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Rum or Bourbon Balls Recipe

Rum or Bourbon Balls Recipe

These potent little treats are the holiday indulgence I look forward to year after year: Grannie made them faithfully every Christmas and then passed the recipe along to my mother, who carries on the same delectable tradition. Although I was merrily consuming them while still in diapers, I don’t recommend you give them to children–they have a bit of a kick!

These delights require no baking at all, and you can use rum or bourbon, whichever you prefer (it‘s a toss-up at my house). Either way, Rum or Bourbon Balls have a flavor you can savor well into the New Year.


We recommend using the best-quality organic sugar and vanilla wafers you can find.

3 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies (use a food processor, like Mom, or put them in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin, the way Grannie did)
3 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup rum or bourbon
extra confectioner’s sugar or chopped nuts for coating

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs, sugar, pecans, and cocoa. Add corn syrup and alcohol and mix well.

2. Allow mixture to sit 20 to 30 minutes so crumbs will absorb liquid.

3. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioner’s sugar or chopped nuts. (My mother recommends putting the balls in a container with 1/4 cup or so of confectioner’s sugar, placing a lid on it, and shaking it once a day when you think about it. She says this will coat them just fine.)

Makes around 3 dozen.

Read more: Food, All recipes, Desserts

By Cait Johnson, author of Witch in the Kitchen (Inner Traditions, 2001).

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Cait Johnson

Cait Johnson, MFA, is the author of six books, including Earth, Water, Fire, and Air: Essential Ways of Connecting to Spirit, Witch in the Kitchen, Celebrating the Great Mother and Tarot Games. She has been a counselor for more than 20 years, and teaches workshops on seasonal elemental approaches to self-healing, conscious eating, and soul-nurturing creativity.

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+ add your own
6:24PM PST on Jan 27, 2013

Reminds me of the delicious holiday treats my sister made when I was a child, thank you.

6:54PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

This brings back memories. While I will avoid the corn syrup because of GMOs and the vanilla wafers (using something else plus vanilla extract) rum balls are oh so delightful especially when there is a snow storm out there and I plan to hibrrrrnate for a few days. New Year's Eve is coming up soon so certainly a wonderful recipe to follow for those not having their old recipes on hand.

6:47PM PST on Dec 29, 2012


1:00AM PST on Dec 7, 2012


2:35PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Thanks for this recipe, will be making it soon..

11:01AM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

Thanks Cait. I love rum balls.

12:27AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Yummy! Thanks for this great recipe.

8:35AM PST on Feb 12, 2011

This is my kind of rum ball . If you want the occasional treat those 2 table spoon recipes dont cut it . When you talk cup measuring your in a celebratory mode!

5:12PM PDT on Aug 7, 2010

Use Bicardi 151 rum and they come out really goooooood!

2:21AM PST on Dec 8, 2009

Here is a recipe for all...
1 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. rum or bourbon
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 1/2 c. crushed vanilla wafers (food processor makes this step easy!)
1 c. chopped pecans

Stir together powdered sugar, alcohol and corn syrup. Then add the crushed wafers and chopped nuts. Mix until evenly moistened and pinch a walnut sized piece and roll it firmly between the palms of your hands, repeat until all balls have been made. Then sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder onto a plate, roll the balls in the powder until evenly coated. Store in an airtight tin with doilies or wax paper between layers. Recommend candy sized Christmas cups for serving. Makes about 20 balls.
protein powder

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