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.
The Best Nuts to use for Snowball Cookies
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.
How to Freeze Snowball Cookies
These cookies do keep well in the freezer, either baked or unbaked, for at least a month. If unbaked, no need to thaw; just add an extra minute or two onto the baking time. If baked, go ahead and roll them in the first round of powdered sugar, freeze, and then roll again in powdered sugar after thawing.
Troubleshooting Snowball Cookies
If you want the cookies to be lighter and fluffier, use cake flour. If you want them to be a bit denser, use all-purpose flour.
If you refrigerate the dough overnight, let the dough come to room temperature until it's pliable enough to shape. If the dough still seems crumbly, work it with your hands until the butter softens a bit more.
Room temperature butter should be about 68°F to 70°F. If your kitchen is hotter than that, the butter may get too soft. The butter should have some resistance when you push your finger into it. If it does not, it's too soft and results in cookies that may go flat.
Variations of Snowball Cookies to Try
- Switch out the walnuts for almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, or some other nut.
- Although nuts are classic in these cookies, one reader suggested substituting crisped rice cereal for nuts if nut allergies are a concern.
- If using almonds, substitute almond extract for the vanilla extract.
- For gluten free snowball cookies, use almond flour or gluten free baking mix.
- Add a little cinnamon to the powdered sugar.
How to Store Snowball Cookies
Store snowball cookies for up to one week in an airtight container at room temperature. Or, see the instructions above for freezing these cookies.
How to Send Snowball Cookies as Gifts!
Because these cookies last up to a week at room temperature, they're great to send as gifts. Try to ship them as soon as possible after they are completely cool. Follow these tips.
- Wrap cookies two by two, with their bottoms touching, in plastic wrap.
- Buffer the cookies with packing materials. Packing peanuts are best, but bubble wrap or even wadded-up newspapers will work, too.
- Make sure there's no room in the box for sliding around to minimize any damage to the cookies.
- Pick the quickest shipping method possible.
Looking for More Christmas Cookies? Try These!
Want to see ALL of our Christmas Cookies? Check this out!
Walnut Snowball Cookies
You can make these cookies with wild black walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, hickory, or butternuts—all will work fine.
We usually use unsalted butter to make this recipe. If you use salted butter, omit the pinch of salt.
1 cup all-purpose or cake flour
1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Powdered sugar, to coat (about 1 cup)
Make the dough:
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.
Chill the dough:
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven:
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon baking mats.
Form the dough into balls:
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.
Bake the cookies for 35 minutes.
Roll in powdered sugar:
When cookies are still warm, but cool enough to touch, roll them in the powdered sugar. Set aside on a rack to cool completely. When cool, dust again in powdered sugar.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11g||14%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||17%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|