How To Make Homemade Energy Balls (A Step By Step Guide)
Learn how to make homemade energy balls in just five steps! Healthy energy balls are a healthy snack staple for busy moms. Thus, learning the easiest way to make them is a game-changer. Soft, chewy, and allergy-friendly, homemade energy balls can be made with minimal processed sugars and in just about every flavor!
Homemade energy balls are one of the top healthy toddler snacks I truly believe in. We always have some on hand because they make busy days a little bit easier. We love them because:
- they're nutrient-dense
- they can be made in a variety of flavors
- no baking required!
- you can get the kids in the kitchen to help
And while following a recipe can always be done, in my experience it's nice to know how to make homemade energy balls using only what you have on hand.
What Makes An Energy Ball Healthy?
For me, the purpose of homemade energy balls is to have a healthy, simple snack on hand. Though most energy balls are date-based (a natural sugar), what I strive for is:
- lots of healthy fats to boost brain development
- some sort of protein to keep kids full
Remember, homemade energy balls naturally contain sugar as their base is normally dried fruit. This isn't the end of the world so long as it's balanced out with fats and proteins to slow any sort of sugar spike.
The reason I prefer to use natural sugars in place of processed ones is because at least there will be other benefits to consuming them. Dates, for instance, are also a great source of fiber and help keep kids (and adults!) "regular". For tips and tricks on helping kids poop, you can check out this blog post.
How To Make Homemade Energy Balls Step One: Choosing A Base
The base of your energy balls recipe is going to be the bulk of it. In fact, typically there are two main bases used when making this healthy snack:
- dried figs
Both dates and figs will help bind the energy balls together as well as keep the balls sweet in flavor.
Oats can be used as a base to some extent as well. However, if you're going that route you need to use something to hold the energy balls together (honey, syrup etc). Thus, for the sake of this five-step guide, we're going to focus on figs or dates.
Along with choosing which dried fruit you wish to use, you'll also want to soak the fruits for 20 minutes before blending. This softens the dried fruit and makes it easier to work with.
Once soaked, use a food processor to blend the base into a paste. If the energy balls are for very young kids, make sure the paste is super smooth. For older kids, some texture is fine.
Step Two: Healthy Fats
The next step is ensuring you have some healthy fats in your mix! We opt to use:
- almond flour
- any and all nuts
- seeds (pumpkin, sunflower seeds, chia, flax)
- shredded coconut
If using nuts or larger seeds, grind them into a flour (or textured chunks) before mixing them in with the date paste.
Step Three: Add Some Bulk
If you've mixed the first two ingredients, you'll have something very tasty but also a big bow of sticky 😉
The next step to both add a bit more to the homemade energy balls as well as stretch your ingredients further is to add some filler. Oats (gluten-free if needed), puffed rice, and puffed quinoa are our favorite options.
You can find the oats if you need to but we typically leave them as is.
Step Four: Nut Butters & Sticky Stuff
Adding in a bit more sticky stuff will help the texture once you chose your "add-ins". You can read more below about finding a balance to support texture.
Any and all nut butter will add an extra bit of healthy fats. If you need a nut-free option, using Sun Butter is a great choice. However, if you don't want to add in nut butter (or don't have any) you can use an additional sweetener.
I personally don't go this route often as between the base and the add-ins there's lots of sugar.
The exception to this (for myself personally) is raw honey. I make ours with raw honey every so often as honey is an amazing way to boost the immune system and help with seasonal allergies. Every so often I'll use blackstrap molasses as it's high in iron.
Step Five: Add-Ins
This is where the fun begins! Add-ins are what allow you to customize the flavor of the energy balls or to boost their nutrition. My favorite add-in and the one I use most frequently is collagen powder.
While collagen powder will not alter the taste of the homemade energy balls, it does give it a protein hit! Plant-based protein is amazing (and you'll get lots from the nuts and seeds) but sometimes I do like having more.
Collagen is a beneficial part of bone broth and wonderful for your hair, skin, and nails. Learn more about collagen and why you may want to boost your intake. However, unlike bone broth, it doesn’t taste like well, bone broth.
Similarly, collagen powder is odorless and flavorless. Plus, if ethically sourced one of the purest forms of protein you can give to your kids! I grab my collagen from Perfect Supplements and while I love their big tub of powder, I love the individual packets even more!
I find collagen the easiest way to boost protein in smoothies, vegan yogurts, oatmeal, or any other dish. It blends and mixes well and there are zero flavors to it. Plus, Perfect Supplements sources their collagen from pasture-raised (grass-fed) cows. So, I trust it.
Grab some collagen powder and use code mamabear10 to save some money.
Use The Following Add-s To Switch Up Flavor & Texture
- cacao powder (makes the energy balls chocolate and gives a lot of calcium!)
- enjoy life chocolate chips
- dried fruit if you find it necessary
- more nuts (chopped) to give the balls texture)
- magnesium powder (I grab mine from Perfect Supplements. Learn more about its benefits)
You can really add in anything you haven't added it already. If you want to keep the texture of the energy balls very smooth, you'll want to grind everything you add-in. Personally, we like our energy balls with some crunch (and I'm lazy) so we just throw everything in a bowl and call it a day.
How To Make Energy Balls: Ratios & Tips
Once you choose your ingredients, there's a bit of a trial and error period on finding the right texture. My girls don't ever care if the energy balls are a bit sticky. However, if you're giving them to your kids in the car, you will.
A good starting ratio for homemade energy balls is:
- 1.5 cup of dates or figs
- ⅔ cups nuts/oats/seeds
- ½ bulk
- ½ cup add ins
Soak the or figs in warm water for twenty minutes. While that's happening, grind the healthy fats and bulk into flour.
Make the date paste (by processing them in a food processor, you may have to scrape the sides) and combine with the fats. Stir in any nut butter you wish to use and add in anything you want for texture.
Depending on your add-ins, you need to tweak the texture of the balls. Meaning, if you use collagen and cacao powder your energy balls will be slightly too dry. If you opt for lots of nut butter, the energy balls will be sticky and not hold together.
How To Tweak & Troubleshoot:
If the homemade energy ball mixture seems to sticky (you can't even begin to portion it off), add in more flour-based options (ground nuts, coconut, bulk). Keep adding until the stickiness improves.
If the energy balls are too wet and sticky, use a bit of coconut flour (1-2 tablespoons). Mix it in and let them sit for 3-5 minutes. Coconut flour absorbs liquid.
For energy balls that seem too dry (this is rarer) use a bit more nut butter, honey, or in rare cases almond milk to ensure you can mix everything together.
You want the mixture to be slightly tacky (in the sense that it holds together) but not wet sticky.
When rolling the balls out, make sure to either grease or wet your hands ahead of time so that the mixture doesn't stick to you your hands too badly. On the other hand, you can also use a trigger ice cream scoop!
Lastly, if you roll the balls but still find them sticky, don't worry! Just portion out some chopped nuts, almond flour or shredded coconut and roll the balls into it. This "coats" the balls and makes them look super fancy while at the same time solving your problem 😉
How To Store Homemade Energy Balls
Once you portion out the energy balls, place them on a parchment-lined cutting board and into the freezer.
The awesome thing about dates is that they don't freeze solid. Meaning, you can actually eat most energy balls right out of the freezer!
Homemade energy balls tend to last months in the freezer. In fact, I've never actually had energy balls go bad- we eat them too quickly!
Our Favorite Energy Ball Recipes
Truth be told, I rarely follow a recipe when I make healthy energy balls anymore! But we do have a few staples:
- chocolate coconut energy balls
- raw superfood energy balls (these I find are more for myself though my kiddos do like them!)
- snowman energy balls for Christmas
- cherry vanilla energy balls
Don't forget to pin these easy steps for How To Make Energy Balls!
Making your own homemade energy balls is easy and delicious. Energy balls are a quick no-bake recipe you can whip up and store in the freezer for when you need a healthy, pre-made fuel boosting snack. Customize your energy balls to your favorite flavors and reap the health benefits!