This rich Chocolatey Coconut Date Balls recipe makes a fabulous gift, after dinner sweet tooth soother or a secretly healthier treat. Infused with bourbon, for a holiday delight or coffee/espresso for an afternoon pick me up, this date ball recipe easy to make and a tasty treat! This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and easily gluten free.
This recipe was first published December 2014 and updated December 2022 to include additional tips and notes. Previously “Bourbon Date Nut Truffles,” the recipe remains unchanged.
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Why You’ll Love These Coconut Date Balls
They whip up quick, hold well in the fridge for several weeks and if gifting, arrive all in one piece to your second cousin twice removed half way across the country. And, if not for gifts, I love having these healthier chocolate date and coconut balls on hand for snacking.
These little bites are:
- No bake – so they’re easy to pull together
- Naturally Sweet – dates are so sweet, you’d hardly guess there’s no refined sugar in these vegan date balls.
- Crunchy – toasted nuts and cacao nibs give these bites flavor and crunch!
- Versatile – infuse with bourbon for the holidays or coffee for a healthy afternoon pick-me-up.
- Rich and Chocolatey – they’re almost like truffles in a healthy form!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Simple and versatile ingredients made with pantry staples make these little date energy balls so convienient. Here’s what you’ll need to make em (see recipe card for details):
- Dates: medjool dates are a dried fruit which are larger are more supple then their diglet date cousin. Medjool dates are noticibly sweeter which makes them perfect for these little energy bites. Look for them in the bulk bins for best value.
- Nuts: walnuts and almonds, however you can use one or the other or include pecans instead.
- Unsweetened Coconut: use desiccated (like on this post) or shredded coconut, both can be found in the bulk bins.
- Coffee or Bourbon: I include both options in this recipe. Either are fabulous and can be used depending on your needs. Coffee is great for a healthy date balls snack, while including bourbon is fun for the holidays and gifting.
- Unsweetened Cocoa or Cacao Powder: Dutch process cocoa (dark cocoa powder) or raw cacao, offers richness and a deep dark chocolate flavor.
- Cacao Nibs: for the crunch! These can also be found in the bulk bins. Cacao nibs are crumbled bits of dried cacao beans. They’re rich in flavor and high in antioxidants. Their texture is similar to roasted coffee beans!
- Maple Syrup: optional and as needed to balance the bitter notes of chocolate.
Quick Guide: How to Make Chocolate Coconut Date Balls
We’re using medjool dates and nuts in this recipe, so we’ll need to use a food processor to break the ingredients down. One maker used her blender instead with good results (see FAQs and comments below). Here’s how to whip up these tasty bites (see recipe card for details):
- First, you’ll toast the nuts and coconut.
- Second, process the nuts in the food processor until they’re finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Third, add the dates, cocoa powder, coffee or bourbon, salt, and vanilla to the food processor. Process until a paste forms.
- Fourth, add the nuts, and untoasted coconut to the date mixture and pulse until mixed. Taste the mixture to see if maple syrup is needed – add and process again.
- Next, transfer to a large bowl and mix in the cacao nibs. Mix with hands until all the ingredients are throughly mixed.
- Last, scoop and roll the date balls in toasted coconut.
Transfer to an airtight container and store date coconut balls in the fridge for up to two weeks. These coconut date energy bites taste best at room temperature, so be sure to pull them from the fridge to soften before sharing. They can also be stored in a freezer safe container or bag for longer storage.
Can Date Balls be Frozen?
Yes, date balls can be frozen. First, freeze them on a sheet pan, then transfer to a lidded container or freezer bag and store for up to a month. Thaw at room temperature overnight.
Do Date Balls Need to be Refrigerated?
To keep date balls fresh, store them in the fridge for up to two weeks, but bring them to room temperature before enjoying for best mouth feel.
How to Make Date Balls Without a Food Processor:
You can make this recipe in a blender! Toast the nuts and chop fine by hand. In a high speed blender, process the dates, coffee/bourbon, cocoa, vanilla and salt until a paste forms. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the chopped nuts, coconut, maple if using and cacao nibs. To mix, quash together with your hands. Scoop and roll in toasted coconut as directed.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Dry Dates: dates tend to dry out over time. If the dates you’re using are stiff and dry, soak them in very hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain, remove the pits and press out the water before processing.
- Portioning: Using a small cookie scoop or a #50 scoop makes portioning a snap!
- Holiday Foodie Gifts: These little treat bags show off your hand made coconut and date balls. Baker’s twine in red makes for a festive finish!
- Prefer a booze-less date balls? Leave out the Bourbon and add strong coffee or espresso instead!
More Date Recipes to Love
Chocolate Coconut Date Balls Recipe
- 12 (280 grams) Medjool Dates (unpitted)
- 1/2 cup (55 grams) Walnuts
- 3/4 cup (105 grams) Almonds
- 1 1/2 cups (141 grams) Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut divided, or use Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1/4 cup (55 grams) Strong Coffee / Espresso or Whiskey Bourbon
- 3 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Dutch process or raw cacao
- 1/2 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 3-4 tablespoons Maple Syrup* – optional see note
- 3 tablespoons Cacao Nibs
- Get Ready: Assess the dates. Do they seem stiff and dry? If so, you can rehydrate them by soaking in hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain, press out the water and pat as dry as possible.
- Place nuts on a sheet pan and toast at 350F (176C) for 8-9 minutes. Also, place 1/2 cup of coconut on a separate sheet pan and toast at same temperature for about 4-6 minutes – tip: watch the coconut close as it toasts quickly. You'll use this coconut to roll the date balls in. Set coconut aside to cool.
- Transfer the toasted nuts to a food processor bowl fitted with the S blade, (this can be done while the nuts are still warm) and process until the nuts are finely chopped. There will be some that are finely chopped and others that are a bit larger. This is ok. Empty nuts into a large bowl and set aside.
- Remove the pits from the dates. Transfer the dates, coffee or bourbon, cocoa, salt and vanilla into the food processor bowl. Process until a paste forms. You may need to scrape the bowl down several times as the dates tend to clump into a ball.
- To the date mixture, add the toasted, finely chopped nuts along with the remaining 1 cup untoasted coconut. Pulse mixture together until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste for sweetness and add maple syrup if desired. Pulse a few more times to incorporate the maple syrup.
- Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and pour in the cocoa nibs. Mix together with your hands, squeezing and mashing until the cacao nibs are evenly distributed.
- Use a #50 scoop or 1 1/4 tablespoons to portion individual balls. Roll each portion between you hands to make a ball. Then roll the ball in the toasted coconut.
- Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to two weeks. They taste best at room temperature, so give them about an hour out of the fridge before sharing.