Walnut Snowball Cookies

DessertHolidayCookieWalnut

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

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.

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
  • 2-3 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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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

92 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Nadia

    Just made these and rolled them in the icing sugar. I think I shouldn’t have tried because I hope I will leave some for company. Delicious buttery nutty goodness!! I have never made these before but had a good harvest of walnuts this year and thought I would try it. Happy that I did. I followed the directions and temperature and timing were spot on in my oven. Had no problem rolling in icing sugar. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. Do you know if I made another batch if they would freeze okay?

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Josephine

    Made the cookies and they did not last the day. Instead of rolling in the icing sugar, I melted white chocolate and dipped cookies half way. Excellent recipe! Thank you

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jeanna

    Love this recipe. But I doubled it and only got 25 :(

  • Linda

    Recipe was easy and they turned out amazing .Thanku

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Christina

    Should I use unsalted butter?

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