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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Our family has been making these cookies every Christmas since 1948 !! My mom found the recipe in her copy of Women’s Home Companion Cook Book. They were called Butter Balls. I enjoy seeing all the different recipes for these cookies, but have never seen anyone mention adding colorful Christmas sprinkles and I LOVE that idea. They ARE quite addictive. In fact, I know a gal who has to store these tasty morsels in a LOCKED strong box to make sure they aren’t gobbled up before she gives them as Christmas gift. LOL

  5. 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!

  6. Scooped and immediately frozen, baked direct from freezer, still spread. Will try again. On the plus side, double sugaring (once when barely warm, once when completely cooled) is BRILLIANT! #SoMuchPowderedGoodness

  7. 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!

  8. High Altitude cooking question: I love these cookies and would like to try to make them. I live at 6500 feet and am wondering if you think I should make some high altitude adjustments. Thank you!

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