Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls

Learn how to make Kentucky bourbon balls, a 1930s no-bake treat!

Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls
Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls
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Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls are a Kentucky Christmas tradition, and this version of Kentucky bourbon balls is sure to become a hit in your house as well. This recipe is a great way to learn how to make homemade candy because it is simple to put together. These rich, boozy chocolates are more than worth the effort. Sugar, butter, pecans, and bourbon are combined to make this festive homemade candy that will impress both family and friends. 

If you have never made homemade candy before, never fear. This easy Christmas candy recipe is a great place to start. If you can make cookies, you will be able to make the sweet and nutty filling for these Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls. Whether you make this candy as a gift, serve it at a party, or keep it for yourself, you will be glad to have this recipe up your sleeve this holiday season.

Yields60 candies


  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 60 pecan halves, left whole for garnish


  1. Place the powdered sugar and softened butter into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the bourbon and mix. Add the pecan pieces and stir in by hand. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

  2. When ready to finish the candies, arrange a metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch the water) and melt the chocolate and shortening (see note).

  3. Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

  4. Scoop small amounts of the bourbon mixture and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the parchment and chill one pan while you dip the other. The balls need to be very cold when dipped, so if mixture softens, return to the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill again.

  5. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the stove. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate, drip off excess, and set on the parchment-lined pan. You may want to use a toothpick or small skewer to help with the dipping. While the chocolate is still warm, add a pecan half on top of each. Keep the finished balls cool and when chocolate has set, move each piece to a paper candy cup. Balls keep for up to 2 weeks stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator until serving.


Adding vegetable shortening to the chocolate chips helps thin the chocolate for proper dipping. You may use butter if you have no shortening, or omit it. If you omit the shortening, you may have to re-warm the chocolate once or twice to keep it at the proper consistency as you work.  

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I am glad to see a correct recipe for bourbon balls. I have been making these for over forty years (my grandfathers recipe) and yes they are very good.

This is a great recipe to keep away from the Grandkids! LOL We found out the hard way, I made these and found that by the time I was done making them, I was drunk. The alcohol absorbed through my hands while rolling them. Next time I will use gloves. My 10 year old grand son was sneaking them with out any one noticing until he was drink. It sure wasn't funny! But these are way to good and they didn't last long at our Thanksgiving family gathering. Thank you for sharing this Kentucky Holiday Bourbon Balls recipe.

Rich and creamy, smooth and decadent, these Kentucky Bourbon Balls are divine! I love the pecan on top.

These chocolates have strong bourbon kick, but that was ok with me. I bet they would taste great with a dark chocolate coating.

I agree that these had maybe a hint too much bourbon flavor for me, but I still liked them and the crunch of pecan was the perfect addition to the soft center!

These were a little too bourbon-y for my taste, so next time I will make them with less.


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