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Coconut Rum Balls

Coconut Rum Balls are an easy, delicious bite-sized treat to make during the holidays, made with just a handful of ingredients!

My mom has been making these mini desserts for as long as I can remember. This is her rum ball recipe, unaltered because there’s no need to mess with perfection.

I remember trying a Coconut Rum Ball from the cookie tray as a kid and feeling so grown up because there was booze in it! 😂 I didn’t care for it much then, only because I didn’t have a taste for booze at the time. Now I can’t wait until the Christmas holiday season rolls around just so I can get a batch of these on my own cookie tray.

Coconut rum balls being rolled and coated in coconut

Do Rum Balls Contain Alcohol?

Yes, rum balls do contain alcohol and since they are no bake rum balls, none of the alcohol gets cooked off as it does in other recipes. You will most likely taste the alcohol in this recipe and while it’s possible to get tipsy or even drunk, it’s unlikely unless you plan to eat a lot of rum balls. For example, my recipe contains about 8 balls per shot of rum or about 1.5 ounces. Other recipes may vary in the amount of rum used or overproof rums used such as a 151 proof rum.

No Bake Rum Balls

Coconut Rum Ball Ingredient Notes

This easy rum ball recipe is made with vanilla wafer, pecans, powdered sugar, cocoa, dark coconut rum, corn syrup and coconut flakes. Here are a few notes on the ingredients to get you started:

Vanilla Wafers: Use Nilla wafers or any wafer brand that you prefer or can find. Chocolate wafers will work with this recipe and I do still add the cocoa. Feel free to reduce if you use chocolate wafers.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: I recommend using high-quality cocoa powder such Hershey’s, Valrhona, Ghirardelli, Droste, or Guittard.

Dark Coconut Rum: For this recipe, I like to use dark coconut rum such as Malibu Black Coconut Rum, Coconut Cartel Guatemalan Dark Rum to accentuate the coconut flavor. It will give these rum balls a deep, rich coconut-rum flavor. You can also use regular dark rum if you prefer, but they’ll taste more like regular rum balls instead of coconut. Lastly, if you can’t find or don’t want to use either of those, light coconut rum or regular light rum will work.

Flaked Coconut: Shredded coconut will work fine, just skip step 1 where the flaked coconut is put in the food processor. If you prefer golden hue and nutty flavor, toast the coconut before processing.

Find the complete list of rum ball ingredients with amounts in the recipe card below.

How to Make Rum Balls

  1. Shred and Crush: Shred the flaked coconut and crush the wafer cookies and nuts.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: Combine the wafer/nut mixture and add the powdered sugar and cocoa. Stir.
  3. Add Wet Ingredients: Add the corn syrup and rum and stir to combine.
  4. Shape into Balls: Scoop out small portions of the mixture and roll them into bite-sized balls.
  5. Coat the Balls: Roll each ball in the coconut.
  6. Chill: Chill in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop and meld together.
coconut rum balls mini desserts

Tips for Making Coconut Rum Balls

Coconut Rum Balls aren’t as fussy as many bite-sized dessert recipes. There’s no chocolate to seize up, and they’re far less sticky. They can be a bit difficult to hold together, so you do need to press them really well. Here are a few more tips to help make these a breeze.

  • Use a food processor. The vanilla or chocolate wafers + the nuts are much easier to break down. You can use a rolling pin or meat mallet, too, but it won’t get the pieces as uniform. I’ve found that if the wafers and nuts are finely ground, they blend together and form a more cohesive flavor.
  • Make sure you press the ball into the palm of your hand after scooping. You want to apply a bit of pressure to make sure it holds together.
  • Don’t make them just before serving. Give them at least overnight to a full day to allow the flavors to develop, and preferably 2-3 days. Having said that, good luck not eating any before then!
  • Use a small cookie scoop to make sure all your Coconut Rum Balls are the same size. You can make them any size you like, even different sizes if that’s your thing, but a scoop will help out if you want them to have a uniform size.
  • You can freeze coconut rum balls for up to two months.
  • The batch can easily be doubled and you may want to do so. These really do disappear faster than you’d think!
Best Coconut rum balls

Rum Ball Coating & Topping Variations

If coconut isn’t your thing or you prefer a variety of coatings to roll your rum balls in, try these ideas:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa or espresso powder
  • Chopped nuts
  • Sprinkles, nonpareils, jimmies
  • Colored sugar
  • Edible gold or silver dust
  • Crushed candy cane or peppermint
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Chocolate drizzle
  • Cocoa nibs
  • Pixy stick dust
  • Crushed candy, cookies or cereal
coconut rum balls on a white plate

Coconut Rum Balls

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 15 minutes

Coconut Rum Balls are an easy, delicious treat to make during the holidays, made with just a handful of ingredients!


  • 1 11-oz box vanilla wafers (or chocolate cookie wafers)
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dark coconut rum
  • 3 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, for rolling


  1. Put the flaked coconut in a food processor and process until it's fine. Set the coconut aside in a shallow dish for rolling later.
  2. Place the wafers and nuts in the food processor (no need to clean it out first). Process until they're the size of large crumbs.
  3. Pour the wafer/nut mixture into a large bowl and add the powdered sugar and cocoa. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the corn syrup and rum, stir to combine. You may have to get in there with your hands to make sure it's evenly combined.
  5. Using your hands and a small cookie scoop, roll the mixture into balls (I usually do about a tablespoon or so each, although you can make them any size you like). Roll each ball in the reserved coconut.
  6. Store in an air-tight container and give them at least one day for the flavors to develop, preferably 2-3 days if possible.


You can use regular dark rum if you prefer, and light in either flavor can also be used but dark will give a richer flavor.

Coconut Rum Balls can be frozen for up to two months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 12gProtein: 2g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Can I make rum balls without alcohol?

I’ve never tried to make them without actual rum so I can’t recommend it. However, I did a little digging and found that apple or orange juice can be substituted for the rum. Rum extract is also a possibility, however, you’d use much less which would make the mixture very dry.

If I were attempting to make rum balls without alcohol, I would probably go for the orange juice since I love the orange/chocolate flavor combination. Or I would try zero proof rum or rum extract and add water to make up the difference.

More Christmas dessert recipes:

If you have leftover coconut, consider making Baked Coconut Shrimp – they’re SO good!

Kristy Bernardo
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