How to Make Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Every Kentucky host has his or her own take on the state's traditional bourbon ball. Some are enrobed in chocolate; others pop a halved nut on top. We opt for a no-frills presentation that doubles down on boozy flavor by soaking the nuts in bourbon, in addition to the generous helping that goes into the dough itself. Note: The balls are chilled rather than cooked and do pack a tipsy punch, so you may wish to warn younger or teetotalling guests of their contents.

To learn more, read "Derby Dancing."

Recipe adapted from Kat Kinsman, Editor in Chief

Kentucky Bourbon Balls Recipe
4.9 from 113 ratings
Have a boozy ball with this traditional Kentucky confection, the perfect combination of chocolate and bourbon. Get the recipe at Tasting Table.
Prep Time
25
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
30
balls
Kentucky bourbon balls
Total time: 40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup bourbon, divided
  • 2 cups Nilla Wafers crumbs
  • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, divided
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, combine the pecans and ¼ cup of the bourbon. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the pecans have absorbed some of the bourbon, 2 to 3 hours. Drain and reserve the bourbon.
  2. Heat the oven to 325 F.
  3. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool, then finely chop and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped pecans, remaining bourbon, Nilla Wafers crumbs, ¼ cup cocoa powder, ¼ cup confectioners' sugar and the corn syrup. Stir until smooth.
  5. Using a heaping tablespoon portion, roll dough into ¾-inch balls.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar and coat each ball in the cocoa sugar.
  7. Transfer the bourbon balls to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 111
Total Fat 5.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Total Sugars 6.6 g
Sodium 39.8 mg
Protein 1.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe