These 5-ingredient rum balls are the classic holiday treat that requires minimal prep and no baking at all! They’re truffle-like balls made using crushed vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, syrup, and nuts, along with rum. Prep and refrigerate for the perfect holiday treats!
There’s nothing like homemade treats around the holiday times, and these rum balls are one of our favorites. They’re such classics and are enjoyed around the world. Since they are not baked, the rum flavor is not neutralized and can be fully enjoyed, like how the brandy flavor shines through in my raspberry sauce recipe.
If you love quick and easy desserts like these rum balls using 5 ingredients or less, you will love homemade peanut butter cups, chocolate covered pretzels, and chocolate ritz peanut butter cookies! Add some chocolate haystacks as well and you have the perfect Christmas sweet platter.
This recipe comes from my mom’s personal recipe notebook. According to my mom, they were a favorite of my grandma and made special enough that she included them in her notebook.
Table of Contents
Why I Love This Recipe
- Easy to make: This rum balls recipe is incredibly simple, requiring just a few basic ingredients. Plus, the prep involves easy steps like crushing wafers in a freezer bag and mixing in a large bowl, making it a breeze to whip up.
- No Bake: No need to preheat the oven or wait for cookies to bake. Just mix, roll, chill and enjoy. This cuts down the total time, allowing you to enjoy these delicious treats in no time.
- Crowd pleaser: Whether it is for a Christmas party, a potluck, or just a casual get-together, these rum balls are sure to impress. You can even roll them in sprinkles or coconut for an extra touch of flavor and presentation.
- Versatile: This recipe is versatile and allows you to experiment with the nuts you use. Whether you prefer walnuts, pecans, or a mixture, you can tailor it to your taste preferences.
- Delicious: These rum balls are not just easy and quick to make, but they’re also incredibly delicious. The combination of crispy wafers, sweet powdered sugar, and rich rum offers a truly delicious taste. And if you love rum, you’ll also love these eggnog rum cakes.
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- Vanilla Wafers: These cookies form the main structure of the rum balls. They are crushed to a fine crumb, giving the rum balls a firm texture and a hint of vanilla flavor.
- Powdered Sugar: This is used to sweeten the rum balls. It dissolves easily into the mixture, guaranteeing a smooth texture. Remember to roll the balls with powdered sugar on your hands to avoid sticking.
- Finely Chopped Nuts: Nuts such as walnuts or pecans add a nice crunch to the rum balls. They also contribute to the rich flavor profile of the dessert.
- White Karo Syrup: This light corn syrup acts as a binder, helping to hold the rum balls together. It also enhances the sweetness of the balls without overpowering the other flavors.
- Rum: The star ingredient of the recipe, rum gives the balls their distinctive taste. It adds a delicious, rich, and complex flavor you will love.
- Food Processor or Rolling Pin – You’ll need one of these to crush the vanilla wafers into fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, a rolling pin works just as well. Simply place the wafers in a freezer bag and roll over them until they’re all crushed up.
- Large Bowl – This is where you’ll be combining all your ingredients. It needs to be big enough to hold the wafers, powdered sugar, and chopped nuts, with enough room to stir everything together without making a mess..
- Spatula – A spatula will come in handy for stirring your mixture and scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure you’re incorporating all the ingredients.
- Measuring Cups – To make sure that you’re using the correct amounts of rum, Karo syrup, powdered sugar, and chopped nuts, you’ll need a set of measuring cups. They’ll help you get the flavor just right.
How to Make Rum Balls
Start by gathering all your ingredients. You’ll need vanilla wafers, nuts (like walnuts or pecans), powdered sugar, dark rum, and light corn syrup. You’ll also need some additional powdered sugar or sprinkles for coating. If you’re using a food processor to crush the wafers and chop the nuts, ensure it’s ready and clean.
Step 1 – Crush Wafers and Mix with Nuts and Sugar
First up, take your vanilla wafers and crush them in a freezer bag using a rolling pin or a food processor. Once they’ve turned into fine cookie crumbs, mix them with finely chopped nuts and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Stir them well until the mixture is evenly combined.
Step 2 – Add Rum and Corn Syrup
Now it is time to add in the flavor! Pour in the rum and light corn syrup into your wafer, nuts, and sugar mixture. Use a spatula to mix everything. The mixture should be moist enough to hold together when you press it in your hand.
Step 3 – Form the Rum Balls
Take your rum mixture and start rolling it into bite-size balls, about an ounce each. This is where the treat starts taking shape. If the mixture is too sticky, dust your hands with a little powdered sugar.
Step 4 – Coat the Rum Balls
Now roll each of the rum balls in additional powdered sugar or sprinkles, this will not only add to the taste but also give them a festive look. Perfect for a Christmas dessert!
Step 5 – Refrigerate
Finally, place your rum balls in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week. This allows the flavors to meld together and gives the rum balls a better taste. Plus, it is always nice to have a ready-to-eat treat on hand!
- Roll with powdered sugar on your hands: To prevent the rum ball mixture from sticking to your hands while rolling, coat your hands with powdered sugar. This will make the process much easier and less messy.
- Coconut Flavor: You can enhance your rum balls by adding a half cup of shredded coconut into the mixture. Roll the balls in additional shredded coconut instead of powdered sugar for a tropical twist. The coconut adds a unique texture and a sweet, nutty flavor to the rum balls.
- Try Dark Rum: For a more intense flavor, replace the regular rum with an equal amount of dark rum. The dark rum will give your rum balls a deeper, richer flavor that’s perfect for those who love a strong rum taste.
- Different Liqueur: Alternatively, if you don’t have rum on hand you can use brandy or cognac for this recipe. It’ll change the flavor but these treats will still be delicious.
- Christmas Special: Make your rum balls festive by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg to the mixture. Roll the balls in Christmas-themed sprinkles instead of powdered sugar. This will add a holiday flavor to your rum balls, making them a perfect Christmas treat.
What to Serve With
- For a delicious Christmas dessert, serve these rum balls alongside a steaming cup of hot cocoa. The rich flavor of the rum balls pairs perfectly with the creamy cocoa, making it a festive treat to remember.
- Want to impress at a dinner party? Arrange the rum balls on a decorative platter along with other holiday treats. Their bite-size nature makes them a perfect, easy-to-eat dessert for guests to enjoy.
- For a festive Christmas dessert spread, serve these rum balls alongside other make-ahead cookies like Christmas cookies, peanut brittle, and chocolate-covered pretzels. The variety of textures and flavors will be a hit at your holiday gathering.
- Looking for a twist on your traditional dessert? Try serving these rum balls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cold, creamy ice cream contrasts beautifully with the rich, rum-infused balls, creating a dessert that’s sure to impress.
- You can also incorporate these rum balls into a dessert platter for a party or gathering. Alongside other bite-sized treats like truffles and mini cupcakes, these rum balls will add a touch of elegance and flavor to your event.
Rolling the mixture into balls can get a bit messy. To avoid this, simply coat your hands with powdered sugar before you start. This will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
You should aim to roll the mixture into one-inch balls. Remember, these are rich in flavor and meant to be enjoyed in bite-size amounts.
Yes, a great tip is to use wax paper to separate the balls and keep them from sticking together while they are chilling in the refrigerator.
While rum is a key ingredient in this recipe, you could also try making bourbon balls by substituting the rum with bourbon. This will give you a different, yet equally delicious dessert.
Rum contributes to the flavor of the rum balls, but you can still make them alcohol-free. To do that, simply replace the alcohol with orange or apple juice for a fruity touch, or try using water with a splash of rum extract or vanilla extract for a more mild flavor.
What to Expect: This rum balls recipe makes about thirty bite-size treats, rich in flavor and perfect for a sweet dessert.
How to Scale: If you want to make more than thirty rum balls, you can double the recipe and follow the instructions as directed. Make sure to use a large bowl to mix the ingredients easily.
- 11 oz Vanilla Wafers
- 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Cup Finely Chopped Nuts
- ½ Cup White Karo Syrup
- ¼ Cup Rum
- Crush wafers in a bag with a rolling pin or using a food processor.
- Mix the crushed wafers with the chopped nuts and powdered sugar. Mix Well.
- Add in the Rum and Karo Syrup and mix.
- Roll into 1-inch balls and roll into powdered sugar or sprinkles.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week and enjoy.