With just two ingredients and possibly the easiest cooking instructions ever, chocolate peanut clusters (or nut clusters) are a tasty treat. Good all year round!
Making candy can be one of your bigger cooking challenges. For harder recipes, you’ll need a candy thermometer, knowledge of sugar stages and, sometimes, a little bit of courage!
But homemade peanut clusters are easy! They take two (2!) ingredients and a microwave. Even counting the salt, they’re 3-ingredient Peanut Clusters!
Plus they’re seriously tasty–and even on the healthy side (okay, healthy for candy.) With a flavor akin to the ever-popular peanut butter cup (my personal candy nemesis), and just minutes of working time, they’re even downright practical!
And if Chocolate Peanut Clusters seem a little low brow—the kind of treat you feed your 8-year-old or you husband’s redneck cousin, they’re easy to dress up. Just make this with fancy nuts like cashews, pecans and/or almonds. Or dress them up with some chunky sea salt, shredded coconut or pretty sprinkles. All good!
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. I wasn’t prepared for how tasty these would be. So then I made three batches. Come on, what’s a better simple treat than chocolate covered peanuts!
Easy. Melt, mix, dollop, done! I can’t believe I was afraid these would be hard or messy!
(Relatively) healthy. Come on, we’re all going to indulge occasionally. As long as you don’t overdo the quantity, you could do a lot worse than these.
Scalable. This recipe is super easy to do in a big or small batches. And if I can make a small batch in minutes (one that will disappear and not tempt me for days), this may just become my go-to food reward.
Dietary Restriction Friendly. Chocolate Peanut Clusters are easy to adapt to special diets, so they’re on my menu a lot. Just be aware that the last time I made a sugar free batch for a special needs guest, everyone else chowed down too. So, pro-tip… make a lot if company’s coming!
What You’ll Need
- Semi-sweet chocolate. This provides the tasty chocolate coating. You can use another chocolate variety if you prefer. I use chips, but you can break up chocolate bars too.
- Shelled peanuts. This adds crunch and peanut flavor. You can use other nuts if you prefer.
- Optional toppings like flaky sea salt, colored jimmies or shredded coconut. Sea salt is my favorite.
- No special tools required!
Step by Step Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Put the chocolate into a rounded glass bowl (for easier stirring) and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir vigorously. Heat again for 30 seconds and stir vigorously again. After this, heat in 10 second intervals followed by stirring until melted.
Stir peanuts into the chocolate.
Drop by spoonfuls (or scoopfuls) onto the parchment (or see Variations below). I made 4 rows with 5 candies each for a total of 20.
If desired, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, flaked coconut or other toppings. (See Variations below for ideas.)
Let cool at room temperature or move to the refrigerator for faster cooling. In a cool house, they can be stored at room temperature. Otherwise store in the refrigerator.
Some Other ways to Melt Chocolate
When I melt chocolate to use for dipping, I have a somewhat involved process to keep the chocolate tempered (that is crisp and glossy) but it really isn’t needed here. So I am a big proponent of the very easy microwaving that I detailed above. But there also are a couple other methods.
Double Boiler. Before microwaves, the classic way to melt chocolate was in a double boiler—or its common substitute a heat proof bowl set into a medium saucepan. You put a small amount of water in the saucepan, then set the bowl or top unit into the saucepan making sure the water doesn’t touch it. Then the whole thing goes onto a medium burner where the steam (and a little stirring) melts the chocolate safely. I have done this a number of times and it’s effective though a little slower than microwaving.
Crock Pot. I haven’t personally tried this method, but many people use it. Just be sure that your slow cooker has a very low setting to avoid burning the chocolate. The method usually involves spraying the pan with nonstick spray, then melting the chocolate, with or without peanuts, on low. It takes about an hour and needs stirring every 15-20 minutes. It seems slower and just as tedious as microwaving, so I’ll probably stick with microwaving. But if you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.
How to Serve
Chocolate Peanut Clusters are lovely served as part of a cookie or candy platter for dessert. And since they’re light, I’ve even served them before dinner as a sweet appetizer. They’re also nice to keep around as a snack or to satisfy a craving for something a little sweet.
As a bonus, Peanut Clusters look nice and package up well. So consider boxing or bagging some up as a gift over the holidays, as a special teacher thank you, or anytime an edible snack would be welcome.
Finally a pro tip here. If you’re going to serve these outdoors, or in a warm room, set your serving dish on top of a tray of ice. And make them in mini muffin cups where, if they get a little too soft, they’ll at least be contained.
If this has you in the mood for more peanut and chocolate goodies, take a look at my Homemade Peanut Butter Cups which are also fun and easy.
Other nut clusters
Prefer the idea of chocolate pecan clusters? Just use pecans instead of peanuts. Chocolate almond clusters? Use almonds. And consider mixed nuts. All good!
If I were making this to convince my 8-year-old that Mom can serve normal food once in a while, I’d probably make them plain.
But it’s seriously fun (and tasty) to top them. Our hands down favorite topping is coarse sea salt. This adds a touch of elegance and nice flavor accent. And those topped with sea salt disappeared first!
Shredded coconut is another pretty option. Just be sure to use unsweetened if you are working with people who are sugar free.
And finally, sprinkles are lovely and allow you to tailor the colors to the occasion. Use red and white heart sprinkles for Valentine’s Day or wedding favors. Use school colors for a graduation party. Or go with holiday colors like red and green for Christmas or red, white and blue for the 4th of July.
But be aware that colored sugar doesn’t look quite as nice. Oops!
Alternative ways to form the candies
For the most perfect petite treats, you can dip nuts individually, then set them in a grouping on wax paper. This is especially nice if you want to get exactly one pecan, one cashew and one almond altogether. But truthfully, once I realized how easy it was, I was sold on the (lazier) scoop and drop method.
If you’re going to be serving them for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day or a wedding, you can use heart shaped silicone molds. I’d top with romantic sprinkles then.
And if portability is an issue, you can spoon them into mini muffin liners. I just made some for a sick friend this way!
I love this recipe for events where people have special diets. Chocolate Peanut Clusters are already vegetarian and gluten free. To make them vegan and dairy free just use semi-sweet or dark chocolate (though double check the label for milk products). I’m a dark chocolate peanut clusters gal myself!
And to go keto or sugar-free, there are a number of sugar free chocolate brands on the market now in chocolate chip or bar form.
If your house is cool (under around 72 F), you can probably store these covered at room temperature. Much warmer and they should go into the refrigerator. They’ll probably stay fresh a couple weeks–but come on, they’re never going to last that long.
Tips & FAQs
If decorating with colored jimmies, think beyond formal holidays. You can do pink or blue for a gender reveal or school colors for a graduation party or school sports event.
Can I use Candy Melts or other Chip flavors? If you want to incorporate another flavor besides chocolate, you can swap in a flavored chip such as butterscotch in equal amounts. And I’ll admit I do love my Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats made with chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch.
Now you may see peanut cluster recipes that include a mixture of “chocolates.” Personally, I just use one for a few reasons. First, it’s easier to have fewer ingredients. And second I prefer the flavor and natural ingredients of real chocolate versus that of many candy melts or flavored chips.
Chocolate Peanut Clusters
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 2 cups chips or equivalent in chopped bars, can use sugar free chocolate
- 1 ½ cups shelled peanuts
- Optional flaky sea salt or other toppings
- Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Melt the chocolate as follows: (see “Other Ways to Melt Chocolate” above for other methods).
- Put chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into a rounded glass bowl (for easier stirring) and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir vigorously.
- Heat again for 30 seconds and stir vigorously again. After this, heat in 10 second intervals followed by stirring until melted.
- Stir peanuts into the chocolate.
- Drop by spoonfuls onto the parchment. If desired, sprinkle with flakey sea salt, flaked coconut or other toppings.
- Let cool at room temperature or move to the refrigerator for faster cooling.
- In a cool house, can be stored at room temperature. Otherwise store in the refrigerator.
Adapted from the original published July 2020.
For more Easy Chocolate Recipes
- Chocolate Loaf Cake by Cheese Curd In Paradise
- Chocolate Nut Clusters by Art of Natural Living
- Double Chocolate Rye Cookies by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Duff’s “The Brownie” by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Easy Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies by Blogghetti
- Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Tart by That Recipe
- Lunch Lady Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars by Family Around the Table
- No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars by Making Miracles
- Peanut Butter & Jelly Chocolate Cups by Sweet Beginnings
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse by Veggies First Then Dessert
- Salmon with Dill Sauce
- Peach Clafoutis with Berries