Maker's Mark Bourbon Balls

In my family, it isn't Christmas until somebody makes a batch of bourbon balls. This recipe, passed down from my Great-Aunt Marie, is the only one that will do. Because the bourbon isn't cooked down, the candy retains the taste of the bourbon used. I think it's pretty important to use a rich wheated bourbon like Maker's Mark to retain the sweetness of the dough. Bourbon balls made with a rye blend bourbon (think Early Times or Old Forester) tend to add a bitter note.

This yields between six and seven dozen bourbon balls.


  • 1 to 2 cups good bourbon whisky (I use Maker's Mark) 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup whole pecan halves (optional) 
  • 1 two-pound bag of powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 bags Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
  • paraffin wax
  1. Place 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans in shallow bowl. Pour Maker's Mark over nuts, immersing completely. Cover and let soak 12 hours to overnight. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecan halves in shallow pan and toast lightly for about ten minutes. 
  3. Cream butter in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Combine bourbon-pecan mixture with just enough powdered sugar to form a stiff ball. Refrigerate to let stiffen slightly. 
  4. Roll dough into small balls. 
  5. In double-boiler (or a sauce pan placed over a cooker full of boiling water), add a third to a half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips and a small shaving of paraffin wax (no more than 1/4 cup). Heat until just smooth. Dip dough balls into the chocolate mixture. The key is to coat them quickly and make small, frequent batches of melted chocolate. 
  6. Place bourbon balls on wax paper to cool. Top each with a toasted pecan half, if desired. Results are better if you leave them to cool at room temperature rather than in the refrigerator.