Indulge in the simplicity and delight of the Easy Rum Balls Recipe, a perfect blend of cocoa, rum, and nuts for a festive treat. These hassle-free sweets are ideal for holiday cheer, especially at Christmas, offering a joyous and tasty addition to any celebration.
🍹 What are Rum Balls
Rum balls, a no-bake dessert originating from Europe, are also a festive treat popular in countries like Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Latin America. These sweets are made by mixing crushed cookies or cake with cocoa powder and rum, bound together with ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, light corn syrup, or butter.
Often enhanced with nuts, coconut, or dried fruits, the mixture is rolled into golf ball-sized servings and coated in cocoa powder, sugar, or toppings like nuts and chocolate shavings. The rum you use shapes the flavor of the rum balls. Dark or spiced rum adds a rich taste, while white rum makes them lighter in flavor.
Easy to make with readily available ingredients, rum balls are a beloved holiday delicacy, a fun treat enjoyed with coffee or tea, and evoke nostalgic memories for many.
Related: Check out my Turkish Coffee Recipe.
This recipe is part of my collection of Desserts, where you can find more holiday treats, like these 39 Easy Fudge Recipes For Christmas, these Easy Chocolate Truffles, or these Homemade Raffaello Coconut Almond Confections. These homemade treats are all delicious and make a great holiday dessert tray for any party.
💝Why you will love these Rum Balls
- Fit for All Occasions: Perfect for any holiday party, as gifts, or just a sweet treat.
- Delightfully Delicious: A crowd-pleasing blend of flavors and textures.
- Easy to Make: No baking is required.
- Classic Holiday Treat: A timeless favorite during festive seasons.
- Versatile: Easily adaptable to the ingredients available.
- Convenient: This is a great make-ahead recipe. Stored properly, these homemade rum balls are perfect for entertaining.
📝 Ingredients you need
Here's a look at the main ingredients for these rum balls, but you will find the full list and quantities of each in the recipe card.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: Provide a sweet, crunchy base for the rum balls. Consider using crushed vanilla wafers, shortbread cookies, digestive biscuits, butter cookies, chocolate wafers, or leftover cake for variations or dietary needs. Gluten-free cookies or cake can be used for a gluten-free version.
- Unsalted Butter: Used as a binding agent, it provides a rich, creamy texture and a distinct buttery flavor to the rum balls. While traditional recipes may use sweetened condensed milk, butter enhances the dessert's taste, making it rich and delicious.
- Powdered Sugar: Sweetens the mixture. Fine granulated sugar can be used if sifted.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Gives a deep chocolate flavor. Dutch-processed cocoa (affiliate link) can be used for a smoother taste. (my favorite)
- Heavy Cream: Essential for binding the rum balls mixture, heavy cream is combined with butter, sugar, and cocoa powder to add the needed moisture to a truffle-like ball with a smooth texture.
- Rum: A key ingredient that gives these rum balls their distinctive holiday flavor. You can choose any type you prefer: dark rum, spiced, white, gold, or coconut flavored, depending on your budget and taste preferences. For a non-alcoholic version suitable for children or those avoiding alcohol, rum or vanilla extract is an excellent alternative. Bourbon is also a suitable substitute.
- Roasted Chopped Walnuts: Adds texture and nuttiness. Pecans or almonds are good alternatives.
- Granulated Sugar for Coating: Gives a sweet outer layer. Alternatives include coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles, shaved chocolate, colored sprinkles, unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered sugar.
- Optional: Cherries in Syrup: Add a sweet, fruity note. They can be omitted or replaced with other dried fruits like raisins or cranberries.
👩🍳 How to make rum balls
- Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) for roasting the nuts. Roast walnuts on a tray for 8 minutes until fragrant and light brown, or use a skillet, stirring until aromatic. Let them cool, then finely chop. Place them in a large bowl for the next step.
- Step 2: Crumble the Cookies. Process your chosen cookies (such as graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies) using a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Combine these crumbs with the previously prepared nuts in the large bowl. If a food processor is unavailable, place the cookies in a bag and crush them to a fine consistency using a rolling pin or a bottle.
- Step 3: Prepare the Binding Syrup. Combine butter, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and cocoa in a small saucepan using a wooden spoon or a spatula. Bring this mixture to a boil, being careful not to let it simmer. Once it reaches boiling point, remove the pot from the stove and let it cool to room temperature. After it has cooled, stir in the rum or rum extract.
- Step 4: Mix Dry and Wet Ingredients. Carefully pour the cooled wet mixture over the bowl of dry ingredients, which includes your nuts and cookie crumbs. Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined. If you find the mixture too soft, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes to firm it up before proceeding to the next step.
- Step 5: Shape and Decorate the Rum Balls. Use your hands or a small cookie scoop to shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in one or more of the following for decoration: granulated sugar, coconut flakes, chocolate sprinkles, shaved chocolate, colored sprinkles, powdered sugar (or confectioners' sugar), or unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix and match these toppings to create festive, eye-catching rum balls perfect for your dessert table.
Note: If you opt for powdered sugar or cocoa powder, you might need to reroll the rum balls before serving, as they can absorb moisture while refrigerated.
- Step 6. Refrigerate. After shaping the rum balls, place them on a baking sheet to chill in the refrigerator overnight so they hold their shape. For space efficiency or longer storage, transfer the chilled rum balls into an airtight container, using parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
Optional: For an added surprise, insert a pitted cherry from syrup, a maraschino cherry, or an almond into the center of each ball before rolling them in your chosen toppings.
💡 Expert Tip
To ensure the rum or rum extract retains its full flavor, avoid adding it to the cream while it's being heated. The alcohol will evaporate if heated. Instead, wait for the mixture to cool to room temperature before incorporating the rum or extract. This step helps preserve the intended taste and aroma of the rum in your rum balls.
🍽️ How To Serve Homemade Rum Balls
Arrange these rum balls on a platter or serving dish for an elegant presentation. They're a perfect dessert or treat for parties and gatherings, and placing them in mini cupcake liners adds an extra touch of elegance. Pair them with coffee, tea, or dessert wine for a complete experience.
During the holidays, especially at Christmas, they become a cherished favorite. Enhance a holiday cookie platter with these rum balls, or gift them to family and friends for a sweet surprise. When made with high-quality ingredients and rum extract, they're a fantastic treat for the whole family. Remember, if using real rum, they're not suitable for children.
❄️ How To Store Rum Balls
- Refrigerator: Keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks. They may develop richer flavors after a few days.
- Freezer: Freeze on a parchment-lined sheet until solid, then move to a container or freezer bag. They last up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.
- Room Temperature: Suitable for a few days, but refrigeration is recommended to maintain shape and freshness due to the heavy cream content.
🙋♀️ Recipe Faqs
Absolutely, preparing them in advance is perfect, particularly for having them ready to enjoy during Christmas time. Their flavors tend to meld and enhance when allowed to sit, making them even more delicious the next day.
This could be due to the mixture being too dry. Try adding a little more heavy cream or melted butter for better consistency.
It's unlikely, as the alcohol content is generally low, and much of the alcohol can evaporate during the process. However, consumption in large quantities could have some effect.
Rum balls are believed to have originated in Europe, particularly in Denmark and Germany, where they are traditional Christmas treats.
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Easy Rum Balls Recipe (No Bake)
- Preheat Oven: Set to 350°F (180°C).
- Roast Nuts: Spread walnuts on a baking tray and roast for about 8 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool.
- Chop Nuts: Finely chop the nuts with a knife or in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Crumble Cookies: Process graham crackers into fine crumbs. If there is no food processor, crush the cookies in a bag with a rolling pin or bottle.
- Combine Crumbs with Nuts: Mix graham cracker crumbs with chopped nuts.
- Make Syrup: In a pot, combine butter, heavy cream, sugar, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, then cool. Do not boil.
- Add Rum: Stir in rum or rum flavor into the cooled mixture.
- Mix Wet and Dry Ingredients: Pour syrup over the nut and crumb mixture. Mix well.
- Chill if Needed: If the mixture is soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Form Rum Balls: Use your hands or a small cookie scoop to shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Coat with granulated sugar, coconut flakes, or chocolate sprinkles.
- Refrigerate: Arrange the rum balls on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight. For longer storage or to save space, transfer chilled rum balls into an airtight container, using parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
- Optional Filling: Insert a cherry or almond into each ball before coating.
- Serving: Serve rum balls cold.
- Graham crackers
- Crushed vanilla wafers
- Shortbread cookies
- Digestive biscuits
- Chocolate wafers
- Leftover cake
- Granulated sugar
- Coconut flakes
- Chocolate sprinkles
- Shaved chocolate
- Colored sprinkles
- Powder sugar
This article was published in 2017 and updated with new text and images in November 2023.