sugar plums

Recipe At-A-Glance

Share this post:

Pop quiz time! Which of the following statements is true about sugar plums:

A: They are made with plums.
B: They are made with sugar.
C: All of the above.
D: None of the above.

If you guessed “none of the above” you are right, my friends. Sugar plums are neither plum nor sugar (okay, they are a small amount of honey and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, but no granulated sugar). Sugar plums are actually, kinda, totally healthy as far as holiday confections go. They are like LÄRABARS but without the fancy packaging and wide distribution.

If you are anything like me, your total sugar plum experience amounts to the Nutcracker and the oh so famous line in Twas the Night Before Christmas, but sugar plums are much more than just fodder for Christmas stories. Sugar plums are very real, very delicious holiday candies that are easy-as-can-be to make.

If these little balls of spiced deliciousness are plum-free, you are probably curious as to how they got their name. Apparently, at one time in the history of the English language, plum was used to mean any kind of dried fruit. And since this particular candy dates back to the 1660s, the name reflects its historical origins. Of course, you could use modern-day prunes (dried plums) in the recipe if you are a stickler for cohesiveness, but my recipe uses dried apricots and dates.

Want another dose of etymological fun? Apparently sugar plum was used as a slang in 18th century England to mean anything good or pleasurable. If you were told you had a “mouthful of sugar plums” you were someone who said sweet things. Soon after that, plum came to mean anything good in life. A ton of money, a good job, happy family, etc. It’s unclear if the poet that wrote …while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads” in Twas the Night Before Christmas meant that the kids were literally thinking about the candy or figuratively thinking about all the good things in their life.

Fascinating. The things you learn while Googling cooking…

Sugar Plums

Sugar Plums

Yield: 24 sugar plums
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This recipe is made decidedly easier by the modern invention of the food processor. If you want to be accurate to the times, feel free to chop all the ingredients into very small bits by hand.


  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups whole dried apricots
  • 15 pitted Medjool dates (about 1 cup)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of one orange
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Spread almonds into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until almonds are roasted and slightly brown.
  3. Add almonds to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chopped into fine pieces, about the size of a match head.
  4. Add honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, apricots, dates and orange zest to the almonds. Pulse until mixture is well chopped and beginning to clump.
  5. To form sugar plums, pinch off a tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball. When all sugar plums are formed, dust the top with confectioner's sugar.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 sugar plums Serving Size: 1 sugar plum
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 3gSugar: 23gProtein: 3g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Have you ever eaten sugar plums before?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.
Starter Guide

The free Living Wholefully Starter Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes, and a 14-day meal plan to get you started on the road to vibrant health.

Meet Cassie
Meet Your Host

Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

Learn More About Me →

Skip to Recipe
Close up of the finished cake on a cake stand with orange glaze and sugared cranberries on top.

No-Stress Holiday Cooking, Simplified!

Tips, recipes and time-saving secrets to magical holiday meals