Monday, February 4, 2013

Snowball Cookies

I used to LOVE these cookies as a kid.  There was this weird Japanese/Chinese/American buffet style restaurant called Todai where you could get random Chinese food, sushi, and lots of other seafood.  But the thing that really stands out in my memories was the dessert bar.  They had a ton of mini cakes which were all okay but by the time I went to get my second serving of desserts, my entire plate would be filled with snowball cookies.  I would later fill my plate a third time (at least it was a small dessert plate and not a full dinner plate size!) with another heaping of snowball cookies that my mom would wrap up in napkins and stealthily sneak into her purse.  We would enjoy those snowball cookies for the rest of the day and next.  Mmmm.  But I always hated getting the sugar all over me as I bit into them so I wanted to make another smaller bite-sized batch.  There are a ton of recipes for this online, all with slight nuances.  I used a mixture of them based on whatever ingredients I like best. Every holiday season my nephew and my mom both demand that I make lots of these (my family is very demanding when it comes to baking requests).

Servings: Makes about 50 cookies (I make mine small and bite sized but you can make them bigger and then have fewer cookies)

½ cup powdered sugar (plus another ½ cup - 1 cup for coating)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract)
1 cup butter, soft (lotsa butter!)
2¼ cups flour
½ cup of crushed walnuts, almonds, or pecans


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl mix together ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 cup softened butter, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (or almond extract).
  • Add in ¼ tsp salt and 2¼  cups flour and mix well.  The dough should be soft and a bit crumbly.
  • Add in ½ cup of crushed walnuts (or almonds or pecans). I usually pour the nuts into a paper towel, fold it over and then use something heavy to crush them.  You want to get the nuts as small and fine as possible because the size of the nut pieces affects your ability to make tight balls.  
  • Take the dough and form small balls (about ½-inch sized) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. The dough is crumbly.  I find the best method is to gather the dough and press it together to pack it in and then roll very gently to even out the surface.  Balls can be placed about ½ inch apart as these cookies don’t spread when baking.

  • Bake for 15-20 mins (I found them best at about 18 mins with my oven).  Take out and let cool on a rack a little.  
  • When cookies are still warm roll them around in some powdered sugar and then place back on rack to cool.  
  • When fully cooled roll the cookies in sugar again.  Lotsa lotsa sugar!  Sprinkle some on top while you're at it!  
These can stay good in sealed containers for a few days and I’ve read that they also freeze well but I’ve never tried that myself.  


And try to avoid looking at how messy your powdered kitchen is.

12/29/13 Update:
I've since been making these regularly with almonds instead of walnuts and everyone who's tasted them seems to prefer the almond ones. I've used almond extract before, but I ran out before the holidays and made a couple batches with almonds and vanilla extract and those were the most popular ones I've ever made so I guess that's the winning combo! 

Also wanted to add that the cooling rack in the photo above is way too big for these cookies but at the time that was all I had. Since then I've gotten a proper cooling rack and find that it's easiest to roll the cookies in a deep small tupperware filled with powdered sugar. It helps contain the mess.

I made a bunch this holiday season because it's not winter and Christmas without snowball cookies! So I've updated this post with some new photos since the first version had no pug photos and that's just not right. 
Normally I let them cool on a rack, but in the photos below they're on the cookie sheets because I was at my parents' house and they didn't have one.


  1. These are a Christmas staple at my house too. I love these, i'll have to try your recipe.

    1. I make these every year - my nephew demands them! I recently made these with almonds and almond extract and they were really good! I think I might prefer almonds to walnuts for these cookies actually.