These raw and vegan cacao hazelnut energy balls are made with just 3 nutritious ingredients: dates, almond butter, cacao nibs and hazelnuts!

A plate full of chocolate energy balls.

Ingredient Notes

  • Cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are readily available online, in natural health food stores and in some well-stocked grocery stores. If you can find them in bulk, even better!
  • Hazelnuts. Look for plain hazelnuts or filberts with no added oil or salt. Dry roasted is okay though!
  • Dates. I like sayer or medjool dates best for recipes like this but since we’ll be soaking them first, any variety will do. If your dates are already soft and moist, you should be able to skip soaking.
  • Almond butter. You’ll need just a little almond butter to add some creaminess to the recipe. You can also use tahini, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter or peanut butter.

I also add salt to the recipe as well. Although not required, it really enhances the flavour of the cacao. I recommend pink or grey sea salt, fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt but any good quality sea salt works great.

Hazelnut energy balls on a plate sitting on a napkin on a white surface.

Recipe Method

With just 4 simple ingredients you can imagine these little bites are very easy to make…and you’d be right!

Step 1. Soak the Dates

Start by soaking the dates. Add them to a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 15-20 minutes. If you leave them a bit longer, that’s totally fine.

Drain them well before using them in the recipe. Totally fine to add them to the food processor wet though. No need to dry them, just drain off the excess water.

Dates soaking in a bowl of water.

Do I have to soak the dates?

No, you don’t. I’ve made these without soaking the dates. It just depends on the quality and moisture content of the dates you use. Soft and moist medjool or sayer dates probably don’t need soaking.

If you skip the soaking and the dough isn’t coming together, no problem, just add a few teaspoons of warm water until it does.

Step 2. Blend, Roll and Enjoy!

Dates, hazelnuts, cacao nibs and almond butter in a food processor.
Raw energy ball dough in a food processor.
A hazelnut energy ball with a bite taken out of it sitting on a small plate.

Hazelnut Energy Balls Recipe

Heads up: if you don’t like the flavour of raw cacao nibs, you might not like this recipe.

Cacao has a very strong, somewhat bitter, unsweetened chocolate flavour, however, if you do like cacao, you will love the crunchy bite and rich chocolate flavour of these simple hazelnut energy balls.

More Energy Ball Recipes

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A plate full of chocolate energy balls.

Cacao Hazelnut Energy Balls

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 14 balls
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Vegan
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These delicious, sweet and soft energy balls feature 4 simple ingredients: hazelnuts, almond butter, cacao nibs and dates. With no added sugar or oil, these delicious bites are perfect for a healthy snack or dessert.


  • 1 cup (220 g) packed, pitted dates
  • 1 cup (145 g) hazelnuts or filberts
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or any good quality sea salt), optional


  1. Place dates in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak for 15 minutes (if using soft and moist medjool dates, you can skip soaking). Drain well. It’s okay if they’re a bit wet when you add them to the food processor. Just be sure to drain off all the excess water.
  2. While the dates are soaking, add the cacao nibs and hazelnuts to a food processor and process on high for about 30 seconds until it resembles a coarse, grainy meal.
  3. Add the almond butter and soaked, drained dates to the food processor with the hazelnut cacao mixture and mix into a thick, sticky dough. If the dough isn’t sticking together, add 1-2 tsp warm water and process until it does, however, if you soaked the dates it should be perfect.
  4. Roll the dough into 14 balls. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezer for up to 3 months.


If you don’t like cacao nibs on their own, this may not be the recipe for you as they have quite a strong cacao flavour. If you do like cacao nibs, you will love them paired with the sweet dates, hazelnuts and sea salt