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Melt-in-your-mouth Pecan Snowball Cookies are a holiday classic! They’re nutty, buttery, and dusted in powdered sugar, giving them the appearance of a fluffy little snowball. You only need six simple ingredients to make pecan snowballs, and they come together with just 20 minutes of prep time!
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Ranking right up there with Gingerbread Cookies and Holiday Sugar Cookies, making Christmas snowball cookies is a tradition for many families this time of year. Their delicate melt-in-your-mouth texture and nutty flavor are definitely part of their popularity, but they’re also one of the easiest cookie recipes you can make for the holidays (and one of the most addicting too!).
Recipe At a Glance
Cuisine Inspiration: European, but the exact country is up for debate!
Primary Cooking Method: Oven
Dietary Info: Vegetarian
Key Flavor: Sweet and Nutty
Skill Level: Easy
- A Simple Classic: Over-the-top cookies are all the rage these days, but there’s something to be said for the cookies that keep it simple. Without mounds of frosting and candy bars on top, you can appreciate the buttery, nutty flavor of these old-fashioned pecan ball cookies.
- Easy to Make: There’s no decorating here—other than rolling the cookies in powdered sugar—and no need to roll out or cut cookie dough. Just mix everything together, roll the dough between your hands to form balls, and bake.
- The Perfect Addition to Your Christmas Cookie Tray: Buttery pecan snowball cookies are a holiday tradition! Serve them alongside Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Thumbprint Cookies, Italian Christmas Cookies, and other holiday favorites.
- Just Six Ingredients: And if you bake often, you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already!
Ingredients to make Pecan Snowball Cookies
- Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter is used in baking because it gives you more control over the taste of the finished product.
- Powdered sugar: Using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar in the dough is what gives these cookies their melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Vanilla extract: I recommend pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Finely chopped pecans: Pulse the pecans in your food processor to chop them.
- All-purpose flour: There’s not all that much flour in snowball cookies with pecans, which also contributes to their unique texture.
- Salt: To balance and enhance the flavor of the cookies.
Popular substitutions & additions
- Swap the vanilla for almond extract. Despite its name, almond extract has an almost floral cherry-like flavor to it—it’s not nutty at all! It’s often used in sugar cookie dough, but it’s also delicious in Christmas snowball cookies.
- Try another nut. You can really make these with any nuts you like, or use a mixture of nuts. Pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds—they’re all good here.
- Make them nut-free. For a festive, nut-free version of Christmas snowball cookies, swap the nuts with sprinkles. Use red, white, and green jimmies; chocolate jimmies would also work well.
- Add some spice. Cinnamon, cardamom, or other warm, cozy spices would make a lovely addition to these pecan ball cookies.
How to make Pecan Snowball Cookies
These are truly one of the easiest Christmas cookies you can make! Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Make the cookie dough
- Combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
- Mix until the dough comes together, and there are no streaks of flour.
Bake your pecan cookies and coat cookies in “snow”
- Roll the chilled dough between the palms of your hands.
- Set the balls of dough on a sheet pan with two inches between them.
- Bake until the tops are lightly golden brown.
- Cool the cookies just a bit, then roll them in the powdered sugar. After the cookies have cooled completely, roll them in the powdered sugar a second time.
Tips for making the best buttery pecan snowball cookies
- Don’t skip the chill time. The chill time for the dough is essential to this recipe. It helps the dough to hydrate, and it also keeps the cookies from spreading too much while they bake.
- Make sure to double-coat the cookies in powdered sugar. A double coat of powdered sugar may seem excessive, but there isn’t much sugar in the actual dough of these cookies. Plus, the first coat will melt slightly into the warm cookie. The final coat will give them their festive snowball-like appearance!
- Don’t forget to soften the butter. This is key for getting the butter to mix smoothly into the rest of the ingredients—and also keeping it from sticking to the paddle on your mixer.
- Use a cookie dough scoop. Not only does this make portioning the dough easier, it also ensures that each cookie is the same size so they all finish baking at the same time.
How to store pecan snowball cookies
Store snowball cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. You can add a layer of parchment paper between the cookies if you plan on stacking them. Moisture is not kind to powdered sugar, so make sure you cool the cookies completely to avoid a sticky gummy mess.
How long will pecan snowball cookies last?
These pecan snowball cookies will last up to one week on the counter and up to two weeks in the fridge, but if you are storing them in the fridge, they might pick up moisture.
Can I freeze pecan ball cookies?
Yes, you can freeze the baked cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Let them thaw at room temperature before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Cookies that are too crumbly might not have enough moisture. Make sure to measure your flour accurately, as too much flour can dry out the dough. Also, ensure your butter is at room temperature but not too soft or melted.
The cookies will flatten slightly when baked, but they shouldn’t flatten completely. If you skipped the chilling time, this may be why they spread. Another reason is if you place the dough on a hot baking sheet; if you have to reuse baking sheets, let them cool first. To help cookies maintain their shape, try chilling the dough balls for about 10-15 minutes in the freezer before baking. This firms up the fat and helps the cookies stay round while baking.
For a thick, visible coating, roll the cookies in powdered sugar while they’re still warm, then let them cool completely and roll them again. The first coat creates a sticky base, and the second coat adheres better, resulting in a thicker layer.
Whether you know them as Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, or Christmas snowballs, these pecan snowball cookies are a holiday tradition everyone in your family will love!
More cookie recipes:
- Oatmeal Cookies
- Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- Trail Mix Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
- Carrot Cake Cookies
- Date and Walnut Maamoul Cookies
- Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
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Pecan Snowball Cookies
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter with ⅓ cup of powdered sugar. Cream at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla extract. Mix at medium speed for 30 seconds, or until combined. Add the chopped pecans, flour and salt and mix at low speed until no streaks of flour remain.
- Set the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough into even portions, then roll each into an even ball. Makes about 18. Place on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then roll the slightly warm cookies in the remaining powdered sugar. Let cool completely, then dust any remaining sugar on the cookies until they are thoroughly coated.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.