Rum Balls

These gorgeous rum balls, made with walnuts, chocolate, confectioners’ sugar, and butter, are a Southern classic. A lovely homemade Christmas gift.

A two-tiered platter with rum balls on each tier

Boozy, lusciously chocolate rum balls. They’re all we need to prove the existence of a Dessert God. Rich, chocolatey, nutty, and hard to stop at just one. Although these are a tiny bit rum-y, there’s no stopping you from tossing in an extra splash. Sin never tasted so good. We certainly won’t tell.–The Chew

Rum Ball Mix-In Variations

There’s no shortage of them. Some recipes call for crushed vanilla wafers or crumbled brownies as a mix-in. Others prefer chopped pecans versus walnuts. But they all share an affinity for the romance of rum and chocolate. And they all can be dressed up with sprinkles for cocktail parties or left plain for tailgating and midnight cravings. So you can’t really go wrong, as far as we’re concerned. Especially not with this recipe. (Oh, did we mention it’s gluten-free?)

Rum Balls

A two-tiered platter with rum balls on each tier
These gorgeous rum balls, made with walnuts, chocolate, confectioners’ sugar, and butter, are a Southern classic. A lovely homemade Christmas gift.
The Chew

Prep 30 mins
Chill Time 30 mins
Total 1 hr
24 rum balls
101 kcal
5 / 5 votes
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  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup walnuts toasted and finely chopped (or pecans)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Generous pinch fine sea salt
  • Sprinkles, shredded coconut, or more toasted and finely chopped nuts for decorating (optional)


  • Heat the rum in a small saucepan over medium heat until the booze is reduced by half. Watch it carefully, as it evaporates quickly.
  • Set a heatproof bowl over but not touching a pot of gently simmering water. Add the chocolate and butter to the bowl and wait, stirring occasionally, until they’re both completely melted.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat (careful, it will be hot!) and stir in the walnuts, rum, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Let cool to room temperature. (You can cover and refrigerate the cooled rum balls mixture for a few hours or even up to a few days, although you’ll need to let it warm to room temperature before you proceed.)
  • Portion the rum balls mixture into 1-inch balls. (If it’s too sticky to easily roll into balls, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. If it’s a little crumbly, try to roll it into balls anyways and if that doesn’t work, let the mixture rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes and try again.) Roll the rum balls in sprinkles of some sort, if desired. Place the rum balls in a parchment-lined container with a lid. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The taste of the rum will be subtle at first yet will deepen with time. We found the taste after exerting patience for a few days to be perfect.
Print RecipeBuy the The Chew: A Year of Celebrations cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1ballCalories: 101kcal (5%)Carbohydrates: 11g (4%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 5g (8%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 5mg (2%)Sodium: 1mgPotassium: 46mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 10g (11%)Vitamin A: 62IU (1%)Vitamin C: 0.02mgCalcium: 6mg (1%)Iron: 0.5mg (3%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Bite-size desserts are just the ticket when you need something to take to your office potluck. Think about it. Someone might not be willing to commit to a slice of your amazing pecan pie, but a teeny little rum ball? Everyone will go for that. These are different from other rum balls I’ve had—more truffle-like than cookie-like. I used a 70% Scharffen Berger chocolate, which was very intense. Next time I would dial it back and use a milder chocolate to let the nuts and rum shine through. Not having any sprinkles on hand, I rolled some of the balls in chopped walnuts and some in shredded coconut. Both good options. The trickiest part of the recipe was getting the temperature of the chocolate mixture right to roll out. After letting them cool to room temperature, I found that they were still a bit too soft. It was going to be a messy job. So I chilled them in the fridge for a couple hours, but then they were too firm to divide into balls. I let them warm up just a bit, and they were perfect. Your hands will warm up and soften the balls as you form them, so you probably want the “dough” to be a bit colder and stiffer than you would think.

Keep in mind when you make these that the rum will not be apparent at first, but the flavor will increase the longer they sit. So try to make them a few days ahead of time to allow them to “age” a bit and reach their full potential. Your friends will thank you for your foresight!

I must say that I had high hopes for this recipe from the get-go. It promised to be very quick to put together and required ingredients that I already had in my pantry. Add the name RUM Balls, and I mean, how bad could they really be? They turned out to be quite delicious. The rum balls were wonderfully chocolatey with a great texture from the combination of ground pecans and sugar. When it came to forming the rum balls though, the consistency of the mixture was not what I expected, and I thought I’d screwed something up. I didn’t have the time to let the mixture cool and form the balls on the same day, so I wrapped the mixture and put it in the fridge overnight to set. The next day, I removed the bowl from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes to warm up some. When I went to scoop the mix into ball-sized portions, I found it to be quite dry and crumbly, a bit like modeling clay that had been left out too long. I thought perhaps that it was still too cold to work with, so I let it sit until it came fully to room temperature. That helped a bit, but it was still not very easy to scoop. Nevertheless, I worked chunks of the mix with my fingers and by rolling them between my palms, and they pretty quickly formed into nice, shiny rum balls. While they were still warm from my hands, I dropped them into a bowl of finely shredded, unsweetened coconut to coat and then into a Tupperware for storage. I would prefer mine with a little more pronounced rum flavor (don’t judge me!), so I may add a little more next time I make them. But even without the extra booze, they’re a totally satisfying treat. Next time I’ll also make sure I have the time to roll the balls the day I make the mixture and see if it’s any easier to do without having them fully set in the fridge.

Originally published December 18, 2017


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  1. 5 stars
    These were so good! In fact, it was hard not to eat them all at once. I made mine with walnuts and rum per the recipe. In the past, I had used my great-grandmother’s recipe which used Nilla wafers, but they were always too dry. Not the case with these! So delicious, almost like fudge rather than a cookie. I didn’t have any sprinkles, so rolled mine in a mix of Dutch cocoa and powdered sugar.

  2. I’ve wanted to try rum balls for ages but allergies to walnuts, pecans, etc have kept me from it. I realize they wouldn’t be quite the same but can you suggest any acceptable substitute? Thanks – love your site and visit often.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Jo. My family also deals with nut allergies and I’m always looking for substitutes as well. Can you have coconut? That might work in place of the walnuts, although, as you say, it wouldn’t be quite the same.

      1. Just an FYI coconut is in the nut family and those very allergic to nuts might want to not use coconut. If you are looking for a nutty replacement you could use sunflower seeds.

  3. Hi! What happened with Ziplist? Will you be associating with another on line recipe box?

    Love you recipes!


    1. Julie, I’m frantically looking for a replacement that WORKS. ZipList pull the product from all the sites it worked with–from Martha Stewart to us. If you were a subscriber, you should have gotten several messages from them about their untimely demise. But keep an eye out as we look for a substitute.

        1. sundevilpeg, sorry to hear that. i got mine. But I think they handled things very poorly. They’ve left all of us publishers stuck. We’re all scrambling to find useful substitutes.

      1. No emails from them here, but at least now I know to stop looking for the recipe box. 🙂

        While on the subject of tech, David, your site probably has the easiest, most trouble-free recipe printing of any site I’ve used. I “print” what I need as pdf files. Then, if someone wants a copy of a recipe I’ve made, I can email them the pdf with all the source info and your website info intact. No worries about typos or trying to remember where something came from. Easy-peasy. Thanks.

        1. Apparently, ZipList wins the Loser of the Year Award. So sorry about that, Renee.

          But thank you for your kind words about our printing feature. Jared, our web dev, and I worked on that for a long time.

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