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These are my Mom’s Famous Russian Tea Cakes! They’re the perfect classic Christmas cookie and we’ve been making them for my entire life. You can make these easy cookies in no time. The most popular name for these are Snowball Cookies but they’re the same recipe and everyone loves them. My mom gets several requests to make them all year long.

cookies in a bowl with one cut in half


What is a Russian Tea Cake?

A classic Christmas Cookie, tea cakes are buttery cookie balls filled with nuts, also called Snowball Cookies. They only have a few ingredients and are rolled in powdered sugar after baking. They’re delicate and practically dissolve in your mouth.

I don’t make a ton of recipes more than once, but I make my mom’s Russian Tea Cake Recipe several times a year. 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.

Are Russian Teacakes the same as wedding cookies?

These buttery cookies have so many names. You may have heard them called Wedding Cookies (either Mexican Wedding Cookies or Italian), Butter Balls, Pecan Balls or Snowball Cookies.

I go back and forth between what I call them, but my mom’s recipe calls them Russian Tea Cakes so that’s what we call them!

ingredients in snowball cookies

5 Ingredients in Snowball Cookies

There are just a few ingredients in these easy cookies:

  • Butter: You can use salted OR unsalted butter (see recipe notes). Make sure it’s softened. Make sure to use REAL butter, the higher quality the better. (I love Challenge Butter best!)
  • Powdered Sugar: This makes them nice and delicate.
  • Vanilla: Always buy PURE vanilla!
  • Salt: Needed if using unsalted butter – omit if using salted butter.
  • Flour: Be sure to measure it correctly.

These cookies hold their shape when they bake, because the have no leavening and no egg.

How to make Russian Tea Cakes

  • Cream butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand mixer.
  • Add vanilla extract, salt, and flour and mix until combined. This will take a long time if you’re using a hand mixer – just keep mixing.
  • Add chopped pecans or walnuts (or even almonds or pistachios!)
  • Scoop 1 tablespoon sized cookie dough balls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake until bottoms are light golden.
  • Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar for a snowball look.
cookies in a bowl with hand holding one

Can you make Snowball Cookies without nuts?

You can omit the nuts in these cookies. I do it all the time! You have a few options for making these nut-free:

cookies in a bowl with hand holding one cut in half

Expert Tips

  • Don’t pack your flour. Be sure you measure your flour correctly. Same goes for the powdered sugar.
  • Chop your nuts small so the cookies bind better.
  • This dough is a thick cookie dough. If you’re using a stand mixer they’ll take a minute or two to combine into a thick dough. Note that a hand mixer will take much longer to mix! Just keep mixing: the crumbly dough will come together to form a thick cohesive cookie dough.
  • 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!
  • 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.

FAQs

What is the best way to store Russian tea cakes?

The best thing about making these cookies (besides eating them) is that they freeze well! My mom and I always freeze these for holidays or just any day you want a cookie. You may just have to re-roll them in powdered sugar once they’re thawed. Other than that you don’t have to do anything special to freeze them.

What nuts are best for Russian tea cakes?

Traditionally Snowballs are filled with nuts, either pecans, walnuts or almonds. My mom always made them with pecans, so that’s what I use in this recipe.

Do Russian tea cakes freeze well?

Yes they freeze great for up to 3 months.

Why didn’t my dough come together?

Just keep mixing – this dough is stiff and if you’re using a hand mixer it will take longer to come together than if you’re using a stand mixer. If it’s still crumbly you just need to keep mixing.

Why are my Russian tea cookies flat?

They should not flatten at all. Did you make any substitutions? If they flatten you may have not measured the flour correctly or your butter may have been too warm or melted.

bowl of snowball wedding cookies

Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

4.95 from 110 votes
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!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Yield 48 cookies
Serving Size 1 cookie

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter softened
  • ½ cup (57 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups (279 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup finely chopped nuts pecans, walnuts, or almonds
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix butter, 1/2 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.
  • Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  • 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.
  • Place on a rack to cool. (Once cookies are cooled, you may want to re-roll them in more powdered sugar.)
  • You can freeze these cookies or make them up to 4 days ahead of serving.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

You can make so many different variations of this recipe!
  • Omit the nuts and substitute mini chocolate chips
  • Omit the nuts and substitute toffee bits
  • Omit the nuts and make them plain
  • Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Check out my snowball category for all ideas!

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 71kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 118IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

You can make so many different variations of this cookie. I have over a dozen different flavors of Russian Tea Cakes, from lemon to spice to chocolate chip. You can even STUFF them with candy!

Other favorite Christmas Cookies:

Easy Russian Tea Cakes are a classic Christmas cookie we’ve been making my whole life. My mom’s recipe is famous in our family! They’re buttery cookies filled with pecans and they’re SO good!

Last Updated on December 7, 2023



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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208 Comments

  1. In the written recipe, the baking temperature is 375 degrees and yet in the video you mentioned baking at 350 degrees. can you kindly clarify?

  2. Love to make for Christmas for gifts, and the rest of the year for me to eat. I have liked these since I was tiny and my Granny from Wales would whip up a batch in no time and let me roll them in the Powdered sugar. Love Love them I just needed a couple reminders on the recipe. Thank you so very much and Happy Christmas, Bev

  3. Thank you! I am so glad I found this. My mom used to bake these every year for Christmas, they were my Dad’s favorite. I got the recipie from Mom a few years ago, but never could get them to turn out right. Reading through your recipie, I found the issue. When I wrote down the recipie from Mom, I somehow wrote 1 1/4 cups of flour instead of 2 1/4 cups. Can’t wait until I try these again, but I’m sure that was the whole problem.