Introduction: How to Make Perfect Peanut Butter Cups

About: I'm a Mechanical Engineer who has been a part of this community for over 10 years! My interests have evolved over time, and now center around 3D printing.
It's a fact of life that practically everyone on the planet loves peanut butter cups.  As a result, I have been looking recipes that create the perfect peanut butter cups.  Many recipes that I have seen use a ton of powdered sugar, or graham cracker crumbs, none of which I believe would go into making professional peanut butter cups.  I just can't see Reese's mixing pounds and pounds of graham cracker crumbs into peanut butter in their factory.  In this Instructable I will show how I made delicious peanut butter cups without a bunch of needless ingredients.

This remarkable few-ingredient feat is accomplished through science!  In Step 3 I explain how the peanut butter filling is made.  This is done by making a sugar solution and heating it to soft ball stage, then mixing it with the peanut butter.  As the sugar solution cools while being mixed with the peanut butter, the sugar in the solution begins to crystallize and distribute evenly through the peanut butter.  This makes the peanut butter firmer, less sticky, and slightly sweet.  Perfect for peanut butter cups!

  1. Ingredients
  2. Chocolate Part 1
  3. Peanut Butter
  4. Chocolate Part 2
  5. Conclusion + Bonus Idea
Rate this Instructable!  Leave a comment!  Follow me!

5/19/2012:  Thanks for the feature! : )

Step 1: Ingredients

To make these amazing peanut butter cups you will need these food items:
  • Chocolate - I am using Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Peanut Butter - I am using JIF Creamy
  • Sugar - The white granulated kind
  • Water
You may optionally want:
  • Shortening - such as Crisco, to help the chocolate to not be as melty in the final product. 
  • Salt - When I made these, they came out delicious, but a little rich, so a pinch of salt may help to level them out.

Additionally, you will need:
  • A cupcake pan - I am using a silicone pan, so that the peanut butter cups can be easily removed.  If you are using a metal pan, I would recommend using cupcake liners.
  • A candy thermometer - I got mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I find a candy thermometer to be critical, even though some sources will say you can use the sugar-ball-water test.
  • A saucepan

Step 2: Chocolate Pt. 1

Melt some chocolate.  I put about a cup of chocolate chips in a bowl with roughly a tablespoon of shortening. 

I microwaved the mixture on 30-second intervals until it was nicely melted. 

I used a teaspoon to coat the bottom and sides of my cupcake pan with the chocolate, and set it in the refrigerator to cool.  After it was cool, I moved it to the freezer to let it get harder.

Step 3: Peanut Butter

This is the step that separates my peanut butter cups from your average internet recipe.
  1. Measure out 1 Cup of peanut butter.  Place it in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. (pic 1)
  2. Measure out 1/4 Cup of sugar.  Place it in your saucepan.
  3. Measure out 1/4 Cup of water.  Drizzle it on the sides of your saucepan as you add it to the sugar, to help discourage sugar crystals from forming on the pan.
  4. *Optional.  You may want to add a tablespoon or so of corn syrup to additionally discourage sugar crystals from forming prematurely.
  5. Set your candy thermometer in your sugar-water mixture and heat until it reaches soft ball stage: 245°–250° F(pic 2)
    This website has all the information you need on sugar stages:
  6. Once the mixture has reached soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  7. When the sugar-water mixture was at roughly 100° F, I lost my patience and mixed it with the melted peanut butter.  We melted the peanut butter to help it incorporate with the sugar better, and help prevent large sugar crystals from forming.
  8. Stir the peanut butter and sugar-water mixture vigorously until the mixture does not look shiny, and has cooled to where it can be touched without hurting your fingers. (pic 3-4)
There you go, 8 easy steps, and now our peanut butter filling is done.  Take your chocolate out of the fridge/freezer, and spoon some peanut butter into each cup.

Step 4: Chocolate Pt. 2

You may have chocolate left over from before, or may need to melt some more using the same process.

Cover the peanut butter with chocolate, to form your peanut butter cups!

Step 5: Conclusion

Refrigerate your peanut butter cups overnight for best results, and enjoy!

If you're using a silicone pan like I did, you will want to freeze them before attempting to remove them.


Have some left over peanut butter filling, or chocolate?  I mixed my left over peanut butter filling with crisped rice cereal, and rolled it into balls.  After freezing the peanut butter balls, I covered them in chocolate.  Like peanut butter cups, but with some crunch!

Food Science Challenge

Participated in the
Food Science Challenge