Kentucky Bourbon Balls

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Homemade Kentucky Bourbon Balls are a boozy treat that’s perfect for your Christmas tray! Made with finely ground vanilla wafers, pecans, and a generous amount of bourbon, this classic Southern candy is always a hit.

A silver plate with homemade bourbon balls

Easy Homemade Bourbon Balls

I am not sure what it is, but there’s something enticing about booze in sweets. As soon as I mention that the cake or the cookies contain alcohol, people just go at them! These Kentucky Bourbon Balls are no exception. I usually make them around Christmas and everyone loves them. Not only are these little sweets beautiful but people want to know: will I be able to taste the bourbon? Will I get drunk if I eat a bunch of them? It’s like an impromptu Christmas party game!

And since I know you are wondering: No, you won’t get drunk from eating these Christmas cookies. Maybe a little buzzed if you eat the entire plate yourself, but these are so good I can pretty much guarantee no one is going to let you do that. Unless of course, you make this recipe at home and then keep all of the bourbon balls to yourself! I won’t tell.

Bowls on a white tray with pecans, vanilla wafer crumbs, powdered sugar and cocoa.

What You’ll Need

You’ll only need a handful of ingredients to make bourbon balls. Here’s what you’ll need. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Vanilla wafers
  • Pecans – These give the balls more texture and flavor.
  • Powdered sugar – This will be used twice. Once for the ball mixture, then again to coat the bourbon balls.
  • Cocoa powder
  • Bourbon
  • Light corn syrup

Can I Use Whiskey Instead of Bourbon?

Yes! If you can’t find bourbon or just don’t like it you could also use a high-quality whiskey. The resulting balls wouldn’t be bourbon balls anymore, but they’d still be boozy and delicious! You could also turn these into rum balls by substituting the bourbon for your favorite brand of rum.

Can I Make These Without Alochol?

If you want the kids to be able to try these – or you simply don’t like alcohol – you can also try making these with apple juice or apple cider. This will make the balls sweeter, but they’ll still be quite tasty!

A green plate with powdered sugar next to bourbon balls and a glass of bourbon

How to Make Bourbon Balls

Are you ready to make these beauties? Here’s how to do it:

  • Prep your ingredients: Crush the vanilla wafers and finally chop the pecans.
  • Mix: In a bowl combine crushed vanilla wafers, chopped pecans, powdered sugar, and the cocoa.
  • Combine the wet ingredients: In a separate bowl, blend the bourbon and corn syrup.
  • Mix it all together: Pour the bourbon mixture into the dry mixture; blend well.
  • Chill: Cover and chill for 3 hours. This will make it easier to shape the balls.
  • Shape and coat in sugar: Shape small bits of the dough into balls and roll them in the powdered sugar.

Can I Use a Food Processor?

Yes, if you want to make things even easier you can use your food processor. First combine the vanilla wafers and pecans, pulsing a few times until you have a coarse mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. Then add the sugar and cocoa. Pulse again. Finally, add the liquid ingredients and pulse until everything is well combined. Remove the blade, cover the food processor bowl and then chill everything in the fridge.

A plate of bourbon balls next to a glass and bottle of bourbon

Tips for Success

This is a very easy Christmas dessert idea, but there are a few tips I recommend:

  • Make in advance. This recipe is best made 2-3 days in advance of when you want to eat them. This gives all the flavors time to meld together and really makes for the best bourbon balls!
  • Experiment with flavors. You can also make these with gingersnap cookies or different kinds of nuts, such as walnuts. As mentioned above, other kinds of alcohol – such as whiskey or rum – also work well!
  • Is it a cookie or a candy? If you take these to a Christmas party odds are people will ask you whether these bourbon balls are cookies or candies. I think they are a bit of both! They are kinda cookies because of the vanilla wafers. But then the addition of nuts, cocoa and powdered sugar also makes them fall into the no-bake homemade candy category. So in this regard, this bourbon balls can also be a great conversation starter for your holiday guests!
A plate of bourbon balls, one with a bite taken out, next to a bottle and glass of bourbon

How to Store

Bourbon balls are best stored in the fridge. Place them in an airtight container after you have added the powdered sugar coating. They will keep for up to 2 weeks.

You can also freeze these in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat one simple defrost in the fridge overnight, or go the single-serving route and just take one out! Frozen bourbon balls are pretty satisfying, just give them a bit to thaw so they are easier to bite into. I may or may not keep some bourbon balls in the freezer for “emergencies.”

A bourbon ball with a bite taken out

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

3 3 3
WW Freestyle: 3
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 40 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Smooth, delicious, and authentic Kentucky bourbon ball candy. Perfect for a Christmas cookie tray!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 36 Cookies
Calories: 65
Author: Katerina | Diethood

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup pecans , finely chopped
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions 

  • In a deep bowl combine crushed vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, powdered sugar, and the cocoa.
  • In a separate bowl, blend the bourbon and corn syrup.
  • Pour the bourbon mixture into the dry mixture; blend well.
  • Cover and chill for 3 hours.
  • Shape small bits of the dough into balls and roll them in the powdered sugar. Store in refrigerator over night in tightly covered containers.
  • For better flavor, make these 3 days in advance.

Notes

  • WW Freestyle SmartPoints: 3
  • Bourbon balls are best stored in the fridge. Place them in an airtight container after you have added the powdered sugar coating. They will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  • You can also freeze these in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat one simple defrost in the fridge overnight, or go the single-serving route and just take one out!
Nutrition Facts
Kentucky Bourbon Balls
Amount Per Serving
Calories 65 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 12mg1%
Potassium 18mg1%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 0g0%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 0g0%
Vitamin A 0IU0%
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 2mg0%
Iron 0.1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keywords: bourbon candy, christmas candy recipe, christmas cookies

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33 Responses
  1. The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    So, my question is, how many did you eat before you decided that they tasted more like booze than cookie? Next time you need to invite me over so we can sample them together. They look fantastic and I bet are excellent with coffee.

  2. Elle @ nutritionella

    These look amazing! Is it too late to make bourbon balls post Kentucky derby? I was in London over the weekend and totally missed out on it this year!

  3. Nami @ Just One Cookbook

    Hi Kate – these bourbon balls look delicious! They won’t last too long at a party for sure. Have a great weekend!

  4. briarrose

    Ehehehe….who can manage to wait to try one out? πŸ˜‰ Liquor in desserts is just fun…maybe a slight touch of the forbidden.

  5. 5 Star Foodie

    Oh, the addition of alcohol to desserts, and especially bourbon, is my favorite things to do – awesome, these bourbon balls sound totally scrumptiuos.

  6. Liz

    Such beautiful cookies, Kate…I’d have to hide them in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat them all…they sound delicious!!! xo

  7. Mina @ Angellove's Cooking

    I gues we would love these Bourbon balls at home, Kate!! Once we have succeeded to wait about 14 day for my home made valentine day’s sweets πŸ˜‰ waiting just one day for these would not be a problem at all :)))

  8. something_good

    Bourbon balls sounds like fun and go well for a party with many guests when I hate to wash all those glasses :))

  9. Peggy

    These are just in time for the Kentucky Derby! We’ll be having plenty of these (and some actual bourbon) this weekend at the Downs!

  10. kankana

    u bet! I saw your status in twitter and I go what ?? Bourbon Balls .. i can’t miss that πŸ˜› booze sure does magic to people like us … πŸ˜‰

  11. Lauren

    (drool) (drool) (drool)…did i mention drool? (that doesn’t make me sound like an alcoholic does it) πŸ™‚ These sounds to die for. Like everyone else I’m not sure if i can wait an entire day.

  12. Sandra

    Wait a whole day, seriously? I don’t know if I could hold out that long Kate. Well maybe if I tried one (or two) liquor laced ones and then waited another day for the rest. Yeah, I think that would work.

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Katerina of Diethood
Hey There!
I'm Katerina, a cookie-maker & picture-taker! For me, eating is a moment to share, an enjoyment, a passion. I hope you enjoy my recipes!

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