Quick Coconut Balls (Coconut Ladoos)

These coconut balls require only a handful of ingredients, and can be put together within minutes.

Call these what you must, homemade Rafaellos, coconut ladoos, coconut balls, coconut truffles, these bitesize confections make for a quick and easy dessert fix. The recipe is simple. It requires two main components, desiccated coconut and sweetened condensed milk. The recipe is finished with dashes and pinches of other essential (and non-essential) add-ins, cardamom, a pinch of salt and vanilla. 

A stack of the coconut balls, with a cup of tea.

I chose to add a bit of cardamom to these coconut balls. This year I’ve taken a strong liking towards the spice, drawing inspiration from my roots. I loved adding cardamom to my blueberry muffin recipe, and I think it could also be really nice in my carrot cake recipe. Cardamom is found in many Indian desserts (and meals as well), and for good reason. Its warmth, fragrance and slight sweetness puts it right alongside cinnamon on the spice shelf. It may be novel to the Western palate, but I see many recipes using cardamom these days. It’s really nice, worth a try! Hence a synonym for ‘coconut balls,’ the Indian twist dubs these as coconut ladoos. 

A stack of the coconut balls, with a cup of tea.

Some tips:

  • To use a full can of condensed milk, double this recipe. 
  • You could try sweetened condensed coconut milk for a vegan variation! I’ve never done this- let me know how it works.
  • Make sure that the flame is low when cooking the ingredients, as you don’t want the coconut to burn.  

A stack of the coconut balls, with a cup of tea.

I was debating whether to post this recipe for Christmas time or whether it was better to wait until summer. Why? Because they resemble snowballs, and package nicely making them the perfect holiday treat or present if packaged nicely. But they’re also no-bake, and made with coconut, the latter being defining summer ingredient. 

The bottom line is, you can make these coconut balls all year around- and they’re really, really easy to make. If you prefer to be slightly more extravagant, feel free to dip the coconut balls into some melted chocolate for a Bounty-style finish, or keep it elegant and chic, like a Rafaello. Either way, if you like coconut, this is a tribute to you.

Quick Coconut Balls (Coconut Ladoos)


  • 200 g (2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk*
  • 115 g (1.5 cups) desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • extra desiccated coconut for rolling, OR melted chocolate to coat


  1. Tip the desiccated coconut into a nonstick frying pan.
  2. Stir the coconut gently over low heat, till it softens slightly. Add the cardamom. It’s optional but highly recommended, and a pinch of salt. Be careful here, coconut tends to brown quite quickly and you don’t want that.
  3. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk. Stir the ingredients together for about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture comes together and leaves the sides of the pan, it takes just a few minutes. Also add in the vanilla extract, and take the pan off the heat.
  4. Let the mixture cool for about 10-15 min, till it can be handled – it’ll be quite hot.
  5. Next, roll the mixture into 1 tbsp size balls. If the mixture is too sticky, apply a drop or two of some vegetable oil on your palms, it should help. You can also wet your hands very lightly.
  6. To finish, I like to rolls the balls in some desiccated coconut so that it looks a bit more like a snowball, perfect for the holiday season. You could also dip them in some chocolate.
  7. This recipe keeps for up to two weeks if stored properly, in the refrigerator (I doubt these will last that long- they will be finished before you know it!) It is perfect for coconut lovers, its so easy to put together, it’s super festive for the holidays - but really, you can enjoy this delicious treat any time of year.
You could easily double the recipe to use a full can of sweetened condensed milk.
Adapted from Swasthi's Recipes

A stack of the coconut balls, with a cup of tea.

Mango and Coconut Panna Cotta

For all you coconut lovers, be sure to check out my mango and coconut panna cotta! It’s a delicious spin on a classic Italian favourite. 

coconut panna cotta with mango and lime