Soft, sweet, and easy to make, these Vegan Coconut Balls (Bolitas de Coco) are a super easy no-bake dessert. They are a vegan take on a traditional Costa Rican dessert and require only 4 ingredients!
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Hey Internet, here’s a fun dessert to make that requires no baking … and only four ingredients! Anyone can make this super simple yet delicious dessert.
I recently threw a little get together for my supervisor who’s leaving. He’s from Costa Rica, so I decided to try my hand at veganizing a traditional Costa Rican dessert: bolitas de coco (coconut balls).
Funny that I’ve never been to Costa Rica but my husband has been twice. I’m very jealous of this fact.
But for now, since I can’t really afford to travel and never have enough PTO to do it, I’ll just have to make recipes from all the countries I want to visit.
Regardless of my travel woes, these vegan coconut balls are absolutely delicious. I had to change a few things from the traditional recipes to make them vegan and also because one of the ingredients I can’t find where I am…
So I’m not sure how authentic they are, but I am sure how totally delicious they are! And everyone at work (non-vegans) loved them. And so did my husband and I of course (vegan). Oh, and my (now former) supervisor from Costa Rica? He liked them too. :)
Why This Recipe Works
This recipe comes together quickly with only 10 minutes of hands-on time before refrigeration to chill the mixture.
After it firms up, there is a bit more hands-on time, but it’s kind of fun to roll all the little balls, especially if you enlist the help of kids, a partner, or friends.
The mixture itself is also super easy to put together. All you have to do is melt some vegan butter in a pot with some vegan condensed milk, stir in some finely shredded coconut, and then stir in some pulverized biscuits (more on that in a bit).
Rolling the vegan bolitas de coco is also super easy, because all you have to do is scoop a bit of the mixture, roll it between your hands, and then roll it in a bowl of finely shredded coconut.
Then just refrigerate or freeze the balls until ready to serve. Tasty and fun to eat! They make a great dessert or snack.
Ingredients and Notes
- Vegan butter: Any vegan butter should work, but I think stick form (rather than tub-style) would work best. I use Miyoko’s European-style Cultured Vegan Butter. If you’d prefer not to use vegan butter and you like chocolate, you can substitute an equal amount of dairy-free chocolate chips! I’d use bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips since the condensed coconut milk is pretty sweet.
- Condensed coconut milk: This is the only vegan condensed milk I’ve tried but I really do love it. It also does not have a strong coconut flavor. I also saw an oat milk condensed milk but since I don’t personally love oat milk, I haven’t tried it yet. If you cannot find an option in your area and don’t want to order online, try making your own. My friend Karissa has a great vegan condensed milk recipe.
- Finely shredded coconut: We’ll use a bit of this for the filling of the vegan coconut balls but also for the topping. Unsweetened is best since the condensed coconut milk makes everything fairly sweet already.
- Graham crackers: A few brands make graham crackers that happen to be vegan. That includes Nabisco--look for the red box, but just read the ingredients to make sure. You can also use about 4 cups (pulverized) Annie’s Snickerdoodle Bunnies crackers or you can make your own vegan graham crackers.
- BTW, a great substitute for graham crackers would be Lotus Biscoff cookies! They’ve always been vegan in my experience, but read the back of the package to make sure.
Step by Step Instructions for Vegan Coconut Balls
- Start by pulverizing your graham crackers. You can do this in a food processor or by hand. If doing by hand, place them in a sealable food storage container and crush with your hands or a heavy object until they’re mostly tiny crumbles or powder.
- Heat a large nonstick pot over medium heat (if you don’t have nonstick you may want to spray oil the sides of your pot (the bottom will get it oiled from the melting vegan butter) and watch the heat, maybe go medium low instead so you don’t accidentally get everything stuck to the pot).
- Add the vegan butter and stir it around until it’s mostly melted. Then add the vegan condensed milk. Stir well.
- Next, add ¾ of the finely shredded coconut (about 6 ounces, around ¾ cup). Stir well again.
- Remove from heat and stir in the pulverized graham crackers, then return to heat. Stir constantly until the mixture becomes thick and shiny, and it will pull away from the sides and bottom of the pot (about 2-4 minutes).
- Add the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours (it will firm as it cools, and then you can roll it into balls).
- After the mixture has cooled, remove it from the refrigerator. It may need a few minutes to soften enough to scoop. Use whatever size scoop you like, but the recipe yield of 80 balls is accurate only with the same size scoop (small scoop) I used, so keep that in mind. You can use a larger scoop and they’ll still taste great! But I can’t give an accurate picture of how many it will make.
- Scoop each ball onto a plate. I like to do many scoops, then switch to rolling them between my palms to create an even sphere. Then, roll each ball in the remaining coconut (about 2 ounces, or ¼ cup) and place on a tray lined with parchment paper. This goes much faster with one person scooping and one person rolling, but it didn’t take too long on my own either once I got a rhythm down.
- Refrigerate vegan coconut balls for 1 hour or freeze for 30 minutes and enjoy!
- To store, refrigerate balls in an airtight container (after the initial refrigeration) for up to 5 days or freeze in a freezer safe container or bag for up to 3 months. Defrost a few hours before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you can’t find vegan condensed milk and you’re unable to purchase it online, I suggest you skip the stove step all together (and skip the vegan butter) and instead use a food processor to blend pitted medjool dates with the pulverized graham crackers. You can try adding wet ingredients like almond butter or dry ingredients like rolled oats or almond meal. It will be somewhat of a different recipe but I think it would be delicious all the same.
You can substitute Lotus Biscoff cookies or any other firm and crispy biscuit like graham crackers. Just blitz up in the food processor before using!
Refrigerated, the vegan bolitas de coco should last 5-7 days in an airtight container. They freeze well too, so you could freeze them in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Probably longer, but 3 months is the general rule that I follow when I read about writing recipes and about food.
Expert Tips for Success
- Use a good vegan butter for this--I love Miyoko’s, Melt, and the sticks from Earth Balance. I would avoid tub butter if possible as it’s usually a bit more liquidy when melted. Be ready with more coconut or graham cracker crumbs if doing this.
- Feel free to substitute other biscuits for the graham crackers. If you can get your hands on vegan Maria biscuits, use those.
- Stir the mixture in the pot constantly with a strong wooden spoon or spatula; it will get quite firm and sticky. It will become shiny and cohesive when it’s ready--this process takes just a few minutes.
More Recipes Like This
I just love super easy vegan desserts. Check out some of my favorites:
- Vegan Chocolate Bliss Balls
- Vegan Snickers Bites
- Smores Bake
- Vegan Smores
- Vegan Chocolate Pudding
- Lavender Nice Cream
- Vegan Rice Crispy Treats
- Vegan Tiramisu
- Toasted Coconut Nice Cream
- Mango Nice Cream
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