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Maple bourbon balls are a must-have for the holidays! This adult treat is easy to make and perfect for gifting.
Bourbon balls have been a part of my holidays for years now, thanks to all our years in Texas.
Now that I am back in the Midwest, however, I was surprised to find out that not everyone is familiar with this treat. Which means I’ve definitely been making lots of this bourbon ball recipe to share with everyone I know!
Whether you are an old fan or new to the tradition, you’ll love how easy it is to put together these sweet bites. Plus, there’s no oven required!
What are bourbon balls?
Invented in Kentucky in the 1930s, bourbon balls are bite-size snacks or candies featuring bourbon for the main flavoring.
There are many different varieties of bourbon balls, with some coated in chocolate, some with a more creamy filling, and some with a cookie base.
Bourbon balls can have any flavor variety of bourbon and may or may not have chocolate. Pecans are a common addition.
For cookie-based balls, graham crackers, vanilla wafer cookies, or even chocolate sandwich cookies can be used.
Once formed, the balls are rolled in powdered sugar or a mix of powdered sugar and cocoa powder, or dipped in melted chocolate.
Sweet and boozy, these are the perfect celebratory bite.
Ingredients for making bourbon balls
Bourbon balls only require a few ingredients to make.
Vanilla wafer cookies – Crushed cookies make up the base for the balls. For a different flavor, swap in graham crackers.
Pecans – Pecans bring warm nutty flavor to the balls. If you like, you can toast them prior to using for even more flavor, but it’s not necessary.
Powdered sugar – To sweeten the balls as well for coating.
Ground cinnamon – Optional, but I like to add some cinnamon for flavor.
Maple syrup – Bourbon balls commonly use corn syrup, but I prefer the flavor maple syrup brings. Be sure to use pure maple syrup, not imitation.
Bourbon – Use any variety of bourbon for your balls. Only ? cup is needed, so you’ll have plenty left over for drinking.
Popular brands include Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, and Buffalo Trace. Nonalcoholic bourbon will work as well!
You can also add cocoa powder. I’ve left it out in this batch.
How to make bourbon balls
First, you’ll need to crush the cookies and chop the nuts (if you didn’t buy pre-chopped nuts).
Make sure you don’t crush the cookies completely into tiny crumbs; I leave a few larger pieces for texture.
To chop the nuts, use the food processor again or chop finely with a knife.
In a large bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, nuts, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Stir in the cinnamon, if using.
Whisk together the bourbon and maple syrup, then add to the mixture.
Mix together until it is evenly moistened. It should easily clump together without being soggy.
If it seems too wet, add a little more powdered sugar. If it is too dry, add a small amount of maple syrup.
Pour some powdered sugar into a bowl.
Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into a ball between your hands. The balls can be whatever size you like, but 1 inch is a good rule of thumb.
Roll the ball in the powdered sugar, then set on a tray. Repeat until all the filling is used.
Chill the balls in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Bourbon balls can be kept at room temperature, but will keep longer in the refrigerator.
Store bourbon balls in the refrigerator in an airtight container, bourbon balls will last for about 2 weeks.
You can eat them straight from the fridge, or let them come to room temperature for a softer bite.
What to serve with bourbon balls
Add bourbon balls to your holiday cookie spread with some of these favorites:
- Iced Gingerbread Spritz
- Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
- Ginger Molasses Cookies
- Almond Biscotti
- Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies
Bourbon balls might just become your new family classic!
Maple Bourbon Balls
- 2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, divided use
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- In a large bowl, combine crushed cookies, pecans, 1 cup powdered sugar, and cinnamon until mixed.
- Whisk together bourbon and maple syrup, then pour over dry ingredients. Mix well until evenly moistened. It should easily clump together but not be soggy. Add more powdered sugar or maple syrup as needed.
- Pour the rest of the powdered sugar into a bowl. Shape the cookie mixture into 1-inch balls using your hands or a cookie scoop, then roll in powdered sugar to coat completely. Place on a tray and repeat until all is used.
- Chill the bourbon balls for at least 30 minutes to set and bring out the bourbon flavor before enjoying.
- Makes about 2 dozen.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.