Rum Balls

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Chocolate rum balls! These easy no-bake treats are perfect for your next holiday party.

Photography Credit:Irvin Lin

Some of my friends make chocolate rum balls every year for their holiday parties, and these sweet little bites are always the first things to go. Maybe that says more about my friends who always reach for the boozy treats first, but I can’t blame them.

These rum balls are as easy to make as they are to eat. They’re the original no-bake treat!

Rum balls are also really easy to adapt to your personal tastes or to what you have in your cupboard. My friend Joanne uses Nilla wafers in her recipe, and I’ve followed her lead with my own recipe. But I also know other folks who use gingersnaps, Oreos or even stale brownies.

I’m not sure who these people are who leave stale brownies around the house, but the point is that you can substitute pretty much any crumbled cookie or baked good in this recipe and expect good results.

Something else to play around with: the choice of alcohol in your rum balls! Any rum will work, so use your favorite. (Malibu coconut rum is great if you also plan to coat your rum balls with shredded coconut.) You can even mix things up with tequila, bourbon, or whiskey!

I like to roll half of my rum balls in dark Dutch-processed cocoa and the other half in powdered sugar so they contrast with each other in the cookie tin. You can also roll them in crushed nuts, sprinkles, or shredded coconut if you like.

Any way you make them, rum balls are a hit. They really are so easy and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at your holiday party!

Looking for more treats for your cookie tray?

  • Chocolate Crinkles
  • Walnut Snowball Cookies
  • Thumbprint Cookies
  • Gingerbread Men Cookies
  • Holiday Pinwheel Cookies
  • Check out all our favorites! Our 25 Best Holiday Cookies for Your Dessert Table

Rum Balls Recipe

Store your rum balls in the refrigerator. They become even better and more deeply infused with alcohol flavor after a few days.

Feel free to customize your rum balls by switching up the alcohol (rum, tequila, bourbon, and whiskey are all great choices) and/or by rolling them in a coating of your choice (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, sugar, or cocoa).


  • 1 cup (170 g or 6 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) plus 1/3 cup (40 g) powdered sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups (310 g or 11 ounces) crushed Nilla wafers
  • 1 cup (110 g) crushed walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) cocoa powder


1 Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate in 30-second intervals at full power, stirring between each cook time until all the chips have melted.

2 Make the rum ball dough: Sift 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar over the melted chocolate (sifting helps prevent clumps). Add the corn syrup, rum and salt. Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and the rum is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Add the crushed wafers and the walnuts. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated. The mixture will look crumbly.

3 Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

4 Shape the rum balls: Place the cocoa powder and remaining 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in separate bowls and keep them nearby. Use a spoon or small ice cream server to scoop out enough chilled mixture to roll a 1-inch ball. The mixture will be crumbly and hard but once you roll and squeeze it in your hands, it will come together.

Coat the rum ball with powdered sugar or cocoa powder and repeat with the rest of the mixture.

5 Store rum balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 5 days. The rum balls improve in flavor over the next few days.

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Old Timey Rum Balls

Old timey bourbon or rum balls have been a holiday favorite here in The Deep South for as long as I can remember, and this is the basic recipe, with a few coatings and add-in variations. While I know that cake balls and cookie truffles are all the rage these days, to me these are the original title holder since the 1960s.

Best I remember, my Mama used to make these pretty strong to where you could near about feel your head spinning when you bit into one of them. Course, even though she may have teasingly slapped that hand away, saying "those aren't for kids," that also pretty much kept you from sneaking too many of them!

Adjust the liquor to your own tastes. One-quarter cup of rum is plenty strong for me, though some would disagree. At any rate, despite the fact that my mother's generation may have turned a blind eye to us sneaking a few of these, you should keep these reserved for adult parties to avoid underage sneaking. These cookie balls are also delicious without alcohol too of course. Simply add a bit of vanilla extract for flavoring and enough water to draw the dough together.

Finish the balls by rolling them in sifted powdered sugar, a mixture of sifted powdered sugar with cocoa, very finely minced pecans or walnuts, finely crushed Nilla wafers, coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate or almond bark. If you dip them, decorate the tops with a white chocolate or vanilla almond bark drizzle for a pretty finish.

Do you make rum or bourbon balls, and if so, what variations have you tried?

Rum Balls rolled in Powdered Sugar and Cocoa

Recipe: Old Timey Rum Balls or Bourbon Balls

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa
  • Pinch of cayenne, optional
  • 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rum or bourbon
  • 2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup finely ground nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • Choice of coating (below)

In a large bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa and cayenne, if using. Stir in the corn syrup and rum or bourbon and blend. Stir in the crushed Nilla wafers and nuts mix well. Dough should be fairly stiff add more crushed vanilla wafers if needed. Shape into balls roughly an inch in size, and roll the balls in a coating (below) as desired. Refrigerate or freeze to set. Serve at room temperature, but store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Cook's Notes: Although it is not necessary, lightly toast the nuts if desired, and allow to cool before grinding. Makes 2 to 3 dozen, depending on size. I got 24 balls about 1 to 1-1/2 inches in size. I used Hershey's cocoa, Karo light syrup and Nilla vanilla wafers.

Coatings: Use plain sifted powdered sugar, a mixture of sifted powdered sugar with cocoa, very finely minced nuts, finely crushed Nilla wafers or other finely crushed cookie or coconut. For something different, refrigerate the plain balls for 1 hour, then dip them in melted chocolate or almond bark. Decorate the tops with a pecan half, or a drizzle of white chocolate or vanilla almond bark.

Variations: Change the vanilla wafers for chocolate wafers and use extra, very finely crushed cookies to coat some of the balls coat the remaining in plain sifted powdered sugar.

Add-ins: 1/4 cup of finely chopped, well drained, Maraschino cherries 1/4 cup of coconut 1 teaspoon of instant coffee alone, or with 1 tablespoon of Kahlua.

Check These Recipes Out Too!

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Recipe Summary

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling
  • Vegetable oil, cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray set aside. Melt butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until top is shiny and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Break up brownie into small pieces transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With machine on low speed, pour in rum, and mix until crumbs start to come together to form a ball.

Shape into 1-inch balls, and roll in sanding sugar to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The Bacardi Rum Balls recipe is one of our favorite Christmas cookie exchange recipes. Of course everyone loves them when I make them at home. But we must hide them from the children. 😉 Our no-bake rum balls are the perfect adults-only cookie.

Servings: 2 dozen

Bacardi Rum Cookies Ingredients

  • Nabisco Nilla wafers-crushed
  • Powdered sugar plus 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar
  • Hershey&rsquos dark cocoa powder
  • Chopped pecans
  • Salt
  • Light corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Bacardi rum plus 2 Tablespoons

How to Make Classic Rum Balls

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper and set aside.

Add the Nilla wafers to a food processor and break the cookies down into small crumbs.

Pour the wafer crumbs into a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, pecans and salt. Whisk to combine.

Add the corn syrup, honey and one 1/4 cup of the rum. Mix until a crumbly, stiff batter forms. If your batter is a bit too dry, add additional rum. I added an additional 2 Tablespoons and that seemed to make the batter perfect. Cover and chill for one hour.

Remove the chilled batter from the refrigerator. Roll into one inch balls and place on the lined baking sheet. Cover and chill for 10 minutes.

Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll each chilled rum ball into the powdered sugar, covering each one completely.

*Store the rum balls in a single layer in an airtight container in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (the rum flavor intensifies with each passing day).

Rum Balls

  • Edible booze goes far beyond the Jell-o shot.

While some little jigglers made with vodka can spice up any get together, getting more creative with your edible libations will truly impress your guests.

Here’s a guide to some drinks that you can eat. Remember, just because these may fill your stomach, you’re not off the hook for dinner. And just because you have to chew it doesn’t mean that it won’t leave you tipsy.

The fastest way to add edible booze to pretty much anything is with alcoholic whipped cream, which you can buy online or at a local liquor store that is well stocked. It comes in a can and tastes just like regular whipped cream (or flavors like chocolate and banana). The only difference is that it contains a hint of booze—while it’s hard to taste, you’ll notice it as soon as you start to feel very relaxed after taking a bite of that ice cream sundae. Use this on typical desserts like pie and cake, mix it into hot cocktails like an Irish coffee, or keep it simple—a final course of strawberries and alcoholic whipped cream will have everyone buzzing, and not just because they’re buzzed. Or make your own! Try some Pumpkin Pie Shooters with Bourbon-Vanilla Whipped Cream.

You’re more likely to find the cocktail version of a snow cone at a bar that specializes in molecular gastronomy, but if you can get your hands on some liquid nitrogen, you can take the phrase “ice cold drink” to an entirely new level at home. Alcohol doesn’t freeze at normal temperatures—just ask anyone who keeps their bottle of vodka chilly by storing it in their freezer. Liquid nitrogen can flash freeze things and it works on booze. Mix the super cold liquid in with your hooch to freeze it solid. Watch a demonstration of the process.

So maybe you want to stick with the familiar, but don’t want to do Jell-o shots. You can make a Jell-o mold in exactly the same way you would a shot. But, keep in mind that people will be having larger servings of this—so you should halve the amount of liquor that you would use for the shot edition. There is a quick and easy way to spice up these molds. Since they already seem very 70s dinner party, why not go all out. Soak a bunch of maraschino cherries in vodka for a few days before making your mold, and then suspend them in the Jello before it solidifies. It’s like an edible drink within an edible drink. Check out this recipe for Spiked Rainbow Ribbon Salad as another example.

Best Classic Rum Balls Recipe

This is the best rum balls recipe you will find out there. It comes from Europe, and it is a classic, old recipe that most Europeans would make.

What are rum balls?

Rum balls are truffle-like confections made with crumbled cookies, butter, flavored with cocoa powder, chocolate, and rum.

They should be about the size of a golf ball and they are not cooked. Basically, this is a no bake dessert.

The rum balls are very popular in Europe during the Christmas season, but these wonderful treats are available all year round in some countries.

What kind of ingredients can I use in rum balls?

There are many different ways to make rum balls, as recipes vary from region to region and family to family.

All rum balls must include chocolate and rum, but the rest of the ingredients could be different.

Rum is the ingredient that makes them special and perfect for the holidays.

What makes this recipe different is the use of butter as a binding ingredient, and no corn syrup at all.

Rum balls are very versatile, you can make them from the following ingredients(choose one and go with it):

  • graham crackers
  • crushed vanilla wafers
  • shortbread cookies
  • digestive biscuits
  • chocolate wafers or even
  • leftover cake

When it comes to cocoa powder, we use either unsweetened natural or Dutch-processed. I personally like the dark, deep flavor of the Dutch-processed cocoa powder.

We also like to add :

  • dried fruits to the mixture
  • all kinds of nuts, especially walnuts( roasted are better)

The rum balls can be covered in:

  • granulated sugar
  • coconut flakes
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • shaved chocolate
  • colored sprinkles
  • powder sugar

The Eastern European custom is to roll these rum balls in granulated sugar and sometimes in coconut flakes. However, you can adapt the recipe and use ingredients that work for you or are available.

We sometimes add in the middle of the rum ball a little pitted cherry, usually preserved in syrup, or an almond.

I think a maraschino cherry could be an awesome surprise inside.

How to make these rum balls:

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Place the walnuts on a baking tray, roast them for about 8 minutes, or be fragrant and lightly brown.

Let nuts cool, then chopped them with a knife, or toss them in a food processor until finely chopped. Place them in a big bowl.

Process the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add them to the nuts.

If you do not have a food processor, place them in a bag and crush them with a roller pin or a bottle.

Place butter, heavy cream, sugar, and cocoa in a small pot and bring them to a boil. DO NOT SIMMER THEM. As soon as the cream gets to the boiling point, please remove it from the stove and allow it to cool.

Add the rum or the rum flavor. Also add the vanilla flavor.

Do not add the flavors to the hot cream or bring the heavy cream to a boil, as the alcohol and flavors will dissipate. Allow the mixture to cool first, then add the rum and vanilla.

Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix everything very well. If the mixture is soft, place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Using your hands, form 1 inch balls and toss them in granulated sugar, coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles etc.

Place the rum balls in the refrigerator overnight in an airtight container.

Optional: Place a pitted cherry from syrup or a maraschino cherry in the middle of the ball, or an almond, form the ball, then toss in sugar.

Keep them refrigerated and serve them cold.

Do I need to roast the nuts?

It is not mandatory, but roasted nuts have more flavor than raw ones, therefore the rum balls will taste better.

Can I make these chocolate rum balls in advance and how to store them:

If you want to have them for a party, it is a good idea to make them with some time in advance.

These little pieces of heaven are better the next day anyway when all the flavors have time to get friendly with each other.

You can even refrigerate the mixture over night and roll these beauties the next day.

They keep well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, in an airtight container.

The rum balls are great for the holidays, especially Christmas when everyone appreciates them.

They make a great gift for family and friends, but they are also an awesome, super easy-to-make dessert for the days when we crave something sweet and decadent.

Using good quality ingredients obviously will make them taste better. They are awesome little treats for the entire family if you add the rum flavor.

Note: If you go with the real rum, then don&rsquot serve them to children.

Rum Balls Recipe

Here&rsquos the recipe for the rum balls for you. These will keep for two weeks in the fridge, but you can make them ahead and store them in the freezer for up to two months! Let me know what flavour add-in you use when you make them. If you have other alcoholic or non-alcoholic flavour suggestions I&rsquod love to hear those too. That way I can add them to my list up above for other people to try!

If you want to make German rum balls as we did, we documented the process so you can see what things should look like at each step!

You’ll also find the detailed steps in the recipe card down below – this is just a photo guide for visual reference!

The first step is melting the chocolate chips in a bowl. We like to place the bowl in hot water in the sink but you can definitely use a microwave. There is more than one way to melt chocolate.

Once your chocolate chips are fully melted, set the bowl aside for now.

In another bowl, mix the butter – which should be at room temperature – and the powdered sugar with your hand mixer.

Mix for a few minutes until you get a creamy consistency.

In the next step, add the melted chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and rum to the butter mixture and mix everything together.

Once everything is whipped together, it’ll look something like you can see in the photo above. Put cling film on top of the bowl and place it in the fridge for one to two hours.

After the dough has cooled in the fridge, it’s time for the German rum ball “creation station”. You can see in the photo above what our set up looked like.

We like putting the chocolate sprinkles and the cocoa powder for coating in small bowls with higher sides. That will make the process less messy.

We also always have a bowl of really cold water nearby that we use to cool our hands during the process. We change the water as necessary when it gets too warm.

Use a table spoon to gather some dough as a guideline for the size of your rum balls. Roll the dough in the palm of your cold, but dry hands.

You have to work quickly here or the dough will get too warm!

Once you ball is nice and round roll it around in the bowl of chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder or other topping of your choosing and place it on a plate or small serving tray.

Then repeat the process until you have used up all the dough.

Rum Balls recipe

This Rum Balls recipe is a great no bake treat that is quick to make and perfect for a crowd.

This recipe is not only excellent for the holidays and gift giving but a year round, easy treat.

Rum Balls perfect for the holidays

I make this Rum Balls recipe for most of our celebrations and definitely at Christmas. It’s a classic Australian recipe that is easy to make, can be prepared in advanced, can be frozen for longer storage and delightful to eat!

Like my Snowflake Cookies, Chocolate Bark and Crostoli, these boozy chocolate rum balls are always popular when I’m entertaining. Because of this, I usually like to make a double batch.

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.

Simple store bought ingredients

Do rum balls actually have rum in them?

They do. While you could definitely sub a rum flavor or vanilla extract to make a non-alcoholic version that&rsquos perfectly kid friendly.

Since these aren&rsquot cooked, the rum still contains the alcohol (when used in cooking, the alcohol evaporates).

Are you going to get drunk off of them? No. There is very little alcohol in volume in these. That being said, it&rsquos not advisable to serve them to kiddos. Use the rum flavoring or vanilla extract if you want to make them sans alcohol so the whole family can enjoy them.

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 350 g chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coffee
  • 5 tbsp of rum (depending on taste more)
  • 250 g hazelnuts (ground)
  • 100 g chocolate sprinkles
  • 100 g coconut flakes
  1. Firstly, beat butter and sugar until frothy. Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water.
  2. Add cocoa, coffee, rum and hazelnuts and mix in the butter mixture. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Shape small balls out of the mixture and roll them in chocolate sprinkles or coconut flakes.

If these small yet exquisite balls laced with rum do not roll easily because they are too warm leave to cool in the fridge for 10 minutes and then try again. If you like it less nutty, use biscuit or sponge crumbs instead of hazelnuts.