Pecan Snowball Cookies

Snowball cookies are a classic Christmas cookie and this snowball cookie recipe is my favorite. It’s made from just 5 ingredients in 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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Print

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

1 bowl pecan snowball cookies! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

115 Comments

  1. My mom has made these every year at Christmas for my entire life (and, on occasion, a couple times throughout the year when we needed a little Christmas right that very minute!) and she has always called them Noel Balls. Her recipe is different than yours (for instance, she uses granulated sugar in the dough–only 10 tablespoons for the whole batch–and saves the powdered stuff only for the coating; and she grinds her pecans finely with no chunks at all) but it was interesting to see the variations since I am so very used to her recipe. I was also surprised to find out people make them with nuts other than pecans. My mom is hard-core about pecans. She also makes hers teeny, using about a teaspoon and a half of dough–she seriously fits over 100 on each air-bake pan she uses. When any of her sisters make them, they use more dough in each ball (which I’ve gathered from other peoples’ recipes is more common), and we always laugh and start cookie smack-talking (that’s a thing, isn’t it?), calling theirs snow balls because they’re so much larger. haha. Ah, the delights of cookie wars. Perhaps we should have a cookie “snowball” fight… I suspect we’d all be winners, amiright? haha. Anyway, loving the cookie palooza!

    1. Noel balls is such a great name for them! I love it! I’m all about the pecans, but I must say– I’ve made these with toasted walnuts and they are REALLY good that way too.

  2. I am really excited to try these because I feel like so many people fail at these cookies!! I’m sure your recipe will not disappoint and will restore my faith in snowball cookies! Haha. Do you have a favorite ricotta cookie recipe you like to use ? I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen one on your blog and I’m always baking them around the holidays! 

  3. Hi sally,
    Russian tea cakes (what my family calls them 🙂 were my favorite cookie at Christmas, but then I became allergic to nuts do you think your recipe would work with finely chopped toasted Pepita? (Pumpkin seeds) Or any other ideas for a nut substitute? I really miss these! 

  4. Hi everybody!I read comment with interest,but I have to say that these little bundles of joy must be international,as here in Cyprus and Greece these are called Boukies..which means exactly ( little bites ) .Obviously with the Mediterranean influence ,I add a little Cypriot Rosewater, which is distilled every May ,at 5 in the morning when the ‘wild ‘roses growing in region , still have the morning dew on them…in the village of Agros in mountain area…anybody can go and help in the harverting of the roses.. It’s incredible…you can either add a sprinkling of rose water in dough!be careful as it can be bitter if to much is added ..or when taken out of oven and before adding icing sugar ,sprinkle sparingly …then add icing sugar.  

  5. Our Snowball recipe calls for a bit of honey in the recipe. Just adds a touch of sweetness which is nice. Kids named them “Old People Cookies”, because only we old people ate them. Love them :)! So yummy!

  6. Sally,

    These look awesome. I make an “Italian” version with chopped almonds and anise extract. But I’ll have to try with toasted pecans!

  7. I love these cookies, I make them with the toasted pecans but also add mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, roll some in powdered sugar and some in red sugar, green sugar or large crystal sugar.  At Christmas time they are all beautiful on a platter for giving or sharing with guests in your home.  I love all of your recipes, thank you for sharing with us.  Merry Christmas and a Happy and healthy New Year.  

  8. Yummmmmmmm these look delicious! I dont think I’ve ever seen them before (don’t judge me, I’m in Australia :P)

    Just wondering, do they crumble easily? I’m looking for something I can package up into little cello bags to give to people, so anything I make needs to be reletively sturdy lest I end up with bags full of crumbs.

    Also, totally unrelated, can you tell me what post of yours has the gorgeous photos of the jar full of sprinkles? I found it earlier this year and was just telling someone about it, but couldn’t find the post! I’m a photographer and I think its a FANTASTIC photo 🙂

    Thanks!

  9. Hi I wanted to add to the name list. My mom usually bakes these during the holidays too, and we grew up calling them Cocoons, which were shaped in a crescent half-moon shape. I think this year I may try a small batch with sprinkles in them! Thanks for the suggestion!!

  10. My family always called them, “White Suckers With Nuts,” as in, “Bring me some of those…” Thank you for the recipe. 

  11. I started having a craving for these! I remember them from my childhood. My aunt would make them. I decided I really wanted some this Christmas! Thanks for the recipe. BTW we called the Pecan Sandies.

  12. Thanks for the yummy recipe!  My college roommate introduced me to a very similar one (she called them “Nissenpheffers” !)

  13. 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.

  14. Hi Sally

    I tried this recipe and baked a few of the cookies from the dough and they turned out great!
    However, I made a mistake..I ended up making the cookie balls and freezing them instead of freezing the whole dough. Do you think I can still thaw these overnight and bake them the next day or is the whole batch wasted now?

    Thanks
    Neha

  15. 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!

  16. 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 🙂

  17. Hi Sally,

    First of all Hafa Adai all the way from sunny Guam…and Happy New Year!!!

    I have a question…can this recipe be doubled up? The pecan sandies is what I’m referring too!!

    Thank-you in advance ☺☺☺

    Simmie

  18. 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? 

  19. Greetings from Puebla, Mexico!
    May I use almonds and almond extract to enhance the flavor?
    Do I need to toast the almonds at the oven? 
    How much of almond extract?
    Thank you!!! Love your recipes!!

    1. Yes! I would toast the almonds for extra flavor– and the almond extract amount is up to you. I find it’s quite potent, so I’d only add 1/2 teaspoon.

  20. Hi Sally! When using walnuts, will I need to toast them as the recipe says to do with the pecans? Just confirming. And thank you for sharing this recipe! Excited to try it!

  21. Hi Sally,
    Awesome cookie and super easy to make!
    The batter was little dry and took some effort to make round balls. Should I increase the amount of butter? My batter didn’t look like the pic posted on your blog. 🙁

    1. Hi Sue! Instead of adding more butter, I suggest removing 2-3 Tbsp of flour from the recipe. This should help. Also, make sure you are spooning and leveling the flour– don’t pack it into the cup 🙂

  22. Hi! just made these and though the taste is great they spread a lot while baking so they ended up more like the usual chocolate chip cookie rather than a snowball. I noticed that the dough before chilling was very soft- scoopable. I chilled the dough for about 40 min. Any idea why this happened?It’s a pity to miss this beautiful shape!!! Love your blog!!!

  23. Well.. looking through and finding the blog for this cookie…. I have to say that this cookie is ALWAYS the most exciting cookie on the tray for me! I have always called them snowballs as well. I have a recipe I use that my Grandma always made and they have been a favorite since Childhood. Seems funny to be looking at cookies in July.. but I am a cookie fan lol

    1. I start making my holiday recipes months before the holidays and it always feels weird! But there is no wrong time for good cookies 🙂

  24. 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!).

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