Walnut Snowball Cookies

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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Black Walnut Snowballs with Orange Flower Water - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Pecan Snowball Cookies - from Talk of Tomatoes
Lavender and Almond Snowball Cookies - from My Baking Cottage
Orange and Clove Snowball Cookies - from Baking Bites

Showing 4 of 74 Comments

  • Maren

    I am not qualified to question any cook, but I really have to say that you MUST also include a teaspoon of almond extract with the vanilla. You won’t be sorry!

    Not a big fan of mixing the almond and walnuts flavors in the same cookie, but that’s just a personal thing. I also make a version of these cookies with orange flower water added in, too. REALLY good! ~Hank

  • Susan

    I love Snowballs. They are what first pops into my head whenever anyone asks what Christmas cookies to make. What I also love about them, I am never on hold to make cookies because I might be out of eggs. They are as simple as shortbread but not as dependent on the quality of the butter for flavor. Perfect, I tell you!

  • Ravenous Rowie

    YUM! I make a similar cookie with hazelnuts. SOOO good, and festive too!

  • Steffi

    These look so good. Is there a good substitute for nuts? Would chopped oats work? We have a peanut allergy in our family, so we have to be extra careful about the cross contamination that often happens with tree nuts.

    Sorry, I know of nothing that could come close to replacing the nuts – they are the signature flavor in this cookie. Only thing I could suggest is to go out and pick some walnuts or other nuts yourself (which is what I do) so you will then be sure there’s no peanut contamination. ~Hank

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