Buckeye Candy (with a Hint of Cardamom)

I was raised on the idea that: if you want a treat, you best learn how to make it yourself. And, if you want to learn how to make it correctly (or in other words: taste like my mom’s), you must follow the recipe exactly. The first part, I agree with- but the second part… bah. Not so.

Beginning when I was just fifteen I had started veganizing all of my mom’s, grandmother’s, aunts’ and cousins’ recipes out of an old box that my mom kept on the very top shelf of her highest kitchen cabinet (good thing I was one heck of a climber). Buckeye Candy*- popular here in the state of Ohio, where the magical buckeye trees flourish- is one of the first recipes I got my little vegan hands on.

I happen to think these vegan buckeye candies taste just as they should: incredibly unhealthy, rich and so so so delicious.

* I added the cardamom for extra yumminess, ’cause that’s how I roll.


Buckeye Candy ~ Vegan & Gluten Free


makes 30 buckeyes

  • 1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter (no hydrogenated oils)
  • 1 cup nondairy margarine, softened to room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 5 3/4 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1.5 bags nondairy chocolate chips (about 3 cups)


Mix together peanut butter and softened margarine until super smooth. ( If you’re margarine isn’t soft (because you are impatient- like I sometimes am) then feel free to whip these two ingredients together using a mixer until no margarine lumps remain. I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way, though.)

Stir in vanilla extract, cardamom, and sea salt.

Using electric mixer, slowly incorporate the confectioner’s sugar until little crumbles form. The mixture should go from very creamy to looking like pulverized, dry cookie dough… very very crumbly.

Take a pinch or two of the powder/dough and using your hands work to form into 1 inch balls. If they appear kinda uneven, keep working them in your hands until smooth and spherical.

Place each onto a cookie sheet and insert a toothpick into the center. Gently pat around the toothpick to kind of “seal” it into the peanut butter ball.

Chill in freezer for about 40 minutes, or until very firm. This prevents the toothpicks from sliding out while dipping.

Using a double boiler (or microwave) melt your chocolate until super smooth. Remove peanut butter balls from the freezer and carefully swirl the ball into the chocolate, taking care not to let the toothpick slide out. Place onto wax paper and repeat until all are covered.

Let stand at room temperature until chocolate has firmed up. Remove toothpicks and seal over the tiny hole in the middle.


….. I love to eat two in a row and then chug a gigantic glass of Almond Breeze. Heavenly.

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30 Responses to Buckeye Candy (with a Hint of Cardamom)

  1. So funny, I was talking the other day how much I wanted to try and veganize my mom’s buckeyes. No need! Not sure about the cardamom but if you say so, i’ll try it.

  2. Julie says:

    i am making these now. I didn’t love the taste of the earth balance when I tried the dough. We’ll see how they turn on once they are totally done. I’m curious, has anyone ever used the organic, tf free, vegetable shortening that you get in tubs at the health food store?

  3. […] sparat ungefär hundra av hennes godis- och kakrecept som jag tänker prova till jul. Till exempel, Buckeye Candy, Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Balls och Cinnamon Peanut […]

  4. […] Buckeye Candy (with a Hint of Cardamom) from Manifest Vegan […]

  5. Gina says:

    I have an obsession with peanut butter! These sound so good! Love the way you added in some cardamom :)

  6. Okay, I *waaaaaaant* these. Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate together in happiness?! Well done, as always!

  7. briarrose says:

    Yummy treat. Things always taste better when you make it yourself. ;) It’s a rare day when I follow a recipe exactly….a crime against nature I say.

  8. Jenny Nguyen says:

    I just love cardamom in desserts

  9. Alicia says:

    Oh wow! I love your idea of adding cardamom! I have actually never had a buckeye, but your photos make me want them!

  10. Katrina says:

    I’ve always loves buck-eyes! Your recipe is fantastic

  11. Jennifer says:

    Whoa! I just saw vegan Buckeyes over at Lettuce Free Vegan! I work at OSU and I’m loving all the Buckeye love today! I think the cardamom addition sounds AWESOME!

  12. lazysmurf says:

    I LOVE buckeyes, I made them last Christmas with some weird chocolate and they were awful! Yours look beautiful!

  13. bigFATcook says:

    Hey! These little treats look amazing!! I’m trying this myself, but with regular margarine and chocolate:) I bet they’d be just as delicious as these:))

    Greets from BFC!!!

  14. kittee says:

    buckeyes are one of my favorite treats of all time. i love you cardamon addition.


  15. Cecil says:

    Funny, just this morning I was thinking about how I needed to veganize my mother’s peanut butter ball recipe – it’s pretty much the same as you’ve got going here, except hers calls for crisped rice cereal and she covers the whole thing in chocolate (no buckeyes in Tennessee).

    It had not occurred to me to put cardamom in them – I love cardamom and so will try it. (My favorite thing about cardamom is that it is central to both Indian and Scandinavian cooking – there are not many things you can say that about)

  16. Mo says:

    Looks so, so good!

  17. Julia says:

    These sound lovely! And the cardamon is a very nice touch! Thanks!

  18. Cherie says:

    Those look incredible! Wow. Not much of a sweets person myself but these might be worth a shot.


  19. jessy says:

    these are just like the peanut butter balls my grandmother used to make, only she added in crushed graham crackers. i always loved those little balls of yumminess, and your buckeye candy looks just as delicious, Allyson! i’m glad someone else loves caradmom as much as i do. when i first tried the stuff years ago it went on my “icky spices because jessy’s close-minded” list, but i’ve finally come to my senses. ah ha ha! i also agree on the homemade treats, but recipes were made to be broken and recreated to be even more delicious with our own fun twists. superw00t!

  20. Hannah says:

    I’ve been adding cardamom to all my baked goods lately! I’m obsessed with it, and then you throw peanut butter and chocolate into the mix? Thank you so much; I can’t wait to make these :)

  21. Organarchy says:

    My Mom was from Ohio [grew up in FL] and we would make Buckeyes every Christmas. Very rich but ADDICTIVE!

    Happy MoFo’ing!

  22. Andrea says:

    One of these days, I’ve GOT to make some chocolate-covered peanut butter filled treats. I love your toothpick-freezer method.

    • allyson says:

      yes you do, Andrea. You will be very happy to have them around. :) The freezer method is very very good, but fleeting… you kinda have to work fast, or it tends to slide off! But, it beats the heck out of the other methods I have tried!

  23. miss v says:

    say what? this is like a regional version of a the reese’s peanut butter cup. only cuter? i’m loving it and it seems pretty easy to make.

    and you started veganizing at 15? shoot, girl! you are quite the prodigy.

    • allyson says:

      :) prodigy… or (more likely) desperate for chocolate covered peanut butter goodness. It IS like a regional version of the Reese’s cup! Never thought of it that way. How charming is that?

  24. Laurel says:

    I’ve never actually had a buckeye candy, I know, I am SO deprived, whine. I love the idea of freezing them with the toothpick before dipping into the chocolate. That totally beats the whole using two forks to dip and drain the candy with. I have two bags of cardamom which I got from an Indian grocer. One bag is like dried up brown seed pods and the other are green pumpkin seed looking things. I wonder which you would grind up to use for seasoning as nobody sells the stuff around here. I know because I was making Danish Pastry for my husband last year and could not find it anywhere. Cardamom is like a strongly flavored cinnamon isn’t it? Hmm. I’m wondering if I should use some with my next batch of chocolate acorn squash ala The Manifest Vegan.

    • allyson says:

      cardamom is a magnificent flavor that compares to no other spice. It sounds like you have two types of cardamom going on there- which, in my opinion, is a very wonderful thing! Try breaking open the pods and crushing/grinding the seeds that are inside. Mine is from a little container- so I’m not sure whether it would be of the black or the green variety. But, I say, experiment! Yes on using it in the acorn squash custard.. yes!!

  25. Deanna says:

    I loooooove buckeyes. They’re a standard holiday treat in my house. And, so easy to veganize, too.

    Yours look delicious as usual – makes me want to run right home and make some. Except that I already have cookies and pie at home. Dang holiday season. :)

  26. Fanny says:

    They sounds awesome!!