How much sugar is in peanut butter balls?

Peanut butter balls, also known as buckeyes, are a popular holiday treat made by mixing together peanut butter, powdered sugar, and sometimes chocolate. They are a sweet, peanut-y bite that can be whipped up easily for parties, gifting, or just enjoying at home. But with all that powdered sugar, just how much sugar is packed into each peanut butter ball? Let’s take a closer look.

What are Peanut Butter Balls?

Peanut butter balls are made by mixing together peanut butter and powdered sugar, sometimes with additional ingredients like cocoa powder or vanilla. The mixture is rolled into small balls, about 1 inch in diameter, and often dipped into melted chocolate or decorated.

They have a soft, fudge-like texture thanks to the powdered sugar. The peanut butter provides a strong peanut flavor. When combined, you get a sweet and nutty treat that is hard to resist!

Peanut butter balls go by many names, including:

– Buckeyes: Resembling the brown nut of the buckeye tree, these peanut butter balls are swirled with a chocolate top to mimic the tree’s seedpods.

– Peanut butter fudge: The powdered sugar gives these a smooth fudge-like texture.

– Peanut butterballs: A simple, descriptive name for the treat.

– Peanut butter bonbons: Fancy name emphasizing these are candy confections.

No matter what you call them, peanut butter balls are a classic candy perfect for any occasion.

Peanut Butter Ball Ingredients

Peanut butter balls have just a few main ingredients, though the amounts can vary by recipe. These are the core components:

– Peanut butter: Creamy or crunchy peanut butter works. Often about 1 cup is used.

– Powdered sugar: Also called confectioners’ sugar, this provides sweetness and texture. Around 2 cups is typical.

– Chocolate (optional): Melted chocolate coats the peanut butter balls for an extra layer of flavor. About 1/2 cup or a package of chocolate chips.

– Additional flavors (optional): Things like vanilla, cocoa powder, honey, etc can customize the flavor.

By adjusting the ratios of peanut butter and powdered sugar, you can achieve anything from a soft, fudge-like ball to a firmer, drier texture. More powdered sugar makes a softer ball. Similarly, melted chocolate on the outside makes the balls richer.

How Much Sugar is in Powdered Sugar?

To determine how much overall sugar is in peanut butter balls, we need to look at the main source of sugar: the powdered sugar.

Powdered sugar, also called confectioners’ sugar or icing sugar, is granulated white sugar that has been ground into a smooth powder and combined with a small amount of cornstarch. The cornstarch helps prevent clumping and makes it easy to dust over baked goods.

Plain white granulated sugar is 100% sucrose. Powdered sugar contains about 97% sucrose mixed with 3% cornstarch.

So for every 1 cup of powdered sugar used, you get:

– 0.97 cups of sucrose (table sugar)

– 0.03 cups cornstarch (a non-sweet thickener)

Since most peanut butter ball recipes use about 2 cups powdered sugar, that equates to:

– 1.94 cups pure sucrose sugar

– 0.06 cups cornstarch

This means powdered sugar contains nearly the same amount of sugar as plain white sugar!

Knowing this sugar content in the main ingredient gives us the information we need to calculate overall sugar content.

Sugar in Basic Peanut Butter Balls

Armed with the knowledge of how much sugar is in powdered sugar, we can now estimate the total sugar content of basic peanut butter balls.

Let’s look at a typical simple recipe:

– 1 cup creamy peanut butter
– 2 cups powdered sugar

We already determined 2 cups powdered sugar contains 1.94 cups granulated sucrose.

Peanut butter contains some natural sugars, but a negligible amount compared to the large quantity of added powdered sugar. According to the USDA, 1 cup of creamy peanut butter has about 3 grams sugar. We can ignore this small amount.

So in a basic peanut butter ball:

  • Powdered sugar: 1.94 cups sugar
  • Peanut butter: 0 grams sugar

**Total sugar per batch: 1.94 cups, or 970 grams sugar**

This is quite a lot of sugar for a small confection! For comparison, a 1.55oz Hershey’s milk chocolate bar contains 24 grams sugar. So this peanut butter ball recipe has over 40 times more sugar than that chocolate bar.

To find the sugar per peanut butter ball, we need to know how many balls the recipe yields. With about 1 tablespoon of dough per ball, this recipe makes around 36 balls.

*So each individual peanut butter ball contains about 27 grams of sugar.*

Sugar in More Complex Recipes

The basic peanut butter ball recipe has just two ingredients. But many recipes add additional ingredients that can increase the overall sugar content.

Common extra ingredients include:

– Chocolate coating

– Vanilla

– Cocoa powder

– Condensed milk

– Additional peanut butter

– Butter or shortening

– Graham cracker crumbs

– Honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup

All of these mix-ins can add both flavor and extra sugar to the peanut butter balls. For example, if a recipe also includes:

– 1/2 cup chocolate chips

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 1 Tbsp honey

The added sugars would contribute:

– 1/2 cup chocolate chips: 54 grams sugar

– 1 tsp vanilla: 2 grams sugar

– 1 Tbsp honey: 17 grams sugar

That’s an extra 73 grams total sugar, bringing the per ball sugar content up to around 34 grams with these extras – a 25% increase!

As you modify a peanut butter ball recipe with extra flavors and ingredients, be mindful that many of these add-ins can tack on extra sugar grams.

How Peanut Butter Type Affects Sugar Content

Another factor that impacts the total sugar content of peanut butter balls is the type of peanut butter used. Let’s compare:

Regular Creamy Peanut Butter

Contains around 3 grams sugar per serving, which we determined is negligible compared to the powdered sugar.

Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

Has 1 gram sugar per serving. Also a minimal effect.

Reduced-Sugar Peanut Butter

With about 1 gram sugar per serving, this also won’t change the totals much.

Powdered Peanut Butter

Since powdered peanut butter contains less fat, it requires more powdered sugar to achieve the right consistency in the balls. An extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar is typical. This adds 12-24 grams more sugar per recipe.

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter

Eliminates the negligible natural sugars, but still requires copious powdered sugar. Overall sugar per ball changes little.

So in summary, the type of peanut butter generally does not have a significant impact on the total sugar content. Powdered peanut butter requires a bit more powdered sugar, resulting in slightly higher sugar content.

Reducing Sugar in Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut butter balls are undeniably a sugary confection. However, there are some techniques you can use to cut back on the sugar a bit:

– Use just 1/2 cup powdered sugar instead of 2 cups. They will be drier and crumbly, so you may need to add butter or milk to bind it.

– Substitute alternative sweeteners like erythritol, stevia, xylitol, or Splenda for up to 1 cup of the powdered sugar. These provide sweetness without as much sugar.

– Coat in dark chocolate – it will seem sweeter so you can use less powdered sugar. The cocoa also adds flavor to cut down on the need for as much sweetness.

– Add peanut flavor boosters like toasted nuts or peanut butter chips so less sugar is needed.

– Use sugar-free chocolate chips or cocoa powder.

– Boost texture with graham cracker crumbs rather than extra powdered sugar.

– Add peanut butter directly rather than powdered sugar if the balls are too sticky.

While these tweaks can help lower the sugar content a bit, the basic recipe will always contain a high amount of sugar to achieve the signature sweet flavor and texture. Just be mindful of portion sizes when indulging in these sweet treats!

Nutrition Info for Homemade Peanut Butter Balls

Now that we crunched the numbers on sugar quantity, let’s look at the full nutrition profile of homemade peanut butter balls.

We’ll use the nutrition info for 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter and powdered sugar to calculate totals for about 36 balls from one recipe.

Nutrient Amount
Calories 85 kcal
Carbohydrates 11g
Sugar 10g
Fiber 0.5g
Protein 2g
Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 1.5g

As you would expect given the high sugar content, peanut butter balls are high in calories and carbs. There is also some protein and fat from the peanut butter. But overall, these are a sugary, high calorie confection without much nutritional benefit beyond a bit of protein.

Portion control is key if you want to indulge in peanut butter balls! Stick to 1 or 2 balls to keep sugar and calories in check.

Comparing Homemade vs Store-Bought

We’ve focused on homemade peanut butter ball nutrition thus far. But you can also purchase pre-made peanut butter balls and bucks from stores. How does the nutrition compare?

Here is the nutrition data for 1 store-bought peanut butter buckeye ball (1/2 oz):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 74 kcal
Carbohydrates 8g
Sugar 7g
Protein 1g
Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 2g

Comparing this to the per-ball totals for homemade, we see:

– Store-bought is slightly lower in calories, carbs, and sugar.

– Fat and protein is similar.

– Homemade may have slightly more fiber from the peanut skins.

So store-bought peanut butter balls are very similar to homemade. But since ingredients vary by brand, check labels closely if you are concerned about sugar content. Homemade allows you to control added sugar.


Peanut butter balls definitely qualify as a sweet treat! Each ball contains around 25-35 grams of sugar, mainly from the large amount of powdered sugar in the recipe. Choosing reduced sugar ingredients and limiting portion size is important for balancing taste and nutrition. Though if you’ve got a sweet tooth, peanut butter balls are tough to resist! Just be mindful of the sugar content and enjoy in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

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