How to Make Snowball Cookies from Scratch

I love making these buttery, nutty cookies during the holidays. The recipe is simple enough to make ahead and freeze, too!

December is the peak season for cookie baking. It’s also the perfect time of year to make a batch of snowball cookies! You’ll find plenty of different versions of snowball cookies, but I recommend first learning learn how to make snowball cookies with the classic recipe below. I love how they are pecan-filled and melt in your mouth.

What Are Snowball Cookies?

Snowball Cookie Closeup - how to make snowball cookies from scratchApril Preisler for Taste of Home

Snowball cookies are a classic holiday treat, dusted with powdered sugar and packed with pecans. These cookies are also commonly referred to as Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, Italian Wedding Cookies, snowdrops or pecan butter balls. Snowball cookies are the most common way to refer to them because they look like balls of snow.

These cookies are unique in that they do not include eggs in the dough, and they use powdered sugar that results in a light, crumbly cookie. They are quite easy to assemble and feature ingredients that you can probably find in your pantry right now.

How to Make Snowball Cookies

This holiday recipe is from Alberta McKay of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and is a tradition in her house at Christmastime.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar

Creamed Butter and Sugar - how to make snowball cookies from scratchApril Preisler for Taste of Home

In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy.

Editor’s tip: You definitely want softened butter for this step! Forgot to take it out of the refrigerator? This is how to soften butter in a pinch.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients

Snowball Cookie Dough - how to make snowball cookies from scratchApril Preisler for Taste of Home

Beat in vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt; then, gradually add the flour to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans.

Refrigerate until chilled. Don’t skip this step—it’s essential for avoiding thin, flat cookies.

Step 3: Bake

Snowball Cookies ready to bake - how to make snowball cookies from scratchApril Preisler for Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll the dough into 1-in. balls and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.

Step 4: Roll in confectioners’ sugar

Rolling Cookies in Powdered Sugar - how to make snowball cookies from scratchApril Preisler for Taste of Home

Roll warm cookies in additional confectioners’ sugar; cool completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies again in confectioners’ sugar.

Snowball Cookie Variations

There are a lot of variations inspired by the classic snowball cookie. This festive recipe for Peppermint Snowballs includes a creamy filling and a mixture of peppermint candy and powdered sugar on the outside. Another idea is to add cocoa powder to the dough for Chocolate Snowball Cookies.

These cookies are also surprisingly easy to change to fit different diets. You can make Keto Snowball Cookies by using sugar substitutes and almond flour. They can also be transformed into vegan snowballs with help from a vegan butter substitute. You can also make them gluten-free by replacing the flour with potato starch and xanthan gum.

Snowball Cookie Tips

Why do my snowball cookies go flat?

If your cookies go flat, check the oven temperature. If your oven temperature was too low, it can result in your cookies spreading out more. It also may be due to your butter being too soft or melted. If your butter was too soft when you whipped the cookies, you may want to pop the dough in the refrigerator for an extra 1-2 hours to firm up.

How long do homemade snowball cookies last?

You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the finished cookies by laying them flat in a zip-close bag and squeezing out at much air as possible. To thaw, put them in the refrigerator overnight and then let them come to room temperature before serving. I like to roll them in powdered sugar again after freezing for a freshened-up look.

Snowball Cookies for Your Holiday Treat Tray
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April Preisler
April is a food and travel lover, wine enthusiast, ice cream obsessed and the vision behind the blog, Food n' Focus. Her favorite cuisine is Italian and loves to cook international recipes.