These Russian Tea Cakes are so easy to make and they are my absolute favorite Christmas cookie recipe! They’re made with pecans and then rolled in powdered sugar after baking for a light, tender cookie you’re sure to love. I always make a few batches to hand out for gifts around the holidays and everyone always loves them.
These buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies have so many names. What do you call these cookies? I’ve heard a variety of different terms for classic Russian Tea Cakes. Some call them snowball cookies or Mexican Wedding Cakes, and I’ve even heard some call them butter balls.
How to Make Russian Tea Cakes VideoDo you want to know what I call them? Well I call them…. delicious. 🙂
What Are Russian Tea Cakes?
Russian Tea Cakes (or snowball cookies) are commonly baked around the holiday season. They are a form of Jumble which was a popular cookie pastry made in the Middle Ages. Jumbles were popular during that time because they traveled and kept so well, thanks to their hard nature being made with nuts or seeds. Although in the Middle Ages they were known to keep these cookies around for a year without becoming stale, I dare you to keep them around for a week without eating them all up!
These are one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes due to the crunch of the finely chopped pecans and perfect sweetness from the powdered sugar they are rolled in after baking. Do you love powdered sugar as much as I do? I hope so.
Ingredients In Russian Tea Cakes
There are only six basic ingredients in this traditional Christmas cookie recipe. You just might have everything you need right now!
- Confectioners’ Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- All-Purpose Flour
- Finely Chopped Pecans
Other nuts can be used in this recipe, but I prefer using pecans for these cookies. You want to make sure they are finely chopped, so they don’t overwhelm the cookies. Simply take a handful and throw them in your food processor. A few pulses later you’ll have the exact consistency that you want.
How Do You Make Snowball Cookies?
Start this snowball cookie recipe by creaming together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract, together in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture and stir well to fully incorporate the ingredients. Add the finely chopped pecans and stir so they are equally distributed. I do this with a spoon. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll cookie dough in 1 inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or silicone baking mats. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and until cookies are set but not browned. Once baked, but while still warm, roll each cookie in powdered sugar. Let cookies cool completely and then store in an airtight container.
Why Do You Need To Chill Dough?
The cookie dough needs to chill for about 20 minutes. Why do you want to chill the dough? These cookies have flour in them, so chilling the dough permits the gluten strands in the flour to cause a rubbery texture in the final cookie. Also, having the dough chilled makes it much easier to roll up all of the dough into balls when it’s time to bake them.
Tips For Making Russian Tea Cakes
- When rolling the cookies, keep the balls on the smaller side, about 1 inch. This will help them hold their shape when they are baking.
- The cookie dough can be made in advance and frozen for up to one month.
- As mentioned, above, be sure that the pecans are finely chopped to ensure they are evenly dispersed throughout the dough. I like using my food processor for this.
- These cookies keep well, stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a little over a week or so.
- To change things up, try using finely chopped walnuts or almonds instead of pecans.
Enjoy our family’s favorite cookies, Russian Tea Cakes (or snowball cookies)!
Other Favorite Holiday Cookies To Try:
Did you make and love this recipe? Give it your review below! 👇 And make sure to share your creations by tagging me or using the hashtag #brooklynfarmgirl on Instagram!
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Russian Tea CakesPrint
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1/4 cup confectioners powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- confectioners powdered sugar to roll cookies in
- Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla together in bowl.
- Mix flour and salt together in other bowl.
- Combine flour mixture with butter mixture, mix so blended together nicely.
- Add pecans and stir with a spoon so they are equally distributed.
- Chill dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Roll dough in 1 inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet or silicone baking mats.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Remove from oven.
- While still warm, roll each cookie in powdered sugar.
- Let cool, store in airtight container.