Snowball Cookies

These rich, buttery snowball cookies are a heavenly addition to your holiday cookie trays! Sometimes called “Mexican Wedding Cookies” or “Russian Tea Cakes”, this recipe has a shortbread base and is loaded with pecans (or walnuts!), creating a nutty, crunchy cookie, and loads of powdered sugar, for the perfect melt-in-your-mouth bite! These have long been a favorite of mine, and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too!

Snowball cookies on a wire rack with one bitten in half.

With versions all around the world, this combination of a shortbread-style cookie covered in powdered sugar is a must-try! Though many call these snowball cookies, they are also known as (among other things) Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, and Danish Wedding Cookies. Some are round while others are crescent shaped.

Though there is a lot of uncertainty about their true origin, it does seem that this style came from Eastern Europe. The delicious nutty, rich, cookie was a hit and has been a favorite all over the globe. I am so excited to share this recipe for you. Not only are these delicious, they are really fun for winter holidays and cookie plates. Especially because you will look covered in sugar-snow after a really good one!

Dough mixed together for snowball cookies.

Step-By-Step instructions for snowball cookies

There is a more detailed recipe below, as well as tips for baking, but this is an overview of the process!

  1. Mix flour and one cup of the chopped pecans, and salt; set aside
  2. Process remaining nuts for 10 seconds until they have the texture of coarse cornmeal. Stir them into the flour mixture.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and scrape sides. Slowly add in the flour and pecan mixture, and beat until dough is cohesive.
  4. Roll a heaping spoonful in your palms, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can place them fairly close together as they don’t spread much!
  5. Bake until tops are golden and bottoms are lightly browned, usually between 17-19 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  6. Remove and cool the cookies completely before the dredging process (below!).

Snowball cookie dough rolled in balls on a parchment-lined sheet.

How to dredge your cookies in powdered sugar

  • Once the snowball cookies have been fully cooled, add powdered sugar to a large storage bag.
  • Add three to four cookies to the bag and shake. You want the cookies to be fully coated, but be sure to tap off any excess. Repeat for the whole batch.
  • Leave these at least overnight and give the cookies a second coat the next day. Powdered sugar keeps the cookies nice and soft, so we want to be sure they are totally coated!
  • Let the cookies sit for another 30 minutes and they’re ready to eat!

Baking tips for snowball cookies

  • I love the mixture of textures between the chopped and ground nuts. I find that pecans are best for this but some people choose walnuts. Pistachios, almonds, cashews, and pine nuts also make really fun alternatives!
  • If your dough is too warm when scooped, it will likely spread out when baking. If the dough feels soft, chill it for 30 minutes or so before you shape the cookies.
  • You may also lose shape for these cookies if you don’t allow them to set between dredging.
  • If your cookies are overbaked, they will be dry (which is devastating!). Make sure to use the proper oven racks (noted in the recipe), and remove the cookies as soon as you see the top begin to golden.

Rolling snowball cookies in powdered sugar.

Alternative ingredients for snowball cookies

  • Butter can easily be replaced by vegan alternatives in this recipe, but note that they may be a bit softer.
  • Are you a nut-free house? No problem! You can completely omit them, or just add a bit of extra vanilla!
  • Adding chopped fruit or finely chopped chocolate can make a really fun option if you want to try something new.
  • For an even nuttier flavor, add some almond extract!
  • My favorite Lemon Burst Cookies are a fun summer alternative to these holiday cookie classics.

Storage and gifting

  • Storage: These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They make lovely holiday gifts; you can place them in a decorative tin or cellophane bag.
  • Freezing Instructions (Dough): Place the rolled balls on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until completely frozen, about 2 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe resealable bag for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.
  • Freezing Instructions (Baked Cookies): Once baked, cooled, and dredged in powdered sugar, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to place wax or parchment paper between layers. They can be thawed in the refrigerator or freezer; I always give them another powdered sugar shake to freshen them up.

Snowball cookies on wire rack with one half eaten.

I am ready for a baking day! Join me with more of my favorite cookies! 

If you make these snowball cookies and love them, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much! ❤️️ Happy baking!

Snowball Cookies

Servings 48 cookies
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 18 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Total 55 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle
A recipe for Snowball Cookies, shortbread-style cookies loaded with nuts and rolled in powdered sugar. They're also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2
    cups
    all-purpose flour
  • 2
    cups
    finely chopped pecans
    (divided)
  • ¾
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 1
    cup
    unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • cup
    granulated sugar
  • teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • cups
    powdered sugar
    (for rolling cookies after baking)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Mix the flour, 1 cup of the chopped pecans, and the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Place the remaining chopped nuts in a food processor and process until they are the texture of coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into the flour mixture and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and continue beating at low speed until the dough is cohesive, about 10 more seconds.
  5. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands and place on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies will only spread a little bit, so you can place them fairly close together. Bake until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
  6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  7. Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag. Working with 3 or 4 cookies at a time, place them in the bag of sugar and gently toss to coat them thoroughly. Gently shake off any excess. Allow the cookies to sit for at least an hour, or up to overnight, and then repeat the process. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • Butter: You can substitute a vegan alternative, but the cookies may have a softer texture.
  • Pecans: You can substitute other nuts (walnuts, almonds, and cashews are great alternatives!) or omit them (if you omit, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract).
  • Dough: If the dough feels warm when you roll it, refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then proceed).
  • Storage: These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They make lovely holiday gifts; you can place them in a decorative tin or cellophane bag.
  • Freezing Instructions (Dough): Place the rolled balls on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until completely frozen, about 2 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe resealable bag for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.
  • Freezing Instructions (Baked Cookies): Once baked, cooled, and dredged in powdered sugar, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to place wax or parchment paper between layers. They can be thawed in the refrigerator or freezer; I always give them another powdered sugar shake to freshen them up.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 104kcal
Fat: 7g
Saturated fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Sodium: 37mg
Potassium: 25mg
Carbohydrates: 9g
Sugar: 5g
Vitamin A: 120%
Vitamin C: 0.1%
Calcium: 5%
Iron: 0.4%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Lauren Grant.