Rich, smooth, decadent, and delicious, Kentucky-Style Bourbon Balls are a Southern delicacy you need to know how to make! These bite-sized treats are full of smoky bourbon, crunchy pecans, warm spice, sweet vanilla wafers, and velvety cocoa powder! If you love this, you will also love these Peanut Brittle, Pralines, Chocolate Bark and Turtle Candies!
Each year I post a gift guide full of my go-to items for the holiday giving season. If you’ve checked it out before, you’ll notice that I adore sharing my favorite cookbooks, kitchen items, and kid-friendly treasures. There’s always something for everyone!
But, if I’m being honest, one of my favorite gifts to give is a homemade one! During the holiday months, I pump out hundreds of cookies and candies that I carefully arrange in cellophane bags and wrap with satin bows. These goodies get passed around to family, friends, and coworkers alike.
Bourbon Balls are one of my go-to choices for homemade gifting! They’re crunchy, sweet, creamy, warm, and, of course, boozy. No one can resist these chocolatey bites of Southern goodness!
WHAT ARE BOURBON BALLS?
To put it simply, Bourbon Balls are a no-bake candy that feature a creamy bourbon-pecan filling and a chocolate coating. There are tons of variations of this recipe, some call for molasses and others are rolled in chocolate jimmies. The possibilities are endless.
HOMEMADE BOURBON BALL INGREDIENTS
BOURBON- Warm, cozy, and boozy, Bourbon is like a hug for your belly. This intense, smoky liquor takes this recipe from boring to bracing. Make sure to use a bourbon you really like because you’ll be able to taste it!
LIGHT CORN SYRUP- Corn syrup will add the touch of sweetness that these candies need. The stickiness also helps the filling to come together a little easier.
CRUSHED VANILLA WAFERS- Crushed wafers help give this recipe texture and structure. Plus, the added vanilla flavor is divine.
PECANS- Nuts bring a toasty, tasty crunch that pairs incredibly well with the rich bourbon.
CINNAMON, GINGER, + NUTMEG- I found that adding a bit of spice into the mix really changes things up. All three additions are warm, fragrant, and complimentary to the flavor of the bourbon.
POWDERED SUGAR- Confectioners sugar layers in some additional sweetness and helps to absorb extra moisture.
COCOA POWDER- A bit of cocoa powder adds a velvety, rich chocolate taste.
NOTE: If you’d like to make this recipe non-alcoholic, replace the bourbon with orange or apple juice. Both options will make the balls a bit sweeter but they’ll be just as delicious!
HOW TO MAKE BOURBON BALLS
My recipe doesn’t require much, just some simple ingredients and a few short steps. It starts by toasting the nuts to fragrant, golden-brown perfection, then allowing them to cool. Next, pulse the vanilla wafers and pecans in a blender until coarse crumbs form.
Transfer the cookie crumb/pecan mixture to a large bowl and add in the sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Mix until combined, then pour the corn syrup and bourbon over the top.
Once all the ingredients have come together, use your hands or a small cookie scoop to start forming the balls. Roll in the extra powdered sugar, chill for about an hour, and serve!
MAKE AHEAD AND STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS
TO STORE/MAKE AHEAD: Store bourbon balls in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If storing at room temperature, be sure to place them in a cool environment.
TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight container or freezer-safe ziploc bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and enjoy!
GRANDBABY CAKES’ BEST HOLIDAY GIFT RECIPES
Nothing beats a homemade gift! Grandbaby Cakes offers a delicious variety of sweet treats that make for great potluck sharing, snacking, and gift-giving.
Here are just a few:
- CLASSIC SOUTHERN PECAN PRALINES
- EGGNOG COOKIE DOUGH TRUFFLES
- HOMEMADE TURTLE CANDY
- GINGERBREAD CRINKLE COOKIES
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup vanilla wafer cookies
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar divided
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup bourbon see note below on how to make non-alcoholic
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on top of a baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 8-10 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Transfer the nuts to a heat-safe bowl and allow them to completely cool.
- While you wait, use a blender or food processor to grind up the cookies. Once cool, chop up the pecans.
- In a large bowl, combine the wafer cookies, pecans, 1 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the bourbon and corn syrup. Mix until the dry and wet ingredients are fully combined.
- Use a tablespoon measurement to form the balls, then roll them in the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar.
- Chill for 1 hour and serve!