These Snowball Cookies are a Christmas classic that can be made with any kind of nut. They’re easy and delicious, and are the epitome of the “melt in your mouth” experience. Serve them during the holidays with a cup of The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate!

Snowball Cookies - On a Wooden Board with Confectioner\'s Sugar Dusting

You may know them by another name, like butterballs, Russian tea cakes, or Mexican wedding cakes, but they are all a simple cookie that is crumbly in the middle and sweet on the outside.

While they are typically made with walnuts or pecans, I’ve tried them with all different kinds of nuts.

The main cookie base stays the same, but because each nut is different, each lends a different quality to the overall experience.

I’ve done macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and cashews, and they are all wonderful.

The only nut I don’t recommend is peanuts (which is technically a legume), as its flavor profile and texture is not my favorite in this setup.

(If you want your peanut fix, make these legendary Peanut Butter Cookies instead).

Snowball Cookie Recipe - Plated on White Dish with Bite Taken from Middle to Show Texture

One thing I like about using more unusual nuts is that almost everyone is familiar with these cookies, so it can be a fun switch to use untraditional nuts.

It usually prompts that, “OH MY GOSH, what is that?!” look, where they wonder what you’ve done differently.

How to Make Snowball Cookies:

First chop up your nut of choice very finely using a food processor.

Today my pick is pistachios:

Ground Up Pistachios in Mixing Bowl

Combine the nuts with flour and sugar:

Flour, Ground up Pistachios, and Sugar in Mixing Bowl

Add softened butter and vanilla paste or extract:

Dry Ingredients in Bowl with Two Sticks of Butter and vanilla

Mix that together with a hand mixer until the dough is combined:

Snowball Cookie Dough in Mixing Bowl

Form little balls from the dough, and place on a sheet tray:

Nut Ball Cookies - On Sheet Pan Ready to be baked

Bake the cookies for 25 minutes until they are cooked through:

Christmas Snowball Cookies Baked on a Silicone Mat

It’s a long bake time for cookies, but these are supposed to be on the drier side.

While they’re still warm, roll them in confectioner’s sugar.

Nut Ball Cookies on Wooden Board with Powdered Sugar

Because there is so little sugar in the actual dough, much of the sweetness is experienced through the coating on the outside.

I have a full video and the recipe below. Enjoy!

Shortbread CookiesMolasses Cookies, and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are other favorites for Christmas.

And then there’s Cut Out Cookies if you want to do some decorating.

Can Snowball Cookies be frozen? Yes, for up to 2 months.

How to Store Snowball Cookies: They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days before they start to lose their fresh taste. If you want to keep them longer, freeze them.

Snowball Cookies On a White Plate with Confectioner's Sugar Dusting

Snowball Cookies

These Snowball Cookies are a classic for Christmas, and can be made with any type of nut.

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  • 10 oz all-purpose flour by weight (or 2 cups, if measuring)
  • 2 cups finely chopped pistachios (or other desired nut)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl whisk to combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar. 
  • Add the butter and vanilla, and mix with a hand mixer until it comes together as a cohesive dough.
  • Form the dough into 1 inch balls, and place on a silicone mat lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes, until fully cooked through in the center. 
  • Let the cookies cool for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle, then roll the cookies in confectioner’s sugar while still warm, until generously coated. Enjoy!


Calories: 196kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 68mg, Potassium: 119mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 280IU, Vitamin C: 0.6mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post updated in December 2018. Originally published December 2014.