Rum Balls

Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cookies, Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

Rum balls - the final product

This is another Lynch family classic recipe. I’ve been making these with my mom for as long as I can remember. Be warned: since these aren’t baked, they remain slightly alcoholic. However, the amount of alcohol in a single rum ball is pretty minor so you don’t need to worry about getting drunk unless you eat a whole batch (in which case you probably have other problems to worry about, like a stomachache!). I don’t know where the recipe originates, but I think it’s one of those 1960’s recipes that was passed around between housewives. I have at least one other friend who grew up making these.

The funny thing is, these decadent confections can easily be made vegan, with a little attention to ingredient lists. Make sure that your chocolate chips have no dairy (Guittard is my favorite) and look for generic brand Nilla wafers that don’t contain any eggs or dairy. The brand I use, Valu Time (!) is actually far “better” for you than name-brand Nilla Wafers. The name brand version contains all kinds of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, whereas Valu Time is mostly real sugar and non-hydrogenated oils. And they leave out the dairy products too (name brand Nillas have whey in them).

You can make these with bourbon instead of rum if you wish. I’ve never done it (the family tradition is to use rum) but I bet it’s delicious!

Rum Balls


6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (vegan)
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup rum or bourbon
2 1/2 cups crushed Nilla wafers (approx. 1 12-oz. box) (real Nillas are not vegan, but sometimes the generic brands are)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Ingredients for rum balls


  1. Crush Nilla wafers in a food processor, blender, or by putting them in a bag and rolling them with a rolling pin. Chop nuts, if they’re not pre-cut.
  2. Mix nuts, powdered sugar, and crushed Nilla wafers in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt chocolate chips and corn syrup in a double boiler.
  4. Pour melted chocolate mixture over the Nilla wafer mixture. Add rum and mix well.
  5. Let stand 1/2 hour at room temp for 30 minutes. Do not skip this step! It gives the rum time to soak into the Nilla wafer crumbs.
  6. Roll dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Rum balls marinating

8 Comments on “Rum Balls”

  1. 1 Linda said at 11:49 pm on December 16th, 2009:

    I found this recipe in the nick of time!! Just what i was looking for, and it sounds so delicious too. This is the first recipe i’ve found where you let it sit at room temp. What a great idea, as i’m sure it really holds the flavor. My question is, should i not serve these to my 3 yr old and 9 yr old daughters? Or if i make a second batch just for them, what can i substitute the rum for? I know if they see these, they will want a few, so i may as well make some extra that they will be able to eat. I know you don’t cook these, so the rum doesn’t get cooked off. I know they say that when you make rum cake, the rum is cooked off, but i remember being 15 and someone giving us a rum cake for Christmas. I must have had 2-3 pieces and i could swear i felt a little tipsy. At the time, i didn’t even know what rum was. LOL!! I look back and laugh at that now. But anyway, just want to see if there’s another liquid i can use besides the rum, when i make the kids a batch too. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. :)

  2. 2 mooflyfoof said at 1:39 am on December 17th, 2009:

    Glad I could help! Letting them sit at room temp really works well because I find that if you refrigerate the dough, it becomes too hard to roll into balls.

    As far as whether you want to serve them to your kids… It’s really your call. While I don’t have kids, I personally wouldn’t have a problem giving them a one or two at a time. I think I ate them when I was a kid and I turned out just fine. :) Really, though — while there’s some alcohol in them, it’s not very much. Definitely not any more than those chocolate covered cherry candies.

    The only thing I can think of that’s non-alcoholic that you could substitute for the rum is coffee. In fact, I think my mom’s recipe actually lists that as an alternative. Unfortunately, I doubt that would be much better for the kids than alcohol. Maybe cream would work? It would make for a totally different candy, but I bet it would be good… Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

  3. 3 samantha said at 12:20 pm on November 23rd, 2010:

    My grandmother made Rum balls every Christmas, and for the children (much to our dismay) she made “Orange balls.” Which were delicious as well, but we always snuck the rum balls anyway. =)

  4. 4 eso said at 3:52 pm on January 2nd, 2011:

    I was just thinking about how I needed to bug you for this recipe when I remembered you had a food blog. Delight!

  5. 5 eso said at 4:23 pm on January 3rd, 2011:

    So I made a gluten-free version using Cheerios instead of Nilla wafers. They actually turned out quite good. I think 12 oz of Cheerios is far too much for the recipe though; I needed a great deal more rum to achieve the correct consistency, as well as a half stick of butter and a 1/4 cup of sugar and some vanilla extract. I made it in the food processor, which worked splendidly for something as tough as Cheerios. Anyway it was great! Thanks!

  6. 6 mooflyfoof said at 4:34 pm on January 3rd, 2011:

    Cheerios are gluten-free? My understanding is that they’re not:

    But that they make gluten-free alternatives like this:

    Anyway, sounds tasty! :)

  7. 7 eso said at 8:53 pm on January 6th, 2011:

    You’re right, I should have said extremely-low-gluten. Oats don’t contain gluten of course, but often are contaminated with gluten via machinery and other production sources. Thankfully my parents aren’t THAT sensitive.

  8. 8 42 Delicious Gifts From The Kitchen : Craft Stew said at 6:30 am on June 9th, 2011:

    […] Mooflyfood Rum Balls […]

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