Russian Tea Cakes are buttery on the inside and coated with powdered sugar on the outside. Each bite melts in your mouth and tastes amazing with bits of chopped nuts.
The best Russian tea cakes (Snowball cookies)
These bite size cookies are so decadent but really easy to prepare. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how few ingredients are needed. This is really an effortless recipe.
The flavor is rich and buttery with pecans or walnuts mixed in. The outside is generously covered in powdered sugar. It is one of our favorite cookies and always a hit.
This recipe is also very frugal to make as the ingredients are basic pantry staples. It is a winner all around.
From start to finish, this recipe takes about 20 minutes. It is so simple and easy.
What are Russian Tea Cakes?
Mexican Wedding Cakes, Snowball Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes are all used interchangeably.
They are bite size shortbread style cookies that are buttery and rich. Each one has lots of confectioners sugar on top to complete the recipe.
Once rolled in powdered sugar, it really takes the cookie up a level. The sugar definitely makes it messy but oh so tasty.
What is the difference between Mexican wedding cookies and Russian Tea Cakes?
They are basically the same and these names are used interchangeably. You might also hear them referred to as Snowball Cookies around the holidays.
While we always called them Russian tea cakes, I know many others that called them Mexican Wedding Cookies.
Why we love these cookies:
- You only need 6 ingredients.
- The entire recipe is easy.
- No complicated instructions.
- You can make this recipe with pantry staples.
- All Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
- Chopped Nuts – Either walnuts or pecans work great
- Vanilla Extract
- Powdered Sugar, divided
How to make Russian Tea Cakes:
- Preheat the oven. It should be set to 375 degrees F.
- Combine the butter and sugar. In a large bowl, beat the butter and ½ cup of the powdered sugar until smooth with a hand held mixer or a stand up mixer. Then add in the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Add the flour. Turn the speed down to a low setting and slowly add in the flour and the salt until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
- Gently add the nuts to the mixture. Then stir in the chopped nuts by hand.
- Form the cookies. Then roll the cookie dough into balls approximately 1 tablespoon in size.
- Bake the cookies. Place the balls on the baking sheets and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Oven times vary so it could take as long as 12 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cool slightly. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool enough for you to be able to handle them.
- Coat in powdered sugar. Place the remaining powdered sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies in the powdered sugar until well coated.
- Cool completely. Then place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Roll again in powdered sugar. After the cookies have cooled, roll them 1 more time in the powdered sugar. Then they are ready to enjoy!
How to store:
Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Can you freeze snowball cookies?
You can also freeze them for up to 2 to 3 months. Just make sure that you place the cookies inside an airtight container.
I also recommend freezing the cookies without powdered sugar. Freeze the plain cookies, thaw and coat in powdered sugar before serving.
This will result in the best appearance and taste as the sugar would dissolve as it thaws if already coated.
It is also a good idea to place a layer of wax paper between the cookies to prevent them from sticking.
How to tell when Tea Cakes are Done?
Since the dough does not spread during baking, it can be difficult to identify when the cookies are done baking. A good rule of thumb is to judge by the firmness.
Once the cookies are done, they will be firm to the touch.
Can you omit the nuts in these cookies?
Yes, the nuts can be left out of the recipe. You might like to replace them with chocolate chips instead. While this is not a classic variation of this Russian tea Cakes recipe, it is so tasty.
Snowball cookies tips:
- The nuts should be finely chopped in this recipe. You do not want large chunks of pecans or walnuts. We use a food processor to do this quickly and easily.
- Make sure to dip the cookies in the first powdered sugar coating while still slightly warm. This helps the sugar to stick and form the initial coating base.
- You can try variations with add-ins. Some tasty ideas include: shredded coconut, dried cranberries, raisins or mini chocolate chips. You can substitute any of these for nuts and just use the same amount.
- For best results, don’t scoop the flour with your measuring spoon. Instead, use a spoon to add the flour to the measuring cup. Then level the flour with a knife.
- I like to use a cookie scoop to get precise measurements. This ensures each cookie is the same size and they can all bake evenly. It also makes it very quick to make the balls.
Regardless of what you call these cookies, they will be a hit. We enjoy making these year round.
They are so easy and everyone always loves them. The kids have fun helping and love to dip them in powdered sugar.
Make these delicious cookies.
We see these in bakeries all the time but prefer to make them at home. They are super easy and so inexpensive to make. Give them a try today.
Print this Russian tea cakes recipe below:
Russian Tea Cakes
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and ½ cup of the powdered sugar until smooth with a hand held mixer or a stand up mixer. Then add in the vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Turn the speed down to a low setting and slowly add in the flour and the salt until just combined (be careful not to overman).
- Then stir in the chopped nuts by hand.
- Then roll the cookie dough into balls approximately 1 tablespoon in size.
- Place the balls on the baking sheets and bake for 7-10 minutes until the cookies are slightly brown on the edges.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool enough for you to be able to handle them. Place the remaining powdered sugar in a bowl and roll the cookies in the powdered sugar until well coated.
- Then place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
- After the cookies have cooled, roll them 1 more time in the powdered sugar. Then they are ready to enjoy!
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