If you need a cookie for Santa, Grandma’s Snowball Cookies are the perfect choice. They’re buttery, studded with pecans, and covered with a heavy blanket of powdered sugar. Santa will just need a glass of milk!
This recipe for Snowball Cookies is pretty popular around Christmas time. These same cookies are also known as Mexican wedding cookies, pecan balls, pecan crescents, and Russian tea cakes.
They’re a crowd-favorite around the holidays because they are so festive—who can resist a buttery, nutty cookie coated in powdered sugar “snow”?
This recipe comes from my grandma. Our family has made them for years, and they’re the perfect cookie to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve! 🙂
- I recommend using unsalted butter for the recipe. If you use salted butter, leave out the salt listed in the ingredients.
- A little powdered sugar goes into the cookie itself, but most goes on top!
- Chopped pecans are traditional in this recipe, but chopped walnuts work, too!
How to make snowball cookies
Place the butter and ½ cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. You could also use a large bowl and a hand mixer. Beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and creamy.
Add the vanilla, water, and salt. Beat until combined. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
Then add the flour and pecans, and beat until just combined. The mixture may be a little crumbly at first. Keep mixing it until it comes together into a stiff dough.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. I got about 24 balls out of the dough. Place them as close as 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper (to prevent the cookies from sticking). These cookies don’t really spread out, which is why you can place them so close together on the baking sheet!
Bake the cookies for 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. While the cookies are baking, prepare a bowl of powdered sugar for rolling.
Right when the cookies get out of the oven, roll them, one at a time, in powdered sugar. Make sure they are coated on all sides by rolling them around the bowl of sugar. Completing this step right after baking (while the cookies are still hot) ensures the powdered sugar will stick.
Then, roll the balls again in the powdered sugar. Rolling them twice is essential to have cookies well-coated with the sugar!
FAQs and Tips
Can I make this recipe without a stand mixer?
I recommend using a hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer. The dough for these cookies is stiff, and it would require a lot of arm strength to make them without a mixer!
Do I have to roll them twice?
You will not regret rolling the cookies twice in powdered sugar. The first coat is the “base layer” and then the second coat makes them look pretty and snowball-like.
What do I serve with snowballs?
Coffee, tea, or a glass of milk are all great accompaniments. I love them with mint tea especially!
How to freeze snowballs
To freeze snowballs, make the dough and roll into balls. Place the balls on a small baking tray and place in the freezer for one hour. Then, place the frozen dough balls in a resealable freezer bag or another freezer-safe container. Doing this multi-step freezing process ensures that the cookie dough doesn’t stick together. Freeze for up to 2 months.
To defrost, place the pieces of dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight, or let sit on the countertop for 4–5 hours, or until the dough is defrosted. Bake as directed in the recipe.
More cookie recipes
Snowball Cookies are part of a series of Christmas cookie recipes from my grandmothers. You can find the rest here:
Grandma's Snowball Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Place the butter and ½ cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3–4 minutes.
- Add the salt, vanilla, and water. Beat until combined.
- With the mixer running, slowly add the flour. Mix until just incorporated. Stir in the pecans.
- Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the tops are just beginning to turn light brown.
- Remove from the oven. Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, place the remaining 1½ cups of powdered sugar in a small bowl.
- Roll a cookie (careful—they will be hot) on all sides in the powdered sugar and place on wax paper.
- Repeat with remaining cookies. After each cookie is coated, roll each cookie in the powdered sugar again. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.