Pecan Snowball Cookies are sometimes called Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowdrop Cookies, Southern Butterballs, Pecan Sandies, and Italian Butter Cookies. These pecan snowballs are popular throughout a multitude of cultures and you’re bound to find them on a cookie tray throughout the holiday season. Another traditional variety is to turn these pecan cookies into Pecan Fingers.
If you’re looking to make classic and traditional Christmas cookies, you’ll want to add these to your baking list.
What are Pecan Snowballs?
Snowball cookies have been around for a long time. Growing up in the 90s, my grandparents always made these Russian Tea Cakes for the holiday season. I usually preferred holiday sugar cookies loaded with sprinkles over this easy snowball cookie recipe but as an adult I adore snowballs.
We had our first bite of cooler weather and I’m in heaven! It’s nothing like fall weather in the midwest but I’m grateful that the season seems to be “changing” in New Orleans. Let me tell you, I’ve been telling family I can hardly believe it’s almost Christmas — okay in like 9 weeks — but since I grew up in Wisconsin, something as simple as the weather changing to mark a new season ( all 4 of them! ) it’s hard for me to really get in the spirit of things when it’s 90 degrees outside in late October or November — until this week.
What kind of nuts can I use?
I always suggest using pecans in this recipe. Do not use walnuts. Certain nuts contain too much oil in them. The cookie balls will flatten while baking in the oven. If you cannot use pecans, skip them all together or divide the dough into several sections and test a few varieties of nuts. That way, if a nut is too oily, you’ll know to avoid it.
Snowball Cookies are one of the most popular holiday cookies and they have been around for decades. Every year I get excited about making a few big batches of these cookies to share during holiday parties. In fact, these cookies get so many requests at my Christmas parties, that I’ve finally shared the snowball recipe. Whether you prefer to call them Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies or Russian Tea Cake Cookies, everyone recognizes these shortbread holiday balls dusted in powdered confectioners’ sugar.
Pecan Snowballs deserve a spot on the Christmas cookie tray. I even love to dip them into coffee for a late-night holiday snack. If you’re feeling nostalgic during the holiday season, bake a batch of these and pass them out at a holiday office party or cookie exchange with friends.
What Kind of Vanilla Extract Should I use?
For this shortbread recipe, I used my favorite Mexican Vanilla Extract. Since vanilla extract prices soared over the past few years, I brought a few bottles back from Mexico when I was on vacation but you can also find it online here. I’m a huge fan of this vanilla extract and I also purchase a few bottles as gifts for friends and family during the holiday season.
Since these snowball cookie ingredients use flour, sugar, butter, salt, and pecans, I like to add a large amount of vanilla extract. Not just any vanilla extract though, only use vanilla you love. If will bring the buttery pecan flavor of these cookies to life even more!
This Mexican vanilla extract is to die for! It’s my go-to extract flavor and tastes so much better than typical extract found on the grocery store shelves in the states. I even add extra in this recipe because it’s really a flavor I cannot get enough of.
If you’re looking for a quick buttery shortbread cookie for the Christmas holiday season, you can’t go wrong with Pecan Snowball Cookies. These cookies are sweet, buttery, and have the perfect amount of vanilla flavor you’ll love paired with pecans.
Each snowball cookie is pretty large. My pecan snowballs have about 200 calories each. To cut calories, reduce the size of the balls and adjust the baking time.
For more Christmas cookie recipes, try these Peanut Butter Blossoms, Whipped Shortbread Cookies, Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies, Italian Christmas Cookies, and these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.
If you love these classic vanilla snowball cookies with pecans, try my Chocolate Snowball Cookie Recipe. This shortbread snowball recipe uses chocolate and pecans. Both recipes are a wonderful classic recipe for the Christmas cookie tray.
- 2¼ cups Pecans (about 1⅓ cup finely chopped/ground)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
- ½ cup powdered confectioners’ sugar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract, I used Mexican Vanilla Extract (more for flavor; up to 1 tbsp.)
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups powdered confectioners’ sugar, to dust
- Place pecans in a food processor or small chopper. Ground until no big chunks remain.In a bowl fit with a mixer, beat butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy; about 5 minutes.Beat in salt, and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in flour, ½ cup at a time until incorporated.Slowly beat in chopped pecans and mix just until incorporated.Refrigerate dough 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will make the dough easier to work with. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.Use a cookie scoop to scoop dough. I used a 1½ tablespoon cookie scoop. If the dough is sticky, dip it in a bowl of powdered sugar between each scoop.Roll dough between hands to create a ball. Place on baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart.Bake in oven 15-18 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, add 1½ cups powdered confectioners' sugar.Coat each ball with powdered sugar. Transfer to cooling rack. Repeat step after completely cooled.Store in an air-tight container.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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These look so delicious! I always made mine with walnuts but now I’m going to try this recipes with pecans!
This is one of my all time favorite cookies. The more pecans the better. Yum!
Made these today! You will not be disappointed, they are awesome! Thank you for the recipe, definitely one to keep!
Do you think this dough can be made a few days in advance?
Yes, that should work. Slightly bring it to room temperature and freeze the dough balls for 5-10 before baking if they become too soft.
I not only LOVE, LOVE you cookie collection, I adore all of your recipes! I have never seen so many recipes that are as appealing as yours.
Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!!
Thank you for the kind words, Patti. You have brightened my day and I appreciate you going out of your way to express it. I will never forget it. I will keep the recipes coming.
Can’t wait to try this recipe. My mom had a version of this with Walnuts and crisco. She always called them Tattle Tale cookies. She use to sell them in the 50 & 60″s and hide (try) them from all 6 kids. We’d find them and leave a trail of powdered sugar. Hence the name Tattle Tale Cookies. I think she brought her recipe with her from England .(she’s from UK, war bride)
Hi Colleen. I love to bake because of the fond memories I have growing up. Glad you too can relate. Happy holidays!
I grew up with my mom always making snowballs but she made hers with walnuts. I was never a big walnut fan, but pecans- yes please! Can’t wait to try this one out for the holidays! 🙂
I have made snowballs (pecan sandies) for years. I searched for a new recipe I found yours, made them today, and they are outstanding!!! I like them better than any recipe I have. Thank you! Going to use this one from now on!
Glad you liked them! I remember trying a bunch of recipes over the years and I think it just needed more sugar!
These snowballs look really lovely. So perfect for Holidays. And they are super easy to make. A bonus! I must make these for my family. Pinning!
I’m not a big fan of pecans, but wrapped up in these little balls of goodness??? I’ll take a whole batch! These would be perfect snacks for teh holidays
My mom used to make these when I was little, but I haven’t seen them in years. Thanks for the Christmas memory.
How fun are these pecan snowballs! I absolutely love pecans and would have never thought of such an innovative idea! Very creative and eye-catching.
Oh my, these cookies look so pretty, nutty and delectable. Problem is I won’t stop at one!
A friend of mine was just telling me about these recently! I’ve never had them but they look fantastic! I’ll be adding them to my Christmas baking schedule this year!
These are such a great treat for the holidays. Perfect little bites of yumminess!
A holiday classic for sure! My great grandmother used to make these every year for us!
Oh I just love how pretty these look! And I can only imagine how tasty they are! Love the fact there is no egg in there, my other half is allergic, so definitely trying this recipe out and I’m sure he will love it!
The texture of these look perfect! I love shortbread that melts in your mouth! What a fun festive Christmas cookie recipe! 🙂
Snowball cookies are such absolute classics, for such good reason – they’re amazing! I absolutely adore them, but I’m realizing that I actually don’t have a tried-and-true, trusted recipe for them (until now)! You better believe I’m pinning these to keep! Merry Christmas – and thanks for the terrific recipe!
You say this makes “26 “servings”… but how many actual cookies does this recipe make (since I don’t know how many cookies you consider to be a “serving”)?
26 cookies, but it just depends on how big you make them. I made them 1 1/2 tablespoons big with a cookie scoop.