Sugar Plums

These festive sugar plums are a classic holiday treat. This version is made with all raw, healthy ingredients for a nutritious spin on the classic sugarplum recipe holiday candy.

*Note: this post for sugar plums was first published on 12/10/2011. The photographs have been updated and the recipe slightly tweaked for an even tastier little bite.

These festive treats come together in just minutes, are no-bake and yet filled with all those honey and spice holiday flavors you love. They’re perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon but special enough to pass as dessert too. Hope you whip up a batch and try them out! 

These festive sugar plums are made will all raw, healthy ingredients for a nutritious spin on the classic holiday treat.

It’s December 10th, there are 15 days until Christmas and there isn’t a single decoration up in my house, a holiday card sent nor a present bought.

Usually, I’ll be cooking with a glass of wine and Christmas music on in the background this time of year.

Lately though, it’s just been the normal Pandora stations with that glass of wine. I have no idea why I’m not into the holiday season this year, but I’m not. Like, at all.

The thought of the mall sickens me. The thought of spending hours decorating makes me cringe and let’s not even talk about the the thought of cleaning up and having to put those decorations away come January.

If I wasn’t still into baking holiday treats like sugar plum candy I’d probably be googling some sort of holiday depression disorder to try and figure it all out.

But have no fear, that part of me is still alive and kicking! I think I just belong in the kitchen, not on HGTV. And I’m cool with that.

These sugar plum balls are a healthier version than the usual classic but still filled with all the holiday flavors you love.

Have you ever heard of sugar plums? And no, not the kind in the Nutcracker that dance around all daintily on stage.

Funny side story on the Nutcracker actually…my grandparents took me to see the performance in NYC at Lincoln Center when I was pretty young, definitely elementary school age.

We got dressed up for the event and my grandmother let me wear one of her short mink fur coats. She was pretty short so it fit me at the age of 8 or 9.

We were walking in to Lincoln Center and all I remember is that there were a bunch of people with signs yelling at us because we were wearing fur coats. I apparently got really mad at them, having no idea who they were and why they were yelling at me and my grandmother so I yelled back telling them to “shut up!”

Many years later I found out it was a PETA group, which totally makes sense in retrospect but as an 8 or 9 year old, I had no idea who those people were and why they were yelling at me.

I was sassy as a kid. I still am.

Anyway…sugar plums.

Sugar plums are a fruit and spice filled holiday treat perfect with a cup of tea or snack.

Since I love a good ball, I decided to make my own healthier interpretation of the classic sugar plum holiday recipe with stuff I had on hand.

More holiday ball/bites inspiration –> cranberry orange oatmeal cookie bites, gingerbread chocolate chip bites, dark chocolate kahlua coffee bites.

I’m not sure what I expected from these sugar plums but they taste how I imagine a fruit cake rolled up into a ball, coated in sugar would taste like.

Disclaimer, I’ve never had fruit cake before so I’m not totally sure of the accuracy of that statement but a quick google search tells me it’s basically a cake with a bunch of dried fruit in it (shocking) so I’m sticking with that comparison.


Sugar plums (or, sugarplums as they’re referenced both ways) are not actually sugar coated plums as in the fruit despite the name. 

For some background on the historical Christmas treat, this article: “Sugar Plums: They’re Not What You Think They Are” is worth a read.

They seem to have morphed over time from a simple sugar coated seed, nut or spice (some say it was sugar coated coriander way back in the day!) into what they are today which is basically a combination of dried fruit, nuts and seeds rolled into a ball shape and coated in sugar.

For this healthier spin on a modern authentic sugar plum recipe, almonds, prunes, dates and raisins make up the base.

Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom then combine with vanilla, almond and anise extracts for a holiday spiced treat.

I chose to use sugar in the raw for the coating on these sugarplums but another option is powdered or confectioners sugar for a more traditional look.

Whip up a batch of these easy sugar plums in just minutes for a festive (and healthy!) holiday treat.


To make this easy holiday treat, combine all the nuts and fruit in a food processor and process until finely chopped and the mixture starts to form into a “ball” in the processor.

I chose to use almonds, prunes, dates and raisins in my version of sugar plums.

At this point, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add all the spices, extracts and honey. Use clean hands to mix everything together and roll into balls.

Add the raw/coarse sugar to a shallow bowl and roll each sugar plum around in the mixture until completely covered in a sugar coating.


Cinnamon, fennel seeds, cardamom and nutmeg are the primary spice flavors in these sugar plums.

Vanilla, almond and anise extract is also used for flavoring.

It all comes together for a wintery, aromatic vibe in each bite that’s incredibly cozy!


If you have decorating sugar on hand, you can use that as it’s what is traditionally used. It’s a nice fine grain and has a pretty sparkle to it. 

I chose to use raw/coarse sugar (also known as raw cane sugar/turbinado sugar because it’s what I had on hand. It works just as well for the sugar plum coating, it’s just a little bit crunchier than decorating sugar.


Sugar plum balls can be stored in an air-tight container for quite some time.

Refrigerated, they will last up to a month. At room temperature, they should be eaten with 2 weeks.

They taste best when eaten at room temperature as the flavors come through better.

While I’m not feeling a ton of holiday spirit this year, these are such a great little Christmas bite.

They’re no-bake, easy to throw together and bring all the flavors of the holiday into a healthier version of the classic candy treat.

If you’re looking for an indulgent holiday dessert you can always make this apricot brandy pound cake but for something traditional and a bit easier on the waist-line this recipe for sugar plums is a great option!

Love these sugarplums?

Also try nutella cookie dough balls or raw brownie bites.

Don’t forget to check out all my Christmas recipes too for more inspiration!

Sugar Plum Balls

Sugar Plum Balls

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

These festive sugar plums are made will all raw, healthy ingredients for a nutritious spin on the classic holiday treat.


  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup prunes (about 5)
  • 1/4 cup pitted, chopped medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon anise extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup raw, coarse sugar for rolling


  1. Combine nuts and fruit in a food processor and pulse until it becomes finely chopped but before it starts to form a ball.
  2. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and add remaining ingredients. Combine/mix together with hands.
  3. Roll into balls and set aside.
  4. Add sugar to a shallow ball and roll balls in the sugar until completely coated.
  5.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 84Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 40mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 11gProtein: 1g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.


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  1. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    Not one present? Not one decoration? Get on it, girl! haha. I’ve been less festive this year too, but still fairly festive. I got out the holiday lights, but we haven’t put them on or up yet. We’re the only house on the street without lights. Sigh…

  2. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin

    These look great! I’m a big fan of balls made with dates, but I usually keep it simple and just add almonds, oats, coconut and maybe almond butter. All the ingredients in these sound fabulous though. I’m definitely going to try these.

    You’re not the only one behind on holiday shopping – I’ve only bought one gift so far! :P

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  8. George

    you know, just once I would absolutely LOVE to look up a recipe online and not have to spend 10 freekin minutes scrolling down thru all the corny bull crap stories of how this food came to be, its entire known history, how it applies to your personal family, Bla, Bla, Bla. I bet if someone came up with an online site of JUST THE RECIPES and none of the WASTING EVERYONES TIME it would be the ONLY one people would ever use.

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      Hey George – Thanks so much for your kind comment. Usually, I don’t take the time to even bother with people like you but I’m feeling extra sassy today so, lucky you. If it takes you TEN actual minutes to scroll down to the recipe, I think you might want to have your hands/fingers checked out for arthritis or something because clearly something is wrong with it taking you that long to get past a few hundred words of text before getting to a FREE RECIPE. This site is a food BLOG. In case you weren’t aware, blogs are created with actual people behind them sharing whatever the heck they want because guess what? IT’S THEIR WEBSITE and they can. I don’t believe you paid anything to land on this recipe so instead of complaining about ascertaining the information you were looking for in a sugar plum recipe again, FOR FREE, maybe you should consider purchasing a cookbook/e-cookbook or access to an online repository of recipes without text if it bothers you so much. Happy freakin’ holidays to you.


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