These sweet, crunchy, and buttery pecan snowball cookies are a delicious way to decorate your dessert table this holiday season! Also known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cookies, these snowy treats use just a handful of basic pantry staples to create a fun-shaped and eye-catching dessert that all ages will love. It is one of the best Christmas cookie recipes for your December parties and even better when wrapped up as a gift!
🌟 Why this is the best Pecan Snowball Cookies recipe
- No special ingredients required - These easy pecan snowball cookies are made with just six simple ingredients, most of which you may already have at home in your pantry.
- They are easy to make - You do not need any special tools or techniques to make these festive Christmas cookies. They are very beginner-friendly and require minimal effort. The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the dough to chill!
- They are great for baking in advance - You can easily make and freeze the cookie dough to make as little or as many as you want later. Even the baked cookies are freezer-friendly, so you can bake a large batch and serve them later!
- They are incredibly versatile - You can easily customize these easy snowball cookies with different toppings, add-ins, and flavors. See the Flavor Variations & Substitutes section below for ideas!
- They are absolutely delicious - I use the highest quality ingredients and the best technique to make them super buttery and delicious, just like classic Danish butter cookies or shortbread cookies with a nutty and sweet twist. They just may become your favorite holiday cookies!
📝 Ingredient notes
- Butter - Always use unsalted butter to control the salt levels in the recipe completely. For the most flavorful and moist butter pecan snowball cookies, use butter with at least 82% fat content. You can also make your butter at home using my homemade butter recipe. The butter needs to be at room temperature but not melted.
- Powdered sugar - I use powdered sugar to help sweeten the batter as it is lighter and blends much better than regular granulated sugar. Powdered sugar is also used to coat the cookies once they are done. See my sugar guide to learn more about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking.
- Vanilla extract - Pure vanilla extract helps to enhance the flavor of the cookies. Avoid using imitation vanilla, as it will not produce the same results. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract will go a long way!
- Flour - I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. Please check my flour guide to learn about the different types of flour and how to use them in baking.
- Salt - Salt is an essential ingredient in baking to help balance the sweetness. Do not skip it!
- Pecans - While you can chop and use the pecans as they are, I highly recommend toasting them first in a saucepan or the oven for the best flavor. The pecans need to be finely chopped for the best results to make the Christmas snowball cookies.
🛒 You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the Recipe Card at the bottom of this post
👩🍳 How to make this recipe
1. Step-by-step process of making Pecan Snowball Cookies
- Using an Electric hand mixer cream the room-temperature butter with the powdered sugar for a few minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Next, whip in the vanilla extract.
- Combine the flour and the salt. Then, with the help of a rubber spatula, sift the flour and salt mixture into the butter and powdered sugar mixture. Fold together until just combined, taking care not to overmix.
- Next, fold in the toasted, finely chopped pecans until just combined.
- Prepare two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Use a small ice cream scoop (approximately one tablespoon) to scoop the dough into about 20 cookie dough balls. Place the dough balls on the lined baking sheet, leaving two inches between each.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour so that the dough remains in the shape of a ball versus spreading. Once chilled, quickly roll the dough between your hands to make the ball perfectly round. Do not allow the dough to melt.
💡 Top Tip: If the dough is too moist before you go to scoop it, place it back into the refrigerator for approximately 15 minutes. Doing so will allow the butter to solidify, making the dough firmer and easier to work with.
2. How to bake
- Preheat the oven to 175C / 347°F. Do not use a fan. Place the chilled dough balls in the oven and bake for approximately 13 minutes until the bottom of the cookies are baked, and the tops are still nice and pale.
- Place the powdered sugar into a bowl.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes. Then, while still warm, carefully coat each cookie one at a time in the powdered sugar.
- Let the coated cookies come to room temperature, then cover them with the powdered sugar again.
💡 Top Tip: The cookies will be very fragile when hot and will continue to set as they cool. When applying the first powdered sugar coating, do so gently so as to not break the cookies. Consider sifting the sugar over the cookies using a spoon versus rolling them in the dough.
🍫 Flavor Variations & Substitutions
You can customize this Christmas cookie recipe in many ways to make it even more fun and delicious! Turn it into one of the best pecan snowball cookies recipes your guests have ever tried with one of the several variation options below:
With chocolate and/or peanut butter - Add unsweetened cocoa powder to the batter for a decadent dessert similar to chocolate crinkle cookies. You can also add peanut butter for delicious snowball peanut butter cookies however you might need to add more flour to achieve the same texture.
With different nuts - Instead of snowball cookies with pecans, try it with chopped almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pistachio.
With a different flavor - Swap out the vanilla extract for almond extract for a nutty flavor profile. Or, for a truly winter-festive cookie, try it with peppermint extract.
With other coatings and mix-ins - Instead of powdered sugar, you can coat the cookies with cinnamon sugar. You can also mix spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg into the batter or goodies such as chocolate chips or sprinkles.
🎓 Expert tips
- To avoid lumps in the batter, sift the powdered sugar and flour before using.
- Do not need to use a food processor to chop the pecans, in fact, food processor can easily overprocess the nuts and might as well turn it into pecan butter.
- Do not skip letting the dough chill in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the snowball cookies may end up flat like a pancake. Check my article on how to avoid flat cookies.
- Pay careful attention to the color of the tops and bottoms of the cookies to avoid overbaking. The tops of the cookies should remain nice and pale.
- You can use different-sized ice cream scoops to make different-sized cookies. Depending on the size you use, you may get more or fewer cookies than stated in the recipe.
🥣 Equipment notes
Always use a digital scale when measuring the ingredients for accurate and consistent results. Likewise, I recommend using a digital oven thermometer to ensure your oven reaches the correct temperature. Some oven models can vary by a degree or two, which can cause variances in the results.
An electric hand mixer will make mixing the ingredients much easier and quicker than doing so by hand. A rubber spatula helps to gently fold the ingredients and add-ins together without overmixing the batter.
Store the coated pecan snowball cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. For the best presentation, dust the cookies with powdered sugar again before serving.
Once the coated cookies have cooled completely to room temperature, place them in an airtight, freezer-friendly container or sealed zipper bag with wax paper separating each layer. Store in the freezer for up to two months. Thaw at room temperature and coat in powdered sugar once again before serving.
Yes, you can make and freeze the unbaked cookie dough in this snowball cookie recipe for baking at a later date. To do so, freeze the rolled cookie dough balls on a baking sheet until firm. Then, move them into a freezer-friendly zipped bag. To bake, thaw overnight or in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before placing them in the oven.
Many reasons could have caused flat cookies, such as using melted butter, not letting the dough chill long enough, or baking in a too-hot oven. See my flat cookie guide for possible reasons and how to fix them.
Although Pecan Sandies are flatter and disc-shaped like a traditional cookie, the recipe, taste, and texture of the cookies are very similar. The names are often used interchangeably.
🍪 More Cookie Recipes
Pecan Snowball Cookies
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
- Sift in the flour and salt mixture and fold with the help of a Rubber spatula just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Finally, add in toasted chopped pecans and fold just until combined.
- Prepare 2 baking pans with parchment paper.
- Using a smaller ice cream scooper (approx. 1 tablespoon), scoop the dough into approx. 20 balls. Place the balls on the prepared sheets, leaving approx. 2 inches in between them.
- Chill the dough for a minimum of 1 hour so it won´t spread in the oven but stay in the shape of the ball. Once the dough is chilled, quickly (without melting the dough) roll it between your hands to make it perfectly round, if desired.
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 C / 347 °F (no fan). Once the dough is chilled, bake the cookies for about 13 minutes. Pay attention to the bottom and top, the cookies are ready when the bottom is baked and the top is still nice and pale.
- Place powdered sugar into a bowl.
- Let the cookies rest for a few minutes, then very carefully coat them in the powdered sugar one by one while the cookies are still warm.
- Let them come to room temperature then coat them once again in the powdered sugar.
- Store the pecan snowball cookies at room temperature for up to a week in air tight jar or container.
- Measure your ingredients with a digital scale for accuracy.
- Use room temperature ingredients (e.g. butter) and sift the dry ingredients (e.g. powdered sugar and flour).
- Toast the pecans for a few minutes in a saucepan or in the oven - this will bring its flavor out.
- Make sure you read my Expert tips section above to maximize your success. A short recipe alone is not able to cover all the necessary details and science behind baking.
- If the dough feels too moist before scooping, place it into the fridge for 15 minutes for the butter to solidify
- Do not skip the chilling time or the snowball cookies might turn out like snowball pancakes
- Try not to overbake your cookies, they should stay nice and pale. Consider using an oven thermometer.
- The cookies will be very fragile when they are hot, but they will set as they cool. Apply the first powdered sugar coating very gently.
- Depending on the size of your ice cream scooper, you may get slightly more or less cookies than stated.