As a Kentuckian, it’s pretty much required that I like bourbon and horse racing, and of course, the cocktail most associated with the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. And while a Mint Julep may not be everyone's taste in cocktails, these Mint Julep Bourbon Balls are a perfectly irresistible bite-sized treat! Just four ingredients combine together to form a dough-like filling and then are dipped in chocolate, creating the ultimate chocolate-covered boozy truffle! This no-bake recipe is exactly what your Kentucky Derby celebrations need!
Why this recipe works
The Mint Julep is most commonly associated with the Kentucky Derby. It's a cocktail made with bourbon, sugar, crushed or shaved ice, and muddled mint leaves. These same flavors are combined in this simple and decadent dessert, and then are enrobed in chocolate to create this creamy, bourbon-infused southern treat!
Often homemade bourbon ball recipes are made with both nuts and corn syrup, but this recipe uses neither. These are more like store-bought bourbon balls, and although those are traditionally topped with a pecan, this recipe keeps them fully nut-free!
Ingredients and notes
Bourbon - The bourbon is very noticeable in this Kentucky Derby-inspired recipe, so I suggest using a bourbon you like. Maker's Mark is very popular for baking because it's sweeter, Old Forester is what they use at Churchill Downs for those famous mint juleps you sip while watching horses race, or Woodford Reserve if you want to use the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. I tend to like Jim Beam or Four Roses, but that's simply personal preference. You really can't go wrong as long as you like the bourbon you choose!
Peppermint Extract - Instead of muddling mint leaves, this recipe uses extract for the mint flavoring. Though most often mint leaves that we find at our local grocery stores are spearmint flavored, peppermint extract is more widely available than other types of mint extracts so that's what I use here, but if you have another mint extract you like that will definitely work here too!
Chocolate - Bourbon balls are traditionally coated in dark chocolate so I used dark chocolate melts for this authentic southern recipe, but you can use any type of chocolate you prefer. I generally would suggest using melting chocolate as opposed to chocolate chips, but you can use chocolate chips if that's what you have, you may just need to add a bit of butter or coconut oil to help the chips melt smoothly.
How to make this recipe
Mint Julep Filling
Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate in a medium bowl and refrigerate for one hour.
Scoop the chilled mixture into approximately one-inch balls and place onto a parchment-lined quarter baking sheet. Freeze for a couple of hours.
Dark Chocolate Coating
Melt the chocolate according to the instructions on the package.
Dip the frozen bourbon ball filling into the melted chocolate until the filling is fully covered with chocolate.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let set.
It's not likely. Though the bourbon is not baked out, there is only a half cup of bourbon in the entire batch. If you can eat enough of these to get drunk, I'd be super impressed!
They don't need to be, but they can be. They will melt if they're stored in a warm place so the fridge can help prevent that, however, if you do choose to refrigerate or freeze them, when you are ready to eat them, just be aware they will sweat as they sit at room temperature. They will still taste great, but if you're serving them for your Kentucky Derby party or other gatherings, just let them sit at room temperature for a bit before serving.
Yes! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.
Tips & Tricks
- When mixing the ingredients for the mint julep filling, you want the mixture to be fairly thick. It will stiffen as it chills so you don't want it going into the refrigerator fully stiff, but it will be thick.
- Use a fork when dipping the bourbon balls into the melted chocolate to allow the excess chocolate to drip off before placing on the parchment paper.
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Chocolate-Covered Mint Julep Bourbon Balls
- quarter sheet pan
- parchment paper
- Mixing bowl
- silicone spatula
- 1 stick butter melted
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 10 oz package melting chocolates
- Combine butter, sugar, bourbon, and extract.
- Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour.
- Scoop approximately one inch balls out of the mixture and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Freeze for at least 2 hours.
- When frozen, melt the melting chocolates according to package instructions.
- Dip each ball in the chocolate, and set on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Allow chocolate to set.
This recipe was originally posted on May 6, 2017, but was republished with new photos, additional information about the recipe, step-by-step instructions, FAQs, and tips and tricks in May of 2022.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think!