Crunchy Caramel Apple Energy Balls (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Christmas may be over, but holiday flavors are still reigning supreme in my kitchen...and there's no better way to kick off 2018 than by enjoying some healthy energy balls that taste like your favorite caramel apple!

These crunchy caramel apple energy balls actually happened by accident. I was completely out of ripe bananas (insert shocked emoji here), but I was craving some of my favorite homemade energy balls. What's a gluten free girl to do except raid her parent's kitchen, find some leftover applesauce and create a festive recipe for energy balls?

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

While I may not have spent hours planning how to make these energy bites, the combination of chewy dates, crunchy rice cereal, sweet applesauce and spicy cinnamon is a definite win for anyone craving a sweet snack or healthy dessert. The applesauce and cinnamon give these energy balls some apple-pie-ish undertones while the mashed dates offer a chewy, caramel-like flavor. As a bonus, this bliss ball recipe is gluten free, vegan, nut free and allergy friendly. Depending on the kind of applesauce and puffed rice cereal you choose to use, you can easily make these homemade energy balls refined sugar free as well. And did I already mention - these energy balls are addictively delicious?!?

Ready to dive into these crunchy, chewy, gooey delights? Then gather the following ingredients:

Ingredients for 12 Medium Caramel Apple Energy Balls:

4 ounces of applesauce (make sure you use a gluten free and vegan version, or even homemade applesauce, if you want these energy balls to be gluten free and vegan!)
4-5 soaked and shredded dates
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp of flour (I used rice, quinoa and coconut flour)
1/4 cup puffed rice cereal (I enjoy Erewhon Organic's puffed rice, but any will do!)
1/4 cup mixed seeds and/or chopped nuts (I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds)
A hearty sprinkling of cinnamon

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

How to Whip Up Your Homemade Energy Balls 

Making these energy balls is super simple! If your dates aren't soft to the touch, begin by soaking your dates in enough water to completely cover their tops. I do this anytime I make energy balls with dates, and soaking the dates for at least 20 minutes always makes it a lot easier to incorporate them into the bliss ball batter!

Once your dates have plumped up some, either puree them in a blender or simply shred/mash them with your fingers. When I'm making a smaller batch of energy balls or not using as many dates in a dish (like with this recipe for energy balls), I tend to just use my hands to break up the dates. It's easier, faster...and it gives me one less kitchen tool (AKA, my blender) to have to clean up!

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

Add your mashed dates and choice of applesauce to a medium bowl, followed by the flours, seeds and spices. For the ultimate crunchy energy balls, mix all of those ingredients well before stirring in the puffed rice. I've found that mixing the puffed rice too much will make it soggy, so less is more with stirring at that point! If your gluten free energy ball batter feels too dry, though, you can add a little more applesauce or water, one tablespoon at a time.

As for which flours and seeds to use, there are plenty of options. I typically like using flours with more neutral flavors (like rice and quinoa) for my bliss balls, but since I'm a fan of coconut, I threw some coconut flour in there as well. However, you can certainly use whatever gluten free flours you prefer. Similarly, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds tasted delicious in my vegan energy balls and I appreciated not having to chop them up. I bet that chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews would be just as delicious, though!

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

Once everything is well incorporated, it's time to get rolling! Put your desired amount of bliss ball batter between your palms (I probably use around one tablespoon of the mix for each of my energy balls) and roll until ball-shaped. Then, to help these caramel apple energy balls set up, place them on a parchment-lined baking pan and pop the whole thang into my freezer for 20 minutes. Once the energy balls have frozen solid, you can move them into a storage container.

Personally, I prefer keeping my homemade energy balls in my freezer. Not only does this keep them from going bad, but they have a delightfully crunchy texture when they've been stored in the freezer and thawed for five or so minutes before eating. However, you can also keep your festive healthy snacks in your fridge. Just be sure to eat them within a week and a half or so - if they even last that long!

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

As always, feel free to experiment with this easy snack recipe. Add more different spices or some of your favorite superfoods (I bet maca powder and/or turmeric would be especially tasty!). Increase the festive flavor of your energy balls by crumbling up freeze dried apple slices (both of those are affiliate links, FYI!) or spooning a dollop of apple butter into the mix. And if protein powder is your BFF, why not make these protein energy balls instead?

Caramel apples in snack form? Yes please! These #glutenfree and #vegan energy balls are #healthy, #nobake and taste like dessert.

However you decide to personalize these crunchy caramel apple energy balls, I can promise you this: if you're a fan of caramel apples, apple pie or just secretly healthy snacks that still manage to taste like dessert...these homemade energy balls need to end up on your holiday to-do list (or your 2018 New Year's Resolutions)!

Are you an applesauce fan? What holiday flavors are you still enjoying, even after Christmas has passed? Tell me in the comments!


  1. These look really good, a nice change up to the energy balls I'm use to. Thanks for sharing!


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