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I love pecan pie. I mean, I really love pecan pie. It’s pretty much my favorite thing about the holiday season.

And my grandmother made a damn good chocolate pecan pie. She always complained that the nuts were too toasted, but that’s the way I like it…deeply browned, with a caramel, gooey filling.

What I don’t love? The fact that it’s made with corn syrup. Ick. Is that even a real food? Think about it…how hard do you have to press a pice of corn to squeeze syrup from it? Ick, ick, ick. I’m not opposed to a little natural sugar in a dessert, but the corn syrup had to go.

Plus, this year I’m following a gluten-free diet. That does not bode well for holiday dessert season.

Thus, I was determined to replicate that pecan pie flavor in a healthier way that I could enjoy.

pecans dates coconut butter cacao vanilla cinnamon

I started with pecans, obviously, and added dates to hold it together and as a sweetener. Melted coconut butter—which is creamier than coconut oil—gave it that rich, buttery flavor, and vanilla extract, cinnamon, raw cacao, and a dash of sea salt gave it that traditional taste. I left out the nutmeg in traditional recipes, because I’m not a fan, but you can feel free to add some if you feel it’s necessary!

I wanted to add a little protein boost to these guys, so I also added hemp protein.

So, that was the plan. I tossed it all into the food processor … and you know what? It didn’t stick together! My dough was too crumbly. So I added in 1/4 cup of Sunbutter, and perfecto! It doughed right up!

pecan pie dough

I rolled them into 1-inch balls, and the recipe made about 25 balls.

pecan pie balls

These were delicious! Totally satisfied that holiday season pecan pie craving! They’re even better after a long chill in the fridge (at least 12 hours), so make them in advance if you plan to bring them to a party.

With 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per ball, these are a much healthier option to bring to your holiday cookie swap!

pecan pie protein balls holiday cookies dairy-free gluten-free

Pecan Pie Protein Balls

Prep Time15 minutes
Servings: 25
Calories: 92kcal


  • 1.5 cups pecans
  • 1.5 cups dates
  • 1 scoop hemp protein
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup Sunbutter


  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
  • Roll into approximately 1-inch balls.
  • Chill for several hours before serving.


Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

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