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. ๐Ÿ™‚ #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! |

ย Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Momโ€™s Russian Teacakes

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 375ยฐ. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Mix butter, ยฝ 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.

All images and text ยฉ. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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  1. Yummy these look delicious. I’ve yet to make cookies for my Christmas baking, so I want to make these!

  2. They remind me of my mom’s Russian Tea Cakes and she’s been making those as long as Ive been alive, and before that, they were my (russian/polish) grandmother’s Russian Tea Cakes ๐Ÿ™‚ Buttery, powdered sugar, a little crumbly, gosh just seeing these brings back memories! They’re great, Dorothy!

  3. We had something so similar growing up and they are the best!!

  4. Russian Tea Cakes are My Mom’s famous cookies too! In fact, it is about time for her to make a batch! These look perfect ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Moms do do it best! I’ve been thinking about making these for my friend’s wedding dessert bar, in fact, so I’m glad I stumbled across your mom’s recipe. And way to inspire me more and more to become a home ec teacher–I just remember our 7th grade class involving belgian waffles and lots of quilting ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t believe how many awesome (reliable) recipes I used to collect from kiddy cooking classes, way before the heyday of the internet. If only I could go back to that simplicity now, there are way too many recipes out there I want to compare/review/try, amiright? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I just made some snowballs yesterday, but never have I seen them stuffed…oh, my…yum! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  7. I have a recipe for these that calls them “sand tarts”, but your Mom’s recipe is the best, I’m sure! She is quite the baker. And what a great home ec class she had! I don’t remember getting any good recipes, but I remember boys waiting outside our class for samples (we had home ec the last period of the day in 7th grade).

  8. I have made these for years and they are phenomenal!!! They just melt in your mouth!

  9. I grew up with Russian Tea Cakes. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them! They are one of my favorite cookies. Our recipes are exactly the same, Dorothy!

    • I’m not surprised! I wish I knew where the original came from. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks Nancie!

      • I found this recipe in my vintage Betty Crocker Cookbook passed down from my grandmother. My book is from the 50’s so your guess is as good as mine as to where it started. But really, who cares, these are my absolute favorite cookie. AND….they freeze well for a cool, summer treat!

      • Awesome! I had no idea where it originally came from! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I am new to your blog.. Never thought about stuffing these cookies..Thanks I will try that…

  11. I grew up eating these too but we called them Russian Tea Cookies. I didn’t like them with nuts, so my mom made some with and some without nuts. Brings back a lot of good memories and will definitely make them this Christmas. Thanks.

  12. These look super yummy. I may have to try the Reese’s version since Reese’s peanut butter cups are my very favorite candy.

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  14. Moms do make everything best! I’ve learned to stop trying to come up to the standard of Michael’s mom lol.

    and omg I’m jealous of your mom’s home ec class too! That’s awesome! and these cookies/russian tea cakes look perfect. I always associate them with Christmas ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. Have you tried these at all with gluten-free flour? I am looking at using a gluten-free flour mix from a box. I recently went gluten-free and it’s hard to find cookie recipes that don’t have flour in them.

  16. I love these cookies. They make me think so much of my childhood. We called them Mexican wedding cookies but the result is still the same. So tasty!

  17. These look delicious! I love the fact that most of the ingredients are things you’d commonly have around the house. After I stock up on groceries I’ll definitely try them. Thank you!

  18. This cookie needs to show up in my mothers kitchen every year for Christmas otherwise it just doesn’t seem right! We call them snowballs or more commonly, “those cookies mom makes every year.” Love these!

  19. Girl, these cookies rock! i’ll try them tomorrow and make them for my son’s 3rd birthday on sunday. Thanks for sharing!

  20. These are one of my favorite cookies to make each year too…except I don’t ever use nuts in mine or roll them in powdered sugar. Powdered sugar everywhere doesn’t sound like fun with kids…although I like your mom’s idea to cut them in half so you can just pop them!

  21. These look so good, my mom always makes Shortbread-that is what she is famous for!! And scones ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have never had a cookie like this, I always eye them but always end up going for something with chocolate. But these look so buttery and the second roll in powdered sugar- hell yeah!!!

  22. These were a staple on our cookie platter but I haven’t made them in years! I am totally intrigued by the Reese’s stuff one!

  23. I took home economics in middle school – we never made anything fun and had to sew these ugly locker caddies ๐Ÿ™ I can’t sew either!

    I love old family recipes. Just recently I was looking through some of my grandmother’s old recipes, in her handwriting. It is such a special thing to have, especially once they have passed away ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. I don’t remember what we cooked in home ec, I just remember sewing pillows. I broke the sewing machine and blamed it on someone else. Not my most proud moment. These cookies are right out of my childhood! My mom made them every year. This one is special to me!

  25. Love these, Dorothy! My mom always made them every year at Christmas as well, but she shaped them like little crescents and I think everyone in Texas calls them Mexican Wedding Cookies. I love your tip to double roll them so that all of the powdered sugar doesn’t soak in…thanks!

  26. One of my all time favorites! I will definitely be baking these soon!

  27. Nothing better for buttery richness than a little round shortbread ball, no matter what nationality (Russian, Mexican, Greek…) As Jocelyn mentioned, these are delicious without nuts too. (I can’t really compare because I can’t eat nuts. I just make up the difference with more flour. ) I can’t imagine them without powdered sugar though. I don’t mind a little powdered sugar mess when it provides such yumminess.:)

  28. I agree! Everything my mom makes is better! I always called these Mexican Wedding Cookies. It’s funny how one cookie can have so many different names! I even made them for a college Spanish class for a speech I was doing on wedding traditions! I may have to add these to my Christmas baking this year!

  29. My grandma brings these every year at Christmas time! They are the only cookies I associate with Christmas. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to try the double roll trick!

  30. Russian tea cakes are a tradition in my family, except it’s my grandma’s recipe that everyone uses! I love the idea of stuffing Reese’s in them!

  31. these are one of my favorite holiday cookies!

  32. Dorothy, these are my mom’s favorites too, only I have to make them and they have to have walnuts and we call them snowballs! And when I make her batch this weekend, I am totally taking some of the dough and stuffing mini Reese’s inside like the recipe you linked here. That might be my new favorite cookie!

  33. How funny, this is one of my mom’s favorite holiday recipes too! I love them so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. I do believe I will be making these tonight! I’ve made some similar before so thanks for jogging my memory…or tickling my tastebuds as the case may be!

  35. That’s so special that your mom’s recipes came from her home ec class! (And even sweeter that a lot of your recipes are based off of those. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I remember sewing a pillow too — shaped like two peas in a pod — but we didn’t make sloppy joes. We baked a chocolate cake with fudgy frosting instead!

  36. Thanks for the recipe. I am a cook, but do not usuallly bake and am thinking of baking this year. These were always my favorite! How long do these keep? Can they be frozen? Perhaps you could roll them in sugar once, then freeze, defrost and roll them again? Thanks,

    • I’ve frozen them! I place them between paper towels, and then let them defrost still between the towels to absorb moisture. And yes, they may need another roll in sugar. But they’ll be awesome!

      • Just to be clear with regards to freezing… it looks like I complete the recipe, including 2 rolls in sugar, THEN freeze, then after defrosted, add another roll in sugar if necessary? ย 

      • Yes! If you know your freezing (as in, not serving any just freezing) you can omit any rolling in sugar before freezing and just roll after you defrost. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. I was pretty excited about finding these. While I play MMORPG games at night we sit around and talk about baking. One of the other ladies mentioned this and I was intrigued until I saw the nuts. we have to exclude those since we have nut allergy in the family! This looks wonderful, thank you!

  38. I just made these and they are great – just like my mom used to make! I was concerned that the dough was too crumbly but it was fine. I also did the “Double Roll” with the powdered sugar and they came out perfectly. The recipe is definitely a keeper ๐Ÿ™‚

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  40. I love this recipe from Russian Tea Cakes to Wedding cookies yo Snowballs they all seem to have the same ingredients. Last year I decided to change things up a little. I made a double batch then split the dough three ways. One third of the dough stayed plain the second third of the dough I added a few drops of red food coloring and the last third I added a few of green food coloring. Following the recipe except for the coloring. Rolling into balls. When done you will have some red green and plain white balls you can even add candy sprinkles to the dough for more color. Making your cookie tray or presentation bright and shiny.
    Happy Holidays

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  42. Quick question, please. All purpose or self- rising flour? I thought since the addition of salt, it would all purpose. Just want to be sure since these are gifts. Thank you and can’t wait to try them! My favorite cookie as a child was Mexican Wedding Cookies. Can still remember getting them with my Mom.

  43. Ok. Let me start by saying Russian Teacakes are my FAVORITE cookie. Let me also say that I bake a lot. However, I have never successfully made these. My aunt always makes them. When I have attempted them they came out crumbly and very disappointing. My aunt and uncle retired to Kansas. So I knew if I wanted Russian teacakes, I would have to make them myself. When I saw your post I thought I’d give your recipe a try instead of Gramma’s. I have to say they are Perfect! !!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  44. I was so excited to be eating Russian cookies, and then they are just American? Bummer. Anyways, I love these types of buttery and powdery cookies, so I’m definitely going to make these. For tea. Because I’ve been needing an excuse to have a tea party with friends. And once I’ve fed them cookies, they probably won’t complain that tea parties are meant for little girls.

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  46. Just made the Russian Tea cakes. AWESOME!!! The best recipe for them that I have tried. Thank you (and your Mom) for sharing. Love your website.

  47. My mom made these in the 50’s as Russian nut balls. Still call them that, but now ake them Gluten Free. Same yum, but even MORE tender!

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  50. I’m making russian teacakes today and hope they turn out. They are sooo yummy!

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

    • It’s so interesting how every culture seems to have these cookies and call them something different! They’re also called Mexican Wedding Cookies!

      • I have time to make these cookies today. This is 12/18/15.
        Will they be good on Christmas day, in a week? And on Boxing Day, 12/26/15?

      • I don’t think any cookies last that long and still taste fresh. If you want to make them today, I would freeze them after rolling, in a large ziploc bag with paper towels between the layers, then defrost as many as you need and re-roll as needed in powdered sugar.

      • My mother also made these every Christmas. She always put them in Christmas cookie tins. One year when they moved to Arizona, we were packing kitchen stuff. In the top shelf, way in the back of the cabinet, ย was a forgotten tin full of Russian tea cakes. This was in June. They were still fresh/good as if they were made that week. A wonderful surprise for all of us kids. Mom always hid some of the Christmas cookies so us kids didn’t eat them all before company came. There were 9 of us kids but only 6 still living at home at that time. So to answer your question, if they are in a tightly sealed container, they will last! Enjoy!!

      • That’s great to know!! Thank you!

      • Ps.. By the way we always started after thanksgiving to make all our Christmas cookies and none of our cookies were stale or bad by Christmas.ย 

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  54. 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?ย 

    • 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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  57. 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!!)

  58. Hi! ย I’ve been making these cookies for years! ย 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! ย Thanks for the inspiration!

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  66. 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) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

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  71. I have been making these for years too. ย They are one of my favorites. ย I also roll them in colored sugar before baking which makes them really festive. ย 

  72. I have been making these for years but I misplaced my recipe – so went online to find another and print it and found your adorable post. I love your cute sense of humor – and your pics are awesome.

    You have a wonderful blog – thank you for your inspiration and for the smiles. Have a blessed Christmas and happy new year, too!

  73. My mother used to make these every year. When I was a teenager I took over the cookie-baking role, and have made them every year since (and that’s a lot of years). My recipe is identical to yours. I absolutely love Russian Teacakes (that’s what we call them, too)— it just isn’t Christmas without them!ย 

  74. I just made these for the first time and they turned out great with your recipe. I have always made the ones with walnuts or pecans but these melted in my mouth.Thanks.ย 

  75. I saw a recipe like this one that had caramel bits added. I couldn’t find the caramel bits at my store, so I put in some toffee bits. Big hit! Thanks for these additional ideas.

  76. I have been making these from my Home-
    Ec recipe for years and this year the recipe was torn and somewhat illegible (probably got wet). It was so good to find this recipe that matches what I can see of my recipe. Thank you for posting it!

  77. I made these last night, and they flattened put. Put the remaining dough in the fridge overnight and tried it again today; they flattened out. The dough was chilled, so unless the almonds weren’t ground enough, and/or there need to be an adjustment for high altitude (I’m in Denver), I’m not sure what went wrong!

  78. I just made these, they are still warm from the oven. I don’t have a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop so I used a 1 T measuring spoon, rolled the dough into balls and slightly flattened them into puffy little discs. I was surprised that they went into the oven looking like one bite cookies but came out more like two bite cookies, I didn’t think they would increase in size. Anyhow, they are still cute little discs. I rolled the first 15 in powdered sugar after they had been out of the oven for 2 minutes. I didn’t like how my sugar wasn’t sticking uniformly. So for the next 15 I placed them closely together on a cooling rack and sprinkled the powdered sugar over them through a wire sieve. I realize they are not completely coated in sugar that way but it looks quite pretty. I’ll see what they look like when cooled, how much the sugar has melted and add another dusting if I think they need it. I’m making the cookies to send to my mom and my mother in law for Mother’s Day, along with some other goodies and a few varieties of loose leaf tea from my favorite teashop, David’s Teas. I think the lesser amount of sugar will appeal to the moms. By the way, I used pecans because it’s what I had on hand, already coarsely ground, but I will definitely be trying them with almonds as well. My daughter loves anything almond! The two pecan ones that I tried warm from the oven after rolling in sugar were very delicious! The ingredient list is simple and the dough was so easy to work with. They turned out to be exactly what I wanted for a tea time inspired gift. Thank you for the recipe!

  79. Mmmm, toffee bits sound yummy!. Did you use them in addition to the nuts or in substitution of nuts?

  80. I make these every Christmas with my mom, too. It’s a Betty Crocker recipe…included in the Betty Crocker Cooky Book (yes, cooky with a “y” not “ie”) first published in 1963. There are some great classic cookie recipes in there! Can’t wait to try your double chocolate version!

  81. My grandmother from NOLA has been making these wonderful cookies for our family since I was a kid. We call them pecan puffs๐Ÿ˜Š

  82. My husband and I make these. Originally his mom made them at Christmas. Now that she has passed we have taken up the tradition.

  83. my cookies were very dry….dough was crumbly prior to baking despite refrigerating. Any ideas?

    • Chances are they needed more mixing or had too much flour added. Did you pack the flour by accident? Or are you using a hand mixer or stand mixer? Hand mixers take a long time to mix the dough; it should not be crumbly.

  84. Is the butter in this recipe salted or unsalted? I like to use unsalted. What would you recommend in salt measurement?

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