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Cherry Rum Balls Recipe

Cherry rum balls have a sweet surprise in the center – a maraschino cherry. A bit of cherry juice in the mix bumps up the cherry flavor in these adult no bake treats. A version of my original easy rum ball recipe, these cherry rum balls are pretty enough for gift-giving.

cherry rum balls in paper cups

Boozy, sweet and delicious – rum balls are an adults only no bake treat. Cherry rum balls are the newest creation and I think they are here to stay.

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Cherry Rum Balls Recipe

The story goes that rum balls were a way for bakeries to use up leftover cookie and cake scraps during the Great Depression. They mixed up the crumbs with a bit of alcohol and jam or honey, rolled them into sugar-coated balls and sold them. Whether or not this is true, I’m glad someone had the idea, because I love a good rum ball.

cherry rum ball in decorative paper cup

There are countless ways to make rum balls. With nuts – like pecans or walnuts, or without. You can make rum balls with cocoa powder or rum balls without cocoa powder. But, one thing is always the same – they should taste like rum. It is a rum ball, after all.

How to make rum balls

For these cherry rum balls, we need to make a space in the center so we can fill it with a sweet cherry. In order to do this, I scoop a bit of the mixture and form it into a ball as usual.

rum ball in hand

Then, using your thumb (from the opposite hand), press the center of the rum ball until you get a space big enough to put half a cherry. You can use a whole one if you like, but the rum balls will be on the large size (like a golf ball) if you do.

A food processor makes these rum balls quick work. It will crumble up the cookies and nuts in a few seconds and all that’s left is a bit of stirring, shaping and rolling in sugar.

Rum ball cookie recipe

Most rum ball recipes start out with vanilla wafer cookies, and this one does too. One box of cookies mixed with toasted pecans, sugar, rum, honey (or corn syrup) and a pinch of salt. Salt in desserts is necessary to help balance out the sweetness.

overhead photo of cherry rum ball cut in half with bowl of rum balls

How to toast nuts

Toasting nuts does a couple of things – it helps to dry them out a bit and it also deepens their flavor. We want both of those things to happen when making rum balls. To toast nuts, place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 5 – 10 minutes.

After the nuts have cooled, taste one. Then compare it to a nut that hasn’t been toasted. You will taste a big difference. This is how, as a beginner, I learned why I was doing certain things in the kitchen. Understanding that it makes a difference helped me, even in something as simple as a rum ball.

No Bake Rum Balls

For these rum balls, I used dark rum. I tried out a few different rums, and for this recipe, I preferred a dark rum. If all you have is an amber rum, use it. Unless you are planning to make several batches of rum balls or you are stocking the bar for the holidays, there is no need to make a special trip to the store.

I don’t know if I would suggest using a spiced rum with this recipe. I haven’t tried it. The spiced rum goes really well with the pumpkin rum ball recipe, but for this one, I would stick to the dark rum.

Because these cookies are not baked, you will taste the rum. It does not get baked off or cooked out, so make sure to use a rum with good flavor. The flavor gets even better if they are refrigerated overnight, making them perfect for a “make ahead treat”.

Do Rum Balls Need to be refrigerated?

No, they do not. They should be kept in a cool area, if they are kept out on the counter. Rum balls are also a big hit for cookie exchanges. They are easy to make and everyone loves them. Plus, they satisfy two things that many of us crave during the holidays: sugar and booze.

If you’re planning to make some for your holiday cookie exchange, these Christmas tree gift boxes are the perfect size and they are super cute.

cherry rum ball in paper muffin cup

How long do Rum Balls Last?

If kept refrigerated in a sealed container, they will last a few weeks. If frozen, they will last a couple of months. If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before serving. They may need an additional coating of sugar after thawing to give them a bit of sparkle again.

One of the reasons I love rum balls (aside from the fact that they are so easy!), is that they can last for a good amount of time. This makes them ideal for gift-giving. A few rum balls packaged in these adorable gold treat boxes makes a great homemade gift.  

Rum Ball Recipes

Easy Rum Balls Recipe
Pumpkin Rum Balls
Coconut Rum Balls
Rum Balls

cherry rum balls in muffin papers with bowl of rum balls in background

What do I need to make these cherry rum balls?

cookie scoop
food processor
measuring cups and spoons

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cherry rum balls in glass bowl

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! Please consider rating and/or commenting. I love hearing from you! Did you make these cherry rum balls? Tag me on instagram @pookspantry or share it in the Fabulous Foodie Friends Facebook group! I can’t wait to see your version!

cherry rum ball in decorative paper cup

Cherry Rum Balls

Cheryl Bennett
Cherry rum balls have a sweet surprise inside - a maraschino cherry! A bit of sweet cherry juice really adds to the cherry flavor in these rum balls.
4.60 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chilling Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 36
Calories 94 kcal


  • 11 oz vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cherry juice from jar of maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 18 maraschino cherries sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar - for coating


  • In the bowl of a food processor, process wafer cookies and toasted pecans until finely ground.  Set aside.  (You may have to do this batches.)
  • In a large bowl, sift together 1 cup powdered sugar and salt.
  • Stir together rum, cherry juice and honey in a small bowl, add to powdered sugar mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add vanilla wafer and pecan mixture to sugar mixture. Stir to mix well.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  • Scoop out tablespoon portions, press your thumb into the ball of dough to make a space for the maraschino cherry half.
  • Press the dough over the cherry half to completely cover it. (you may need to use a bit of extra rum ball mixture to cover the cherry if it is on the larger side)
  • Shape into balls and toss to coat in granulated sugar.
  • Place on parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.



Place pecans on baking sheet and bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until fragrant.
*I use an 11 cup food processor and it fits everything in one batch. If your food processor is smaller, you will have to do it in two batches.


Serving: 1gCalories: 94kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 65mgSugar: 11g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day!



  1. Under “notes”, you mention toasting coconut with the pecans. I don’t see coconut mentioned in the recipe?

    1. Hi Heather, I would add extra cookies in place of the nuts for the quickest and easiest substitution. You may want to reduce the sugar, because it might be very sweet. I hope this helps!

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