Vegan, dairy-free, and gluten free Pistachio Chocolate Balls are the dessert that just keeps giving.
These pistachio chocolate balls are for that person in your life.
- The one for whom it is impossible to shop because she already has everything.
- The one with unattainably high standards.
- The one you can’t invite over for dinner without first sending the complete menu for approval because she doesn’t eat X, Y, and Z.
No need to name names, you know the one.
This easy no-bake dessert is here to please all—the highly discerning and those of us who regularly walk around wearing socks that don’t match (raises hand).
5 Star Review
“I made these as a Christmas gift for my vegan neighbors this week and they are SO GOOD! “— Kara —
Like classic chocolate truffles, these pistachio chocolate balls are unapologetically rich, luxuriously chocolatey, and gloriously decadent.
However, unlike chocolate truffles:
- They are made entirely from healthy ingredients—a combination of dates, nuts, and chocolate.
- AND they’re suitable for almost any diet—they’re entirely gluten free, dairy free, vegan, or paleo. (For those who need a nut-free dessert, try Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffles).
No matter to whom you are serving them, these pistachio truffles will become a favorite treat.
How to Make Pistachio Chocolate Balls
If the concept of a healthy chocolate ball that tastes like a real truffle sounds more like a holiday miracle than reality, please allow me to introduce you to the wondrous combination of dates, nuts, and chocolate that make up these pistachio truffles.
- Dates. When blended with any kind of nut and unsweetened cocoa powder, Medjool dates form a sweet, smooth filling that is a serious dupe for the center of a chocolate truffle. (They’re also my secret to these Ginger Cookie Healthy Energy Balls.)
- Walnuts. Provide structure, body, and an extra layer of subtle nuttiness. You could also use pecans or almonds instead.
- Cocoa Powder. Gives the centers of these healthy truffles an intense chocolate flavor that will please any chocolate lover (like these Dark Chocolate Cookies).
- Pistachios. Offer a bright, festive finish if serving or gifting around the holidays. (This Honey Ricotta Dip with Pistachio and Apricot makes a festive holiday app too.)
- Vanilla. Enhances the chocolate flavors.
- Dark Chocolate. My recommendation for coating the nutty chocolate-date centers. You can also use milk chocolate or white chocolate, if preferred.
- Coconut Oil. Gives the chocolate a beautiful, glossy sheen once set.
- Toast the pistachios. WATCH CLOSELY so that they do not burn.
Once the pistachios are toasted, immediately remove them from the baking sheet to a bowl or plate so that they do not continue to toast and burn on the hot baking sheet.
- Soak the dates in water to rehydrate (if necessary).
- Meanwhile, grind the walnuts and pistachios together in a food processor. Set aside.
Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pistachios from the main filling to use as a topping for the truffles. I left mine rather coarse.
- Pulse together the dates, nuts, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt until a loose, malleable “dough” forms.
- Shape the filling into bite-sized balls, place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm.
- Melt the chocolate and stir in the coconut oil.
- Dip to coat each ball in melted chocolate, transfer to parchment paper, then sprinkle with reserved pistachios.
- Repeat with the remaining truffles, let the chocolate fully set, and ENJOY!
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or at room temperature for 1 week.
- To Freeze. Place truffles in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Set out at room temperature for a few minutes prior to serving.
You see, a universal gift for anyone on your holiday shopping list. Unless, of course, the recipient of your lovely pistachio truffles doesn’t like chocolate, in which case there’s always a sack of coal (or Honey Roasted Cashews if you’re feeling generous).
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not tried this recipe using regular dates. However, I imagine this swap would work. If you choose to experiment, I would love to hear your results.
No. Always double-check your labels before purchasing your chocolate since some brands do add milk or milk-based products to their chocolate.
At their core, these pistachio chocolate balls are very similar to energy bites made with dates (see these Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls). Where they differ in that they are coated in melted chocolate. Additionally, energy bites often contain other nutritionally-dense ingredients like chia seeds, flax, oats, cacao nibs, or shredded coconut.
Pistachio Chocolate Balls
- 1 cup shelled pistachios divided
- 8 pitted Medjool dates
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3.5 ounces dark chocolate I used 70%, roughly chopped (about a heaping 1/2 cup), dairy free if you’d like to make the truffles paleo/vegan. DO NOT use chocolate chips, as they will not melt smoothly
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pistachios on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until the pistachios smell toasty and fragrant, about 5 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY, and keep a close watch on them so that they do not burn. Once the pistachios are toasted, immediately remove them from the baking sheet to a bowl or plate so that they do not continue to toast and burn on the hot baking sheet.
- If the dates are hard or dry, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Let sit 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
- Place the walnuts and 3/4 cup of the toasted pistachios in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts reach the consistency of a meal. Remove from the food processor and set aside.
- Place the remaining 1/4 cup pistachios in the food processor, then pulse until they are as crushed as you would like them to be for sprinkling on top (I left mine somewhat coarse). Remove to a separate plate or bowl and save for topping the truffles.
- Place the pitted dates in the food processor. Pulse in long bursts until the dates form a sticky paste and only small bits remain (the dates may form a ball that sticks to the side). Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and 1/2 cup of the ground walnut-pistachio mixture. Pulse a few times to incorporate. Continue adding the ground nuts a few tablespoons at a time until you have a loose, malleable "dough" that can be scooped and pressed into balls.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a small scoop or spoon, scoop a portion of the dough, then roll it into a ball with your hands, pressing lightly as needed so that the ball holds together. Place the ball on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. (You will have about 12 truffles total, depending upon how large you roll them.) Place in the freezer and allow them to firm up for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, then set that bowl over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl and the water do not touch. Melt the chocolate, stirring often. When the chocolate is almost completely melted but you can still see a few pieces, remove the bowl from the pan. Add the coconut oil and stir until smooth and glossy, letting the residual heat of the chocolate melt the mixture the rest of the way.
- Remove the truffles from the freezer. Working one at a time, dip a truffle into the melted chocolate. Use two forks to roll it around so it’s coated, then use the forks to remove the truffle from the chocolate and lightly tap away any excess chocolate. Place the truffle on the parchment paper, then top immediately with some of the reserved chopped pistachios. Be sure to sprinkle it right away—the chocolate sets fast! Repeat with the remaining truffles. Let sit at room temperature for a minute or two to set. Enjoy!
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or at room temperature for 1 week.
- TO FREEZE: Place truffles in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Set out at room temperature for a few minutes prior to serving.
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