Pecan Snowball Cookies

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Pecan Snowball Cookies are melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies made with toasted pecans. Also known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, these classic cookies are easy to whip up and can be customized with your favorite nuts and spices.

Snowball cookies on a light blue plate with a blue napkin in the background.

Easy Snowball Cookies Recipe

You might know snowball cookies by another name, like Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes. They’re a classic staple of the holiday cookie plate, but they’re not just for Christmas time. These unassuming little cookies with the big names and even bigger flavor can–and should!–be enjoyed year-round.

Made with toasted pecans, powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla, and a handful of pantry staples, these cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth texture thanks to a generous amount of butter, a soft coating of powdered sugar that melts to the outside, and a fast mixing method in the food processor. (Don’t have a food processor? No sweat–check the FAQ section for alternative instructions!)

If you like the sound of these snowball cookies, you’ll love my other nutty cookie recipes, like Chocolate-Pistachio Sandwich Cookies, Raspberry Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Plate of Pecan Snowball Cookies with a bite taken out of the top cookie.

🧾 What You’ll Need

Overhead shot of ingredients needed to make Snowball Pecan Cookies.

Ingredients

You don’t need much in the way of specialty ingredients to make these cookies, but here are a few tips to keep in mind as you make this recipe. (Links are affiliate links and I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.)

  • Pecans: pecan halves or pieces both work well. If you don’t or don’t have pecans, other nuts, like almonds or walnuts, are a great substitute.
  • Powdered sugar: This is a MUST in this recipe! A double coating of powdered sugar is the secret for making perfect snowball cookies, and there is no substitute for it in this recipe.
  • Brown sugar: Many snowball cookie recipes just use powdered sugar, but I like adding some brown sugar for a deeper caramelized sugar flavor.
  • Cinnamon and vanilla: A blend of salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract bring warmth and flavor to every bite.
  • Unsalted butter: Adds a much-needed richness to these light and sweet cookies. Salted butter may also be used; just don’t forget to omit the additional salt. 
Plate of Pecan Snowball Cookies with powdered sugar being sprinkled on it.

Equipment

Here are the kitchen basics you’ll need to make these cookies

  • Food processor:A food processor is the easiest way to get a super light texture to these cookies, plus, you’ll dirty fewer dishes! If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll want to use…
  • Stand mixer:a stand mixer or a hand mixer will both work in this recipe.
  • Cookie scoop: You can use a regular spoon, but if you’re a frequent cookie maker, you’ll want a scoop to speed up the process. I love this OXO scoop–it’s lasted me for years, and makes perfect-sized cookies, every time!
  • Baking sheets: Heavy-duty baking sheets will keep the bottoms of the cookies from burning and help cookies bake evenly.
  • Parchment paper: I never bake directly on my baking sheets–it’s all about the parchment, baby! Save time and cleanup by using silicone liners or parchment paper when baking cookies.

📋 Instructions

Photo collage showing toasting pecans.

Toast the pecans

  • Toasting the pecans is technically optional, but highly recommended. Like many of my other sweet pecan recipes, these cookies are best when you take the time to toast the pecans before adding them to your cookie dough. Toasting your nuts will really enhance their flavor and give them a rich, bold, nutty taste that’s fantastic in cookies.
  • To toast, spread your pecan halves evenly across a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 10 minutes or until they are golden and fragrant, stirring a few times during cooking. Let them cool.
Photo collage showing how to mix the dry ingredients for snowball cookies.

Make the cookie dough

Add the toasted pecans to the bowl of a food processor along with the brown sugar, powdered sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Blitz on low speed until the mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs (picture 2).

Photo collage showing the texture of the final snowball cookie dough.
  • Add vanilla and butter to the bowl, and process again until the dough sticks together. Use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture, ensuring that all ingredients have been incorporated.
  • When the dough is finished, it will still look rough/clumpy in the bowl, but when you touch it, it has a soft, smooth texture that easily holds together (picture 2).
Photo collage showing how to shape and baking snowball cookies.

Bake the cookies

  • Form your snowball cookie dough into small balls about 1-inch wide, and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until puffed and small cracks form on the surface of each cookie. They will not change color or spread much.
Photo collage showing how to dip snowball cookies in powdered sugar.

Roll in powdered sugar

  • Allow to cool for just 1-2 minutes, then toss the warm cookies in powdered sugar. The heat from the cookies will meld the layer of powdered sugar onto the outside of the cookie. (This is what makes snowball cookies so special, and this step should not be skipped!)
  • Once the cookies have cooled completely, toss them in a second layer of powdered sugar – this one gives the cookies their signature snowy white appearance.
Two snowball cookies, one with a single coating of powdered sugar, one with a double coating.
The cookie on the left has been dipped in 1 coat of powdered sugar while warm, and you can see how it has basically melted and become part of the cookie itself.

On the right, the cookie has had a second coat of powdered sugar. This coating stays more on the surface of the cookie, and gives it a snowy white appearance and slightly dry, powdery texture.

💭 Variations

Just as this cookie goes by many names, there are many different ways to make them! The snowball cookies I grew up eating had very little sugar, big chunks of chopped pecans, and–no disrespect to my cookie-making family–not a lot of additional flavors. I’ve changed the recipe a lot to suit my tastes by adding brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and making them in the food processor to improve the texture. Feel free to make it your own by trying one of these variations:

  • Other nuts: try walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts instead. Or use a mix of several!
  • If you want bigger chunks of nuts in your cookies, reserve some of the pecans out of the food processor when making the dough. At the end, coarsely chop the pecans and stir them into the dough to give the cookies extra crunch.
  • Other spices: you can omit the cinnamon entirely. Or swap in other spices like cardamom, or a pinch of nutmeg or allspice.
Plate of Pecan Snowball Cookies with a bite taken out of the top cookie.

💡Tips and FAQs  

Close-up of snowball cookie with a bite taken out of it.

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Leave a review!

If you make this recipe, let us know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below, and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram @elabau, or use #sugarhero on IG!

Plate of Pecan Snowball Cookies with powdered sugar being sprinkled on it.

Pecan Snowball Cookies

5 from 3 votes
Pecan Snowball Cookies are melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies made with toasted pecans. Also known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, these classic cookies are easy to whip up and can be customized with your favorite nuts and spices.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 14 mins
Total Time 34 mins
Yield 18 cookies
Calories 105 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 4 oz pecan halves, (1 cup)
  • 1 oz brown sugar, (2 TBSP) lightly packed
  • ½ oz powdered sugar, (2 TBSP)
  • 4.5 oz all-purpose flour, (1 cup)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, (½ cup), cubed and at room temperature
  • 4 oz powdered sugar, (1 cup), for coating the cookies
CUSTOMIZE: 18 cookies

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • Place the pecans on a small baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes, until they have darkened in color and are fragrant. Let them cool completely.
  • Put the pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Add the brown sugar, 2 TBSP powdered sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Process on low speed until the nuts are finely chopped and everything is the texture of coarse crumbs.
  • Add the vanilla and butter, and process again just until the dough holds together. The dough might look crumbly, but when you press some together between your fingers it should feel soft and easily hold together. Stir with a spatula to incorporate any bits of flour or nuts on the bottom of the bowl.
  • Form the dough into small balls about 1 inch wide (.75 oz each). Place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet a few inches apart.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 F for 13-15 minutes, until puffed and slight cracks appear on some of the cookies. They will lose their raw shine, but won’t change color very much.
  • Once baked, allow them to cool for 1-2 minutes, and then roll them in powdered sugar while they’re still warm. Let them cool completely on a wire rack, then roll them in powdered sugar a second time before serving.
  • Cookies can be stored up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature, or up to a month in the freezer. You will need to roll them again in powdered sugar once they have defrosted and before serving.

Recipe Notes

It is necessary to roll the cookies in sugar while they’re still warm. The warmth of cookies will heat the sugar and create a layer of sweetness on cookies. The first sugar layer melts on the surface, and the second layer adds the white powdery “snow” appearance.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a hand mixer or stand mixer to make these. Finely chop the pecans with a knife. Mix the butter for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy, then add the sugars and mix for an additional minute. Add the nuts, salt, cinnamon, and pecans, and mix well. Add the flour last, mixing just until incorporated and flour streaks disappear.

MEASURING TIPS

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.

Nutrition

Calories: 105 kcal | Carbohydrates: 14 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 14 mg | Sodium: 66 mg | Potassium: 12 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 9 g | Vitamin A: 158 IU | Vitamin C: 1 mg | Calcium: 5 mg | Iron: 1 mg
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Elizabeth LaBau

About Elizabeth LaBau

I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media:

What You'll Need:
Editor's Note

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