Crazy for Crust

Dec 10

Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes

These are my Mom’s Famous Russian Tea Cakes! They’re the perfect Christmas cookie.

Russian Tea Cakes - my mom's famous recipe! |

Mom’s just do it better, right? Your mom’s recipe for something is just the best one, period.

These Russian Tea Cakes are no exception to that rule!

My mom has been making these longer than I’ve been alive. I call them her Famous Russian Tea Cakes because she’s always the one that makes them – and they’re always expected (and requested!) at parties. She makes them for Christmas, for Easter, for every holiday…and just because it’s a Tuesday.

Now, if you ask her about her recipe, she’ll tell you she got it during her home economics class back in school. She got a treasure trove of recipes from that class: coffee cake, banana bread, meringues. As a kid I’d rifle through her recipe box and in neat cursive script were all these recipes on index cards with her name up in the corner. So many recipes on this blog are based on those recipes.

I’m sort of jealous of her Home Ec class. When I was in mine in the seventh grade, all we made were sloppy joes that turned out cold and disgusting (seriously, I didn’t eat another sloppy joe for about 25 years) and a pillow that looks like a phone that my mom sewed for me. #idontsew #thesewingmachinehatesme

So thank you, Home Ec teacher. These Russian Tea Cakes have made many a Christmas. And now I’m sharing them with you!

Russian Tea Cakes - my mom's famous recipe! |

Now, you may be scratching your head and wondering why the heck I’m calling these a Russian Tea Cake. It’s what I grew up calling them. Only a few years ago, after I started blogging, did I realize there are several names for these cookies:

Mexican Wedding Cookies



Whatever you call them, they’re good. They’re super buttery and rich, probably because the ratio of butter to sugar is 2:1. Normally in cookies, there is more sugar than butter. These are all butter baby!

So, then, why don’t they flatten? Well, probably because there’s also lots of flour. Flour is a binder. These cookies have no egg, but they do have nuts in them. The classic Snowball/Russian Tea Cake is made with butter, powdered sugar, flour, and nuts. I used pecans, because they’re my favorite. You can also use walnuts or almonds.

Did you know you can stuff these cookies with candy? Mmm-hmmmm. I’ve done it with Reese’s. (Those are good. Go pin them. I’ll wait….)

Russian Tea Cakes - my mom's famous recipe! |

After baking, these cookies get a roll in powdered sugar. You do it while the cookie is still hot (careful of burning your fingers!) so the sugar sticks.

Many of you might wonder how I got my powdered sugar to look so powdery and not melted into the cookie. The secret: The Double Roll. Once cooled, roll the cookies a second time. Then they are powdery to the extreme.

These are a super rich, buttery, crumbly cookie. I use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to make them evenly sized. You have a cookie scoop, right? If not, add it to your Christmas list. Santa needs to bring you one! (I have three: 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoon, and 1/4 cup. You should ask for all of them!)

My mom loves to make these more bite sized. She uses her cookie scoop, then cuts each cookie in half. You get double the cookies and they’re perfect for a one-bite treat. No powdered sugar or crumbly mess anywhere. Great with kids. :) #omgpowderedsugareverywhere

I know your family will love these as much as mine does. They’ll become a fixture on your holiday table, just like ours!

Russian Tea Cakes - my mom's famous recipe! |


Mom’s Russian Teacakes

Yield: 48 cookies

This is my Mom's famous Russian Teacake recipe! This classic recipe is a family favorite, wether you call them snowballs or teacakes or wedding cookies!


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
  • Powdered sugar for rolling


  1. Preaheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute, until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated.
  5. Place on a rack to cool. (Once cookies are cooled, you may want to re-roll them in more powdered sugar.)


  • Use butter for best results. Do not substitute margarine or butter spreads.
  • Be careful not to overmeasure the flour. Scoop into the cup with a spoon, do not pack it!

My mom.

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Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Snowballs

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Sweets from friends:
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Flourless Fluffernutter Marshmallow Peanut Butter Thumbprints by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies by Something Swanky

121 comments on “Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes

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  2. Great recipe! Exactly the same as the traditional Greek Christmas cookie “Kourampies” . Never thought it was from Russian origin! How interesting! 

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  4. I just used your Russian Tea Cookie recipe. They taste delicious but they flattened out in the oven. They didnt stay round and they are so delicate, I can barely pick them up without it crumbling in my fingers. Any suggestions? 

    • Possibly they flattened because the mixture was too warm. Did the dough seem sticky when you were rolling the balls? Mine is pretty firm when I make the little balls of dough, so if the butter was too soft, and the balls are too soft, the cookies will spread more. Normally it doesn’t matter but if your butter happened to be very soft (or you’re somewhere warm) it might do that. (Also – was it real butter?) As for the crumbly, I’m not sure, but how do you measure your flour and powdered sugar? If it’s scooped with the measuring scoop it can pack and the results might be affected. Rule of thumb is to use a spoon to scoop into the measuring cup.

      • Thanks! Yeah I’m in Hawaii and the dough was cold but not super cold. It was a bit sticky. I measure my flour and sugar by scooping and running a butter knife over it. I’ll try and make this recipe again using your tips!

      • The humidity might definitely play a part! Try chilling the dough first!

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  7. Thanks!! This confirmed the measurements my mom had sent me and I didn’t have time to call home (another country). These are some of our biggest Christmas cookie traditions too! Thanks for posting! (Love your site!!)

  8. Hi!  I’ve been making these cookies for years!  A family favorite around the holidays. After reading your article I was motivated to try something different. I substituted pistachios and chopped cranberries for the pecans. My family loved the tea cakes 2.0!  Thanks for the inspiration!

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  16. This are my mom’s favorite too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My recipe it’s a little bit different, but anyway, they are russian tea cakes as well. They are so tasty! She call them “mis galletitas de nuez” (my little nut cookies) 😉

  17. We have the same thing here in the Christmas-New Year holiday period, called Kourampiedes/Kourabiedes. It’s must be almost exactly the same. Your Russian version looks amazing though!
    Fantastic job Dorothy!
    Panos and Mirella

  18. Because you said your mother’s favourite  …I just had to look at the recipe! Love recipes that are passed down!  I will make these!

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