This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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. Unlike powdered sugar donut muffins where we use melted butter to help the coating stick, here 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 fun variations of snowballs, here are my pistachio cookies and lemon coconut shortbread 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

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
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


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 shortbread cookies with vanilla icing on a white plate

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. We made these for Christmas this year and they were perfect! They were the first cookies gone 🙂

  2. I make these adding mini chocolate chips instead of the sprinkles.  They are so yummy, I can never eat just a few because they are so addicting.  Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  3. OMG Sally, these blew my mind! I used hazelnuts and they basically taste like Ferrero Rocher in cookie form and I’m trying not to scarf down the whole batch. Thank you for an amazing recipe!

  4. Hi Sally! I wanted so badly to bake these for Christmas, but when I went to the store today they only had diced walnuts. I read in previous comments that you’ve made them with walnuts before. Do you use the same amount of walnuts as pecans or should the measurements be tweaked a bit? Please let me know!! Happy holidays 🙂

  5. I don’t know how but I suddenly crave these cookies lately. Do you think cashews will work in this recipe in place of pecans? 

  6. Hi! My dad made these for us when we were young and I carry on the tradition and they taste so good that everybody wants some as gifts! I wanted to ask your opinion on the best way to store them? In tins or freezer bags? I would like to start them earlier in the year but I didn’t know how good they would be. Any advice on storage and freezing is welcome! Thank you!

    1. Hi Vicki, what a great tradition to carry on! Baked cookies freeze well for up to three months. You can use freezer bags (what I normally do) or tins depending on how much space you have in your freezer (tins take up more space!).

  7. These cookies we’re so delicious I’ve decided to add them to my Christmas cookie baking list.
    Thank you Sally.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

    1. Hi Melanie! Either way works– you can substitute rum extract or add a little in addition to the vanilla.

  12. These cookies are the greatest! I make them every year and everyone loves them!!

  13. Hi Sally
    I made these cookies today and they were fantastic. My family does not like cookies too sweet so I only rolled them once in powder sugar. Absolutely delicious! Thanks again for a great recipe!

  14. Hi Sally! I’ ve tried this recipe some days ago and cookies always spread a lot. I use chill dough but it doesn’t works. What can I do? By the way, the flavor is amazing!!! but I would like they had snowball shape. Thanks!!

  15. I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I recently made your Chocolate Sugar Cookie Cut-outs and was very happy with them. I’d like to make these Pecan Snowball Cookies but prefer walnuts over pecans. I was wondering if you would recommend toasting these also.

    1. Hi Cathy! Toasting the walnuts is completely up to you– I definitely would. Always more great flavor that way.

  16. I love these cookies. I have to make 2 batches because my family eats them all when they come. I really like all these recipes. Thanks Sally, Im a newbee.

    1. Hi Sue! Either work depending on how much you like salty/sweet cookies. I typically use unsalted in this recipe.

  17. Sally, you have a white chocolate dipped cookie (completely dipped) with crushed peppermint on top in one of your pictures and I cannot figure out which recipe it is! Inside looks like a soft chocolate cookie. Any ideas??

  18. Hi Sally,

    I just tried this recipe and the cookies tasted amazing but they turned out flat (instead of looking like snowballs). What did I do wrong? I used icing sugar and kept the dough in the fridge for 45 min. Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hi Kavi! I’m wondering if you used more powdered sugar than necessary? You only need 3/4 cup in the actual cookie dough and the rest is for rolling. Also, take a look at your butter. Room temperature butter is much cooler than most think. Warmer butter, even though you are chilling the cookie dough, will lead to more spreading. You will find this post on room temperature butter very helpful.

  19. My grandma’s recipe (Russian Tea Cakes) is almost the same, but uses Maple extract instead of vanilla. They are a tradition in our family, since my grandma passed I have been making these little addictive balls. My mother-in-law passed down a handcrank nut grinder, and I’ve found it is perfect to get the pecans just right. I mix this by hand, and it is a work out!

  20. I made these yesterday and they were phenomenal. I’ve used other recipes in prior years but these were the best I ever made. My daughter had unexpected company and one of them would sigh and say these are so good as he took another one. I was beginning to worry there would be none left for my grandson when he got home. Thanks for another great recipe.

  21. Made these using gluten-free flour today (an all-purpose flour) and they were FANTASTIC! Wouldn’t have even known they were gluten-free. My daughter was diagnosed as Celiac during the summer and this was the one cookie she wanted me to make gluten-free for her.

  22. Made the pecan snowballs, these cookies are delicious!
    Appreciate the notes. Will be my go-to recipe.
    Mine only took 12 minutes but my oven temp was fluctuating.

  23. I love these cookies and have made them before, but today my daughter and I made them and the dough was crumbly like sand and won’t stick together!! Help, what did we do wrong, and can we fix it??

    1. Hi Nancy, 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!

    1. Hi Kathy! Coconut extract is pretty potent, so I don’t recommend using 2 full teaspoons. Instead, use 1 teaspoon of coconut extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract OR skip the vanilla and just use 1 teaspoon of coconut extract. Hope this helps!

    1. I haven’t tried that substitution, so I can’t say for sure or not. Let me know if you test anything!

      1. I changed the pecans for almond flour. They taste good. Probably not the same texture but they are great. Had to leave them a little longer in the oven. As always love your recipes!

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.