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:


Russian Tea Cakes

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


These Russian Tea Cakes are a holiday favorite cookie recipe that melt in your mouth! 



  • 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. You can sub in mini chocolate chips for the nuts if preferred

Nutrition Information:

5 g
12.9 mg
5.1 g
9.7 g
0.8 g
10.2 mg

Keywords: cookies and cups, christmas cookies, russian tea cakes, tea cakes, cookie recipe, russian tea cakes recipe, how to make russian tea cakes

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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Nov 21, 2020 3:12 pm

I used this recipe last year, what a hit!! Is now my go to for snowball cookies

Sep 7, 2020 6:37 pm

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

Oct 31, 2020 2:42 pm
Reply to  jenny

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.

Dec 6, 2019 10:23 am

How do they freeze? Can they be made ahead of time?

Cindee Weber
Dec 6, 2019 9:51 am

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.

Jul 9, 2021 3:53 pm
Reply to  Cindee Weber

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.

Dec 6, 2019 7:59 am

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

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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