Last updated on March 17th, 2019 at 02:47 pm
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!
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 and I had the pleasure of going to the Kentucky Derby in 2013 and it was such an amazing experience.
All the pomp and circumstance that goes into the Kentucky Derby in the days leading up to the big race is mind-blowing. Parties, early races like the Oaks on Friday, and shopping for Derby memorabilia, are filled with fun.
Just take me to the Bourbon Balls Recipe Already!
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 Kentucky Bourbon Balls recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.
As you can tell by Brooks’ jacket, it rained this year. It didn’t rain all day so we had time to go hat-watching and celebrity spotting. The rain also meant that we spent a lot of time at the bar sucking down Mint Juleps, bourbon with bourbon floaters, and for me, The Oaks Lily!
The official drink of The Oaks race, The Oaks Lily is made up of Grey Goose Vodka, Cranberry juice, Triple Sec, and sour mix. I guzzled down quite a few of these that day! But even with these tasty concoctions, bourbon is the drink of the day, or week, or all year round for people in Kentucky. And our house, what ever state that happens to be at the time.
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.
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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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.
The recipe uses just 5 simple ingredients:
- powdered sugar
- lime juice
If you think the list of ingredients is easy enough, the steps to make these booze balls is even easier.
- combine the powdered sugar and butter
- add in your bourbon of choice and stir
- toss in your toasted pecans
- don’t forget the lime juice
- mix until you have a consistent dough
- scoop into 1 inch balls
- 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. This time I admit that I ran out of melted chocolate and still had over 2 dozen bourbon balls left naked. Do you know what I did?
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!
What are you making this Derby Week and which horse will you be cheering for?
FAQ about Kentucky Bourbon Balls:
- Q: How far in advance can I make these bourbon balls?
A: 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.
- Q: Can I freeze the bourbon balls?
A: You can freeze the bourbon 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.
- Q: Can I substitute another alcohol besides bourbon?
A: 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!
Other great bourbon recipes to try!
- Chocolate Bourbon Bundt Cake – The Spice Train
- Maple Bourbon Roasted Pecans – Recipe Runner
- Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake – Brown Eyed Baker
- Bourbon Bacon Pulled Pork – The Salty Marshmallow
- Buttermilk Bourbon Caramel Sauce – Mom on Timeout
- Cheeseburgers with Bourbon Bacon Jam – The Chunky Chef
- Bourbon Bacon Brittle – What Molly Made
- Bacon Bourbon Shrimp – Striped Spatula
- Bloody Marianne – Take Two Tapas
- Boozy Bourbon Cherries – The Recipe Girl
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Easy Bourbon Balls Recipe
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
8 ounces dark chocolate wafers/chips
Make the bourbon balls
Mix together the butter and sugar.
Add the pecans and bourbon.
Stir to combine.
Scoop or roll into 1 inch balls, or whatever size you choose.
Chill for 10 minutes.
Dip your bourbon balls
While balls are chillin’ melt your chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.
Roll your bourbon balls in the chocolate so all sides are coated or drizzle the chocolate over the top.
If you don’t want to use chocolate, feel free to roll the bourbon balls in chopped pecans.
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!
- Category: Desserts, Snacks
- Method: Easy
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Bourbon, Pecan, Kentucky Derby, holiday cookies
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