Spiced Rum Balls

Spiced Rum Balls are so easy to put together and are the most tastiest holiday treat! Made with spiced rum, cookie crumbs and pecans and sweetened with honey, these sweet confections don’t require any baking.

A cookie tin perfect for gifting contains Spiced Rum Balls with assorted toppings while two rum balls sit beside that have been bitten.

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Spiced Rum Balls recipe

Spiced rum balls are usually a confection served at Christmas, but they’re one I usually enjoy… in July.

One of our favorite spots to vacation is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They are beautiful beaches on barrier islands and I’m always thinking about going back.

Whenever we go, we always make sure we stop by Outer Banks Distilling, a rum distillery, for a rum tasting and a cocktail. (And maybe a bottle, too!)

I also usually snag a box of their Kill Devil Rum Balls to snack on at the beach. These sweet delicacies are boozy and full of spiced flavor.

These pecan-crusted homemade treats are what I had in mind when making these rum balls, and I know you’re going to fall in love with them.

10 rum balls rest in white cupcake liners arranged side by side in a metal baking tin with festive greenery nearby

Why you’ll love this recipe

Each bite of a Spiced Rum Ball is both crunchy and soft, with the flavors of nuttiness, dark chocolate, cinnamon and sweet vanilla hitting your taste buds in waves.

  • Spiced Rum Balls are so easy and require absolutely no baking whatsoever!
  • You don’t need any special equipment to make this recipe.
  • Rum balls are always a welcome addition to a cookie tray, cookie exchange or any holiday party menu.

Enjoy them alongside some Spiced Hot Buttered Rum or an Apple Cider Moscow Mule.

Rum balls spread out on a white marble surface - the first ball has a bite taken from it.

What are Rum Balls?

Rum balls are bite-size confections that can come in different shapes, sizes and flavors, but usually feature a mixture of dry and wet ingredients to form a sweet, boozy dough that’s shaped into spheres.

The recipe below features a base of Biscoff cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and finely-chopped pecans for the dry ingredients.

They are then mixed with spiced rum, vanilla extract and honey to form a dough that can be rolled into balls and topped with your favorite toppings.

Rum balls are similar to bourbon balls, which were invented in the 1930s in Kentucky. However, traditional rum balls have a much older history.

A black and white plate holding holiday ball cookies on a white marble surface

History of Rum Balls

Rum balls were invented in the mid-nineteenth century by Danish bakers, who wanted to find a way to reuse their leftover baked goods each day.

They rolled the crumbs with cocoa powder and rum to make a sticky dough and rolled them in coconut and chocolate.

Called romkugler, these treats were sold at a low price, so they were especially popular with kids. Today, they’re enjoyed year-round in Denmark.

Rum balls are popular all over the world. German rum balls are known as rumkugeln. Rum balls are Christmas traditions in Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. They’re a popular treat for holiday parties in England and the United States as well.

The ingredients for spiced rum balls sit in measuring cups and bowls on a white marble surface.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need to pick up the following simple ingredients at the grocery store:

Instead of honey, you can use corn syrup or maple syrup instead.

Don’t forget to stock up on things to roll them in, too. Rum balls look gorgeous on their own, but you can pretty them up further by rolling them in different toppings.

About Biscoff Cookies

Also known as airplane cookies, Lotus Biscoff Cookies are sweet and spiced cookies are crunchy and wonderful. They have the flavors of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Dare you not to eat one before you make the crumbs!

If you can’t find them, you can use another type of spiced cookie instead, such as speculoos, cinnamon graham crackers, gingersnaps or gingerbread cookies instead.

You can also use crushed vanilla wafers, graham crackers or chocolate wafers (to make chocolate rum balls).

Flaked coconut on a rum ball with other balls behind

Rum Ball toppings

You can leave your rum balls undecorated or you can dress them up with a number of pretty toppings. If you roll them in 3-4 different toppings, these pretty truffles will look really gorgeous on a cookie tray!

Here are a few suggestions to try:

  • shredded coconut
  • chopped pecans
  • colored sprinkles
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • cocoa powder
  • powdered sugar
  • granulated sugar
  • sanding sugar
  • cookie crumbs
  • melted chocolate coating (with whole pecans on top)
Homemade Spiced Rum is the queen of all spiced rums, because you can flavor it yourself! It's so easy, and way better than storebought. It makes the perfect addition to every drink from a Cuba Libre to a tiki cocktail. (via feastandwest.com)

Best rum for rum balls

If you are making rum balls, you will want to stock up on the right kind of rum to give them the rummiest flavor.

Rum is distilled from the fermented juices of pure sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, molasses, and other sugarcane byproducts, so it naturally has a sweet flavor.

Silver rum (AKA light rum or white rum) is the most common type of rum and is unflavored. Gold rum is similar but has added caramel coloring. Dark rum is also typical and gets its color from either aging or molasses additives.

However, most rum balls are made with spiced rum, which has been infused with spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In fact, it’s very easy to make homemade spiced rum yourself by infusing white rum with whole spices.

You can use any type of rum (silver, gold or dark) to make rum balls, but they won’t be as flavorful as if you use spiced rum. If you don’t use spiced rum, make sure you use the Biscoff cookies to get that perfectly spiced flavor.

If you have a favorite spiced rum brand, feel free to use it in these rum balls. I like trying different brands, but you can’t go wrong with Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, Cruzan or Kraken.

White cupcake liners hold no-bake ball cookies

Variations and substitutions

Rum balls without nuts: If you need to make a nut-free version, substitute an additional 1 cup cookie crumbs for the nuts.

Non-alcoholic bourbon balls: Try them with a non-alcoholic rum such as Ritual rum alternative (affiliate link).

With other nuts: These would work with walnuts instead of pecans.

Different cookie base: Instead of the crumbs of Biscoff cookies, you can use other types of cookies, such as ginger snaps, vanilla wafer crumbs (Nilla wafers), chocolate wafer crumbs or graham cracker crumbs.

Gluten-free bourbon balls: Use crumbs from your favorite gluten-free ginger cookies. (I’ve enjoyed the Partake brand recently.)

How to make Bacardi Rum Balls

Spiced rum balls are a super simple, no-bake recipe.

First, you’ll need to finely chop pecans and the cookies to get crumbs. I used a food processor, but you don’t have to have one.

To chop nuts without a food processor: Chop them with a sharp knife or pastry cutter until you have a fine crumb. You can also crush them in a sealable bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

To make cookie crumbs: Place them in a sealable bag and crush them with a meat mallet or rolling pin until you have fine crumbs and no cookie chunks.

The initial ingredients for rum balls are in a glass bowl ready to be stirred with a nearby wooden spoon.

Then, place the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cocoa and chopped pecans in a large mixing bowl.

Rum ball dough comes together in a mixing bowl

Add the rum, vanilla and honey. Stir together until combined and a thick dough has formed.

A cookie scooper rests on top of batter in a glass mixing bowl

Use a 1-2 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop or spoon to form evenly-sized balls. Roll them together in your palms until nice and round and place on a baking sheet.

A cookie scooper sits on parchment paper near neatly lined cookie balls

Roll in your favorite toppings, such as desiccated coconut, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, sprinkles or more chopped pecans. (See the section above about toppings for more ideas.)

Completed rum balls sit in a baking dish on top of brown parchment paper.

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. The flavor will become even more pronounced after a day or two in the fridge!

Spiced Rum Balls with assorted toppings

FAQ

Can you get tipsy or drunk from eating rum balls?

No, each rum ball contains less than 1 teaspoon of rum. You’d need to eat quite a lot to feel tipsy, but it’s a good idea to enjoy them in moderation.

Do rum balls need to be refrigerated?

Yes, not only does the fridge help the rum balls to stay set up, but they will become more flavorful after a day in the fridge.

Is the alcohol baked out of rum balls?

No, rum balls are a no-bake treat, so the booze will stay strong and flavorful.

What are rum balls made of?

Rum balls are made from a dough of chopped pecans, cookie crumbs, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and spiced rum. They are then rolled in toppings like coconut, sprinkles or sugar. If you don’t like the flavor of spiced rum, try making them with whiskey or brandy instead.

A tin of homemade boozy cookies sits beside two cookies with bites taken from them

ABOUT THE SWEETEST SEASON

This recipe is part of The Sweetest Season, an annual virtual cookie swap co-hosted by Erin of The Speckled Palate and myself. Every year, we get a bunch of food bloggers together to share new holiday cookie recipes.

This year we are raising money for Cookies 4 Kids’ Cancer, which is a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer.

This season, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a matching window with their friends at OXO, meaning OXO will be matching every dollar raised through Dec. 31, 2022, up to $100,000. Whatever money we raise will automatically double on our fundraising page!

More boozy dessert recipes

Boozy no-bake cookies with winter greenery in the background

Spiced Rum Balls

Yield: 24
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Spiced Rum Balls are a holiday delight! Made from crushed cookies, chopped pecans, cocoa powder, real spiced rum, honey and vanilla, these gorgeous treats are perfect for cookie swaps and holiday parties.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups crushed Biscoff cookies
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup spiced rum

Instructions

  1. Place the cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cocoa and chopped pecans in a large bowl.
  2. Add the spiced rum, vanilla and maple syrup. Stir together until combined and it forms a thick dough.
  3. Use a 1-2 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop or spoon to form evenly sized balls. Roll together in your palms.
  4. Roll in your favorite toppings, such as powdered sugar, cocoa powder, sprinkles, shredded coconut or more chopped pecans.

Notes

Best rum for rum balls

Spiced rum is recommended for these rum balls, but you can use white rum, dark rum or aged rum instead. But if you do, make sure you use the crumbs of spiced cookies like Biscoff, Speculoos or gingersnaps for spiced flavor though.

If you have a favorite spiced rum brand, feel free to use it in these rum balls. You can’t go wrong with Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, Cruzan or Kraken.

Biscoff Cookie Substitute

Can't find Lotus Biscoff Cookies? Look for another type of spiced cookie instead, such as Speculoos, gingersnaps, gingerbread cookies or cinnamon graham crackers.

Variations

Rum balls without nuts: If you need to make a nut-free version, substitute an additional 1 cup cookie crumbs for the nuts.

Non-alcoholic bourbon balls: Try them with a non-alcoholic rum such as Ritual rum alternative.

With other nuts: These would work with walnuts instead of pecans.

Different cookie base: Instead of biscoff cookies, you can use crumbs from gingersnap crumbs, Nilla wafers, chocolate wafers or graham crackers. But if using a different type of cookie, be sure to use spiced rum to get as much spiced flavor as possible.

Gluten-free bourbon balls: Use crumbs from your favorite gluten-free ginger cookies. (I’ve enjoyed the Partake brand recently.)

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 rum ball
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 91mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 2g

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Comments

  1. Kathleen says

    Love that you used Biscoff, the gingery sweet punch was perfect — and I never knew the story behind rum balls, that’s so fun, and so creative of people!

  2. Erin says

    Would you believe that I’ve never made (or even TRIED?!?) a rum ball before? FOR SHAME, I say. These sound absolutely delightful, and I’m particularly intrigued since they call for some of my favorite cookies as the base. I can see these flying off a cookie tray at a party this season!

    Thank you so much for participating in and helping facilitate this year’s Sweetest Season! I am so appreciative of you and all the work you do to help me make this event what it is! <3

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