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 is pretty popular around Christmastime. These same cookies are known as Mexican wedding cookies, pecan balls, pecan crescents, and Russian tea cakes. I’m sure there are even more names for them. 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”?
Growing up, we made these every year. We still do, actually! The recipe came from my mom’s mom, Grandma Verie. When my brother and I were little, we would leave these Snowballs Cookies for Santa. The plate was always empty the next morning, with just a few crumbs to prove he was there. Pretty sure my dad ate them!
We’d also leave a mug for Santa, with a note explaining that the milk was in the fridge. Not wanting to leave out the reindeer, we left carrots as their snack. Pretty sure those went right back into the crisper drawer in the fridge once we went to sleep. 🙂
This recipe is nearly a shortbread, with only 4 teaspoons of liquid for the recipe (shortbread usually contains no liquid). It’s just enough to hold the dough together, which you roll into 1-inch balls.
I bake the Snowball Cookies on a silicone baking mat (one of my must-have kitchen tools). As they bake in a low oven (325°F), the bottoms get golden brown and toasted. Immediately after they are removed from the oven, I roll them in powdered sugar. The sugar melts against the heat of the cookie, creating an irresistible dough-y coating. I always roll my Snowball Cookies twice to make sure that they have plenty of powdered sugar on the outside!
They’re delicious with mint tea. And milk of course if you prefer. Just don’t pop a whole Snowball Cookie into your mouth—you’ll probably choke inhaling all the powdered sugar!
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
- 2½ 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 2 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.
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