Walnut Snowball Cookies

DessertHolidayCookieWalnut

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.

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?!

Updated December 13, 2018 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the recipe.

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.

We usually use unsalted butter to make this recipe. If you use salted butter, omit the pinch of salt.

Ingredients

  • 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)

Method

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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Links:

Mexican Wedding Cookies by Irvin Lin, here on Simply Recipes

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

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

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

103 Comments / Reviews

No ImageWalnut Snowball Cookies

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. JM

    These were really yummy, easy and fun to make! I didn’t have any problems but did it slightly different from the recipe so maybe my method would help someone. First, I ground the walnuts in a food processor until they were basically a meal, close in texture to something like almond flour. After adding the butter, I squished it in with my hands until it was all completely incorporated and there were no more chunks. I made the balls the size of small meatballs and baked on a silicone baking mat on a regular cookie sheet for only about 25 minutes, just until the bottoms were browned. I (carefully) rolled them in the powdered sugar immediately after removing them from the oven (and had no issues with crumbling), then did the second coating about 20 minutes later. Turned out great!

    I am wondering if some of the people who wound up with flat cookies might have greased their pans? I know cookies can sometimes spread if you use a greased pan, and the recipe doesn’t actually specify whether or not to butter the pan, it just says to “prepare” one.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Lavisha Hall

    I love making these during the winter holiday season. Mines consist only of all purpose flour, sugar, butter and several drops of vanilla flavoring , powdered sugar and walnuts and the come out perfect ever time.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Sarah

    Very disappointed that mine did not come out as planned… It did not make very many either (shaped as directed), and half were near flat… I followed the recipe and re-reviewed it several times. Unfortunately, they took up much needed time that could have been used on a different recipe. Baking multiple goods tonight for a Christmas party tomorrow. Glad to hear others success, though. Everyone has recipes they can’t seem to perfect, and others they can do in their sleep! Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Lisa

    I followed the recipe exactly, they spread flat during cooking.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Janet

    Help my cookies all ran together and came out flat. I followed the recipe exactly. What could have gone wrong? They seem to have come out perfect fir everyone else. Only thing I can think of is I used a store bought cookie sheet, which is thinner than a regular one. Could that be it?

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