Whether you call them Snowball Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding cookies, you’ll love these delicate nutty buttery cookies. They look like little snowballs coated in powdered sugar making them one of the favorite Christmas cookie recipes.
Whether for the holiday season or any other time, these traditional snowball cookies are a favorite. Buttery shortbread cookies almost melt in your mouth. The ‘mouth feel’ or mouth texture makes it an absolute favorite Christmas cookie. They are a tender cookie perfect with a cup of hot chocolate or cup of coffee.
The cookies do not have any eggs or rising agents. They will not really spread or rise when baked, keeping the pecan snowball cookies the same size after they are baked.
Only a handful of simple ingredients are needed for this classic holiday cookie. They are a delicious cookie and perfect for holiday cookie trays.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Unsalted Butter. Start with softened room temperature butter. You’ll use 1 cup butter.
Confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar). Sift the powdered sugar before starting to remove any small lumps. Use a flour sifter or pass it through a fine mesh sieve.
All purpose flour. Regular or gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend can be used. We recommend Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour for any gluten-free baking. It’s what all our gluten-free baking recipes are made with.
Finely chopped pecans. You can start with whole pecans or pecan pieces. Run them through a mini chopper or food processor to chop them into a fine meal. Walnuts can be substituted if desired.
How to make Snowball Cookies – Step-by-Step
Full printable recipe at the end of this post.
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
STEP 2. Make the cookie dough
Using an hand held electric mixer and large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until it’s light and fluffy (3-5 minutes)(photo 1).
Add the vanilla extract, flour, salt and pecans. Mix until a dough forms, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed (photos 2-5).
Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls and place on the lined baking sheets (photos 6-7).
STEP 3. Bake and Cool
Bake for 11-12 minutes until the bottoms are just beginning to turn golden brown (do not overbake).
Remove from oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
STEP 4. Roll in powdered sugar
Place the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl.
While the cookies are still hot, lift each one of the warm cookies (one by one) one with a fork, lower into the powdered sugar and sprinkle some on top. Remove gently shaking off any excess sugar back into the bowl. Repeat the first coating for the remaining cookies (photo 8).
Place on a cooling rack to fully cool. Once cool, roll the outside of the cookies for a second coating in the powdered sugar (photo 9). This gives them a festive look like mini snowballs.
You can substitute walnuts or almonds for the pecans if desired.
Place the cooling wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. To avoid excess mess from the powdered sugar coating, put the cooling rack inside a room temperature baking sheet. This allows easy rinsing of the pan and to keep the sugar from going all over your counter tops.
Use a cookie scoop. The cookie dough is soft so using a cookie scoop will be the best way to scoop the dough. This also ensures all the cookies are the same size. If you don’t have a scoop chill the dough for 20 minutes and use a tablespoon to make 1-inch balls.
Baked cookies wont turn color. The cookies look the same going into the oven as when they are baked. If they become golden they are over baked.
Cookie spacing. Because the cookies really don’t spread you can places them close to each other on the baking sheet.
How to Store
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Allow them to cool completely. Place in an airtight freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Snowball cookies are made with pecans usually and Italian Wedding Cookies these are the same except made with almonds instead.
More recipes you’ll love!
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar divided
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl using a hand electric mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and mix until it is light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
- Add the flour, vanilla extract, salt and pecans. Beat until a dough forms, scraping the sides of the bowl.
- Use a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop dough balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. NOTE: they don't need much space between them because the cookies do not spread or rise when baked.
- Bake for 11-12 minutes until the bottoms just start to turn golden. Do not overbake. NOTE: the cookies will not turn color when baked. If they are golden they are over baked.
- Remove from the oven and leave them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.
- If you want them really white, roll them in the sugar for a second coating once they are completely cool.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar to a small bowl. One by one, place a cookie on a fork and lower into the powdered sugar. Sprinkle some on top to coat. Gently shake any excess sugar back into the bowl. Place on a cooling wire rack. Repeat for the remaining cookies.
- When the cookies are fully cooled, roll them in the powdered sugar for a second coating.