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Snowball cookies are a classic Christmas cookie! They’re made from just 5 ingredients and in just 1 mixing bowl. Without any complicated steps or ingredients, you can be confident this easy snowball cookie recipe is foolproof. These snowballs are the best Christmas cookies and toasted pecans add the loveliest flavor!

pecan snowball cookies on a red plate

Welcome to recipe #3 in my annual Sally’s Cookie Palooza, everyone!

What do you call these cookies? They have many names including Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Butterballs, Snowball Cookies, Mexican Teacakes, Snowdrops, and more. I grew up calling them Snowball Cookies.

Snowball cookies are often overlooked in favor of Christmas sugar cookies and peanut butter blossoms. I get it; they’re not the most exciting cookies on the cookie tray. But they’ve been around for decades and there’s an irresistible quality about them. They’re uniquely buttery and dense with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Snowball cookies are surprisingly addicting; you can’t stop at one!

overhead image of snowball cookies on parchment paper

What are Snowball Cookies?

Snowball cookies are part butter, part flour, and part confectioners’ sugar. Some recipes, like mine, contain nuts. The confectioners’ sugar goes into the cookie dough as well as garnishes the outside of the cookie. There are no eggs or leavening agents in traditional snowball cookie recipes. 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. Follow my recipe for success!

How to Make Snowball Cookies

  1. The first step is to chop pecans into very fine crumbs. I recommend using a small food processor or chopper.
  2. The next step is to cream room temperature butter.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sweetens the cookies and replaces some of the flour.
  4. Add the rest: Add vanilla extract, flour, and pecans.
  5. Chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes, then roll into balls.
  6. Bake until lightly browned, then roll in confectioners’ sugar.

Want to make the BEST snowball cookies? Toast the pecans before chopping and adding to the cookie dough. Toasting pecans elevates their flavor; you can really tell a difference! All you do is throw them into the oven for 8-10 minutes. Toasting nuts is that easy.

chopped toasted pecans in a bowl

This is a 1 Bowl Cookie Recipe

The best part about these snowball cookies? It’s a super easy recipe. The cookie dough is all made in 1 bowl and only requires 30 minutes of chilling before baking.

Here’s a tip: The cookie dough is super thick, to the point where you don’t think it will come together. It will, I promise. Turn your mixer up and watch the buttery goodness come to life.

pecan snowball cookie dough in a glass bowl

Confectioners’ Sugar Topping

After the cookies bake, roll each in confectioners’ sugar. It’s best to coat the cookies when they are slightly warm. As the cookies cool, the confectioners’ sugar will slightly melt. (It tastes amazing.) After the cookies cool, coat them in confectioners’ sugar one more time. The first coat of “melting” sugar will help the second coat stick. And this is why they resemble snowballs!

3 Tips for the BEST Snowball Cookies

  1. Use proper room temperature butter.
  2. Make sure you use confectioners’ sugar in the cookie dough. Granulated sugar causes the cookies to over-spread and they’ll lose their “snowball” shape.
  3. Coat the cookies with confectioners’ sugar TWICE since the first layer slightly melts.

Oh and one more thing: Sprinkles are completely optional, but add a fun and festive look. And if you want a fun variation of snowballs, here are my pistachio cookies!

pecan snowball cookies with a bite taken from one showing the inside texture

Though the name varies, one thing’s certain: these snowball cookies are dense, buttery, sweet, and melty. There’s a reason they’ve been around forever!!

More Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes

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pecan snowball cookies on a red plate

Toasted Pecan Snowballs

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 36 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Eurpoean

Description

This cookie dough is made from just 5 ingredients in 1 mixing bowl and only needs 30 minutes of chill time before baking. Without any complicated steps or ingredients, you can be confident this easy snowball cookie recipe is foolproof. Toasted pecans add the loveliest flavor!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 cup (125g) finely chopped and toasted pecans*
  • optional: 2/3 cup (127g) sprinkles

Instructions

  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!

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Vanilla: 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.
  3. Pecans: 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.

Keywords: toasted pecan snowballs, pecan snowballs

Try my raspberry almond thumbprints next!

raspberry almond shortbread cookies with vanilla icing on a white plate

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I truly love all of Sally’s recipes! My husband and I started with the Nutella Brownies, best brownie I have ever eaten! Since then- this is my go to website for any sweets. Numerous occasions I have used recipes including M&M, Chocolate Chip cookies, and the snow ball cookies- amazing! Every time the cookies turn out great. Never once have I had a complaint. The fact the recipes are so easy to follow, without a lot of directions is truly amazing. I will come back to this blog for many many more years. Five stars~

  2. Just made these today and they’re great! I had this wonderful idea that I’d use these clear sprinkles thinking they’d make the insides shimmery; they’re kinda invisible in the end but they give a nice subtle crunchy texture. Great recipe.

  3. Hi Sally I love your recipes, thank you. I had a bit of problem with my dough for snowballs. It remained crumbly even after 10min of beating. I put it in the fridge still. Any suggestions on how to rescue it?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Linda, 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!

  4. Sally,

    Sorry for the 1 star. I’ve been making snowball cookies every year for my wife for her birthday-probably 20 years now. I usually use a different recipe- and never fail. I tried this recipe this year and ended up with an end product that was flat and really not that good. Just cookies with powdered sugar on them. This has never happened to me. I don’t live in America, and always bake using grams-maybe your grams are off or something. I’m not sure.

    Anyway, maybe re-examine your metric measurements?

    Brian

    1. Same! Flying all over my kitchen, thinking, “just a little longer, it’ll come together..” Nope. Switched from stand mixer to hand mixer.. nope. 1/2 my “dough” covers my counter, floor, other trays of cooling cookies… Gadds. Not an EASY recipe.. added more butter, it’s chilling now, fingers crossed!

  5. These turned out perfectly for us and oh so delicious! These are now my daughters favourite cookies of all time.

  6. I really, really wanted to like this recipe. I turned my Kitchenaid stand mixer on High for probably 8 minutes. Not only did I have to cover the bowl as the sandy mix would fly out, but the mix kept condensing under the paddle, rocking the bowl and making the entire mixer walk across the counter. I ended up adding about a tablespoon of water because it just wasn’t coming together and the time and mess got to be too much. I baked for 15 minutes and they were raw inside. This is the first recipe from this site that was a complete fail for me. I’ll be looking for more low-maintenance recipes in the future.

  7. Mine is a question rather than a reply. Do you use 1 cup of finely chopped pecans or 1 cup of pecans finely chopped?

  8. Sally, I have used numerous recipes of yours and they ALL came out fantastic. I love the special “hints” you provide that are so very helpful. Thanks again for sharing all your recipes.

  9. What kind of sprinkles are recommended? I have made these cookies many times, but have never added sprinkles. Excited to try.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Judith! Any sprinkles are great, but we recommend avoiding nonpareils (the little balls) as they tend to bleed their color in cookie dough.

  10. Question – the recipe states to split the confectioner sugar in half, but then states to use 3/4 cup in the mix. Is that accurate? I’m guessing the other 1 and 1/4 cups is for the coating, correct? I just want to be sure as some reviewers had problem with dough coming together.

    I love your baking recipes and tips. Have always had success with your recipes. But trying not this one for the first time.

    1. Hi Mercedes! You’re correct, 3/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar goes into the dough and the rest is used for coating. “Divided” in a recipe doesn’t mean divided in half, it just means that the ingredient will be used in too different places that will be specified in the recipe. Hope you enjoy these cookies!

  11. I love pecan snowballs! But although I followed the recipe closely, they took a lot longer than 15 minutes to begin to brown and once they did, they seemed dry. The dough made my KitchenAid stand mixer rock violently even on low. Fortunately, I have a bowl cover & a paddle that scrapes tge bowl aides & bottom. I used some vanilla seeds as well as the extract, so the house smells lovely. I wish the cookies had turned out better.

  12. I plan on making these snowball cookies for Christmas,. You said you can store them for up to a week at room temperature…What if you want to have them longer than a week, should you bake them and then freeze them until you are ready to have for family?

  13. Hi sally! I love all your recipes so much! I’m starting my holiday baking, is it okay to double this recipe you think?

    1. Hi Maria, it is generally okay to double cookie recipes, so long as the added volume doesn’t overwhelm your mixer. Happy baking!

  14. I put all the ingredients together as directed in your recipe. Boy, what a mess. The dough never came together and I don’t know what to do now. I surely don’t want to discard all
    those ingredients! I finally put in the refrigerator to see if I can get an answer from you as to what I can do. The mixture is loose and did not blend together. Do I add more butter until it glues together? I’m afraid that will mess up the final product. What can Ido?

    1. Hi Ruby! The dough will look dry and you may not think the flour will fully combine. Once all of the flour (make sure it was spoon and leveled) is added, turn the mixer up to HIGH speed. The dough will come together!

  15. Pros: Easy
    Cons: Dough did not “come together”; I added a splash of cream. Bland tasting – mild toasted pecan flavor helps.
    Definitely needs some adjusting with a small pinch of salt and some liquid. Bits of dough were flying all over my kitchen, which my dog enjoyed.
    Typically a HUGE fan of Sally’s; this recipe disappointed, but others are stellar!

  16. The Toasted Pecan Snowball cookies are very good, but mine didn’t stay in balls, they formed as a normal flat cookie.

  17. I just made these today – they truly are melt in your mouth delicious. I did both options, toasted the pecans and added sprikles. This is the third cookie recipe that I’ve tried on this site, and all of them have been the best baked goods that I’ve ever made. I made the Christmas Sugar Cookies, the lace cookies and these. For the snowballs, I think I would sprinkle just a touch of salt into powdered sugar just to try it. She’s right, it’s tough to eat just one. I think I might join the monthly challenges now.

  18. Great recipe! Toasted the pecans and it gave a great flavor. For those having issues with the dough coming together I would make sure you’re measuring your flour properly.

  19. I love all your recipes too. This one, however, turned out flat. I had chilled it for nearly an hour. They taste delicious but I would have loved the round shape! Can you please let me know what may have caused it?

  20. These turned out beautifully, and the kids got to help with rolling them in the sugar. Thanks Sally!

    1. Hi CC, We haven’t tested these cookies with another liquid but you certainly can. We recommend sticking to the 2 tsp or less depending on the flavor. Extra liquid would throw off the consistency of the dough. Let us know what you try!

    1. Hi Ludwina, After scooping the cookie dough, use your hands to roll each into a ball before baking. They should hold their shape when baked.

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