My wife and I enjoy a recipe for rum-balls that she has made in the past, but we have friends that choose not to consume any alcohol.

Is there any hope for non-alcoholic rum-balls? What could be substituted?

  • 2
    Have you thought in removing the alcohol from rum?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Feb 8, 2013 at 7:29
  • @J.A.I.L. : the answer to removing alcohol was 'no, you can't remove it all', so that wouldn't work if there's a requirement for no alcohol in the final product.
    – Joe
    Feb 10, 2013 at 2:12
  • rum reminds me of burnt sugar and nutmeg; bit of those flavors? Mmmm clove and cardamon too. reminiscent rather than a true sub
    – Pat Sommer
    Feb 15, 2013 at 5:09
  • It also seems to me that some people choosing not to drink any alcohol may also want to avoid their associated flavors; For a recovering alcoholic, even the taste has the potential to trigger a relapse
    – BThompson
    Jan 11, 2021 at 14:40

4 Answers 4


Can you make rum balls without rum? Well... I suppose you could use rum extract, which has a very intense rum flavor. You would also want to add some sugar syrup or water to make up for the lost moisture in your recipe. However, you would not get the exact same outcome due to the lack of the evaporative effect of the alcohol when eating the confection, and due to the lack of alcohol as a flavor carrier.

I surveyed a number of rum ball recipes. For yields of about two dozen to five dozen, none of them used more than 1/2 cup of rum. This means that the rum per serving is on the order of a tablespoon teaspoon or so, or less. You and your friends might feel this is a level of rum consumption that is fine. I don't drink alcohol myself, and this level would not bother me.

There are many, many, many desserts and confections that you could make. If your friends are strongly opposed to any alcohol at all, why choose this one, where you are trying to substitute for the key ingredient that gives the dish its identity?

  • There’s a pending edit suggesting “teaspoons” instead of tablespoons. (1/2 cup divided by 2 dozen). Maybe you want to check...?
    – Stephie
    Dec 29, 2020 at 18:35

Just use artificial rum flavoring in the recipe instead of rum.

  • 2
    With respect, I think this is only part of the answer--the volume of liquid the rum provides to moisten the cake or cookie crumbs and help them stick together will have to be replaced as well.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Feb 8, 2013 at 18:52
  • well ok, here you go. Rum is mostly water, some alcohol, plus a variable amount of sugars depending on the type of rum used. What I'd do is put the same volume of water as rum into a measuring cup, minus 1-2 tbsp to account for alcohol evaporation. Then I'd add sugar and rum extract until it tastes as close to rum as I can make it.
    – GdD
    Feb 8, 2013 at 21:13
  • 4
    Most rum extracts have alcohol as an ingredient. You need to make sure that you're specifically buying an alcohol-free extract.
    – Joe
    Feb 10, 2013 at 2:06

I made rum balls and substituted orange juice. These were for the kids so it worked out great. Since you can substitute Baileys, I made peppermint balls using peppermint coffee creamer, instead of rum, with a dash of mint extract. I rolled them in a combination of powdered sugar and finely crushed peppermint candy. Delish!


I have a "Watkins" recipe that uses rum flavor. its easy and the rum balls taste great.

  • 3
    This answer isn't especially helpful without the actual recipe, or even a link to it.
    – Aaronut
    Dec 22, 2014 at 5:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.