PERFECT for my 9 year old. He doesn’t ever have an appetite nor want to eat, and I’m constantly hounding him to get in some calories and protein. I’ve NEVER seen him turn down chocolate though, so perhaps these will be a winner 🙂
These are so, so kid friendly. Hopefully that means a win for you!
These portable peanut butter protein balls are a great snack for busy lives! Love all the different coating options you have!
I love the non-sticky magic that happens when you mix nut butters with honey. And I LOVE all these great coating ideas. What other alternative powdered milks are out there?
That’s so true! It’s a bizarre yet very cool reaction. I like the Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder. I’ve had success with Growing Naturals Brown Rice Milk Powder, but they have at least temporarily stopped producing it. I haven’t tried the other brands, but there are several. I actually think pea protein powder could work great, too, but didn’t want to add that to the notes above without testing.