Mexican Wedding Cookies
Do you call these delicate classic Christmas cookies Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies, Swedish Tea Cakes or Russian Teacakes? No matter what you call them, I think we can all agree they are absolutely irresistible and a must make during the holiday season! They are made with either almonds or pecans and then rolled in powdered sugar for a melt-in-your-mouth treat perfect for the holidays!
Amazing! So happy they were easy to make (and delicious). I will definitely make these again!— Julia
What do you call these cookies? They have different names including Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Butterballs, Snowball Cookies, Swedish Teacakes, Italian Wedding Cookies, and more. My family has always called them Mexican Wedding Cookies, so that’s what we’ll go with here.
They are one of my must-make Christmas sweet treats, along with Iced Sugar Cookies and Snickerdoodles. Every year, my kids and I have a holiday baking day, and these adorable little gems are always on the list. These shortbread cookies look like beautiful snowballs, and they’re packed full of chopped almonds (or pecans) and a lovely buttery, nutty flavor.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love these tender, flavorful cookies! They are great anytime of the year, but they are especially perfect for cookie exchanges, gift giving and parties during the Christmas season. There’s nothing more satisfying than homemade snowball cookies, covered in powdered sugar, and a mug of cozy hot chocolate or coffee around the holidays. Christmas is full of magic and in my opinion, a good cookie only adds to that magic.
The ingredients in this Mexican wedding cookies recipe are simple ones you probably already have on hand for baking. You won’t even need eggs or leavening agents for these classics!
- Butter. We’ll be adding butter for proper baking and that buttery flavor that tastes amazing.
- Sugar. Powdered sugar (or commonly called confectioners’ sugar) is the only sugar you need for sweetening these, plus you’ll need more for rolling.
- Extracts. You’ll need both vanilla extract and almond extract for the perfect flavor combo.
- Flour. For best results stick with all-purpose flour for this recipe.
- Salt. The best cookie recipes always have a bit of salt to balance the sweetness. Omit the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, if you’re using salted butter.
- Nuts. Use almonds or pecans that have been chopped into a very fine crumb. To achieve a fine crumb, I typically use my food processor. Finely chopped nuts will make it easier to roll the cookie dough.
How to make this recipe
One of my favorite things about these cookies is that they’re so easy to make! Here’s a quick rundown of the steps, but you’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of the post.
- Prep. About an hour before starting this recipe remove the butter from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven and line your baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. If you forget to remove the butter ahead of time, use this easy trick for softening butter.
- Mix wet ingredients. Add butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract to a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream ingredients together until fully combined.
- Add dry ingredients. On low speed, gradually add in the flour, salt and finely chopped nuts. Mix until dough holds together.
- Roll the dough. Scoop balls of dough using a large spoon or cookie scoop to make dough balls that are about 1-inch in size. Place them on the prepared sheet pan, about 1 inch apart.
- Bake. Place cookies in the oven for about 15 minutes. When the cookies are done cooking, they will be set, but not yet browned.
- Powdered sugar. Allow cookies to cool for a couple of minutes and then, while still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. Let them cool completely on a wire cooling rack and give them one more roll in the powdered sugar for a wonderful treat!
Pro tip: For the tastiest snowball cookies, toast the nuts before chopping them and adding them to the cookie dough. Toasting any type of nuts really brings out major flavor and makes them taste amazing! Simply place them on a baking sheet and heat them in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 300ºF.
These are really pretty simple to make, but here are some helpful tips for delicious buttery goodness every time!
- Forming cookies. When forming the cookies, I recommend keeping them small. This will help them hold that classic round shape. This recipe will yield 50 small cookies or 36 larger cookies.
- Let cool. Before rolling in powdered sugar the second time, be sure that they are completely cooled. If they are still a little warm the powdered sugar will dissolve into the cookie. You can even roll a third time, just before serving.
- Finely chopped nuts. Be sure that the nuts you’re using are VERY finely chopped, so that they can be evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will also make shaping the dough easier. I recommend using a small food processor or chopper.
- Nut varieties. Feel free to use almonds, pecans, or walnuts. All work just fine.
- Add-ins. For a fun twist, try stirring in about 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or sprinkles with the flour and nuts.
Frequently asked questions
It is thought that the term Mexican wedding cookie/cake was used to replace the term Russian teacake due to the strained U.S. relationship with Russia at the time (the Cold War).
These are made with super simple ingredients and typically include; flour, butter, finely chopped nuts, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract.
These are known to have a bit of a crumbly texture due to them not including egg. We love that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Packaging for gift giving
These festive snowball cookies are absolutely perfect to gift to friends. There’s nothing better than a homemade holiday present, and who doesn’t love to receive freshly baked cookies?! You can get as creative as you’d like with the packaging, to make your cookie gift extra special. Here’s some ideas:
- Holiday cookie tins. Purchase festive tins at your local dollar store, grocery store or Target, then line them with parchment paper, colorful tissue paper or a holiday napkin and add the cookies. Parchment paper or tissue paper will keep the cookies from sticking and will make for easy clean up.
- Christmas plate. Choose a decorative holiday or winter-themed plate, then arrange different types of cookies on the plate.
- Cellophane bags. Pack an assortment into little clear bags, then tie them at the top with a pretty ribbon or bow.
- Mason jars. Stack these in a glass jar, cover the lid with Christmas fabric or paper, seal the jar, then tie a ribbon around it. You can even add a gift tag!
Storage and freezing recommendations
- Storing. These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 to 7 days. They’ll never last that long, though!
- Freezing. The cookie dough will freeze well for up to three months. Store a batch in the freezer, for a quick sweet treat anytime the craving hits! When you’re ready to bake them, thaw and allow them to come to room temperature, then bake as directed. Baked cookies freeze well up to three months.
My grandma’s recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies have always had a special place in my Christmas cookie tins. This cookie is my sister’s and my oldest daughter’s favorite cookie to enjoy during the holidays. These also are perfect for cookie exchanges and they make a fabulous addition to any dessert table. They disappear quick! If you make the balls a bit smaller, you can get 50 cookies to a batch, enough to feed a crowd, so they’re perfect for entertaining. And everyone will be asking for the recipe!
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for rolling cookies
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, (not needed, if your butter is salted)
- 1 cup very finely chopped almonds or pecans
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract. Once fully combined, mix in flour, salt and nuts until dough holds together.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about an inch apart on baking sheets that are lined with parchment paper. Bake 15 minutes and until set, but not brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool slightly (but not completely); roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely; roll again in powdered sugar. Enjoy!
- Storing. Mexican wedding cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days and possibly a bit longer. They’ll never last that long, though!
- Freezing. The cookie dough will freeze well for up to three months. When you’re ready to bake them, thaw and allow them to come to room temperature, then bake as directed. Baked cookies freeze well up to three months.