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Add a fun and festive Christmas cookie to your holiday tray! My Grandmother was famous for her no bake Bourbon Balls, which are made with vanilla wafers and just a few other simple ingredients. Every Southern hostess needs this easy recipe!

Plate of Grandmother's Bourbon Balls no bake and coated with powdered sugar

I’m so excited to share one of my grandmother’s classic Southern recipes — just in time for the holiday season! Trust me: if you set these Kentucky Bourbon Balls out at a Christmas party, they will be the first treat to disappear!

How to Make Bourbon Balls with Vanilla Wafers:

My grandmother wasn’t a huge baker, so I can assure you that this particular recipe is incredibly easy! You’ll need just 5 ingredients: vanilla wafers, walnuts, sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, and powdered sugar. With a list like that, you can’t go wrong!

And since these are no bake bourbon balls, we’re really just combining the ingredients and rolling them into balls! I told you this was simple…

Overhead image of plate of no bake Kentucky bourbon balls

Do Bourbon Balls have alcohol?

Um, yes. And it’s not subtle! You definitely want to use a high quality Kentucky bourbon that you would actually sip on, because the taste of the bourbon comes through in these cookies (and yes, even non-bourbon drinkers like me LOVE them)! We typically go with either Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark Bourbon Balls!

Close up image of bourbon balls made with vanilla wafers on a Christmas plate

How long can Bourbon Balls be stored?

Here’s the great thing! They last for a LONG time! Unlike other Christmas cookies that get dry, hard, or stale after just a few days on the counter, you can easily prepare a batch of these cookies at least 1-2 weeks in advance and they will stay fresh in the refrigerator.

They will keep in your freezer for at least 1 month.

How to store the cookies:

Make sure that you keep the balls chilled in an airtight container. If you have deep containers, you can store them in layers, separating them with wax paper or parchment.

They’re fine to leave out on a holiday cookie tray for a party, but they tend to get soft if they’re left out for too long. I prefer to keep the balls in my refrigerator, only taking them out when I’m ready to serve them.

To freeze the balls, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then again in foil.

I recommend rolling the cookies in another coating of powdered sugar, just before serving. They’ll look fresh and new again!

Fingers holding a makers mark bourbon ball

You might also like these Christmas cookies:

My Grandmother's Bourbon Balls

5 from 16 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 60 1-inch balls
Calories 61 kcal
Add a fun and festive Christmas cookie to your holiday tray! My Grandmother was famous for her no bake Bourbon Balls, which are made with vanilla wafers and just a few other simple ingredients!

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers I used an entire 11 ounce box
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling

Instructions

  • Combine wafer crumbs and nuts in a large bowl. Add condensed milk and bourbon. Blend well. Chill for about 1 hour.
  • Pour about 1 cup of powdered sugar into a shallow dish.
  • Dip the palms of your hands into the powdered sugar and shape the “dough” by teaspoonfuls into round balls. Roll in powdered sugar.
  • Store bourbon balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Notes

You definitely want to use a high quality Kentucky bourbon that you would actually sip on, because the taste of the bourbon comes through in these cookies (and yes, even non-bourbon drinkers like me LOVE them)! We typically go with either Woodford Reserve or Makers Mark Bourbon Balls!
How long can Bourbon Balls be stored?
Here's the great thing! They last for a LONG time! Unlike other Christmas cookies that get dry, hard, or stale after just a few days on the counter, you can easily prepare a batch of Bourbon Balls at least 1-2 weeks in advance and they will stay fresh in the refrigerator.
The Bourbon Balls will keep in your freezer for at least 1 month.
How to store Bourbon Balls:
Make sure that you keep the bourbon balls chilled in an airtight container. If you have deep containers, you can store the bourbon balls in layers, separating them with wax paper or parchment.
They're fine to leave out on a holiday cookie tray for a party, but they tend to get soft if they're left out for too long. I prefer to keep the bourbon balls in my refrigerator, only taking them out when I'm ready to serve them.
To freeze the bourbon balls, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then again in foil. 
I recommend rolling the cookies in another coating of powdered sugar, just before serving. They'll look fresh and new again!

Nutrition

Serving: 1bourbon ballCalories: 61kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 2gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 29mgPotassium: 37mgSugar: 5gVitamin A: 20IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword: Bourbon Balls, Bourbon Balls with Vanilla Wafers, Kentucky Bourbon Balls
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made these for three holiday parties and they were a hit at all three! Will use this recipe over and over again. Thanks so much! Very easy , my speed, and I used Jim Beam Bourbon…delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    I lost my grandma’s recipe for bourbon balls. She used Jack Daniel’s. Loved them! I’ll use this recipe, but I’ll stick with Jack!!! Happy Holidays Y’all!

  3. Mine turned out very soft, wouldn’t keep their shape. I double checked ingredient amounts, all correct according to the recipe, it just didn’t work for me.

  4. Hey Blair I followed this recipe and when I was pouring in the sweetened condensed milk it got so soupy that I stopped and only used 1/2 of the can. Is it supposed to be like that? I put it in the fridge for later?…maybe it’ll firm up? Help!

    1. Hi, Theresa! They’re soft before chilling, but the mixture definitely shouldn’t be soupy. Did you use an entire 11 ounce box of Nilla wafers crushed into fine crumbs, along with the cup of finely chopped nuts? So long as you used the proper measurements they should come together perfectly once cool. Otherwise, I have no idea what could have gone wrong. Sorry I can’t be more helpful…I just haven’t had that issue.

  5. Hey Blair, I was just reading the comments about “soupy” and “soft” and was going to ask you anyway about the chopped nuts. You say to use 1c. chopped nuts but to be clear I want to know if it’s 1 cup of chopped or if it’s 1 cup of nuts, chopped. I bought a bag of nuts that is the equivalent of 1 1/2 cups and when I had chopped them super fine I had about two cups. I’m sure it will make a difference so I thought I’d ask. Thank You for sharing your family’s recipe!

    1. Hi, Dorothy! That’s a good point, and it will definitely make a difference! I wonder if some folks measure 1 cup before chopping! In this case, it’s 1 cup of the finely chopped nuts measured after chopping.