These buttery shortbread Pecan Snowball Cookies coated in powdered sugar melt in your mouth. They are a classic cookie you cannot tell is gluten and dairy free. You will want to add these elegant and delicious cookies to your holiday baking list today.
And did you know these cookies are baked and enjoyed year-round, not just at Christmas.
Everyone loves the buttery shortbread flavor combined with the roasted pecans. They are so good!
Plus they are also soy free and egg free.
These wonderful cookies are also called Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies. And they always steal the show around Christmastime as a favorite among the holiday cookies.
Nothing beats a cookie with finely chopped roasted pecans coated in powdered sugar. This is one cookie you do not want to leave off your baking list.
Would you guess these were one of my favorite cookies as a kid? I was definitely a cookie connoisseur, even at a young age. And though I remember these cookies usually being store-bought I loved them. Our homemade recipe tastes much butter than the store-bought pecan snowball cookies!
pecan snowball cookie ingredients
- dairy free butter— our go-to is Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
- powdered sugar
- kosher salt
- vanilla extract— we use the McCormick brand
- gluten free all-purpose flour— use the spoon and level method. Our favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. We buy it in bulk here to save money over buying it in local stores. This does contain xanthan gum.
- xanthan gum— omit if your all-purpose flour blend contains this or guar gum
- unsalted pecans— roasted and finely ground. Chop by hand or use a food processor. Here is how to roast unsalted pecans: spread them out in an even layer on a sheet pan, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally speaking, lighter, more tender nuts like pecans, pistachios, and walnuts will take 6-8 minutes to get to a good place. Denser nuts like almonds take closer to 8-10 minutes to finish roasting.
kitchen utensils for this recipe
- stand mixer or handheld mixer
- sharp knife or food processor
- cookie sheets— we have been using these for years
- small shallow bowl
- airtight container
how to make these cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
In a stand mixer or large bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the butter and powdered sugar for about 2 minutes. Then add in the salt, vanilla extract, flour, and xanthan gum if needed, and blend. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add in the roasted and finely chopped pecans and mix well. Then shape the dough into 1-inch balls (I enjoy making them a little larger because… why not? These are so good!)
Then transfer the cookie sheets to the oven for 9-11 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully because you do not want them to burn. The edges will just start to show a hint of golden brown when they are baked and should be then removed from the oven.
Place the cookies on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Then roll cookies in a shallow bowl of powdered sugar. Layer the cookies well in powdered sugar to achieve their iconic snowball look.
frequently asked questions
do pecans have to be used
No. You can omit the pecans entirely or substitute with chopped almonds or walnuts. Even pistachios work well.
why did my snowball cookies go flat
It is possible you did not use enough powdered sugar when preparing the cookie dough. The powdered sugar helps the cookies maintain their shape while baking. Or the dairy free butter was too soft.
can these cookies be baked ahead of time
Yes, they can be prepared and baked 2-3 days ahead of time. Although we will warn you– your kitchen will smell so good while these are baking that it will be very hard not to eat them immediately.
can I freeze snowball cookies
Yes. These cookies freeze well for up to 3 months in an airtight container. We suggest defrosting the cookies over a kitchen towel or paper towels on the counter top, but not in the original freezer container as any built up frozen condensation could ruin the cookies as they defrost.
We adapted this recipe with safe gluten free and dairy free ingredients from a similar recipe from Small Town Woman.
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more Christmas recipes
- soft sugar cookies— so soft, fluffy, and the dough is wonderful to work with, making them perfect for any cookie cutters and decorating with our vanilla buttercream icing
- chocolate crinkle cookies— fudgy and chewy cookies with rich, chocolate flavor covered in a crinkle-texture look perfect for the holidays or any time of the year
- chocolate peppermint candy cookies— you won’t ever guess these peppermint cookies are gluten and dairy free with the yummy hard candies in every bite. These are so good.
- soft gingerbread cookies— these cookies taste so light and sweet with the right amount of spice every time. You’ll be surprised how easy this cookie dough is to roll out. It’s soft and flexible– not dry and crumbly like some gluten free dough can be.
This gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and egg free recipe will give you sweet and nutty Pecan Snowballs every time. They will melt in your mouth every time, too. There is no doubt these will be on your Christmas baking list every year– and you will look forward to the wonderful way they make your kitchen smell. It’s magically delicious.
And they look so festive on Christmas cookie platters with their iconic snowball look.
But these cookies are also suggested for bridal and baby showers, birthday parties, anniversary gatherings and so much more.
Did you know you will find recipes for every occasion and holiday on our website, Eating Gluten and Dairy Free?
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Pecan Snowball Cookies
- 1 c dairy free butter room temperature for 20 minutes
- ½ c powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2¼ c gluten free all-purpose flour spoon and level method
- ½ tsp xanthan gum omit if gf all-purpose blend contains this or guar gum
- 1 c unsalted pecans or other nut roasted and finely chopped
- 1 c extra powdered sugar for dusting balls after baking
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.
- In a stand mixer or large bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the butter and powdered sugar for about 2 minutes. Then add in the salt, vanilla extract, flour, and xanthan gum if needed, and blend. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Add in the roasted and finely chopped pecans and mix well. Then shape the dough into 1-inch (or slightly larger) balls and place on cookie sheets.
- Then transfer the cookie sheets to the oven for 9-11 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully because you do not want them to burn. The edges will just start to show a hint of golden brown when they are baked and should be removed then from the oven.
- Place the cookies on a cooling rack and allow to cool. Then roll cookies in a shallow bowl of powdered sugar. Layer the cookies well in powdered sugar to achieve their iconic snowball look.
- Store cookies in an airtight container on the counter top up to 4 days. You may need to add another dusting of powdered sugar right before serving.
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