These Snowball Cookies are soft, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar. They are a favorite holiday cookie recipe!
Today I’m sharing one of my very favorite Christmas cookie recipes: snowball cookies. If you’ve never tried these powdered sugar-coated delights, you need to add them to your holiday baking list. They become a fast favorite of just about everyone who tries them!
You’ll love these cookies because:
- They have the best rich, buttery flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Chopped pecans bring a subtle toasty, nutty flavor.
- The cookies are dusted with powdered sugar for a pretty “snowball” look.
My family has always called these cookies butter snowballs. They go by many names, including Snowball Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs and Butter Balls. Whatever you call them, they are a classic! Their rich, buttery flavor makes it almost impossible to eat just one.
The recipe for these snowball cookies was my great-grandmother’s. My mom has my great-grandmother’s handwritten recipe card for these cookies, and years ago I copied it for myself. It’s the kind of recipe card that says things like, “1-2 cups nuts” and “chill dough until easy to handle.” I modified the recipe just a bit to give you more specific instructions, so your cookies will turn out just perfect!
These bite-sized cookies are sure to disappear quickly! To round out your holiday cookie spread, try these other favorite Christmas cookie recipes: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Cherry Cream Cheese Cookies, Gingerbread Cookies and Biscotti. These are always on our cookie baking list!
Snowball Cookies Recipe Ingredients
You’ll need just five simple ingredients, plus salt, to make this cookie recipe. And you won’t even need any eggs! Actually, these snowball cookies are one of the few cookies I make that are egg-free. These Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies are another.
- Butter: Butter gives these cookies their signature melt-in-your-mouth rich buttery flavor. Use unsalted butter or reduce the added salt in the recipe by half.
- Powdered Sugar: Powdered sugar, or confectioners’ sugar, is used to sweeten the cookies. The cookies are also rolled in powdered sugar after baking, to give them their classic “snowball” look.
- Salt: A little bit of salt enhances all of the flavors.
- Vanilla Extract: For an extra touch of sweetness and a hint of vanilla flavor. Feel free to use almond extract instead for a hint of almond flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour: For an accurate measurement, be sure to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and then level it off. If you scoop the flour directly with the measuring cup it can pack in too much flour.
- Pecans: Chopped pecans add a delicious nutty flavor to these cookies. You can substitute chopped walnuts if you prefer.
You can substitute 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips for the chopped nuts to make Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies. They are a delicious nut-free alternative to the classic recipe!
How to Make Snowball Cookies
- Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until creamy.
- Mix in the salt and vanilla extract until incorporated.
- Add the flour and nuts and mix in on low speed.
- Chill the dough for at least 2 hours, until it is easy to work with.
- Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
- Bake cookies at 350° F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the bottom.
- Let cool for 5 minutes and then roll in powdered sugar.
- Once the cookies are completely cool, roll them in powdered sugar a second time.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
Snowball Cookies Recipe Tips
- Use room temperature butter. Softened butter will cream together with the powdered sugar much more easily. If you need the butter to soften quickly, cutting it into smaller pieces will help it to soften faster.
- Chop the nuts finely. If you have a food processor, it makes the job of chopping the nuts quick and easy.
- If the dough is too firm after chilling to roll into balls, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until it softens up.
- Let them rest before rolling. The cookies will be very delicate right after baking. Let the baked cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then carefully roll them in powdered sugar. Once they’re completely cool, roll them a second time to give them more of a powdered sugar coating.
- I like to make these cookies very small. Roll the dough into 1-inch (or smaller) balls.
- Room Temperature: Snowball cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Freezer: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen cookies at room temperature. You may wish to re-roll previously frozen cookies in powdered sugar before serving.
More Favorite Cookie Recipes
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
- Candy Cane Cookies
- Chocolate Dipped Molasses Cookies
- Gingerdoodle Cookies
- Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until creamy.
- Add the salt and vanilla (or almond) extract, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour and nuts and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days, until easy to handle.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden on the bottom.
- Let cool for 5 minutes, then roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Let cookies cool completely and then roll in powdered sugar a second time.
- If you have a food processor, it is an easy way to finely chop the nuts.
- If the dough is too firm after chilling, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes until it is soft enough to roll into balls.
- To make these cookies without nuts, you can omit the nuts or substitute 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips.
- Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Question can I use :
white wing Tortilla flour
Hi Saphire, I’ve never baked with tortilla flour so I’m not sure how it would work in this recipe.
Oh my gosh, these are SUCH gorgeous little cookies, Kristine! I haven’t made snowballs in forever and these honestly look picture perfect. Can’t wait to try ’em!
Hi Kristine! Do you have any substitution suggestions for the nuts? Thanks!
Hi Wendy! You can leave the nuts out. Enjoy!
My daughter is gluten free. How do you think these would do using coconut flour?
Hi Addie, coconut flour usually can’t be substituted 1:1 in baking. I’d recommend using a gluten free all purpose baking flour. Bob’s Red Mill makes one.
I make something similar using roasted chestnuts. People go absolutely crazy over them. It is my absolute go to Christmas recipe!
Does the recipe work without the nuts? My eldest is allergic to nuts so I’m hoping that it works without them.
Yes, the cookies should turn out just fine without the nuts. 🙂
Hi Kristine! When you call for 1 cup finely chopped nuts – does that mean measure 1 cup nuts and finely chop, or does it mean finely chop nuts until you have 1 cup? Thanks in advance!
Hi Molly! I cup finely chopped nuts means that you measure after chopping. So chop until you have 1 cup chopped nuts. 🙂
I’m getting ready to bake these cookies for the first time. Can I soften the butter in
the microwave or should I let it soften at room temperature, thank you, Patti.
It is best to let it soften at room temperature. If you cut the butter into smaller pieces it will soften quickly.
Why won’t my cookie dough hold together?
This dough should hold together well. Make sure that the nuts are very finely chopped. Also be sure to spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level it off, rather than scooping with the measuring cup. This will ensure that you use the right amount of flour.
Should this be crunchy in the center or soft?
The centers of the cookies are soft.
People also know them as “mexican wedding cookies”
Yes! These cookies go by many names. 🙂
Can i use peanuts instead?
If you like the flavor, then yes!
Do these cookies freeze well?
I have frozen them and they are fine.
Very Very Similar to the recipe for Mexican wedding cookies.
You’re right, these cookies go by many different names. 🙂
I accidentally used regular sugar in the dough instead of powdered (I rolled them in the powdered sugar though), and they still taste delicious!
This is my second time making them.
That is good to know! Thanks for taking the time to share. 🙂
Easy to make and comes out tasty and pretty.
I have tried different recipe but this one is a keeper
I used cashew nuts and just half a teaspoon of almond extract.
Absolutely delicious!! Thanks so much for the recipe!
We too have peanut and tree nut allergies at our house. I was thinking of substituting sunflower or pumpkin seeds for the nuts.
This year I made these with 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips instead of nuts and they were delicious that way.
I was wondering if I could use peppermint extract for a more wintery flavor would that work or do I need to change the amount of extract added considering how strong peppermint can be.
You could try it, but I would use a very small amount, maybe less than 1/4 teaspoon.
Always made them with regular sugar from a recipe in my local paper several years ago, everyone liked them, my Italian coworker said they were better than the Italian cookies. I am making yourstoday, already know they will be good, no nuts today. Thanks
Have you ever made with vegan butter or margarine? My hubby has dairy allergy. I know the butter is key, so understand if would taste quite as good.
Hi Jennifer, I personally haven’t tried these with vegan butter, but I have seen other recipes for vegan snowball cookies that are quite similar to this recipe, using vegan butter so I think it’s worth a try. 🙂
it sounds very good just looking at them