These chocolate confections may not be the bourbon balls you’ve experienced at tailgating and backyard bashes. They’re still boozy but they’re a little more refined. And they’ve got you covered whatever life throws your way. Looking for a sweet ending to a romantic dinner? Check. Desperate for a pick-me-up after a frustrating day? Check. Need a stunning conversation starter for your best friend’s bridal shower? They can do that, too. All of this plus the charming and giftable convenience of their pretty two-nibble packaging.Angie Zoobkoff

Two white ramekins with a pile of sugar-coated bourbon balls

Bourbon Balls

5 from 1 vote
These bourbon balls from Rose Levy Beranbaum, made with chocolate wafers, cocoa powder, pecans, and bourbon, are rich, chocolatey, boozy goodness in a small enticing package. Easy to make and gift. Even easier to eat.
David Leite
Servings22 servings
Calories100 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • One (6.7-ounce) package chocolate wafers
  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark*
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for coating the balls


  • If using the food processor method, add some of the wafers to the processor, working in several batches, and pulverize each batch into fine crumbs. Empty them into a large bowl. Process the pecans with the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa until finely ground. Divvy the butter into 3 pieces and add it to the nut mixture along with the corn syrup. Process until combined. Add this mixture to the cookie crumbs in the bowl and, using your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix until evenly incorporated.
    If using the hand method, smash the wafers into fine crumbs by placing them in a resealable plastic freezer bag and rolling with a rolling pin. Empty the crumbs into a large bowl. Finely grate the pecans. (Yes, we just told you to GRATE nuts. Try it.) Add the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa to the cookie crumbs in the bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Divvy the butter into 3 pieces and add it to the cookie crumbs along with the pecans and corn syrup. With a wooden spoon, stir until uniform in consistency.
  • Add 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon to the mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until it is uniform in consistency and begins to clean the bowl. If the mixture seems a little crumbly or too dry to hold together, add a little more of the remaining bourbon, a teaspoon at a time. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to absorb evenly. Add more bourbon if needed (or desired!).
  • Scoop out level tablespoons (3/4 oz | 20 g each) of the bourbon ball mixture and gently roll and press it between the palms of your hands to shape it into balls (about 1 1/4 inches| 3 cm).
  • Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add 1 ball at a time and roll it around for a while in the sugar until completely coated. We find the coating to be most attractive when dipped 3 times. If the sugar starts to disappear, roll them around in the sugar some more. Place the balls in an airtight container lined with paper towels or crumpled parchment paper. Cover and let rest at room temperature for at least a few days to allow the flavors to meld. You can keep them for up to 6 weeks.


*How To Make Bourbon Balls That Aren’t Bourbon Balls

Grand Marnier Balls
Simply substitute Grand Marnier for the bourbon.
Booze-Free Bourbon Balls
You can skip the bourbon in this namesake recipe and simply substitute 2 tablespoons water and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Adapted From

Rose’s Baking Basics

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 ballCalories: 100 kcalCarbohydrates: 14 gProtein: 1 gFat: 5 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 3 mgSodium: 61 mgPotassium: 52 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 9 gVitamin A: 35 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 7 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Rose Levy Beranbaum. Photo © 2018 Matthew Septimus. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These worked out perfectly for me. When I tried them immediately, I only tasted bourbon and sugar and not chocolate or pecans, so I wasn’t sure why I would eat these instead of just drinking the bourbon. After a few days of letting them sit, however, my mind was changed completely. They’re delicious!

It’s two weeks before Christmas and my house is torn apart due to a burst pipe in the crawlspace. I want a bourbon ball. I DESERVE a bourbon ball.

While this recipe does not, in my opinion, make the perfect bourbon ball, it does make a perfectly acceptable one. I took about an hour with about 30 minutes of resting and absorbing in between. (The bourbon in the mix, not the bourbon in me. Although by this point there was a little in me too.)

If I had any complaints about this recipe it was that the chocolate flavor was just a little too strong. Not so strong that I would reject it, but another attempt might require slightly less cocoa.

I added an extra teaspoon of bourbon from the original 1 1/2 tablespoons.

This recipe was easy fun. The result was a great-tasting and interesting one- or two-bite chocolate morsel.

As per the suggestion, I made it my own by using Grand Marnier. It really turned out great! The Orange flavor was a great complement to the chocolate flavor. The Pecans added a crunchy element and the unsweetened chocolate powder a nice depth of flavor.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Day of the Dead Cookies

These sugar skull cookies are classic Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) treats, but work for Halloween, too.

30 mins

Chocolate Polenta Pudding Cake

This rich and creamy chocolate pudding cake is made with cornmeal instead of flour, making it gluten-free.

13 hrs 30 mins

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating