Perfectly buttery and nutty, the smell of freshly baked pecan balls in your kitchen means the holiday season is approaching. Bite-sized and ultra crumbly, they’re just like “mom used to make them” and are the perfect gift.
Why You’ll Love These Pecan Balls
These succulent pecan ball cookies will be filling up your cookie jar well past Christmas.
- Great gifts. Packaged in cute little bags and boxes, these homemade cookies are the perfect gift. Who doesn’t love receiving homemade treats? They’re extra thoughtful.
- Perfect for the holidays. If you want to change things up with your cookie platter this year for all your gatherings, make a tower of these pecan ball cookies. Everyone will love that they’re bite-sized!
- Authentic. Mexican bakeries use the exact same ingredients and method to make their version of these cookies. You can’t tell the difference.
- Freezer-friendly. To plan your holiday baking ahead of time, make these cookies and pop them into the freezer up to a month before. This way you don’t have to stress when December comes around.
What Are Pecan Balls?
Pecan balls, also known as snowballs or Mexican wedding cookies are traditional holiday cookies that also happen to be very popular in Mexico. Despite sometimes being referred to as “Mexican wedding cookies,” they’re actually not that common at weddings. They’re made with a handful of ingredients, the most important one being butter for their rich, crumbly flavor and texture. The dough usually contains chopped pecans but you can leave them out as well. Once ready, they’re tossed in powdered sugar until they look like “snowballs”.
Everything on this list is a basic baking ingredient you probably have at home already. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Unsalted butter – Feel free to use salted butter.
- Salt – Skip it if you’re using salted butter.
- Confectioners’ sugar – This is also referred to as powdered sugar.
- Vanilla extract
- Pecan chips – If you can’t find them, just process whole pecans until you get small chunks.
- All-purpose flour – Some people call it “AP flour” in case you see this in other recipes too.
- Confectioners’ sugar – For dusting.
How To Make Pecan Balls
Beat the butter, add the flour, roll the dough, and bake. That’s it! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.
- Prepare the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Beat the butter. Add the butter, salt, vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar to a large bowl. Beat it until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour. Gradually add the flour and pecans while the mixer is still running. Beat the mixture until a batter comes together.
- Shape the cookies. Use your hands to make 1″ balls with the dough. Roll them until smooth.
- Arrange them. Place the balls of dough on the baking sheets, leaving 2″ of space in between them.
- Bake them. Pop one tray into the oven at a time for 12-15 minutes. Don’t try to bake all the trays at once or most of the cookies will turn out under-baked.
- Add sugar. Place the remaining confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Drop the cookies into the sugar and gently toss them until completely coated. Place them on a rack to cool completely and enjoy.
Tips for Success
These tips will help you master any Mexican wedding cookies recipe you come across:
- Use cinnamon-sugar. Whisk 1 cup of granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to make cinnamon-sugar. Toss your cookies in it as usual.
- Swap the nuts. Use almonds or walnuts instead of pecans for a yummy twist on this recipe.
- Let them rest. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the baking tray or they might crumble.
- Wait on the powdered sugar. Don’t roll the cookies in powdered sugar immediately after baking. This makes the cookies have a thick, sticky layer of semi-melted sugar all over them… To avoid this, it’s best to roll them until fully cooled or almost fully cooled.
- Make them gluten-free. Substitute the AP flour for all-purpose gluten-free flour.
- Add chocolate. Stick a mini chocolate chip in the center of each ball of dough and bake as usual. They’ll have a chocolatey center when you bite into them.
You’ll love these pecan ball cookies with your favorite cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of milk. They’re quite small so I don’t recommend dunking them, but you can place them on a spoon, lower them into your drink to soften them up and then eat them. They’re so good!
How to Store Pecan Ball Cookies
Once fully cooled, store the leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Keep them away from direct heat, sunlight, and humidity. If possible, store them in a cool dry place. You can also keep them in airtight bags for an on-the-go snack. Additionally, you can freeze them for 1 month. Set them on the counter for 1-2 hours until fully thawed and enjoy.
More Cookie Recipes To Try
- Baking Sheet
- Electric Mixer
- Parchment Paper
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup pecan chips you can process whole pecans in food processor
- 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted (substitute all purpose gluten free for gluten free cookies)
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar for rolling balls
- Preheat oven to 350° and line sheets with silicone baking pads or parchment.
- In an electric mixer blend butter, salt, vanilla and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
- Gradually add pecans and sifted flour to mixer while running on low.
- Once batter comes together turn off mixer.
- Make 1″ balls with dough, rolling to smooth, place on baking sheets with 2″ in between.
- Bake 1 sheet at a time in upper third of oven for 12-15 minutes. Until bottom is lightly brown.
- Place final 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar in a bowl.
- Take warm cookies and drop into confectioners sugar using fingers gently toss to coat cookies with sugar.
- Place cookies on a rack to cook completely.