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This chocolate rum balls recipe makes decadent candy-like confections that are easy to whip up in just 20 minutes with vanilla wafers, sweetened condensed milk, and a couple other ingredients. You can make them with rum or alcohol-free. They’re the perfect treat for holiday parties and Christmas cookie trays, and they make a beautiful homemade gift for friends and family.

hand reaching in to grab rum ball off holiday platter

Rum balls and Christmas go back for me as far as I can remember. I’m not sure who brought them, but they were present at every holiday gathering!

Does anyone else remember their mom saying “there’s real rum in there, only have one!”? Lol!

traditional rum ball with bite

Traditional cocoa rum balls are a blend of chocolate and rum flavors. I think the best rum balls are made with vanilla wafers and sweetened condensed milk, and bonus, they’re also the easiest! There’s no chocolate to melt, and the food processor will do all the work. And if you don’t have a food processor, you do it the old-fashioned way; add the cookies to a zip-top bag and get out your rolling pin!

This is a six-ingredient recipe made entirely of pantry staples, and two of those six ingredients are optional. It only takes 20 minutes to whip up, and these bite-sized goodies stay fresh for quite a while stashed in the fridge.

These are perfect for a holiday party or Christmas cookie tray. Make a batch and I think they’ll be a new favorite at your house!

no bake rum balls on marble countertop with platter in background

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It only uses six ingredients (and two of them are optional!), and they’re all from your pantry.
  • You can make kid friendly alcohol free rum balls with an easy swap. See the Notes in the recipe card below for instructions.
  • This is a recipe for rum balls without coconut, which I’ve had a lot of people ask me for. If you prefer rum balls with coconut, you can always roll them in coconut to coat the outside.
  • These bite-sized treats are the perfect make-ahead dessert because they actually taste better over time.

The Best Traditional Rum Balls Recipe

Rum balls are one of the easiest and most delicious no-bake holiday treats. And not to mention, they’re fun to customize with your favorite coatings, like sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, etc.

If you’re looking for the best rum balls with vanilla wafers and sweetened condensed milk, bookmark this recipe!

Ingredients in Chocolate Rum Balls

rum balls ingredients with titles
  • Nilla wafers – these are vanilla wafer cookies; if you can’t find them, you can substitute graham crackers or animal crackers
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – to make rum balls without chocolate chips, we use unsweetened cocoa powder for rich, complex chocolate flavor
  • Salt – this optional ingredient creates a balanced flavor profile and pulls out the flavor of everything else
  • Sweetened condensed milk – this adds sweetness and acts as our binder
  • White rum – or use dark rum, spiced rum, whiskey, or brandy
  • Vanilla extract – this is another optional, but recommended ingredient; we use it to bump up the flavor and aroma

Step by Step Instructions

how to make chocolate rum balls
  1. Add the vanilla wafers to a food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times to break them up, and then process until it forms fine crumbs.
  3. Add the cocoa powder, salt, sweetened condensed milk, rum, and vanilla.
  4. Process until well-combined.
  5. If the mixture is too sticky to roll, put plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate to chill until it’s easier to work with, about 30 minutes.
  6. Roll the mixture into slightly heaping 1-tablespoon-sized balls.
rolling easy rum balls in toppings

Roll the balls in any coatings you like. For best flavor, wait 2 days before serving.

Storage

Rum balls don’t need to be stored in the fridge, but they need to be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry area. If you store them at room temperature, they will last for about 1 week, and if you store them in the fridge, they will stay fresh for about 2 weeks.

rum balls graphic

Chocolate Rum Balls FAQs

Do Rum Balls Contain Alcohol?

Yes. Traditional rum balls contain – you guessed it – rum! Chocolate and rum are the main flavors in this bite-sized treat.

If rum isn’t your thing, you could substitute with whiskey (such as bourbon) or brandy (like cognac). Make sure you use a liquor that you enjoy drinking because you’ll be able to taste it in the rum balls.

What Kind of Rum Should I Use For Rum Balls?

You can use any type of rum you like. My preference is a white rum, but dark rum will also work fine. And you can use spiced rum if you like the hint of warm spices paired with chocolate.

Can Rum Balls Get You Drunk?

Although classic rum balls contain rum, it’s very unlikely that they will get you drunk. This whole recipe has 1 shot of rum in it, divided into 30 rum balls.

rolling chocolate rum ball in fesrtive christmas sprinkles

Can I Make Rum Balls Without Rum?

Yes! You can skip the rum with an easy swap.

To make non-alcoholic rum balls that still have the classic chocolate rum flavor combination, omit the rum. Instead, add 1/2 tablespoon rum extract and 2 1/2 tablespoons water.

And if you prefer non-alcoholic rum balls that don’t taste like rum, you can use 3 tablespoons of water instead of the rum.

Or make a customized flavor with any extract or flavoring you like.

How Long Do Rum Balls Last?

Store rum balls in an airtight container in a cool, dry place at room temperature for up to 1 week. Or if you store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they’ll last 2 weeks.

overhead view of rum balls with different toppings like coconut and sprinkles

Can I Freeze Rum Balls?

Yes! Traditional rum balls freeze well for up to 1 month.

To freeze rum balls, stack them between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container.

Let them thaw for 1 hour at room temperature before serving. You may want to re-roll them in the coatings after freezing.

More Chocolate Candy Recipes to Try

wooden platter with rum balls and festive christmas ornaments on marble countertop

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Chocolate Rum Balls Recipe

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Yields: 30 servings
This chocolate rum balls recipe makes decadent candy-like confections that are easy to whip up in just 20 minutes with vanilla wafers, sweetened condensed milk, and a couple other ingredients. You can make them with rum or alcohol-free. They’re the perfect treat for holiday parties and Christmas cookie trays, and they make a beautiful homemade gift for friends and family.

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Ingredients
 

Coating Suggestions:

Instructions
 

  • Add the vanilla wafers to a food processor. Pulse a few times to break them up, and then process until it forms fine crumbs.
  • Add the cocoa powder, salt, sweetened condensed milk, rum, and vanilla, and process until well-combined.
  • Roll the mixture into slightly heaping 1-tablespoon-sized balls. (If the mixture is too sticky to roll, put plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate to chill until it’s easier to work with, about 30 minutes.)
  • Roll the balls in any coatings you like. For best flavor, wait 2 days before serving.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 30 rum balls; a serving is 1 ball.
  • Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated without the coating suggestions.
  • Storage: Rum balls don’t need to be stored in the fridge, but they need to be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry area. If you store them at room temperature, they will last for about 1 week, and if you store them in the fridge, they will stay fresh for about 2 weeks.
  • How to Freeze Rum Balls: Traditional rum balls freeze well for up to 1 month. To freeze rum balls, stack them between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container. Let them thaw for 1 hour at room temperature before serving. You may want to re-roll them in the coatings after freezing.
  • How to Make Non Alcoholic Rum Balls: To make non-alcoholic rum balls that still have the classic chocolate rum flavor combination, omit the rum. Instead, add 1/2 tablespoon rum extract and 2 1/2 tablespoons water. And if you prefer non-alcoholic rum balls that don’t taste like rum, you can use 3 tablespoons of water instead of the rum.

Nutrition

Serving: 1candy | Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Best Rum Balls, Chocolate Rum Balls, Easy Rum Balls, Rum Balls, Rum Balls Recipe, Traditional Rum Balls

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rum balls pin
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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