Cookies & Cups > Recipes > Cookies > Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes are a classic cookie recipe that are known by lots of different names…Snowball Cookies, Tea Cakes, Butter Balls, or Mexican Wedding Cookies. These melt-in-your-mouth shortbread-style cookies usually include nuts or chocolate chips and are coated in powdered sugar.

Looking for more tea cake recipes? Check out my Southern Tea Cakes Recipe too!

Russian Tea Cakes Are A Classic Holiday Cookie!

I can’t believe I have never posted a recipe for a proper Snowball Cookie aka Russian Tea Cake here on the site! I’m doing my best to cover as many classics as I can here, so today we’re doing it.

These tea cakes are always around during the holidays and look so pretty on your Christmas Cookie platter. And they’re a great cookie to make because they will stay fresh for about a week, so you can space out your baking!

Russian Tea Cakes on a plate

What Are Russian Tea Cakes?

These sweet cookies are a shortbread-style recipe with no egg or leavening agent. You can add chopped nuts, like I did, or mini chocolate chips are a great addition as well!

I can’t speak to whether or not they are actually “Russian” considering they go by many different names like:

  • Snowball Cookies
  • Mexican Wedding Cookies
  • Butter Balls
  • Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
How To Make Russian Tea Cakes

How To Make Russian Tea Cakes

This recipe is so super easy, which is part of the beauty of them! There is no chill time necessary which is fantastic, and the dough comes together very quickly!

Coating the Cookies in Powdered Sugar

When the cookies come out of the oven allow them to cool only slightly. You want them to be warm, but obviously not too hot to handle.

  1. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Roll each cookie carefully into a bowl of powdered sugar
  3. Place the cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Why Do the Cookies Need To Be Warm When They’re Rolled In Sugar?

It’s important to roll the cookies into the sugar when its warm so the sugar sticks to the cookie. The warmth of the cookie will melt the sugar ever so slightly adhering it.

If the cookies are cooled the sugar won’t coat the cookies very well at all.

Mexican Wedding Cookies on a plate

Looking For More Cookies Similar To This? Try These:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Russian tea cakes coated in powdered sugar stacked on a black plate, with a bite missing from one cookie.

Russian Tea Cakes

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 48 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Dessert


Russian tea cakes (or snowball cookies, among other names) are rich and buttery holiday cookies coated in powdered sugar. Add walnuts, pecans, or mini chocolate chips!


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix together the butter, 1 cup of powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour mixing until the mixture holds together. Stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a small (1- tablespoon) cookie scoop portion out the dough and roll into 1- inch balls.
  5. Place the balls onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until completely set and lightly browned on the bottom.
  6. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, until they are cool enough to handle, but still warm.
  7. Place the remaining cup of powdered sugar into a bowl and roll each warm cookie in the powered sugar to coat. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • Store airtight for up to 7 days.
  • Substitute mini chocolate chips instead of nuts if preferred.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 87
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 12.9 mg
  • Fat: 5.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.7 g
  • Protein: 0.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 10.2 mg

Keywords: russian tea cakes, russian tea cakes recipe, snowball cookies

Want To Save This Recipe?

Find more recipes like this:

PIN for later

Russian Tea Cakes Pinterest Image

Rate this recipe and share a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

I accept the Privacy Policy

8 comments on “Russian Tea Cakes”

  1. I think they are Russian, because they were in one of the red sparrow books, if you aren familiar, there were lots of recipes in the three books

    1. They could be Russian. Or not. This is exactly the same recipe as in a Betty Crocker cookbook I have that’s more than 60 years old. They are also known as Mexican wedding cookies and snowballs.

  2. Cindee Weber

    I bake Russian Tea Cakes every Christmas. I always thought Russian Tea cakes were made with black walnuts, setting them apart from cookies made with pecans or walnuts.

    1. Originally, they are made with walnuts, called Greek nuts in Russia (imported from Greece since 13th century A.D.). When California belonged to the Russian Empire, the Russian Californians substituted it for California walnuts.

  3. I make these every year for our Christmas Cookie Exchange. They are sooooooooooooo addicting!

Scroll to Top