I owe my friend Ali credit for the recipe for these pecan snowball cookies, as it’s one she shared years ago at a cookie exchange party. I’ve always loved Christmas snowball cookies, and even tried making a few versions myself, but it wasn’t until she shared this recipe that I became a devotee. Besides being ridiculously simple and fool proof to make, they are the perfect blend of savory and sweet. Rich and buttery, with almost a hint of saltiness, offset by the powdered sugar dusting, they are the perfect little cookie to eat and to gift.
What’s In Pecan Snowball Cookies?
There’s only 7 ingredients in these tasty little nougats; 1 cup of salted or unsalted butter (if using salted butter omit the salt), ½ cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp salt, 2 cups flour, 1.5 cups chopped pecans, and lastly, powdered sugar for dusting. These cookies don’t call for baking soda or powder, so even if you’re not a regular baker who always has fresh baking staples on hand, you can likely make a batch with what you’ve got on hand. What’s worse than wanting to make a batch of cookies, but realizing you don’t have all you need?
How to Make Pecan Snowball Cookies
You’ll want to start by getting out your butter and bringing it to room temperature.
Next, preheat your oven to 350 and get out your stand mixer or a medium sized bowl and hand mixer. My Sunbeam Hand Mixer is going strong 20 years later, and is the perfect tool for easy recipes like this).
Cream the butter and sugar together on low speed until smooth, then mix in your vanilla.
At low speed, gradually beat in the flour, about ½ cup at a time, as well as the salt. The mix will likely look very crumbly, but that’s okay. You will be forming the dough together by pressing it into bowls, so no worries if it feels too dry.
Stir in your pecans with a spatula until well combined, and start forming your pecan snowballs.
I typically get a generous tablespoonful of dough and form them into large balls, about 1 inch in diameter. You can make them a little more petite if you’d like, but I wouldn’t go much larger than 1-1.5 inches. Make them too big and they may get dried out when baking.
Place your prepared snowballs on a lightly greased or lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Oven type, baking elevation, as well as how small or large you make the cookies, means cooking times may vary from batch to batch. I always check on them starting at 15 minutes and go from there. I like them to turn out a pale golden color.
Once you’ve let the cookies cool a bit, go ahead and roll them in powdered sugar and hope they last a day in your presence!
How to Store Pecan Snowball Cookies
Place cooled and dusted cookies in a covered, dry container for up to a week, You can also freeze in an airtight bag for up to 6 months. As long as the cookies are completely cooled, you can stack them on top of each other. If you stack them before cooled down though, the powdered sugar may stick to each other.
Can You Use Other Nuts Besides Pecans?
I’m personally a huge pecan fan, so pecans will always be my default. BUT! I have made them with other nuts if I am in a pinch. Walnuts and almonds both work really well, and I’m imagining hazelnuts would be divine! Gotta try that next time. You can even mix nuts if you have partial amounts of a couple of varieties. For instance this batch I photographed are a mix of 1 cup pecans, and ½ cup walnuts! I was all set to make a batch and shoot them, only realizing when I went to gather my ingredients that I had just 1 cup of pecans. No problem though, they wound up tasting just as delicious!
Tips for Making Pecan Snowball Cookies
Don’t have time to wait an hour for your butter to soften up? Fill a glass tall enough to hold your sticks of butter, with boiling water, allowing it to sit for a minute to warm up the glass, then pour out the water. Set your sticks in the warm glass and let them sit for 10 minutes or so, and voila, softened butter!
Also, allow your cookies enough time to cool down before rolling them in powdered sugar. If you roll them too soon, the powdered sugar may melt a little and almost become a very light, frosting like consistency. This has happened to my cookies many times, especially when I’m in a hurry to get a batch done, but they still taste delicious! Just don’t be surprised if the consistency of the powdered sugar changes slightly if you coat them while still warm.
Try These Other Dessert Recipes for Christmas
Easy Pecan Snowball Cookies Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cup chopped pecans
- powdered sugar for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease cookie sheets.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth, then mix in the vanilla.
- Gradually, ½ cup at a time, mix in the salt and flour at low speed.
- Stir in the pecans with a rubber spatula until combined.
- Roll out dough into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet about 2"-3" apart.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cookies are a pale golden brown.
- Allow to cool and roll in powdered sugar.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months.