Walnut Snowball Cookies


These festive holiday Snowball Cookies are made with finely chopped walnuts, flour, and vanilla, then rolled into balls and dusted with powdered sugar. They freeze well and ship well, too!

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.

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Best Kind of Nut 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.

Looking for more Christmas cookies? Try these!

Want to see ALL of our Christmas Cookies? Check this out!

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.

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 to 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar, to coat (about 1 cup)


1 Make the cookie 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.

2 Chill the dough: Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge or up to overnight.

3 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon baking mats.

4 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.

3 Bake for 35 minutes.

4 Roll in powdered sugar: 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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Mexican Wedding Cookies by Irvin Lin, here on Simply Recipes

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

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

135 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Melanie

    Delicious. I made with salted butter and omitted the salt as recommended. Turned out delicious. Very impressed!! Thank you


  2. KA

    These are delicious. I made it with Gluten free flour (can imagine better with reg) but still delicious. To the readers who posted about it being too crumbly, mine too was very crumbly at first. I think the trick is you really need to knead the butter mixture with your hands longer than you think. I did this for a while before it really formed into a nice mixture before refrigerating. I also had taken my butter out from the freezer so it was a bit colder than room temp. The balls were then really easy to form.


  3. Robin

    This recipe ended up fine but not until I added about a cup of water to the recipe! There was NO liquid liated in the recipe except for the small amount of vanilla extract. I followed the directions, let it sit in the fridge for an hour before rolling into balls and the mixture was so crumbly that there was no way it would form a ball! For a double batch, I gradually added a cup of water while mixing again with my hands. Just be forewarned: this is a very dry and crumbly mixture if you follow the directions. Add water!


    Show Replies (4)
  4. Nesbit

    My husband loved them!


  5. Tina Kwiatkowski

    These are the best cookies ever!!!


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