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Martha Washington Candy

Martha Washington Candy has a pecan and coconut center covered in chocolate. This old-fashioned favorite is perfect for holiday gift giving.

Martha Washington Candy

Along with Buckeye Balls, these candies are what I look most forward to making each holiday season and they get gobbled up quickly.

I don’t know the exact history behind Martha Washington Candy. There was a chain of Martha Washington candy stores started back in the 1890s and I think they are connected. Anyone have any knowledge?

Martha Washington Candy on a baking sheet. Some haven't been dipped in chocolate yet.


This candy has been a popular addition to southern candy and cookie trays for generations. Also called “Coconut Bonbons”, these homemade candies are divine. The center is so rich, buttery, and full of coconut flavor with crunchy pieces of pecan. If you are a fan of coconut, you will love these little bites of heaven!

Candy on a baking sheet.

How To Make Martha Washington Candy:

  1. Mix together the sweetened condensed milk, melted butter, shredded coconut, powdered sugar, and pecans in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight so that the mixture gets firm enough to shape into balls.
  2. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Melt the chocolate and shortening.
  4. Dip the balls in the chocolate.

Old-fashioned Martha Washington Candy with coconut and pecans on a plate.


Try These Other Easy Candy Recipes:

Martha Washington Candy

Martha Washington Candy

Martha Washington Candy has a pecan and coconut center covered in chocolate. This old-fashioned favorite is perfect for holiday gift giving.
PREP: 12 hours
COOK: 0 minutes
TOTAL: 12 hours


  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, may need more
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening


  • In a large bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk, melted butter, coconut, powdered sugar, and pecans. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Shape into 1-inch balls and place an a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Place the chocolate and shortening in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth.
  • Take about 10 balls out of the refrigerator at a time. One at a time dip them into the chocolate, lifting them out with a fork so the excess chocolate can drip down. Place them on wax paper. Let them sit until the chocolate has set.


Chocolate Almond Bark can be used instead of the chocolate chips and shortening.


Calories: 439kcal
Course: Candy
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: Christmas, coconut

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Recipe Source: Deep South Dish

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32 thoughts on “Martha Washington Candy”

  1. Do not put shortening in chocolate chips to melt. That will ensure your chocolate never sets. And please, please, don’t eat paraffin wax. Go on Amazon and get something called “paramount crystals.” It’s palm kernel oil that comes in flakes. Add a couple tablespoons of paramount crystals to your chocolate chips as you melt them at lowest power in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Slowly-melted chocolate won’t seize. Stir THOROUGHLY as you go, adding additional crystals a few at a time until you get the thickness you want. Stir chocolate after every dipping session. Palm kernel oil will help the chocolate melt smoothly, and will set up firmly. Happy dipping!

  2. Kathy Barger

    My family has made these for generations. My suggestions are – if using cherries blot them before dicing. Sometimes additional powered sugar is needed. Also refrigerate dough before rolling. Instead of using a fork to dip use toothpick. I place the balls with the toothpicks in them into freezer before dipping.

  3. Will be making these for Christmas gifts for my neighbors. Can I add cherries to this Martha Washington candy? I know to drain all juices from cherries.

    1. Shelia Oliver

      When I make these I put a whole cherry in the center. Time consuming and the the ball is huge. I recommend (which I will do next year ) chopping them up and mix in the mixture. Sort of like a cherry crush.

  4. I have dipping chocolate for my Dipping pot will that work? My late Mother-n-law made these plus other candies similar and send us a box of goodies every Holiday. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. Shelia Oliver

      You don’t have to put paraffin in chocolate. My mom did use paraffin. I think it makes the chocolate shimmer or shine. If you aren’t careful your chocolate might end up with too much paraffin and taste like a chocolate candle. 😂

  5. We STILL use paraffin wax here when making candy, especially peanut butter & coconut balls! I wonder how coconut oil would work on these “coconut balls”?

  6. Without paraffin wax in your chocolate, the candies will be dull and thick, and difficult to work with. Using
    wax will make them shiny and beautiful ! I make hundreds of candies at different holidays. Could not do it without the use of paraffin wax.

    1. Maggie McGinnis

      If you are using quality chocolate, then the only way to get that snap and shine is to temper it yourself. Instructions both written as well as the videos cab be found on Google or YouTube.
      My mom always used the chocolate chips with paraffin. I loved how it always made dipping easier and completely. I also made it that way for years after her death. I’ve also tempered it a few years as well.

      I started updating the recipes 10 years ago to start working more healthy versions of the same recipes I loved. So for example, her peanut butter bonbons, instead of two jars of Skippy creamy, and an entire pound of unsalted butter at room temperature. We swapped out the pound of butter for slightly chilled version of organic coconut oil
      And added 1 tp 2 tablespoons of butter flavoring. Also when making the Martha Washington’s we swapped out the butter in the coconut, butter, pecans and a little salt with sweetened flake coconut mixed with desiccated unsweetened coconut flakes so to make it less sickening sweet. I think it makes the coconut flavor come out so much better. Also, we used both a mixture of sweetened condensed milk and in the first years half of the sweet milk and half coco Lopez, once that’s mixed well, we’d add some vanilla paste, tsp of butter flavoring, and some rum extract as well. And then add powdered sugar to the coconut dough and refrigerate overnight. Same with peanut butter dough would also get powdered sugar till the dough could holds its shape and wasn’t too sticky.

      5 years ago we swapped tempering chocolate ourselves, and the use of paraffin harder to find, made using the adding organic coconut oiloil as to the chocolate to chocolate pots, or double boilers. What you can get is similar to “a magic shell” that would make a crack shell over ice cream. Quite simple, tasty and was better for us too. We would roll all doughs into balls and refrigerate
      The night and dip everything together making sure to have some desiccated coconut slightly toasted to sprinkle on just the coconut ones. PB bonbons would get some sprinkles. The last time I made them, I couldn’t get coco Lopez, so we used an organic butter flavored coconut manna (coconut butter.) It’s a mixture of coconut oils and and ground coconut. It can be found online and it health food stores or high-end grocery stores. The coconut bonbons that year were better than anything else. Now we use that instead of the condensed milk. Great texture, and I suggest toasting or roasting the pecans yourself.

      You can still make and eat your holiday traditions and make changes that make them lighter and it’s your choice whether you tell anyone.

      1. DIANNE Wallace

        Would you mind sharing your recipes? some of the things you mentioned I have never heard of , ie: Coconut butter.
        Do you just exchange those with the “old recipe” amounts? Like 1/2 cup real butter for 1/2 cup coconut butter? etc.
        Thank you in advance.

  7. My sister makes these every year. Her recipe was so old that there was wax in the chocolate coating.
    When we coat the candy we simply melt the chocolate. Or make a ganache (recipes all over the internet).
    I feel like the added corn syrup would definitely give you a sugar attack.

    1. Karo syrup is a sweetener and solid vegetable shortening is a fat so they don’t equate. You can use vegetable oil instead of shortening or softened butter or coconut oil.

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