Russian Tea Cakes (Snowball Cookies)
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Melt-in-your-mouth Russian tea cakes are a holiday classic! Light, crumbly, and studded with toasted pecans, these cookies are easy to make & ready to eat in just 30 minutes.
Table of Contents
- What are Russian teacakes?
- Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Key Ingredient Notes:
- How to make these snowball cookies:
- Tips for Success:
- Make-Ahead Tips:
- Storing Tips:
- More Christmas Cookies
- Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
What are Russian teacakes?
Russian tea cakes are nutty, crumbly, and subtly sweet cookies with a powdered sugar coating that brings it all together.
The cookie dough is studded with finely chopped pecans, then rolled into balls and dunked in powdered sugar. It’s pure magic.
These addictive little treats go by many names: snowball cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, or my favorite, Russian tea cakes.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Our holiday table isn’t complete without an enormous plate of Russian tea cakes dusted with powdered sugar!
- Only 6 ingredients
- Ready in 30 minutes
- Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture!
If you can’t resist melt-in-your-mouth shortbread style cookies, you’ll devour these Russian tea cookies!
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Pecan halves – Chopped nuts add a subtle crunch and nutty essence to the cookies. I’ve used pecans, but walnuts work great too! Be sure to toast the nuts beforehand for a quick flavor boost. Doing so intensifies their nutty aroma and crunch.
- Unsalted butter – Snowball cookies are a shortbread-style cookie, which means they have a high fat-to-sugar ratio. It’s what gives you that melt-in-your-mouth texture. Use unsalted butter so the cookies aren’t too salty from the pecans.
- Powdered sugar creates a tender, crumbly cookie! You only need 1/4 cup for the cookie dough. They’ll be plenty sweet once you roll them in powdered sugar.
- Vanilla extract is to enhance the flavors of the cookie!
- All-purpose flour – For the best results, weigh your flour with a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with a flat edge like a butter knife.
- Salt – A little bit of salt enhances sweetness.
How to make these snowball cookies:
Snowball cookies are simple and fun to make! Even young kids can help coat the cookies in powdered sugar.
1. Toast the pecans
- In a large dry skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. They’ll smell nutty and deepen in color.
- Cool the pecans slightly and coarsely chop them.
2. Make the dough
- In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Start on low speed and gradually increase the speed to medium high.
- Add the flour and salt, then beat until combined.
- Stir in the chopped pecans.
3. Shape and bake the cookies
- Use a small cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough into your hands, then form it into 1-inch balls. Arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Bake for 13 to 15 minutes at 375°F, or until the edges and bottoms are golden brown. They shouldn’t spread much.
4. Coat them in powdered sugar
- 1st coating: Place 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a large bowl. Carefully drop a warm cookie into the sugar and roll it around to coat it. Transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat with the remaining cookies and let the cookies cool completely.
- 2nd coating: Once the cookies are cool, roll them again in powdered sugar. This time the powdered sugar will sufficiently coat the cookie and turn it white.
Tips for Success:
- Toast the nuts! Toasting the nuts intensifies their aroma, flavor, and crunch. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s well worth it in the end.
- Use a cookie scoop for evenly sized cookies. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one on Amazon. I love my cookie scoops! They’re great for ice cream, meatballs, and pancake batter too.
- Double roll the Russian cookies. Trust me on this one. First coat them in powdered sugar while they’re warm, then do it again when they’re cool. The first coating melts slightly into the cookie and it’s heavenly.
- Make the cookie dough balls ahead of time and freeze. Then, all you have to do is pop them in the oven when you’re ready to bake them!
- You can freeze the baked cookie balls too! Just be sure to reroll them in powdered sugar, since the coating dissolves as they thaw.
- Store leftover snowball cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days or in the fridge for up to a week.
- Snowball cookies freeze well too! Transfer them to a freezer-safe container of ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- You will need to reroll them in powdered sugar since they will lose some of the coating as they defrost.
Russian tea cakes are a shortbread-style, buttery cookie that’s packed with finely chopped nuts and rolled into balls. They are known for their simple white coating of powdered sugar that makes them look like snowballs!
This is more of a preference thing than anything else. Pecans and walnuts are the most common contenders, but almonds can be used too! Just be sure to chop the nuts so they mix seamlessly into the cookie dough.
Technically yes, you can omit the nuts and still make a delicious cookie. However, the nuts do hold the cookies together some, so they may spread a little without them.
More Christmas Cookies
Russian Tea Cakes
- ½ cup (60g) pecan halves Note 1
- 1 stick (115g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¼ cup (30g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar for coating
- large skillet
- electric hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment
- Measuring cups & spoons
- cookie scoop
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a large skillet, toast the pecans over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until nutty, stirring constantly. Coarsely chop them.
- In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy. (Start on low speed gradually increasing to medium high.)
- Add flour and salt. Mix until combined.
- Then stir in the chopped pecans.
- Using a small cookie scoop, form 1-inch dough balls and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown around the edges and on the bottom.
- Place ½ cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the warm cookies and roll to coat. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Roll the cooled cookies again in the remaining powdered sugar and enjoy.
Tips & Notes
– Store leftover snowball cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to three days or in the fridge for up to a week.
– Snowball cookies freeze well too! Transfer them to a freezer-safe container of ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
– You will need to reroll them in powdered sugar since they will lose some of the coating as they defrost.