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Bourbon Balls – Chocolate Coated Bourbon Balls for Derby Day

It wouldn’t be The Kentucky Derby without some bourbon!  These chocolate dipped Bourbon Balls are the perfect snack to pop in your mouth while you are cheering on your favorite horse and jockey!

Try these sweet truffles with some creamy Pimento Cheese Spread, Buttery Salted Nuts, and wash it down with a Pineapple Bourbon Lemonade.

overhead picture of bourbon balls on a brown plate

Bourbon Balls

Today kicks off Derby Week around the world.  Or maybe just in Kentucky and the rest South!  Either way, it’s a week of horses, Mint Juleps, Bourbon, and funky hats.  

Brooks’ grandmother, Thelma Lou, has a great recipe for bourbon balls so I thought we could start off Derby Week with these drunken delights!  They are just like my buckeyes with bourbon but a little different filling in the center.

two people at the kentucky derby
Brooks and I had the pleasure of going to the Kentucky Derby in 2013 and it was such an amazing experience.

If you’d rather skip my (very helpful, I think) tips and tricks, essential cooking info, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to this delicious easy recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Balls

Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but it is quite expensive.  I use Maker’s Mark or Jim Beam for these but feel free to use any bourbon that you like.  

Some people prefer the cheaper versions of alcohol for cooking and baking but these bourbon balls are NO-BAKE!  Doesn’t matter, Brooks will kill me if I use one of his “nice” bottles that he collects to make a dessert.

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picture of inside of bourbon ball

How To Make Bourbon Balls

The center of the bourbon balls is a simple mixture of powdered sugar, bourbon, butter, pecans, and a hint of lime juice.  That’s Thelma Lou’s secret ingredient!  This little bit of lime juice cuts through all the sugar and butter and evens the flavors out.

Bourbon Ball Ingredients:

  • powdered sugar
  • butter
  • bourbon
  • pecans
  • lime juice

Step One: Combine the powdered sugar and butter in a bowl until mixed.

Step Two: add in your bourbon of choice and stir. Toss in your toasted pecans and lime juice. Mix until you have a consistent dough.

Step Three: Scoop into 1 inch balls, chill, and dip in chocolate or roll in toasted pecans. Serve responsibly!

After mixing the filling and scooping into tiny balls, feel free to make patty shapes or any other one, a quick dip in dark chocolate seals in all the goodness. 

There are quite a few recipes for bourbon, rum, or whiskey balls that don’t have a chocolate coating but I am certainly one for bucking tradition!

When I first started making these, I always dipped them in chocolate.  Dark chocolate to be precise because they are sweet enough without adding milk chocolate to them. 

I left some naked and rolled the others in leftover chopped pecans that I had hanging around.  Once I tried them this way, I fell in love all over again. 

Now I can’t decide if I prefer them with or without the chocolate. 

I guess I will have to keep eating them until I make up my mind.  Do you think that is a good idea?  I do!

Derby Week Bourbon Balls with Bourbon Neat

How far in advance can I make them?

You can make these a few weeks in advance.  If you are making these more than 1 week in advance I would wait to dip in the chocolate until closer to serving time.

Can I freeze them?

You can freeze the balls but only before you dip them in chocolate.  If you are leaving them naked or rolling them in toasted pecans, you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

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close up of bourbon balls

Can I substitute another alcohol besides bourbon?

Feel free to use rum, vodka, whiskey.  To be true to Kentucky tradition, stick with bourbon:)

Bourbon balls are a quick and easy treat to put together, last for weeks, and make a great dessert for Derby Week while you are slamming down Mint Juleps!

What are you making this Derby Week and which horse will you be cheering for? Check out all these Derby Day Recipes!

derby party foods with text" how to plan your derby party deliciously fast"

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close up of bourbon ball with text "kentucky bourbon balls no bake print the recipe here"

Other great bourbon recipes to try!

Easy Bourbon Balls Recipe

overhead shot of bourbon balls on a wood serving dish

No Bake Bourbon Balls

Yield: 48 bourbon balls
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

These boozy Bourbon Balls are made with 4 ingredients and are great for your Derby party or your holiday cookie exchange too!


For the bourbon ball filling

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.5 sticks butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)

For the chocolate coating


Make the bourbon balls

  1. Mix together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the pecans and bourbon.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Scoop or roll into 1 inch balls, or whatever size you choose.
  5. Chill for 10 minutes.

Dip your bourbon balls

  1. While balls are chillin' melt your chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.
  2. Roll your bourbon balls in the chocolate so all sides are coated or drizzle the chocolate over the top.
  3. If you don't want to use chocolate, feel free to roll the bourbon balls in chopped pecans.
  4. Place on parchment paper and chill in the fridge until ready to eat!


*Depending on the humidity level or your environment, you may need to add more powdered sugar to get the mixture to hold together.  Just add a little at a time (1/4 cup) until the mixture is easy to handle and just a little bit tacky.

*If you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it with some stars.  Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 48 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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