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, with only 6 ingredients. Serve them during the holiday season with a cup of The Best Homemade Hot Chocolate!
You may know these by another name, like butterballs, Russian tea cakes, or Mexican wedding cakes, but Snowball Cookies are one of the most popular cookies to make during the holidays. It’s a simple cookie that is crumbly in the middle and sweet on the outside, with a melt in your mouth texture.
While these baked cookies 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 successfully used macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and cashews for this snowball cookie recipe, 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.
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.
Tips for Best Results
Use great quality butter – With only 6 ingredients, this is definitely the time to use good quality butter. These little snowballs are very buttery cookies! If you look up butter taste tests online, you’ll see that they are definitely not all equal. Some don’t taste like much of anything, while others have incredibly rich flavor. My favorite is Kerrygold, but Plugra and Vermont Creamery also make great butter.
Coat the cookies while warm – Let the snowball cookies cool just enough on the cookie sheet that you can handle them, then coat them in confectioner’s sugar while they’re still warm. This will help the confectioner’s sugar stick better to the outside.
Chop the nuts well – For superior texture, you’ll want to chop the nuts thoroughly, but not so much that they turn into a paste or nut butter. I prefer to do this in a food processor, but you can also use a knife and cutting board.
Step by Step Overview:
First chop up your nut of choice very finely using a food processor.
Pecan snowball cookies are probably the most popular, but today my pick is pistachios:
Nuts You Can Use
Pretty much any nut that you can think of will work in this recipe. I’ve successfully used macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and cashews. The only nut I don’t love here is the peanut (which is technically a legume), not because it doesn’t work, but because the flavor is not best suited for the experience.
Combine the finely chopped nuts with all-purpose flour and granulated sugar in a large bowl:
Add softened salted butter, and vanilla paste or vanilla extract:
Mix that all together with a hand mixer until a dough forms:
FYI: You may also make these classic cookies in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Form little 1-inch balls from the dough in between the palms of your hands, and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. I do this with the help of a cookie scoop, to ensure consistent sizing.
Bake the cookies for 25 minutes until they are cooked through. They should mostly retain their ball shape, and only cook down slightly.
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. Rolling warm cookies helps the coating to better stick to the outside of the cookie.
Because there is so little sugar in the actual dough, much of the sweetness is experienced through the coating on the outside, so you want to be generous with it.
How to Serve
These Snowball Cookies are best enjoyed while still warm, as it really emphasizes that “melt in your mouth” quality, but they will stay delicious for several days. I like to serve them on a platter with other kinds of cookies, like Shortbread Cookies, Simple Sugar Cookies, and Orange Cranberry Biscotti. They definitely deserve a spot on holiday cookie trays!
And then there’s Cut Out Cookies if you want to do some decorating. I have a full video for how to make this snowball cookies recipe, and the complete printable recipe below. Enjoy!
In addition to experimenting with the type of nut you use, you can also experiment with other flavorings. Here are some of my favorite ways to customize these easy snowball cookies.
Flavor extracts – In addition to the vanilla extract, add 1/2 tsp of almond extract.
Peppermint – Add 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract, and 1/4 cup of crushed candy canes to the dough to make peppermint snowball cookies.
Orange – Add the zest of 1 orange to the dough, especially if you’re making pecan snowball. Orange and pecan go so well together.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you want to keep them longer, I recommend freezing them, which will better preserve their flavor.
Yes, keep in an airtight freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, leave at room temperature for 2 hours.
You can use virtually any type of nut. I’ve successfully used macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts.
Yes! They are sometimes called Russian teacakes, pecan butter balls, Mexican wedding cookies, and Italian wedding cookies.
- 10 oz all-purpose flour by weight (or 2 cups, if measuring)
- 2 cups finely chopped pistachios (or other desired nut)
- 1/4 cup granulated 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 or parchment paper 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!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.