These chocolatey confections are what editor-at-large Shane Mitchell calls Southern truffles—”boozy and bad to the bone.” Her family traditionally made them as a holiday treat, but the bourbon balls recipe no longer has a timestamp. We find that the chocolate maker Callebaut makes particularly nice sprinkles, but if you’re not nostalgic about that ingredient, try swapping them out for crushed nuts; or switch vanilla wafers for chocolate ones.  

Featured in: “A Southern Christmas North of the Mason-Dixon.”

Yield: makes 28
Time: 25 minutes


  • ¼ cups light corn syrup
  • 3 tbsp. bourbon, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 28 vanilla wafers, finely ground (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cups small chocolate sprinkles, plus more as needed


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the corn syrup and bourbon (for boozier flavor, add up to 2 tablespoons more bourbon); set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the pecans, cocoa powder, and vanilla wafers. Add the reserved corn syrup mixture and stir until you have a sticky, slightly gritty uniform mass. Using moistened hands, pinch off 1 scant tablespoon and roll it into a 1-inch ball, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; repeat with the remaining bourbon balls.
  2. To a shallow bowl, add the sprinkles and a few of the balls and roll gently to coat. Transfer the balls to paper candy cups or a platter, then repeat with the remaining balls, adding more sprinkles to the bowl if you run out. Serve at room temperature. (Bourbon balls will keep, refrigerated or stored in a cool place, for up to 2 weeks.)