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Coconut Rum Balls

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

Coconut rum balls being rolled and coated in coconut

Yesterday we talked about all things Chocolate Truffles. Which is the perfect segue into today’s Coconut Rum Balls!

My mom has been making Coconut Rum Balls as long as I can remember. This is her 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 holiday season rolls around just so I can get a batch of these on my own cookie tray.

Are rum balls alcoholic?

See above for my experience trying rum balls as a kid, and you’ll know that the answer is yes! You will taste the alcohol and, because rum balls aren’t cooked, none of the alcohol gets cooked off as it does in other recipes.

Coconut rum balls being rolled and coated in coconut

What’s the best rum to use for rum balls?

For this recipe, I like to use dark coconut rum to accentuate the coconut flavor. You can also use regular dark rum if you prefer, but they’ll taste more like regular rum balls instead of coconut.

Can I make rum balls without alcohol?

Although I’ve never tried to make them without actual rum, 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 rum extract and add water to make up the difference.

If you try it or know of a better substitute for rum, please comment below so I can update the post.

coconut rum balls on a white plate

Tips for making Coconut Rum Balls

Coconut Rum Balls aren’t as fussy as the Chocolate Truffles we talked about yesterday. 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 making 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.
  • Use dark coconut rum if you can find it. It will give these rum balls a deep, rich coconut-rum flavor. Regular dark rum is next in line, and after that, if you can’t find or don’t want to use either of those, light coconut rum or regular light rum will work.
  • 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!
Coconut rum balls being rolled and coated in coconut

More Christmas dessert recipes:

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

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 cocoa
  • 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.

Kristy Bernardo
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Friday 11th of December 2020

If I use chocolate wafers, do I still have to use cocoa? Thanks.

Kristy Bernardo

Saturday 12th of December 2020

Hi Angela, I do still add the cocoa but you can reduce it if you like. You can add half, taste it, then add more as you go.

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