A Little Family Christmas: Martha Washington Balls

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Each year for as long as I can remember, my Mom and I have made time right before Christmas to do all of our Christmas baking and candy making together.  I have such fond memories of this special time trying new recipes but being sure to include our family’s favorites.  Over the years, we’ve added people to our tradition.  My wife, my best friend, and this year was the first year my little boy was able to help too.  It was such an amazing day.  We laughed and joked and Jack was on a sugar high all day long.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some of my family’s favorites that have been a staple at our house around the holidays.  These are easy, quick recipes that help spread a little love.  There’s just something special about homemade goodies around the holidays.  I can’t think of a better little gift, just to show someone you care.

If you like Almond Joy candy bars, you’ll love these Martha Washington Balls.  And, no.  I have no idea why they’re called that.

BE SURE to check out my chocolate coating tips below the recipe to make coating these little babies even easier.



  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 can Eagle Brand milk (that’s sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups chopped pecans
  • chocolate flavored almond bark


  1. Combine first six ingredients well using hands.
  2. Roll into small balls and chill at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once thoroughly chilled, dip balls in melted chocolate flavored almond bark and allow to cool on wax paper.

    To achieve this look, I transferred some melted almond bark into a zip top bag, snipped the corner and drizzled chocolate over the candy, then sprinkled them with chopped coconut.

Chocolate Dipping Tip:  While you’re welcome to double boiler this to melt the almond bark, this is a much easier way to get it melted and keep it melted. Take a large Crock Pot and fill it about half way with hot water.  Turn the Crock Pot on high to keep the water hot.  Find a smaller bowl that will fit into the crock pot. Melt your chocolate in the microwave and transfer it to the inner bowl.  This method will keep your chocolate nice and melted for you while you coat.


Martha Washington Balls
Prep time
Total time
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 can Eagle Brand milk (that’s sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups chopped pecans
  • chocolate flavored almond bark
  1. Combine first six ingredients well using hands.
  2. Roll into small balls and chill at least 30 minutes.
  3. Once thoroughly chilled, dip balls in melted chocolate flavored almond bark and allow to cool on wax paper.
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  1. Michelle A. says:

    absolutely love the crockpot idea! wish I had seen this yesterday when struggling to keep my chocolate warm….now I know!

  2. I’ve never seen Martha Washington Balls made with the ingredients inside of these. I’ve only made/eaten the ones with peanut butter. Thanks for the option.

    • Isn’t that funny!? I’ve never heard the ones with peanut butter referred to as Martha Washington Balls! What part of the country are you in?

      • The peanut butter balls are called Buckeyes…at least here in Ohio! We don’t dip the entire ball, leaving the top “open” so they actually look like buckeyes. 😉 Can you use real chocolate (tempered?) instead of the chocolate almond bark for the Martha Washington Balls?

  3. Thank you for the Martha Washington Balls recipe! My Mother-in-law used to make these for Christmas every year and I have looked everywhere for the recipe. I have been playing with the ingredients, but didn’t have it just right – now I have the recipe! Thank you again!!! Love your site!!

    • Virginia David Moore says:

      My mother-in-law in Texas gave me this candy recipe over 40 years ago. She called them Martha Washington Chocolates which sounds a little more genteel than balls! I use a toothpick to dip the candy and that works great. Stacey, thanks for reminding me of a recipe from years ago and bringing back a good memory!

  4. How many does this make? Just wondering how many I can expect if I cut the recipe in half.

  5. Oh my gosh!! I, too, have been making these Bon Bons since I was a little girl with my family, but have NEVER seen anyone else refer to them as Martha Washington Bon Bons (or Balls). This is my very favorite candy ever and reminds me so much of my holidays growing up.

  6. where do you get the chocolate flavored almond bark?

    • It’s sold on the baking aisle near the chocolate chips. It’s not always called “almond bark.” Sometimes it’s simply labeled “candy coating” or something similar.

  7. My grandmother called them Martha Washington Balls! She was raised in South Alabama and Mississippi. I’m making them this year! Can I used regular milk chocolate or dark chocolate chips instead of the almond bark? Thanks!

  8. I can’t wait to try this….I am sure my co-workers are going to love them. My question is….what do you use to dip the balls in the bark and get them out with? I make different cake and candy balls, but can never get them to look all pretty and neat like yours.Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.Thank you!

    • I usually use a large fork. I place the ball into the chocolate, scoop it out with the fork and bang the fork on the side of the bowl a few times to get the excess off. Then scrape the bottom of the fork on the edge of the bowl, then slide the ball off of the fork onto wax paper with a toothpick or skewer. Sometimes, I’ll put the remaining chocolate into a zip-top bag and snip of a tiny part of the corner, then drizzle it over the candies for added effect. It also helps to cover mistakes. 🙂

      • you can buy a candy dipping fork. Actually it is a stainless steel hollow circle with a handle. Works great and you can even put the little squiggles on the top with it. I have been using one for a couple of decades!

  9. I’ve never heard of these (I’m from Canada) but they sound delicious. Due to a nut allergy do you think substituting some sort of cookie crumb would work in place of the pecans?

    • Hello up there!!! Actually, I don’t think that there would be a great need to replace the pecans with anything. I think you could probably just leave them out. But, I think replacing the pecans with some type of cookie crumb would work just fine. I just wouldn’t replace the entire amount of pecans with cookie crumbs. I’d slow work the crumbs in until I reached the right consistency. : ) Enjoy!

  10. can these be frozen for a few weeks?

    • I’ve frozen the filling balls once they’ve been rolled out, but never the entire things once they’ve been dipped in the chocolate. I’m afraid the chocolate may get that white powdery look if is is frozen, but I’m just not sure. If you try it, please come back and let me know.

      • i have frozen them and they are fine, just make sure that you seal them tightly and then take them out and uncover them so they don’t get sweaty. The almond bark does not turn white like regular chocolate does you can also mix equal parts of
        Regular chocolate and almond bark for a more chocolate favor

  11. I’ve been making these for at least twenty years. They are everyone’s favorite item in the gift packs I give out every Christmas. You can freeze them indefinitely. I dip mine in melted chocolate chips and paraffin wax. I refrigerate the mixture for about thirty min. then roll it into balls, stick toothpicks in the top, freeze them for for about ten minutes and then dip them. I take the toothpicks out and dip to cover the hole. For the size I roll mine the recipe makes about six dozen.

  12. I love your crock pot idea! My girlfriend sent me a container of these for Christmas last year and needless to say, they are long gone. I’d never had them before and loved them. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Kim Houston says:

    When a recipe calls for ‘a stick of butter’ what is the weight? We don not have sticks of butter here in New Zealand butter comes in 550 gram blocks.

  14. We have made these with chopped candied cherries instead of coconut and pecans, also fresh cherries with stem wrapped in sugar mixture, chilled, then dipped using the stem to dip with. After these sit for a day or so, the sugar melts inside the ball. This is the best chocolate covered cherry. My mom used toothpicks stuck in the balls for dipping and would serve them with the toothpicks still attached.

  15. My family has been making these for 40+ years here in Texas–and we’ve always called them Martha Washington’s….however, we chop up maraschino cherries and use those rather than coconut! I make sure to pat dry the chopped cherries before I add them ; thus I avoid turning the filling pink. My absolute favorite Christmas candy!!!

  16. I do so many different types of dipped items that I purchased a small one quart crock pot. I melt chocolate morsels on high then, turn it down to low to keep keep the chocolate melted and smooth. A tablespoon of paraffin wax to 12 oz of chocolate morsels gives it that nice shine.

  17. We have also made these delicious candies since I was a kid, but we always called them “candy la webb”.

  18. Awww…………I love Almond Joys and these make me wish I had the ingredients on hand. 12 miles to the nearest store……………………..!!!

    Well, instead , I am reading it and eating some Meat Sauce and Rice. My sister-in-law showed me how to fix it about 40 years ago. It’s just …….1 pound of cooked Hamburger meat, 2 TB. Bacon drippings, 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce, dash of Onion salt, dash of Garlic salt, dash of Pepper (or to taste). Sprinkle 2 TB. of Flour over the mixture, stir, and then add about a glass of water and cook till thickened and then pour over a hot bed of cooked Rice. It is so good!!! I was raised on Mashed potatoes!!! So then, I became a Rice lover too!!!

    One more Rice dish(breakfast)……Put a hot bed of Rice on a plate, place a slice of American cheese on top, and then last, a hot fried egg (yolk soft) on top!!! Kids usually love it!!! My kids and grandkids do!!! Stays with you awhile too.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. Hope Christmas was great!!! God Bless Y’all!!!

  19. Linda Klaiber says:

    Martha Washington Candy….when we were stationed in Iceland (1974), a dear friend gave me this recipe, but called them “Chocolate Door Knockers” LOL Either way…we love them!!!

  20. Wow, marvelous blog structure! How long hace you besn blogging for?
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  21. Pam Egbert says:

    This what my Grandmother use to call (and I continue to call) Millionaire Candy. When I was young every Christmas we would make this together. It’s one of my favorite memories I have of her. I Still make it every several years. It takes me a couple of years to forget how much work there is to make this. I love it though. I give it as Christmas gifts. Everyone that gets it loves it.

  22. WOO-HOO!!!! Bless you Stacey! I was looking at another recipe on your site and saw a blurb about Martha Washington Balls. I couldn’t believe it because I’d told friends about making them when I was young and no one had ever heard of them. Now I have an “official” recipe to go by so I’m definitely making these. Don’t think I can wait till Christmas though. 🙂 Thanks

  23. My grandmother gave me this recipe in 1959 when I first married. She just referred to it as coconut bonbons. I made it for many, many years. This one of several that she passed on & I’ve passed them onto others over the years.

  24. The recipe looks & sounds great. My question is about the ingredients. Do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?


  26. So happy to see this recipe. made them years ago but called them Coconut Bon Bons…had forgotten about them..will be bringing them back this Christmas…thanks for sharing!

  27. These sound amazing. I love anything with coconut in it! I’m wondering what size can of milk should we add? From the amounts of the other ingredients, I’m guessing the 14 oz. can?

  28. I have been making these for years. I learned from my mom who made them with walnut instead of pecans.

  29. I tried this recipe after trying one that was too wet to make balls, this one is way too dry, and I taste nothing but powdered sugar. One day I’ll find the perfect one, and you can replace the pecans with almonds, I never use pecans.

  30. If I store these in tin cans or ziploc containers, how long will they keep? Any fear of not refrigerating due to the milk?

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