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Mom’s Russian Tea Cakes

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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! |


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Servings: 48 cookies

Mom’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 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.)

See more of my snowball recipes here!

Reese’s Stuffed SnowballsReese's Stuffed Snowballs (1 of 2)w

Chocolate Chip Snowballs

Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies (2 of 4)w

Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Snowballs

Rolo Stuffed Chocolate Snowballs (2 of 4)w

Funfetti Wedding Cookies

Cake Batter Wedding Cookies (4 of 6)

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

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  1. Pingback: 31 Delicious Things To Bake This Holiday SeasonZociall | Zociall

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

    • 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,  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. 

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

  22. 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!

  23. 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! 

  24. 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. 

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

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

  30. 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!

  31. My grandmother from NOLA has been making these wonderful cookies for our family since I was a kid. We call them pecan puffs😊

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

  33. 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.

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

  35. I made this a few times and it was a big hit. I love that it’s not too sweet

  36. How long can the dough be refrigerated for?

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  38. I’m not a cookie person – don’t really like cookies that much – except for these!  LOVE them!  I’m a good cook, but not much of a baker. Nevertheless, I managed these without a problem. 

  39. this is a great recipe! Made them for the first time and we couldn’t stop eating them! The dough was buttery and fantastuc flavor! My adukt children just about ate the entire tin!

  40. I made this recipe and the cookies are absolutely delicious!!!!

  41. I have made these for MY daughter her whole life, it’s her very favorite cookie! She’s 32. At Christmas I make a special batch, just for her, and she will not share it at all, lol. Good thing I make her husband his own batch of chocolate chip cookies! Last night she sent me at text that read “Mom, I just ate my last cookie, 🙁 , so sad” I think I’m going to heat up my oven and bake her another batch, just cos I love her so much….and they will get a double roll!

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  43. Turkish version called ‘Un Kurabiyesi, they are very common in Turkey, specially in Pastry Shops.

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  46. The bake time was not adequate for these cookies, they were still raw in the middle. Had to put them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to get them fully baked. Great taste, but they need more time than what is specified in the recipe.

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