Walnut Snowball Cookies

Festive holiday snowball cookies made with finely chopped walnuts, flour and vanilla, rolled into balls and dusted with powdered sugar.

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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

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  • 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.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Method

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

Links:

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 80 Comments

  • Ana Baca

    Hi, do you know how I could incorporate maple syrup in to this recipe?

  • marg

    I liked this recipe UT noticed because I didn’t melt the butter with my fingertips it stayed crumbly, I also added a quarter butter as I couldn’t get the dough firm enough.
    They came out good after all, and will try them again with less butter and see what happens.

  • Nancy G

    I made these cookies today & they are fantastic,! Followed each step and did chill the cookies prior to baking and they turned out perfect! We all love them!

  • Michaela

    I actually used 3/4 walnut meal and a cup and 1/4 butter … they turned out perfectly. At 300d for 30-35 minutes.

  • Julie

    Does anyone know if these would mail ok? I doubled the recipe. Can’t wait to pull them out of the oven!

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