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.

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


Lydia Price

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

Dale Overall

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.

J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago


tanya w.
Tanya W.3 years ago


Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T.4 years ago

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

Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

Thanks Cait. I love rum balls.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Yummy! Thanks for this great recipe.

Carol Ann Ochwat
Carol Ann O.5 years ago

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!

Beth C.
Beth C.6 years ago

Use Bicardi 151 rum and they come out really goooooood!

Adam Ronchi
Past Member 6 years ago

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.
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