December 23, 2011

Sugar plums

Platter piled with finished sugar plums and one with a bite out of it.

These old-fashioned homemade sugar plums will be dancing in your head this holiday season! Full of warm spices, dried fruits, and toasted nuts, sugar plums are a festive and delicious treat to add to your cookie tray or homemade gifts.

Before I looked up sugar plums and started reading recipes, I never knew they were a real treat and had never tried one. And, now that I've tried them, I can see why the sleeping children had visions of them dancing in the heads as the slept on Christmas Eve. 

Sugar plums contain various dried fruits and spices along with nuts. There appear to be numerous recipes out there, each one utilizing some different nuts, fruits, and spices. I read many recipes and over the years have developed my favorite.

Sugar plums invoke in me a sense of days past and make me think that they would have been something my great-grandmother may have enjoyed. The smell of the warm spices and the orange zest make these feel perfect for winter. They feel very nostalgic to me.

Large platter piled with finished sugar plum balls.

They smell of Christmas and taste of it, too. I think these are best made while listening to Bing Crosby or Perry Como Christmas music - something relatively old-fashioned, soft, quiet, and relaxing.

If you are looking for one more Christmas or winter holiday treat, give these a try. They are pretty simple to make and you don't have to turn on your oven. 

Sugar plums make a perfect snack, holiday gift, hostess gift, or a lovely addition to a Christmas party. Everyone who has tried them over the years has loved them.

Rolling these sugar plums is a messy job, but it's worth it! They will make your food processor quite sticky. They will make your hands very sticky! Wet your hands in a bit of water before rolling to help prevent too much sticking. Get kids involved by helping with the rolling into balls and into the sugar. 

My kids love to eat these sweet and sticky holiday treats and ask for them every year. I hope they will become a tradition in your family as well.

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Yield: about 30 pieces

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

These homemade old-fashioned sugar plums will be dancing in your head this holiday season! Full of warm spices, dried fruits, and toasted nuts, sugar plums are a festive and delicious treat to add to your cookie tray or homemade gifts.


  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped dried unsulphured apricots
  • zest of 1 medium/large orange
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup super fine or fine granulated sugar


How to cook Sugar Plums

  1. Add all of the ingredients except the sugar to a food processor. Pulse on high for about four to five minutes, until the ingredients are all combined and start sticking together. You may need to start/stop/and scrape a few times as it is very sticky and gets thick.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl.
  3. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Roll about 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture in your hands to form balls. Roll the balls lightly in the sugar. Set aside and repeat until all the mixture is used.
  4. Eat joyously. Store in an airtight container for several days. The sugar will start to melt off a bit, so you may want to re-roll before serving or wait to roll in the sugar until serving time.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I hope you give these sugar plums a try! Let me know in the comments below.

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Finished sugar plums piled onto a white plate for serving.

This recipe was originally published in 2011 and has been updated in 2020 and 2021 with new text, a recipe card and more to improve reader experience.

Check out these other holiday recipes:

Sweet & Spiced Glazed Mixed Nuts

Eggnog Truffles 

Persimmon Gingerbread Loaf Cake

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies  

Pistachio Cardamom Crescent Cookies


  1. I never knew what a sugar plum was before your post either. They sound delicious and look pretty. Thank you for sharing. Happy Holidays!

  2. This does look healthy, festive and delicious! Thanks for introducing me to sugar plums. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas! :)

  3. I've been so tempted to make these lately -- I love all the spices in there and yours look wonderful! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

  4. Ooh this does make me curious, may have to give them a go next year.

    Merry Christmas to you.

  5. Whoa! I had NO idea these were real things either! I thought maybe they were just candied plums?

    These look way better than that though. bite-sized spheres of deliciousness!

  6. Wow...Lovely! I love sugar plums. And yours is really devine. I will try your recipe for Chinese New year. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Happy holidays ^^

  7. I love those. A great treat!

    Happy Holidays!



  8. These are beautiful and look really delicious! Thanks for sharing this special holiday recipe.

  9. These sound like something right up my alley! We love dried fruits, and I've never had a sugar plum--but have always wanted to try some!

  10. Thanks, everyone! Happy Holidays! I hope you give these old fashioned treats a try!

  11. I have seen these pop up on a couple blogs lately! They look delicious and I hope to try them soon

  12. Woah neat!! I've never really thought about what sugar plums are. What a fun holiday treat!

  13. Looks amazing! What a great year of delicious recipes and eats.
    Happy New Year. Keep up the great work in 202.

  14. Wow, what a great healthy fake-out! I could have sworn these were doughnut holes!

  15. Had no idea how simple these would be! First thing I thought about was that little story line as well. This is definitely something to put you in a cheerful mood ;)

  16. I made these and they are wonderful! Super easy, too.

  17. I think I might try making a nut-free version of this with pumpkin seeds...sounds so yummy!

  18. I never knew that sugar plums were real either! These are gorgeous!! How Christmasy!

  19. I've never known what a sugar plum actually is! I totally need to make these!

  20. I've never had a sugar plum and while I've heard of them, I never knew what they were made of. The ingredient list sounds delicious with all the cozy spices. And the texture in the photos makes them look very inviting!

  21. I always wondered about these when hearing the same Christmas poem.They sounds yummy!

  22. OK so I have had ONE recipe that I enjoyed very much, and have never been able to replicate it. Everything sounds fine, except I don't like dates. I've tried several recipes with dates, and boy I can tell. Even tried to scale them back and no luck eliminating that one flavor. I've tried different types of dates too, but they are so sweet and distinctive sugar flavor. Any substitution ideas?


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