a board with sugar plum candies and a bowl of sugar to coat the sugarplums

What are sugar plums? Here’s how to make the traditional treat.

What are sugar plums? Are you wondering if they are even real? They are…and they’re delicious. Our friend KC of  G-Free Foodie shared her recipe for Traditional Sugar Plum Candy.  For the record – all authentic recipes contain prunes, or dried plums. Hence the name.

a plate of Traditional Sugar Plum Candy Recipe by KC Cornwell of G-Free Foodie

What are sugar plums?

If you’ve ever read “The Night Before Christmas”, or watched the Nutcracker, you’ve probably heard of sugar plums. Maybe the iconic line “visions of sugar plums danced through their heads” comes to mind? Maybe you were enchanted watching the Sugar Plum Fairy? But what do you actually know about this sweet treat?

The original meaning of the word “sugar plum” was simply derived from the shape of a candy coated ball of nuts of seeds. Hundreds of years ago, this work was done by hand, and the candies were shaped more like a plum than a sphere. For this reason, these candy coated treats were christened “sugar plums”.

As time progressed, sugar plums evolved into a beloved candy containing dried fruits, toasted nuts, warm spices and a crunchy sugar coating. And in case you’re wondering, this version DID include dried plums (aka prunes – and yes, prunes are dried plums).

How to make Traditional Sugar Plum Candy

Making this old-fashioned treat is surprisingly simple. Simply toast the nuts, then add the ingredients to your food processor. If you’ve ever made energy balls, the mixture should be a similar consistency. Then, simply roll the mixture into balls, and then roll the ball in crunchy sugar until it’s well-coated. It’s that simple!

Are sugar plums healthy?

Our recipe is made with real food ingredients, like nuts, honey, spices and dried fruit. Sure, they’re rolled in crunchy sugar, but we still consider these a healthier treat!

traditional sugar plums from G-Free Foodie on wooden cutting board with prunes

A Delicious DIY Holiday Gift

These tasty treats are the perfect DIY holiday gift! Take them to your next party as a hostess gift, or make a big batch to share with friends. Sugar plums are also a delicious addition to a holiday dessert board!

a hand rolling traditional sugar plum candy in sugar
traditional sugar plums on a wooden board and a bowl of sugar with two sugar plums

Traditional Sugar Plum Candy

KC Cornwell, G-Free Foodie
Are you wondering if sugar plums are real? Our friend KC of  G-Free Foodie shared her recipe for Traditional Sugar Plum Candy.  For the record – all authentic sugar plum recipes contain prunes, or dried plums. Hence the name.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 14
Calories 104 kcal


  • 1/2 cup California Prunes about 3 1/4 ounces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts toasted & coarsely chopped about 2 oz
  • 1/4 cup dates pitted & chopped just over 1 oz, about 5 or dried figs
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries about 1 1/4 oz
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut meal or almond meal* toasted or hazelnut or almond flour (see note to use whole nuts)
  • 2 TBSP apricot preserves or honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar


To toast the walnuts and hazelnut or almond meal:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (180C).
  • Spread the nuts out in a single layer on one side of a sheet pan, pour the nut meal in a pile on the other side, and flatten with your hand or a spatula so it’s an even layer, about 1/4 inch (6mm) thick. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 8 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

To make the Sugarplums:

  • Put the chopped prunes, walnuts, dates, and cranberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are chopped into small, even pieces. Stop before the mixture becomes a ball.
  • Add the toasted nut meal, apricot preserves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and salt. Pulse several times (you may need to stop to scrape down the sides) until the ingredients are fully combined and the mixture will hold itself together when rolled into a ball. (You should still see some texture from the fruit & nuts.)
  • Line a tray or container with wax or parchment paper. Scoop the mixture into heaping 1 TBSP portions and roll into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls, and place on the paper.
  • Roll the sugarplums in the sugar just before serving.


You can store the sugarplums before they are rolled in sugar. Store at room temperature in a covered container (but not airtight/sealed) for up to 1 week. Or, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Allow the sugarplums to come to room temperature before coating them in sugar.’
Love this traditional sugar plum recipe? Try out this Warm Sugar Plum Cocktail!


Calories: 104kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 85mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword candy, energy balls, Holiday, sugar plums
Tried this recipe? Want to save it for later?Share it on social and tag @CAPrunes or #CAPrunes!

Obsessed with this old-fashioned treat? You should probably try these delicious recipes.

Warm Sugar Plum Cocktail from G-Free Foodie in a glass mug and garnished with citrus, prune and cinnamon

Warm Sugar Plum Cocktail

This warm winter cocktail by KC of G-Free Foodie combines the fragrant blend of spices, juice and rum – perfect for a cozy night in!

a green plate of Sugar plum cookies from this mess is ours

Sugar Plum Cookies

Sugar Plums are a traditional holiday staple. Incorporate this sweet candy into your modern-day holiday by baking a batch of Sugar Plum Shortbread Cookies from This Mess Is Ours.

Looking for more holiday treats?

a bowl of Christmas granola with striped ribbon and greenery

Holiday Granola

Usher in the holidays with this delightful combination of cinnamon, ginger, and honey wafting from your oven. This Christmas granola is perfect for gifting.

a platter full of crinkle cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These festive Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by Chef Peter Sidwell aren’t only beautiful to look at, they also have less refined sugar thanks to the addition of California Prune Puree.

two loafs of Fruitcake from this Mess is ours surrounded by bowls of dried fruit


What’s the absolute best fruitcake recipe? Our friend Meg from This Mess is Ours put in some extensive research – and this recipe for fruitcake came out on top.

Did you try this recipe? Maybe you’ve got a favorite recipe using California Prunes that you’d like to share with us? Snap a pic and share it on social using #caprunes.

Like what you see? Be sure to follow California Prunes on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter for more delicious recipes!