Rum Balls — A traditional rum balls recipe made with crushed ginger snaps cookies, toasted pecans, melted butter, and spiced rum! Roll these FAST and EASY NO-BAKE treats in confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate! Great for gift-giving and cookie exchanges because you can make them far in advance!
Rum Balls Recipe
I’ve got a fast, easy, no-bake dessert recipe that’s sweet and slightly crunchy thanks to crushed ginger snaps cookies and toasted pecans – there’s also rum in it!
That’s right, rum balls are a bite-sized boozy dessert recipe that’s a cinch to make and also classic.
I remember my grandma always used to have these on her holiday table — although you should keep the kids away from the rum balls and reserve these holiday rum balls as an adults-only treat.
Making these holiday treats is as easy as whizzing together some ginger snaps cookies and pecans in your blender to crush them before adding confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, and rum. Truly so easy!
Tip: If you’re a fan of this type of recipe, also see my Fudgy Bourbon Balls recipe which is also fast, easy, no-bake, and uses bourbon instead of spiced rum.
Ingredients in Easy Rum Balls
All you’ll need are some very common and easy to find fridge and pantry ingredients for this holiday favorite rum balls recipe.
Set out the following items:
- Ground ginger snaps cookies
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Toasted and chopped pecans
- Spiced rum
- Corn syrup (dark or light)
- Unsalted butter
- Cocoa powder, for rolling
- Melted chocolate, for dipping
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make No-Bake Rum Balls
I’m a huge fan of no-bake desserts, especially at this time of the year because let’s face it we’re all so busy, and these rum balls are fast and easy to make!
Step 1: Line a baking sheet with either parchment or wax paper.
Step 2: Stir together the blended dry ingredients including the ginger snaps, confectioner sugar, and pecans. I use my Vitamix rather than a food processor for the blending and crushing.
Step 3: Add the wet ingredients, including the rum (start with half the recommended amount), corn syrup, and melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Step 4: Use a small-cookie scoop (0r whatever size you prefer) and form the balls.
And then roll between your palms to smooth them.
Step 5: Roll the rum balls in whatever coating you’d like including confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate, or coconut. See below for more ideas!
Step 6: Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Coating or Dipping Ideas for Rum Balls
No-bake rum balls are much more fun and festive looking when they are dipped or rolled in a coding.
Here are some of my favorite coating and dipping ideas for rum balls:
- Confectioners’ sugar – Adds a “snowy” look perfect for the holiday season.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Lends a chocolate flavor without being too sweet.
- Sweetened shredded coconut – Not pictured, but this is great for anyone who enjoys coconut and rum and coconut are a great match.
- Melted dark, milk, or white chocolate – Creates rum balls that are much more like truffles with a hardened coating or exterior.
Tip: I highly recommend using melting wafers specifically designed for melting and dipping because they melt smoother and stay smooth or longer so that you have time to work with the chocolate before it sets up. Ghirardelli is my go-to brand for this purpose. You can make these Fudgy Brownie Balls next if you have any leftover.
What Kind of Rum To Use in Rum Balls
While I have seen recipes for rum balls that use plain white rum it seems, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum is what I use.
There are so many brands of spiced rum, although that’s one of the most commonly known brands, but you can use your favorite brand of spiced rum.
Do I Have to Use Rum in Rum Balls?
Yes, in order to have rum balls you do need to use rum.
I’ve seen recipes that use less than my recipe for rum balls, and you could perhaps use 1/4-cup rather than 1/2-cup like I do, if you then increase the amount of either the butter or corn syrup, but you’d have to play around with it.
You cannot substitute rum extract in place of the actual rum. Extract is best used by the teaspoon, and the rum balls would simply not have a good flavor if you were to try to use a half cup of extract.
If for some reason, you’re trying to avoid alcohol, this is probably not the recipe for you because you cannot substitute the rum.
I have heard from a couple readers that apple juice does work in place of the rum. Personally, this wouldn’t be for me, but it may be for you, so I’m sharing the tip.
Can I Use Graham Cracker Crumb Instead of Ginger Snaps?
This time of year there are so many ginger snap cookie options in the stores. I used these Nabisco Ginger Snaps because they’re easy to find most everywhere, throughout the year.
But if you see a seasonal offering at Trader Joe’s, or another supermarket, go ahead and use what you can have.
Tip: Make sure that you select crunchy ginger snaps. You want crunchy rather than soft and chewy ginger snaps for this recipe because the cookie crumbs need to be dry in order to soak up the wet ingredients in the recipe.
You can also use graham cracker crumbs or crushed Nilla Wafers. They are not as traditional, but will work fine.
What Kind of Nuts Should I Use?
Just how I mentioned that the rum is not optional, the nuts aren’t either. You need to use finely chopped pecans.
However, you can substitute for the pecans with finally chopped walnuts. The rum balls are not as traditional that way, but the recipe will work.
I like to lightly toast the pecans in a dry skillet for a minute or two before blending them.
If you have a nut allergy or dislike nuts, this is probably not a great recipe for you.
Serving and Storage Suggestions for Rum Balls
After I form the rum balls, I chill them in the fridge for about one hour before I coat or dip them.
It’s not mandatory to chill them, but I do it because I prefer working with them slightly chilled especially if I’m adding melted chocolate so it sets up quicker.
Rum balls will easily keep airtight in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. They’ll also keep airtight in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Because of the alcohol content, it’s tricky to actually get them to freeze super solidly and they thaw quickly, so you can store them in the freezer without worry.
Tip: You may feel like some of the confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder coatings “disappear” a bit after storing the rum balls. That’s because it just soaks into or absorbs into the rum balls. You can always quickly re-roll them through confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder if they are looking a little skimpy.
Tips for the Best Rum Balls
This is such a fast and easy, no-bake, holiday recipe but I have a few parting tips and tricks for the best tasting and prettiest looking rum balls!
Ginger Snaps Cookies – As I mentioned, there are so many types on the market. Make sure you select crisp and crunchy ginger snaps not soft and chewy. You want those crumbs to be nice and dry in order to absorb the liquid ingredients.
Cookie Scoop – I highly recommend using a cookie scoop to ensure that all of the rum balls are the same size.
Yield: Mine rum balls are on the medium size, but are still a two-bite treat. When made this size, you’ll yield about 18 rum balls.
If you use a smaller cookie scoop, you can stretch the recipe and you will yield approximately 24 to 30 rum balls. Personally, I don’t have the patience to roll out 30 and then dip 30, but if you do, more power to you! But that’s why I made 18!
Corn Syrup: You can use either dark or light colored corn syrup, but you do need to use it. It will help sweeten and bind together your rum balls.
Use up the rest of the bottle with my 10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce recipe or make Chocolate Caramels.
Add the Rum a Little At a Time – When you’re mixing together, I suggest by starting with half the amount of rum, so 1/4 cup.
As you’re mixing and seeing how the dough is combining, add the rum 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture comes together nicely.
Gift Giving: If you’re looking for a fun, festive and delicious way to reward someone special, wrap up a gift of these rum balls in some holiday-themed cellophane baggies and you’re set.
Make Ahead: The other great bonus about this no-bake holiday treat recipe is that you can make these rum balls far in advance. Easily two weeks in advance. That’s music to my always-in-a-preholiday-rush ears!
Pin This Recipe
A classic rum balls recipe made with crushed ginger snaps cookies, toasted pecans, melted butter, and spiced rum! Roll these FAST and EASY NO-BAKE treats in confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate! Great for gift-giving and cookie exchanges because you can make them far in advance!
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and blended into fine crumbs (walnuts may be substituted)
- 3 cups ginger snaps cookies, blended into fine crumbs (graham cracker crumbs or Nilla Wafers may be substituted)
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar; divided
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon spiced rum (such as Captain Morgan or your favorite), divided
- 1/4 cup light or dark colored corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- Chocolate melting wafter, as desired for dipping
- To a dry skillet, add the pecans and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Shake pan to flip the nuts nearly constantly.
- To the canister of a high speed blender or food processor, add the toasted pecans, and blend on high speed until you have fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl; set aside.
- Add the ginger snaps cookies to the blender (probably about 15 to 20 cookies, depending on their size), and blend on high speed until you have 3 cups of fine crumbs. Tips - You can also use graham cracker crumbs or crushed Nilla Wafers. They are not as traditional, but will work fine.
- Add the cookie crumbs to the bowl with the pecans.
- Add 1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (reserve the remaining 1/4 cup for rolling) and stir to combine.
- Add 1/4 cup spiced rum, corn syrup (dark or light) melted butter, and stir to combine. Add additional rum, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a smooth and cohesive dough forms that is not too wet and not too dry. You may not use all of the rum called for in the recipe based on how your mixture looks since all dry ingredients vary a bit and this is a recipe you need to use your judgment with how much rum to add, exactly.
- Using a small cookie scoop form approximately 18 equal sized balls, and roll each between your palms to smooth. You can also use an extra small cookie scoop and you will yield closer to 24 to 30 balls. Tips - When you're mixing together, the mixture it will be moist, but it shouldn't be sloppy wet. If it seems too wet, add another tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs, or whatever you need to, so that the mixture comes together nicely. Chilling also helps reduce the "tacky" or overly sticky vibe a bit. Conversely, if the mixture is too dry, add a bit more corn syrup until it's moist enough to hold its shape.
- Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper and at this point, I like to pop it in the refrigerator for 1 hour to help chill the balls before rolling them, although chilling is optional.
- Roll the balls through the reserved 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and/or dip them in melted chocolate*, as desired. Allow any that were dipped in melted chocolate to set up fully before storing. If desired, you can also chill them before serving, but it's not absolutely necessary.
- Rum balls will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least two weeks or in the freezer for up to four months. Tips - Because of this, there are a great make a head treat for gift giving and cookie exchanges.
*I highly recommend using melting wafers specifically designed for melting and dipping because they melt smoother and stay smooth or longer so that you have time to work with the chocolate before it sets up. Ghirardelli is my go-to brand for this purpose. I like this trio in Dark, Milk, and White Chocolate.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 2g
More Easy No-Bake Holiday Recipes:
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This was tasty but even though I used more than 40 ginger snaps (Nabisco) or about 320 grams, it was too wet, which I didn’t realize till after chilling them and then trying to make into balls.
Thanks for giving the recipe a try. Sorry that your dough mixture was too moist. This is one of those recipes where you do need to “eyeball” things a bit and go by how the dough looks in front of you in the bowl and if it’s too wet, to add more ginger snaps which sounds like you did, but perhaps a bit more would have done the trick better.
I can’t wait to try these! I normally make my rum balls with silver rum and nilla wafers. The spiced version sounds soon good!
Enjoy and LMK how you like them with spiced rather than silver rum!
I make these EVERY year and OF COURSE there’s a way to make them non-alcoholic – just use apple juice! My grandkids LOVE them!I also prefer them chilled – but not just refrigerated – I keep them in the freezer until ready to serve. I supposed because of the alcohol, they don’t really “freeze” and so they thaw out SO quickly.But thanks for the additional idea of BOURBON balls – will have to try that this year!
Thanks for the tip about the apple juice, glad it works well for the kids! And I hope you are able to try them this year with spiced rum, too!
do you substitute the same amount of apple juice for the rum. I would like to try this for the grandkids and the elderly that I work with.
Not Gayle but my guess is yes, or just enough so that the dough comes together nicely.