These no-bake vegan rum balls are easy to make with wholesome ingredients like cocoa, dates, nuts, almond butter and dark chocolate for a healthier take on the classic Christmas dessert.

Stack of rum balls on a parchment paper lined plate.

Recipe Highlights

  • Vegan and gluten-free.
  • Rich and decadent taste and texture.
  • Made with wholesome ingredients.
  • No alcohol – kid-friendly!
  • Quick and easy to make.
  • No baking is required.
  • Perfect for Christmas!

Ingredients & Substitutions

Visual of ingredient list for healthy vegan rum balls recipe.

A complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the printable recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.

  • Pecans: Use plain, raw pecans without added oil or salt. These can be substituted with walnuts or almonds but I like pecans best in this recipe. You could also do a mixture of nuts.
  • Dates: Any variety works as long as they’re soft and moist. If you only have dry dates, you can soak them before use. We’ll go over that below.
  • Rum Extract: Imitation rum extract works or you can use natural rum essence. You can also use dark rum.
  • Almond Butter: Use natural almond butter that’s not overly dry. You could substitute another nut or seed butter if needed but I would suggest sticking to something mild like almond butter or cashew butter.
  • Maple Syrup: Agave syrup would work as a substitute.
  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate or dairy-free chocolate chips work.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Blend Pecans

Add the pecans to a food processor and blend them into grainy flour. It’s okay if there are a few large pieces left behind but they should be mostly broken down.

Pecans blended into flour in a food processor.

Step 2: Blend Dough

Add the dates, rum extract, cocoa powder and vanilla to the food processor and blend into a crumbly but dough.

Dates blended with cocoa powder and pecans in a food processor. Small dish of chocolate beside food processor.

Step 3: Melt Chocolate

Melt the dark chocolate stovetop or in the microwave in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy then stir in the maple syrup and almond butter.

Quick Tip: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth or in 15-second increments in the microwave, stirring between increments. When most of the chocolate is melted, stir to mix in any remaining pieces.

Melted chocolate in a small dish with a spoon resting in it.

Step 4: Finish Dough

Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Mix into a thick, sticky dough you can easily press together between your fingers.

If the mixture seems to dry (this can happen if the dates were too dry), add 1-2 tbsp warm water and process again. That should do the trick.

Bowl of crumbly raw no-bake chocolate energy ball dough.

Step 5: Roll into Balls

Use your hands to roll the dough into balls. I got 22 rum balls but the size or amount doesn’t have to be exact!

If you like, roll each ball in cocoa powder, sprinkles, coconut or powdered sugar.

Chocolate energy balls being rolled in cocoa powder on top of parchment paper.

Notes and Tips

  • Coating Options: You can leave your rum balls plain or coat them in cacao powder, coconut, coconut sugar, cinnamon, powdered sugar, crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers, or vegan chocolate sprinkles.
  • Rum Extract: I could only find imitation rum extract to make these and it didn’t have that strong of a flavour. Even with 2 1/2 tbsp of the rum extract the flavour was is still very subtle. If you can find natural rum essence (also called flavour or extract), start with 1 tbsp then add more to taste if desired. 
  • Dates: It’s important to use soft dates in this recipe. If your dates seem too dry. Soak them in hot water (pitted) for 15 minutes then drain well before use.
Stack of chocolate truffles on a plate being dusted with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

FAQs

Can I use real rum in this recipe?

Yes. To use real rum, omit the rum extract and start with 2 tbsp dark rum. Adjust to taste. If the dough is too sticky or wet, add a little bit of extra cocoa powder to adjust the consistency.

Can I make sugar-free rum balls?

To make this recipe sugar-free, omit the maple syrup and use sugar-free chocolate chips such as Lily’s or use dark chocolate for a lower-sugar recipe.

Close up of chocolate rum ball with a bite out of it to show the texture of the inside.

Storing

  • Fridge: Store in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezer (Recommended): Store in a sealed container for 3 months. They’re amazing straight from the freezer!
  • Room Temperature: They’re ok at room temperature for an hour or two but will start to get soft. I’d recommend storing them in the freezer until just before serving.

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Stack of chocolate truffles on a plate being dusted with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.

Healthy Vegan Rum Balls

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 22 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
Save Recipe

Description

Easy to make with wholesome ingredients but still rich and decadent, these no-bake vegan rum balls are perfect for your Christmas goodie tray! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 g) raw pecans (or almonds)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) packed, pitted soft dates
  • 2 1/2 tbsp rum extract (see notes)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp (30 g) almond butter
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped (85 g) dark chocolate or dairy-free chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans in a food processor or high-powered blender and process until they form a fine flour.
  2. Add the dates, rum extract, cacao powder and vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate, almond butter and maple syrup together in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stovetop until smooth then pour over the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Process until it forms a thick dough.
  5. Roll into approximately 22 balls (if it’s too sticky, place the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling).
  6. Roll the balls in shredded coconut or cacao powder, if desired.
  7. Serve or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezer (recommended) for up to 3 months. Keep cold until just before serving. They’re ok at room temperature for 1-2 hours but will start to get soft if it’s warm.

Notes

I could only find imitation rum extract and it required quite a bit to get the rum flavour to come through. Natural rum flavour (also called essence or extract) would be preferable as it has a much stronger, richer flavour. If you’re using natural rum extract, start with 1 tbsp and add more to taste.

If you prefer, you can use dark rum instead of rum extract. Start with 2 tbsp and add more to taste. If the dough becomes too wet, add extra cocoa powder to adjust the consistency.

As is, there are quite rich with a dark chocolate flavour. To make them sweeter, use dairy-free chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate.

It’s important to use soft, moist dates. If your dates are hard and dry, soak them in hot water for 15 minutes and drain well before using.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 rum balls
  • Calories: 123
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 2 g

Keywords: raw rum balls, no-bake rum balls

Originally published December 17, 2017. Updated with new photos and text on November 20, 2020.