Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Rum balls are pretty standard Christmas fare, although I feel like I haven’t seen them on a holiday tray in ages. Maybe they were more of an 80’s thing? Well, I’m bringing them back and making them fashionable again. This time instead of rum I rocked bourbon, and whew! These babies pack a punch. A positively festive little treat that will ensure there is plenty of merriment and cheer to go around. Chocolate, pecans and bourbon rolled into little balls and then dredged in sugar. A much easier recipe than I anticipated; they are very similar to truffles, but much quicker and simpler to shape and roll. Definitely an easy addition to your holiday goodie list if you’re looking for some ideas to round out your cookie tray. I guarantee the relatives will thank you.

The way these little balls come together is a bit like magic. You pulverize Nilla wafers, grind up some pecans and sift powdered sugar; it all gets mixed together. Then you melt chocolate, throw in some bourbon and corn syrup. Mix into the crumb combo and it’s sort of sludgy. You let it sit for 30 minutes and then, poof! Magic! It’s solidified and you can easily scoop it up and roll it into neat little balls. I used my small cookie scoop for this and amazingly, I got the EXACT number of balls that the recipes stated it yields. That pretty much never happens. Sure, I’ll get somewhere in the close vicinity, but usually not exact. I was kitchen-nerd excited.

You could always change this up with different flavors – maybe almonds and Frangelico, pistachios and Amaretto, walnuts and Grand Marnier, the possibilities are pretty much endless. Go crazy! And enjoy adding some boozy goodness to the holidays 🙂

One year ago: Pecan Tassies
Four years ago: Basic Biscotti Recipe

Chocolate Bourbon Balls

Yield: 50 bourbon balls

Total Time: 30 minutes

These Bourbon Balls pack a punch and are a great addition to any cookie tray.


2½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs (Nilla wafers)
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup pecans, finely ground
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
½ cup bourbon
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Granulated sugar, for rolling


1. Place cookie crumbs, powdered sugar and ground pecans in a large bowl and stir to combine.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (30 second increments at 50% power, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth). Stir in the bourbon and corn syrup. Add the chocolate mixture to the dry mixture and stir well to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes. Place some granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Roll the mixture between your palms into 1-inch balls (I used my small cookie scoop), then roll in the granulated sugar to coat. Place the balls in an airtight container, separating layers with aluminum foil or wax paper, and allow flavors to develop by sitting at room temperature overnight. Place in small paper cups to serve, if desired.


31 Responses to “Chocolate Bourbon Balls”

  1. Kathryn on December 20, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I love your kitchen-nerd excitement, I would be pretty excited too! I’m not sure I’ve ever actually had a rum ball let alone a bourbon ball but I’m excited to try!


  2. Laura @ Laura's Sweet Spot! on December 20, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I’ve been wanting to make these! I’m so glad that you put them up.


  3. Penny Wolf on December 20, 2011 at 6:55 am

    My Mother used to make “Bourbon Balls” back in the late 60’s early 70’s. As a kid I did not like them, but grown up is another story. These look great as your recipes always do. ( You can use the chocolate wafers in place of the Nilla as well… 🙂 )


  4. Sandra on December 20, 2011 at 7:28 am



  5. Jessica on December 20, 2011 at 8:06 am

    These look great! Loving your pictures.


  6. Paula on December 20, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Love that you were *kitchen-nerd excited* that you yielded the same amount as the recipe stated and that you used the term *sludgy* I know what to expect when making these and won’t panic! These look delicious.


  7. miriam on December 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I’ve also made a version of this when a cake didn’t turn out right or when I had leftover cake. I know that never happens to a kitchen nerd like you, but I thought some of your readers might want to use a recipe like this to salvage a kitchen disaster (the kind of thing that happens to me when I am a pre-holiday maniac).


  8. Angie @ Bigbearswife on December 20, 2011 at 10:13 am

    How special would these be, packaged up for a little holiday gift!


  9. Ruth on December 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Looks yummy, it’s similar to Kaluha balls, which uses oreos and has a other slight variations of your recipe. I’m going to do an assortment for the big family gathering. Thanks for this recipe.
    PS. your espresso frosting is a hit that folks keep raving about!

    Enjoy your holidays!


  10. Rhonda on December 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Whoa 1/2 cup of bourbon? Sounds great. I like your suggestion for Frangelico ones!


  11. Suzanne Brown on December 20, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Funny, I was just thinking of asking my mom for her recipe for Bourbon Balls to round out the dessert tray. I am definitely trying the Gran Marnier and almond ones. Sounds yummy!


  12. Emily380 on December 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    To be more accurate, you need to call these Chocolate Bourbon Truffles. These are nothing like the true bourbon balls known in Kentucky. However, I encourage you to look into those, as they are fabulous. Particularly Kentucky Colonel Bourbon Balls, where you soak the pecans in bourbon…


    • Penny Wolf on December 20th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Yummy! Thank you for the info.


    • Shunita on December 19th, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      I’m from Kentucky and this recipe is how I was taught to make them by my grandfather who is from Bardstown. And He did not call them truffles


  13. sue@ cakeballs, cookies and more on December 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Oh my goodness those sound wonderful, I always loved rum balls.


  14. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    This looks amazing! I bet these would be a hit at my Husbands work. I have all the ingredients, I just need some Bourbon!


  15. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on December 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    You take such great pics – i need to get Bourbon!


  16. Shelly Knight on December 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    These will be a great, last-minute gift for my husband-thank you!!


  17. Ida Pletz on December 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Michelle love Rum Balls they are the most requested here in South Florida. Now for my question. I have moved almost a month ago from Ft Lauderdale and I have gone from cooking with electric to gas and I am very disappointed in my Christmas cookies this year. They didn’t look done I had to leave them in longer now they seem harder than usuall and along with that my Kolachky didn’t stay together like usual. What am I doing wrong besides moving to MN but it is a little closer to home Pittsburgh. Happy Holidays to you


    • Michelle on December 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Hi Ida, I baked in a gas oven for a couple of years and it made me want to pull my hair out. It tends to bake things unevenly, I’m sure it’s not you.


  18. Rachel - At First Blush on December 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    My boyfriend would love these!


  19. joan on December 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I would like to make these without alcohol. Is it possible? What can I substitute?


    • Michelle on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 am

      Hmm good question. Maybe you could use cream and make them sort of like truffles?


  20. carrie on December 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

    I think they’re more of a 50s thing:) I have a recipe that’s nearly identical to this one, except mine uses cocoa instead of chocolate. Given to me years ago by a lady who had had it for a LONG time. I don’t like rum, so I use Kahlua! Good stuff.


  21. Ann on December 21, 2011 at 2:12 am

    These look delicious….and the fact that you got the EXACT number specified? A Christmas Miracle!


  22. Katrina on December 21, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Aww, yeah! Brilliant!


  23. Mi Vida en un Dulce on December 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Oh…perfect balls, and with bourbon…!!!


  24. Diana @ a girl, a dog & an oven on December 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Lately bourbon and me have been starting up a great friendship…must try these! And you know, I never get the right yield from a recipe, never! Even with a cookie scoop and a kitchen scale. Happy holidays!


  25. Carolyn on December 22, 2011 at 9:51 am

    In the last-minute cookie-baking frenzy around here, I whipped up a batch of these at 11:00 pm last night. I took you up on the Gran Marnier and walnut suggestion for something different, having no bourbon no hand (and not being a big fan of that taste). Smelled wonderful — and even my midnight snack of one of them was great, even though they hadn’t yet mellowed. I used to make these with my Nonna (a professional baker) but we exclusively used rum and rolled in red, white & green Christmas sprinkles. Fun to make but none of us grandkids ever ate them because of the strong flavor. Using the other flavors you suggested took these to a whole other level. Nonna would have most definitely approved! Buon Natale and thanks for all the great recipes.


  26. Holly of Sinful Sugar on July 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

    My mom made these for her Christmas cookie trays throughout the 70’s – 80’s. her recipe is almost exact, except she used walnuts. I think she found her recipe on a Karo bottle. Since these are not as common these day, they are always a hit when I bring them to parties. My holiday favorite.


  27. Nola on December 15, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Been making these for years. Made orange, coffee, & cinnamon before they were a big hit! This year adding raspberry & black cherry to my trays!
    Use Jim Beam Red Stag Black cherry Bourbon or
    Add 2 T of Coffee liqueur roll in powered coffeemate. Or
    Add 2 T of raspberry liqueur or my favorite
    Add 2 T of Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur roll in crushed red hots!


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