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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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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. 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.

Why you’ll love this recipe

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!

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.

cookies in a bowl with hand holding one

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:

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.

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.


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.

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!

bowl of snowball wedding cookies

Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

4.91 from 64 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


  • 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


  • 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

Other favorite Christmas Cookies:

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 October 3, 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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Recipe Rating


  1. Turned out perfectly! If your dough is super crumbly, definitely heed the note about continuing to mix until it comes together. I also made a batch substituting in vegan butter and they turned out wonderful – virtually no difference in taste and texture!

  2. Hi Dorothy being Italian My Grandmother and my Mom called these Butterball cookies. Same recipe as yours love them.

  3. This was a Christmas staple when I was growing up. We called them Mexican wedding cakes. Few years ago I saw a recipe for them with the mini chocolate chips which we love but those we call Chocolate chip tea cookies. Then I found your recipe for the Pumpkin Spice and we call those Pumpkin Spice Snowballs. lol So what ever you want to call them call them delicious!

    1. You can use salted – you just need to reduce the salt in whatever recipe you’re using (if it calls for unsalted). I actually grew up only using salted butter but most “professional” bakers use unsalted. The rule of thumb is that 1/2 cup unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt = 1/2 cup salted butter. So reduce any recipe according to how many 1/2 cups butter are called for.

  4. I have to thank you so much for adding that when using a hand mixer, you need to mix longer to bind when it’s crumbly.
    I made these last week for the first time to bring to a party and almost had a breakdown because they were so loose I couldn’t firm into a cookie. I’d fill the scoop very tight, but when I dropped them on the sheet, they turned into sand (literally)! Almost gave up, but I left them alone for an hour and they sort of worked and they tasted great. You’re the only person who mentioned hand mixers take longer. A million thanks!

  5. My mom always called these Russian Tea Cakes too. I made them last night, and followed the recipe exactly. They turned out just perfectly. Simple recipe, simple ingredients (all of which I had on hand!) simple to prepare. The result is so much greater than the sum of the parts! These are delicious cookies, and who doesn’t love them? Glad I spotted this recipe on your website. : )

  6. 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!!:)