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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.

You can call these cookies so many names but they’re easy to make and everyone loves them. My mom gets several requests to make them all year long.

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bowl of snowball wedding cookies
Table of Contents
  1. What is a Russian Tea Cake?
  2. Are Russian Teacakes the same as wedding cookies?
  3. 5 Ingredients in a Russian Tea Cakes
  4. What nuts are best for Russian Tea Cakes?
  5. Can you make Russian Tea Cookies without nuts?
  6. How do you store Russian Tea Cookies?
  7. Expert Tips
  8. Russian Tea Cake Secret
  9. Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes Recipe Recipe

What is a Russian Tea Cake?

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.

A classic Christmas Cookie, tea cakes are buttery cookie balls filled with nuts. 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.

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!

fingers holding snowball cookie in bowl

My mom got this recipe from our neighbor when I was young. I was only 5 when we moved away and I don’t remember the neighbors but I remember digging through the recipe box every Christmas to find this recipe.

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.

5 Ingredients in a Russian Tea Cakes

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.

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.

Can you make Russian Tea 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:

fingers holding Russian Tea Cake with bite missing

How do you store Russian Tea Cookies?

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.

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.

Russian Tea Cake Secret

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.

bowl of Russian Tea Cakes

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:

bowl of snowball wedding cookies

Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

3.43 from 207 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
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword cookies
collage of russian tea cake photos

Post originally posted 2013. Photos updated 2019.

Snowball cookies in red ramekin dish with more on the wood table

See more of my snowball recipes here!

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 May 20, 2022

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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177 Comments

  1. Love these cookies!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I normally don’t read the blog part and skip to the recipe, buttt I have to say that when I started reading I couldn’t stop, and U held my attention. Thankyou!!:)