Pecan Snowball Cookies

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
  • 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

  • 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

157 Comments

  1. Joan Stohlman says:

    With the unsalted butter is there any added salt?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      No added salt is needed for this recipe, Joan. Hope you love them!

  2. 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. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      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!

  3. Came out perfect!!! Love how easy and delicious these are!!

  4. How to make the snowball stay round after bake? Not flat at the bottom.

  5. 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

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

  7. 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.

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