Toasted Pecan Snowballs

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A cookie with many names, but always a classic favorite. All made in 1 bowl!

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

QUICK. What you do you call these? Because I’ve asked over a dozen people (psycho cookie lady alert) and I got all different answers.

Russian teacakes, butterballs, Mexican wedding cookies, Mexican teacakes, snowdrops, pecan snowballs, the list goes on. Well no. That was about it. But I went insane over what to call these on my blog.

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“Snowballs” it is because it sounds adorable. Welcome to recipe #3 in my annual cookie palooza, everyone!

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These cookies have been around for decades and are often overlooked in favor of cookies with chocolate, caramel, or smiles. We all get it; they’re not the most exciting cookies on the cookie tray! But there’s just something about them that has me coming back every single December. Maybe it’s all the butter? Well, yes. But it’s most definitely the melt-in-your-mouth texture. They’re dense, tender on the inside, and very crumbly. Sort of like that crumbliness we love in scones.

They’re surprisingly irresistible. You can’t stop at one!

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Before I talk about my particular recipe, let’s just discuss what these holiday cookies actually are. They’re part butter, part flour, and part confectioners’ sugar. And nuts: either almonds, walnuts, or pecans. The confectioners’ sugar goes into the cookie dough as well as the outside of the cookie. And all over your kitchen floor/face/shirt/house. There are no eggs or leavening agents. The ratio of butter to sugar to flour in the cookie dough varies between recipes, but I find the 1 cup butter, 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour is the sweet spot.

Nutty Things

Now, what makes mine a little different are the few little extras. First, I toast the pecans. And I use the creme de la creme of pecans, Diamond of California. You know I’m obsessed with them. I toast the pecans for added flavor. And you can really tell a difference! All you do is throw them into the oven for 8-10 minutes. It’s that easy. You can use any nut you prefer, but pecans are hands-down my favorite. And the most common in this cookie recipe. No matter what nut you use, make sure you chop them up. To make things easier, grind the nuts up in the food processor. Takes less time than all that chopping.

You want finely chopped nuts. ↓

Toasted pecans for pecan snowball cookies on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I also add 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Don’t use that imitation stuff. Pure vanilla goodness for rich vanilla flavor. The only other flavors in these cookies are butter and toasted pecans, so it’s important to use quality vanilla. Some years I add seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean too. This adds even more flavor– you’ll love it.

GUESS WHAT? This cookie dough is all made in 1 bowl! 

The cookie dough is super thick and a little dry. To the point where you won’t think it will all come together. But it will. Trust me. Just turn your mixer up and watch it turn into buttery doughy goodness. Pictured above!

The great thing about these million-name cookies? Minimal dough chilling! They can be baked after the dough sits in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The point of chilling = reduces excess spreading. If you want to make the dough way in advance like I usually do with my Christmas cookies– you can chill the cookie dough for a couple days. Just make sure it comes to *almost* room temperature before rolling and baking.

Pecan snowball cookie dough on sallysbakingaddiction.com

After the cookies bake, roll them in confectioners’ sugar. You’ll want to coat the cookies when they are slightly warm. Be careful when doing so because they are super fragile. As the cookies cool, the confectioners’ sugar will slightly melt. (And it tastes amazing.) After the cookies cool, coat them one more time. The first coat of “melting” sugar will help the second coat stick. And this is what makes them resemble snowballs!

Oh! And one more thing I do: sprinkles. They’re completely optional and you can divide the cookie dough in two and add 1/3 cup of sprinkles to half if you’d like. Some people are pecan snowball cookie purists! But the festive red and green peeking out is so fun. Right? Festive.

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Though the name varies, one thing’s certain. These cookies are DAMN good. Dense and buttery meets sweet and melty. There’s a reason they’ve been around forever!

Enjoy.

Toasted Pecan Snowballs

A cookie with many names, but always a classic favorite. All made in 1 bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract1
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (125g) finely chopped and toasted Diamond of California pecans2
  • optional: 2/3 cup (127g) sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in the vanilla extract on medium-high speed until combined. Switch to low speed and slowly add the flour. The dough will look dry and you may not think the flour will fully combine. Once all of the flour is added, turn the mixer up to high speed. The dough will come together. Finally, beat in the pecans. At this point, you can beat in the sprinkles as well.
  2. Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. (If chilling for 3+ hours, make sure you let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling into balls. The cookie dough will be very stiff after being in the fridge that long.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside. Pour the remaining confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl.
  4. Scoop or roll 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough per cookie. Roll into a ball and place on the baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top, about 15 minutes.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then very gently roll them in the confectioners' sugar to coat completely. Place the cookies on wire racks to cool completely. Once completely cooled, roll in confectioners' sugar again. This is when the sugar will really stick!
  6. Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. Baked cookies freeze well - up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough freezes well - up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 3.

Recipe Notes:

  1. In addition to the 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, sometimes I add seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean. Adds a little extra flavor. It's so good! This is optional, of course.
  2. I usually buy the pecans already coarsely chopped. Then, I toast them for 8-10 minutes at 300°F (149°C). Let them slightly cool. Then, I put them into the food processor and pulse a few times to really chop them up fine. You want small pieces of nuts. See photo in this post for a visual. You can also use walnuts or almonds.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Try my raspberry almond thumbprints next!

Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies. Get this buttery shortbread cookie recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

I’m working with Diamond of California to bring you today’s recipe.

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

112 Comments

  1. So my wife and I tried all three recipes today. The chocolate crinkles were amazing. The gingerbread cookies came out just as good. Even the pecan snowballs were great. The directions couldn’t have been easier to follow. Thank you for all the help. We will be making these every year from now on.

  2. I’m having my very own cookie palooza over here, I’m on dessert duty for 3 separate Christmases (not to mention Santa’s snacks)! Your blog is my number one go-to when I’m looking for a new recipe, and I haven’t been let down once! I want to be you when I grow up (ha ha ha…)

    Anyway, have you ever made these with lemon instead of (or in addition to) the vanilla? I’ve had cookies that looked like this, and were definitely pecan based, but they were lemony. Just wondering 🙂

    Merry Christmas!!

    1. You certainly have your hands full in the kitchen!!! Lemon snowballs are so so so delicious. I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and some lemon zest to the cookie dough.

  3. Hi Sally! Just made this cookies today because my family was BEGGING for them and they were incredible. I just thought I should let you know I have been using this blog for two years now and no recipe has yet to fail me! Thank you for teaching me so much about how wonderful baking can be.

  4. Our family has been making these cookies every Christmas since 1948 !! My mom found the recipe in her copy of Women’s Home Companion Cook Book. They were called Butter Balls. I enjoy seeing all the different recipes for these cookies, but have never seen anyone mention adding colorful Christmas sprinkles and I LOVE that idea. They ARE quite addictive. In fact, I know a gal who has to store these tasty morsels in a LOCKED strong box to make sure they aren’t gobbled up before she gives them as Christmas gift. LOL

  5. Hi Sally!
    My friends loved this recipe but now they are asking for a version with rum. Can rum extract be substitutted for the vanilla or should the vanilla also be included?

    Thanks so much!

  6. Scooped and immediately frozen, baked direct from freezer, still spread. Will try again. On the plus side, double sugaring (once when barely warm, once when completely cooled) is BRILLIANT! #SoMuchPowderedGoodness

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