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!

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on

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!

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on

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.

Toasted pecans for pecan snowball cookies on

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 on

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!

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on

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


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


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!


  • 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


  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!


  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 Thumbprint Cookies. Get this buttery shortbread cookie recipe at

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on


  1. These were so good, Sally! Matt and I couldn’t decide if we liked yours or mine better. We decided they were just both so different that we loved both of them. It’s crazy how much just the nuts can change the whole flavor (mine use walnuts). But seriously, those pictures… Matt couldn’t tell whose was whose. It was hysterical! 

    Yay for snowballs! Love the addition of sprinkles! 

  2. I actually woke up early this morning so excited about your cookie recipes (please tell me I’m not the only one!!) and this recipe did not disappoint!! Love the cute sprinkles inside.

  3. I laughed so hard at the naming of these cookies ~ you are so right!! What is the name of them. We have a big Italian population where I live (and excellent Italian restaurants!!!) and they are called Italian Wedding cookies here! Being half Russian, I’m tempted to call them Russian teacakes. Regardless, they are the best cookie ever with a cuppa tea in the afternoon and I cannot wait to try your spin. 

  4. My brother unilaterally decided that these are now called international vanilla nut lumpies. Pretty sure that encompasses all naming options!

  5. So this is very near and dear to my heart, since snowballs are my number one favorite cookie. I love their texture and I can never stop at one or two. They’re so unexpectedly irresistible! And you put sprinkles in yours, of course. And the toasted pecans are genius. So much better than just throwing them untoasted in the dough!

  6. Snowballs are my absolute FAVORITE! I’m actually sharing my gfree version super soon (not that much different than the standard!) which is a spin on my grandma’s tried and true recipe. She used walnuts, but my mom often switched it up when we were growing up and used pecans. So good! and I LOVE your idea of toasting them! I will definitely have to make a batch that way to share with my fam this Christmas!!

  7. I hear mostly either Russian Teacakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies here in Houston, and I tend not to call them anything since I typically don’t care for them (most have been rather unpleasantly dry). I’ll have to try these though, maybe I just don’t like other people’s baking – a possibility since I usually end up with these at potlucks and the like!

  8. Yum, I’d like to make these not safe for kid – spiked snowballs! 

    Sally, what type of fruits do you like?

    1. When they thaw, the sugar gets a little funny looking. You’d need to coat them in sugar one more time most likely. But they still taste great!

  9. I was hoping you’d post a recipe for these! I’ve always called them snowball cookies 🙂 the best part about Christmas is the excess of about ten different types of cookies you never see much of around the other times of year. These cookies are on my short list of my must-make Christmas baking list! 

  10. In my Big Mexican family I had one special aunt who made these cookies. I was raised that the formal name was Mexican Wedding Cookies. But these cookies really only came out at Christmas Time. So they became Snowball Cookies.  And walnuts were the nuts of choice.  Since my aunt is no longer with us. The recipe was hard to find. But I did manage to get it. And I think I will try toasting the walnuts. Diamond of course!
    Barbara Ann  

  11. “Russian Teaballs” have our favorite Christmas cookies for years!  And to add to the sweetness, I roll them in powdered sugar 3 times!

  12. In my family they have always been called Pecan Snowballs and one of the top favorite cookies on the Christmas gift cookie trays! I totally agree that toasting the pecans is important and to Always use Pure Vanilla! Toss any imitation vanilla extract, it’s a nasty impostor! I like the idea of using the green and red sprinkles, very festive!

  13. Thanks for posting this recipe!! These are my mom’s favorite cookies and I’ve never had a good recipe for making her a batch. Just in time for Christmas!! LOVE all the Christmas cookie recipes!

  14. We always called them Russian Nut Balls. We made them with Walnuts. I am going to try these with the toasted Pecans. Hoping my 1/2 Russian family will love these too!  Now we make them gluten free, and they are even more tender! YUM!

  15. I’ve always been confused by all the different names for snowball cookies! These look so delicious and perfect to give for a holiday gift 🙂

    Dani |

  16. Hi Sally! I have a question! I would love to make these for my boyfriend for the winter holidays. Only problem is that I live in New Jersey while he lives in California. Shipping normally takes about a week so would I be able to ship cookies (in general) to him if I left it in a tupperware? And if so, would he need to put the cookies in the fridge from then on?

    Thank you! I always use your recipes when I bake :).

    1. So nice of you! You can ship these in a tupperware. Pack them up nice and tight. Some may slightly break, but that is expected. He should keep them in the refrigerator once he gets them.

  17. Sally, these look so good.
    When Christmas does roll around what actual cookies Will you be making? I mean I am sure your family helps too, but are there any recipes that you always like to wish out?

  18. Well, in our family we call candy like these Amygdalota! (This is Greek for almond balls.) We usually use almonds, but you can pretty much use any type of nut. They look almost the same as yours too!

  19. A favorite in our house, we also call them snowballs.  One difference in our recipe, try browning the butter……….Makes them even more yummy!

  20. Wanted to add to the list of names. This recipe is one of the first things we learned to make in 7th grade – Home Economics – which I loved! ( The class and the cookies) . We called them 
    Swedish Nut Balls! So there is another name to add to the list!

  21. There’s you way you can get through the holidays without these cookies, that’s for sure! We call them butterballs and they’re my favorite cookie yet. I LOVE THEM! We had so many for Thanksgiving this year! 🙂

  22. Great minds think alike, Sally…because tomorrow I was planning to make my Snowballs… it’s always my first Christmas cookie that I bake.  They are absolutely on the top of my list!  I’ll use your fab recipe now, instead of going to my old Amish cookbook.  Love this blog Sally!

  23. These are called snowballs in my household. Mom makes many batches each year usually with walnuts. She would always take them to cookie exchanges.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally