Bourbon or Rum Balls

rum balls

Part three in my Christmas Around the World series! Christmas in the USA, focus on: BOURBON (or rum!) BALLS! Watch all the videos on YouTube!

Bourbon (or rum) balls are one of the world’s oldest confections, originating I imagine, as a way to make use of broken, old, or stale things that are otherwise inedible. In this case, it’s cookies. Cookies crushed up and mixed with other stuff like booze and nuts and sugar to make foolproof little cherry bombs of liquor. In the southern US, these are usually made with bourbon and pecans, rather than rum and some other kind of nut.

This is our friend Steph’s recipe. (Thanks, Steph!) I’ve given you the recipe exactly as she gave it to me. The changes I made in the video were to use pecans instead of cashews and honey in place of corn syrup. Corn syrup is much more traditional, I think these days, but either one gives you the stickiness required. These rum balls will keep up to a month in a cool place, in an airtight container, and they get better as they age like most delicious things and fruit cake. I kid! I love fruitcake, too!

Bourbon Balls Video

Bourbon or Rum Balls Recipe — Printable!


Rum Balls

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x
  • Category: Dessert


  • 3 cups crushed Vanilla Wafers (1 box)
  • 1 cup ground nuts (any variety–I use cashews cause they’re my fave but whatever will do)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 cup bourbon or rum (I usually blurp in another nice big splash after that for extra booziness)


  1. Moosh everything together until smooth and then form into balls. (Hilah’s note: I make tablespoon size balls and get about 24 of them from this recipe.)
  2. Roll in more powdered sugar and then stick in refrigerator.
  3. Try to stay away from them until they chill a bit. Fail miserably.

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bourbon balls

Some other recipes that typify American (US) Christamases:

Caramel Corn

Because, corn.

Pecan Pie!

This one also has bourbon in it because we Americans can’t get enough of that stuff!

Egg Nog

So called because of the high quantity of eggs and, yes, bourbon.

And click here to read more about my family’s

Texas Christmas traditions!


  1. Rutager on December 12, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Holy Schniz.

    Your balls are amazing.

    Elephant in the room. It had to be said.

    But seriously, your balls are freakin’ out of this world.

    Would put in my mouth again

  2. Milan on December 14, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Dear Hilah, your video reminded me the Kahlua balls, did you make it before? it worth a try, definitely delicious.
    Lots of <3 🙂

    • Hilah on December 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I haven’t tried those, but I bet you could make this recipe with Kahlua and they would be great! Good idea.

  3. Roger on December 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I tried this recipe this weekend, and the results were great. I used pecans and I had light corn syrup, so I used that. Served them at a party, and they disappeared quickly. Also, I used spiced rum, and that really helped.

    • Hilah on December 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Oh yay, Roger! That makes me glad to hear. I bet the spiced rum made them extra nice.

  4. Steve on December 16, 2013 at 1:10 am

    I was happy when I saw the Bourbon Balls episode: Every year, my wife makes cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. It is kind of her small early morning tradition. Now, I get my after the kids go to bed tradition: Bourbon Balls! This will make assembling the kids gifts much more fun. This year, I am giving my wife a trip to Hawaii in February. I wanted to make her presents kind of lead up to the gift. What do you think about using Cream of coconut in place of the honey to give the balls a Hawaiian flavor? Maybe I could use Macadamia nuts in place of cashews. Do think that making alterations like this ruin the consistency of the balls?

    Thanks again for my new holiday tradition.

    • Hilah on December 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      What a great present, Steve! Yes, I love the idea of making Hawaiian style balls. Definitely you could use macadamia nuts, and I might suggest using coconut rum in place of the bourbon, too? Maybe add some coconut flakes to the dry ingredients… It’s a very forgiving recipe. If it gets too soft, you can always add more cookies (or even plain panko breadcrumbs in a pinch!) to adjust the consistency.

  5. Rilla on December 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I just made a batch inspired by your recipe… I’ll be posting it on my blog shortly. I’m calling them Boozy Brandy Balls and will link to your recipe… And they’re dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free (damn family allergies!) and fanfuckintastic. THANK YOU!!

  6. Rilla on December 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I posted it! They are amaze-balls!! (see what I did there?)

    • Christopher on December 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Yay! They look great! And thanks for linking. I’m looking forward to checking out your recipes!

      • Rebecca on December 19, 2019 at 7:44 pm

        This recipe is the real deal. Just like my Grandma’s! Thanks for sharing❤️

    • Hilah on December 20, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Thank you, Rilla!

  7. Tom on December 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Oh laws, Hilah – these are a trip. I don’t love chocolate, and we don’t have Nilla Wafers here in Norway, so I made them with “Mariekjeks”, ground hazelnuts, and a little bit of maple syrup instead of cocoa powder. They are super delicious also. And my god – the mix just kept sucking in bourbon. There must be a good half-shot in each little ball. Thanks for this perfect idea for an American-ish contribution to Norwegian holiday parties!

    • Hilah on December 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      I’m so happy to hear this, Tom! I have no idea what Mariejeks are, but I am glad to know that you managed a way to make these work for you in Norway. It really does put a big dumb smile on my face to think of you having these for your holiday parties. 😀 Thank you for writing!

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