Snowball Cookies with Pecans

Grandma’s Snowball Cookies with Pecans are buttery, studded with pecans, and covered with a heavy blanket of powdered sugar. Serve with a glass of milk!

snowball cookies on a wooden platter with an assortment of christmas cookies.

This recipe for Snowball Cookies with Pecans 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 (just like Grandma’s Rum Balls and Thumbprint Cookies with Icing) and they’re the perfect cookie to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve! 🙂

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Ingredients

ingredients for snowballs on a white table.
  • 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 with pecans

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.

stand mixer with a paddle attachment with butter and sugar.

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.

snowball dough in a metal bowl.

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!

unbaked snowballs on a 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 the snowball cookies 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.

rolling snowballs in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Then, roll the balls again in the powdered sugar. Rolling them twice is essential to have Snowball Cookies that are well-coated with the sugar!

Frequently Asked Questions

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?

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!

Can I make snowballs with walnuts?

You can substitute an equal amount of finely chopped walnuts for the chopped pecans.

Can I make snowball cookies without nuts?

You can omit the nuts.

Why are my snowball cookies falling apart?

The dough was likely not mixed well enough. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer for best results, and take care to measure the ingredients exactly. Also, roll the balls firmly in your hands before placing on the baking sheet.

How long can I store pecan snowball cookies?

Snowball cookies will keep for several weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Freeze the cookies for up to 2 months if you’d like to keep them longer.

snowball cookies on a wooden board.

Variations

  • Use walnuts instead of pecans
  • Replace the nuts with mini chocolate chips
  • Toast the pecans before adding them to the cookies for an even deeper toasted flavor
  • Replace the nuts with finely chopped toffee bars (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)
  • Add ¼ teaspoon almond extract for even more nutty flavor

Can pecan snowball cookies be frozen?

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.

You can also freeze baked cookies. Bake and cool, then freeze in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.

Snowball Cookies are part of a series of Christmas cookie recipes from my grandmothers. You can find the rest here:

Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!

📖 Recipe

snowball cookies on a cookie tray with ginger cookies and peppermints in the background.

Grandma’s Snowball Cookies with Pecans

Published by Kate
Also known as Mexican wedding cookies, these shortbread cookies with pecans are perfect for the holidays.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 187 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

You can substitute chopped walnuts for the chopped pecans. You can also substitute mini chocolate chips or even chopped toffee bars in place of the nuts.
Rolling the cookies twice is the key to making them look snowball-like. Don’t skip it! 
Using salted butter? Just omit the salt in the recipe.
The cookies will keep for several weeks at room temperature, in a covered container. 
The cookies can be frozen for up to 2 months after baking. You can also freeze balls of dough. 

Nutrition

Calories: 187kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 2gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 50mgPotassium: 32mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 239IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 1mg
Keyword snowball cookies
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2 Comments

  1. Lovely photos! I think making family Christmas cookies is a wonderful tradition. We do it every year, too.

    1. Thank you, Karen! I think it’s a wonderful tradition as well. 🙂

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