Walnut Snowball Cookies

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Can you say addictive? Get into the holiday spirit with Hank and his snowball cookies! ~Elise

This was my all-time favorite Christmas cookie when I was growing up. Mum made them by the bushel, and we’d pop the walnut-sized balls into our mouths as fast as she made them.

So fast that I got caught once as a boy purloining several. When I proclaimed my innocence, mum noted the powdered sugar on my face. Busted.

We always made these cookies with walnuts, but pecans are also customary. While we always called these “nut balls,” I’ve seen similar cookies called Mexican wedding cookies and Russian tea cakes. No matter what you call them, these cookies are addictive.

Consider this a starter recipe, suitable for a small family. If you have a crowd, double it.

Walnut Snowball Cookies Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

You can make these cookies with wild black walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, hickory or butternuts -- all will work fine.


  • 1 cup all-purpose or cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 pound butter (at room temperature)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar, to coat (about 1 cup)


1 Preheat the oven to 300°F and prepare a large cookie sheet.

2 Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, walnuts, salt, sugar) in a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Add the butter in little pieces, and combine everything together with your (clean!) hands until the mixture looks like a coarse meal with nut bits in it. Form the dough into small balls no larger than a walnut and place on the cookie sheet, spaced at least an inch apart from each other.

3 Bake for 35 minutes. When they are still warm, but cool enough to touch, roll the cookies in some powdered sugar. Set aside on a rack to cool completely. When cool, dust again in powdered sugar.

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank


Mexican Wedding Cookies by Irvin Lin, here on Simply Recipes

Black Walnut Snowballs with Orange Flower Water - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Showing 4 of 69 Comments

  • Connie Kappel

    I use to make a shortbread nutty type ball that you rolled in powdered sugar after baking and it had gin in it. I can not find my recipe anywhere and am wondering if you could help!

  • Gary P

    I am always experimenting with cookies but this time I followed your recipe exactly! Even at 8400 feet elevation here in Ecuador they turned out perfect! They are the best cookies I have eaten in 6 years! I am now an official “cookie monster” thanks to you! Absolutely ten thumbs up!

  • Tammy

    Finally! A Nut cookie recipe I can modify to include dates and rum that isnt made with Rice Crispies! Thank you! My morhers recipe book was lost and have been looking for this old timey, but totally yummy cookie recipe online and all I can find are these god awful rice crispy imposters.

  • Ann

    Am making these for the umpteenth time! They are awesome. I gave some away as holiday treat packages and the birthday girl at work requested these specifically. Excellent choice I say! Just wanted you to know how much I love your recipes.

  • RoseAnn L.

    So I just finished making these and followed the recipe to the T and I even tried to make these same cookies last year following a different recipe and followed that to the T and I’m still not happy with them, the taste is perfection but my cookies just crumble, I pick them up and it falls apart before I can even get it into the bowl to mix with the powdered sugar …. Any tips or pointers please! I love these cookies but not the crumble lol

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