Dark chocolate truffles with the delicious bite of authentic Kentucky bourbon. A great candy all year long and perfect for snacking during the Kentucky Derby.

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Kentucky bourbon balls coated in powdered chocolate sugar.

About Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Kentucky bourbon balls can be enjoyed all year long, but as for me, I prefer to make this classic candy in the spring.

That’s because bourbon makes me think of Kentucky (it’s where most of the world’s bourbon is made, after all) and then Kentucky makes me think of the Kentucky Derby (which just happens to come around in early May).

And because of Kentucky’s relationship with Bourbon, it’s become the “officially unofficial” flavor of the Derby. So as the weather beings to warm, I can’t seem to fight the urge to whip up boozy eats and treats with some of my favorite bourbons.

Besides, who could pass up the opportunity to have a whole batch of dark chocolate truffles in their posession, no matter the occasion or time of year?

Certainly not me!

Kentucky bourbon balls in a blue bowl.

Can you make bourbon balls without nuts?

This particular recipe includes crumbled pecans, which gives the bourbon balls a little density and texture. However, if pecans aren’t your thing, you can leave them out.

If making this recipe without pecans, start by substituting the pecans (one cup) for an equal amount of vanilla wafers. This would mean you’d have three cups total of vanilla wafers.

Next, be conservative when adding the liquid. When mixing, start off using only 1/2 of the light corn syrup and Kentucky bourbon that the recipe calls for. If the batter isn’t forming right, slowly add a little bit more.

Can whiskey be substituted for bourbon in bourbon balls?

If you have a whiskey that you absolutely love, then yes, you can totally substitute it for the bourbon in this recipe. They won’t “really” be Kentucky bourbon balls anymore, but the important thing is that you enjoy the candy that you’re making.

You can also substitute the bourbon in this recipe for rum to make classic rum balls.

Can eating bourbon balls make you drunk?

While bourbon balls certainly contain enough alcohol to taste that it’s there, the likelihood of getting drunk off of them is very minimal. Only 1/4 cup of bourbon is used, which is then dispersed among 2-3 cups of other ingredients and then divided into 24 different candies.

You might get a buzz if you ate through all 24 candies really fast, but at that point, being tipsy might be the least of your concerns.

Bourbon ball with a bite mark.

How long can you store bourbon balls?

I recommend storing bourbon balls in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and they should be good for up to two weeks.

Can you freeze bourbon balls?

If stored in an air-tight container, bourbon balls can be frozen for up to two months.

Notes & tips for Kentucky bourbon balls

  • These bourbon truffles are coated in a sweetened cocoa powder, and if you’ve ever worked with cocoa powder before, you know it can be very messy. Cocoa powder has a way a special of blooming up and splashing everywhere. So when making these bourbon balls, be sure to work in an area that’s easy to clean and keep a lof wet paper towels handy. Trust me, you’ll need them!

More Kentucky Derby favorites

How do you make Kentucky bourbon balls?

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a food processor, add vanilla wafers and pecans, then crush to fine crumbs.

Step 2 – Transfer vanilla wafer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then mix well.

Step 3 – Add Kentucky bourbon and light corn syrup to bowl, then mix until dry ingredients are saturated. The dough will reduce in size by half by the time you’re finished stirring.

Step 4 – In a small bowl, mix more powdered sugar and cocoa powder until thoroughly combined, then set nearby.

Step 5 – Usina 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, scoop up dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Drop the ball into the sugar-cocoa powdered mixer and toss to coat, then pace the completed bourbon ball on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Repeat this step until all the dough is used.

Step 6 – Chill bourbon balls in the freezer for 1 hour, then store in a sealed container with any remaining sugar-cocoa mixture. When ready to serve, give the sealed container a shake to re-coat the bourbon balls with more sugar-cocoa mixture. Keep bourbon balls refrigerated until ready to eat.

Step 7 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Kentucky bourbon balls coated in powdered chocolate sugar.
4.58 from 7 votes

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

30 mins prep + 1 hr Chill Time
103 kcal
Yields: 24 bourbon balls
Dark chocolate truffles with the delicious bite of authentic Kentucky bourbon. A great candy all year long and perfect for snacking during the Kentucky Derby.



  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder to a small bowl, then mix together thoroughly. Set both aside.
  • In a food processor, add pecans and vanilla wafers and crush until completely crumbled. 
  • Transfer crumbled pecan wafer mixture to a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup powdered sugar, then use a spatula to mix together until cocoa and wafer mixture are thoroughly combined. It's okay if there are still a few visible pieces of powdered sugar at this stage.
  • Add light corn syrup and Kentucky bourbon to bowl, then mix to combine. Be patient; mixture will slowly incorporate the moisture and reduce half in size. Dough will be very thick. If needed, you can use your hands to knead the dough to finish mixing.
  • Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop (or similiar size), scoop out dough and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Drop the ball in the small bowl of cocoa sugar mixture and roll to coats. Place finished candy ball on prepared baking sheet. Repeat this step until all dough has been used.
  • Place baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour so that candy can set. While candy sets, place any remaining cocoa powder mixture into a sealable container.
  • Once bourbon balls have set, transfer them to the container with the cocoa sugar mixture. Seal the lid, then shake to give the candy a fresh coating of cocoa sugar.
  • For best results, keep candies refrigerated until ready to serve. Before serving, give the container another shake to refresh cocoa sugar coating.


Serving: 1bourbon ball | Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 54mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating


    • sherry

    can these be frozen before rolling in cocoa.

    • Joy

    Sorry to be a smartas%, but bourbon is whiskey. 🙂

    • Kay

    I use the recipe in the Kentucky Hospitality Cookbook. The recipe calls for powdered sugar, bourbon, nuts and chocolate

    • Kim
    • 5 stars

    I use 3/4 cup bourbon for a real KICK!!

    • Jessica
    • 5 stars

    These look so GOOD! I’m totally making them for Preakness this year. Also, love the step-by-step photos.

    • Dini
    • 5 stars

    Ah, these look and sound so decadent! Dark chocolate truffles with a hint of booze is a combo that I can get behind any time of the year too! 🙂 Can’t wait to make these.