Yes, you can taste the rum in Grandma’s Rum Balls! They’re an easy, no-bake cookie that everyone will love.
Every Christmas, my grandma made old fashioned Rum Balls. And everyone LOVED them. They’re packed with chocolate, walnuts, and of course, rum!
Grandma’s ancestors were from Germany, so this recipe is likely German.
Here’s a look at grandma’s typewriter-written recipe:
I refined the recipe only slightly, adding clarification for ingredients and instructions. Read on for how to make them!
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Choosing the rum
These old fashioned Rum Balls get get their name from the addition of ⅓ cup of rum. I used Bacardi White Rum, which is about $12 for an entire bottle. You can definitely taste the rum, so don’t purchase a super cheap variety.
Choose whatever rum you like. If you’t not a rum drinker, I recommend getting Bacardi—it’s good without being overly expensive.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips make these balls extra chocolate-y. You could also use dark chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chips.
- You’ll need granulated sugar both for the rum ball mixture and for rolling the balls.
- White rum is best for this recipe. Avoid anything labeled spiced rum.
- Grandma’s recipe calls for walnuts. Pecans work, too! Make sure they are finely chopped.
How to make rum balls
Start by placing the vanilla wafers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the wafers are in fine crumbs. Alternatively, place the wafers in a large zip-top bag, seal, and crush the wafers using a rolling pin or meat mallet.
If you’re using a food processor, you can also use it to chop the walnuts into very small pieces. Otherwise, a knife and a cutting board work great for chopping the walnuts.
Next, microwave the chocolate chips in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir in between each 30 second interval so the chocolate chips melt evenly.
Stir in the sugar, rum, and corn syrup. Tip: when measuring the corn syrup, spray the tablespoon with cooking spray—the corn syrup will slide right out!
I use an oil mister that I refill with vegetable oil. It’s way cheaper than buying cooking spray, and you know exactly what’s in it.
Then, stir in the vanilla wafer crumbs and walnuts. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.
When you’re ready to roll the rum balls, place ⅓ cup of granulated sugar in a shallow dish. Scoop the dough into 1 inch pieces, roll with your hands until round, and roll in the sugar.
I find that a cookie scoop/ice cream scoop with a release lever is the easiest way to scoop out the dough. I have this cookie scoop, which I fill about halfway with dough to create 1 inch balls.
If the dough is too firm to scoop, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then try again. It will continue to soften as it sits.
Rolling the balls
White sugar is a very traditional topping for Rum Balls. That’s what Grandma used, so that’s what I prefer.
You could also roll them in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, very finely chopped coconut, or chocolate sprinkles.
After rolling, they are ready to serve.
I love that this is a no-bake recipe. That’s a big plus when there’s a lot of Christmas cooking/baking going on!
Rum Balls: Frequently Asked Questions
Instead of white rum, try using bourbon to create bourbon balls!
I don’t recommend using spiced rum for this recipe. It has spices added such as anise, allspice, and ginger. White rum has a very mild flavor and no spice, which is best for rum balls.
To crush vanilla wafers, place them in a large zip-top bag and seal the bag. Pound the bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin to crush the wafers. It might take a few minutes, but they will turn to crumbs eventually!
To make rum balls that are nut-free, simply omit the nuts. You do not need to change anything else about the recipe. It will yield fewer rum balls but they will still be really delicious.
The answer to this question is up to you! The recipe calls for ⅓ cup rum, and it makes 42 rum balls. Each rum ball contains approximately ⅓ of a TEASPOON of rum. I ate them as a kid, and I turned out ok, I think! 😉
You would have to eat a LOT of rum balls to feel the effects. 🙂 Each rum ball contains approximately ⅓ of a teaspoon of rum.
Storing and freezing
Storing Rum Balls depends on how you would like to eat them. They will be slightly softer at room temperature, or firmer when refrigerated.
Whether you keep them on the countertop or in the refrigerator, place them in an air-tight container before storing. The Rum Balls will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or on the countertop for 1–2 weeks. They may keep longer but I haven’t been able to keep them around long enough to find out! 🙂
You can also freeze these. Place them in an air-tight container or freezer storage bag, and freeze for 1–2 months. Defrost them for 3–4 hours on the countertop at room temperature.
More holiday cookie recipes
This season, I’m sharing six of my grandmothers’ old fashioned Christmas cookie recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as our family has throughout the years!
Grandma’s Do Re Mi Cookies—nutty and tangy…I adore these
Grandma’s Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread—so festive (and buttery!)
Grandma’s Cocoa Drops—a must-make for chocolate lovers
Classic Ginger Cookies—these are SO soft and chewy!
Snowball Cookies—a holiday classic
7 Layer Bars—super easy and everyone loves them
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Grandma’s Rum Balls
- 1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup white rum
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 50 vanilla wafers (about 2 cups when crushed)
- 1 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
- Granulated sugar for rolling
- Place the vanilla wafers in the bowl of a food processor or in a zip-top bag. Process or crush with a rolling pin until the wafers are fine crumbs.
- Place the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted.
- Stir in the sugar, rum, and corn syrup. Fold in the vanilla wafers and nuts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar.
- Store in an airtight container.