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This recipe is super simple, requires very minimal ingredients and are quick to make. These cookies are great to make for the holidays because they can be made ahead of time and frozen until needed. A perfect cookie for cookie exchanges or cookie gift boxes!
My kids love to call these cookies snowballs because obviously they look like snowballs. They are often also called Mexican wedding cakes. Whatever you want or do call them, there is no denying how popular they are around the holidays.
Russian Tea Cakes Recipe Ingredients
- Salted Butter: Feel free to use unsalted butter, but add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the cookie dough.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: If you like you can substitute with almond extract for a different flavor profile. Or use half vanilla and half almond. Also, use pure extracts, not imitation. The imitation leaves an unpleasant after taste to baked goods.
- Finely Chopped Pecans: Our favorite way to enjoy these cookies are with pecans, but they are also really good with walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and pistachios. Use your favorite! Or if you want them nut free use mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate.
How to Make Easy Russian Tea Cakes
- In a stand mixer or with hand beaters, cream together the softened butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour and finely chopped pecans and mix on low until it starts to form a dough that will stick together. This can take a few minutes.
- Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough and place 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.
- Then roll the scoops into smooth balls.
- Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set and the bottoms are just golden brown. The tops should not be browned.
- Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered and place on wire rack or cooled sheet pan.
- Let cookies cool completely and then roll again in powdered sugar.
Tips for Making Russian Tea Cakes
- Fluff your flour before measuring. Then spoon and level the flour to measure. I say this all the time, but it is so important. Especially in this cookie recipe. Too much flour will make the cookies crumbly.
- Chop the pecans fine. Fine, small pieces will help the dough come together a lot easier and hold together a lot better.
- The dough will take a few minute to come together in the stand mixer. Just let it keep mixing on low until the dough starts to form and stick together.
- Don't let the cookies cool for more than 5 minutes. They need to still be warm when rolled in powdered sugar the first time so the sugar will stick to the cookie.
Storing: Store cookies in an air tight container between layers of wax paper. Store them for up to 5 days on the counter.
Freezing: These cookies freeze so well! Place the finished cookies in a freezer safe air tight container between layers of wax paper. Label, date and freeze. The cookies will last up to 4 month (sometimes longer) in the freezer.
Thawing: To thaw cookies, place them on the counter at room temp for a few hours. Or you can place them frozen right on the cookie tray and let them thaw while you wait for your guests to arrive!
FAQs About Russian Tea Cakes
There really isn't a difference. Both cookies are a butter shortbread cookies with nuts that are rolled in powdered sugar.
Most common issue is the measuring of ingredients. Make sure the flour and powdered sugar is fluffed before measuring. Spoon and level them to measure. Also, make sure the butter isn't melted or too warm when making the dough. The butter should just be softened to the touch.
The most common theory for why they are called tea cakes is the cookies were served with afternoon tea.
More Holiday Cookie Recipes:
- Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies
- Chewy Molasses Cookies
- Sugar Cookie Cut Outs
- Peanut Butter Temptations
- Gingerbread People
- Italian Almond Cookies
- Butter Spritz Cookies
- Frosted Pumpkin Drop Cookies
- Monster Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookies
- Confetti Sugar Cookies
Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer or with hand beaters, cream together the butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract until creamy.
- Add flour and pecans, mix on low until the dough starts to form and stick together. It can take a few minutes.
- Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough and place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
- Roll the scoops into smooth balls.
- Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes until cookies are set and the bottoms are golden brown. Tops should not be browned.
- Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar and set on wire rack or cooled sheet pan.
- Let cookies cool completely and then roll in powdered sugar again.