These dreamy snowball cookies are rich and buttery, filled with toasted pecans and covered in powdered sugar. They only require 6 ingredients and are super easy to make.

snowball cookies on a red dessert stand with pecans in the background.

Well, winter came a month early in Ontario. We already had our first major snowfall and temps are already in the minuses. If this is the new norm, I can’t say I’m thrilled about it, but what I am thrilled about are these cookies. I might not like cold snow, but I do love a good melt-in-your-mouth snowball cookie.

snowball cookies on a cooling rack

What are snowball cookies?

Snowball cookies are shortbread cookies made with flour, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Finely chopped nuts are often added for extra flavor and texture. I’ve always called them snowball cookies because of the way they look, or pecan sandies because of the texture. However, they are most commonly known as Mexican wedding cookies in the U.S. These cookies have been around since the 1950s and have made their way around the world with each country having its own version, like Russian tea cakes, Italian wedding cookies, Greek butter cookies and so on. There are probably more than a dozen different names for these world-famous cookies. (source: LA Times)

Why this recipe is so great:

  • Easy to make – With only 6 ingredients to make these little heavenly gems, all you have to do is mix, roll and bake. There is no chilling required for this recipe.
  • Can be made far in advance – These cookies will keep for up to 4 weeks, so you can easily make them ahead of time and store in an airtight container at room temperature until needed.
  • Tastes like heaven – The appeal of these cookies is when you first take a bite, you’ll get the sweetness from the powdered sugar. The cookie then delightfully crumbles in your mouth and you’re left with an unforgettable rich, buttery and nutty taste.

How to make snowball cookies:

First, you beat the butter until creamy. Then beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Add in the flour and mix until almost combined. The mixture will seem dry but will come together as you continue.

Add in the finely chopped pecans and stir until just combined.

Use a tablespoon to measure out the dough and roll into 1″ balls. Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet and roll cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Let cool completely on a wire rack and generously roll in powdered sugar again.

Expert tips:

  • Toast your pecans – It takes a few extra minutes, but really enhances the flavor of the cookies. All you have to do is spread out the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them at 350F for 7-10 minutes until fragrant. Keep a close eye because they do burn easily. Then pop them in the fridge to cool while you start to prepare the batter.
  • Partially mix in the flour – Just mix in the flour until ALMOST combined. It will look dry and sandy, but that’s ok, add in the pecan pieces and it will come together as you continue to mix. This will help to prevent overmixing the dough.
  • Generously roll in powdered sugar twice – To get that beautiful snowy white coating, you need to roll the cookie twice in powdered sugar. Once while the cookies are still warm. This coat acts as a primer and will melt onto the cookie. The second coat will give you that powdery signature look.

Variations:

  • Nuts – You can substitute the pecans with any kind of nuts you like. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios and macadamia nuts are excellent in this recipe.
  • Dried fruit – Add in 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, apricots for a little added chewy texture. Pistachio and cherries are a great combo, especially around the holiday season.
  • Spices and flavorings – I prefer just vanilla, but I have seen recipes with a touch of added spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and/or cloves. I’ve also seen recipes with almond extract and lemon zest added.

Can you freeze snowball cookies?

Yes, snowball cookies freeze really well. For best results, freeze the cookies the same day they were baked. Simply coat them in powdered sugar once while they are still warm and let the cookies completely cool. Place them in a freezer-friendly container, separating each layer with wax paper. Label with the date and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw the cookies on a plate at room temperature for an hour and roll in powdered sugar again.

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snowball cookies on a red plate

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World Famous Snowball Cookies


  • Author: Lily Ernst
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Description

These dreamy snowball cookies are rich and buttery, filled with toasted pecans and covered in powdered sugar.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (60g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (110g) whole pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. Spread out the pecans in a single layer and toast for 7-10 minutes until fragrant. Keep a close eye to prevent burning. Place in the fridge to let cool and turn down the oven to 325F.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Add in the 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat well, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Mix in the flour on low speed until almost combined. The mixture will look dry and sandy.
  5. Remove the pecans from the fridge and finely chop. Stir in the pecan pieces until just combined. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Use a tablespoon to measure out the dough and roll into 1″ balls. Place the rounded cookie dough about 1″ apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheets, then roll in powdered sugar while the cookies are still warm.
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack and roll again in powdered sugar.

Notes

Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.

Freezing – For best results, freeze the cookies the same day they were baked. Simply coat them in powdered sugar once while they are still warm and let the cookies completely cool. Place them in a freezer-friendly container, separating each layer with wax paper. Label with the date and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw the cookies on a plate at room temperature for an hour and roll in powdered sugar again.

  • Category: dessert
  • Method: bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: snowball cookies, pecan sandies, Mexican wedding cookies

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