If you’re a fan of nuts, then you’re definitely going to want to try out this delicious and easy Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe!
These bite-sized treats are perfect for any occasion, from holiday gatherings to quick and easy snacks.
They’re my son Ben’s favorite cookies at Christmastime!!
With a buttery, nutty flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth texture, these cookies are sure to become a new favorite in your household.
Plus, they’re incredibly simple to make, so you can whip up a batch whenever you’re in the mood for something sweet and tasty.
So why not give this recipe a try and see for yourself just how delicious these pecan balls can be?
Where Did Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe Come From?
I’ve heard these cookies called different names so I was curious where the recipe originated!
These cookies are also known as Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, Italian wedding cookies, and snowball cookies, among other names.
The origin of pecan ball cookies is not entirely clear, as similar types of cookies have been made in various cultures under different names.
The basic concept of these cookies involves a buttery, crumbly texture with chopped nuts (typically pecans or walnuts) and powdered sugar. The cookies are often rolled in powdered sugar after baking, giving them a snowball-like appearance.
One theory suggests that these cookies have roots in Eastern Europe and were brought to Mexico by European immigrants.
Over time, they became popular in Mexican wedding celebrations, which is why they are sometimes referred to as Mexican wedding cookies.
Another theory links these cookies to Eastern European or Russian traditions, giving rise to the name “Russian tea cakes.”
In Italy, similar cookies are known as “Italian wedding cookies” or “butterball cookies.”
The popularity of these cookies spread, and different cultures adapted the recipe to include regional ingredients and flavors. They became well-known in the United States through various cultural influences and holiday traditions.
I bake them every holiday season as they are one of our favorites!! And they’re so easy to make!
Regardless of their origin, pecan ball cookies have become a beloved treat enjoyed by people from various backgrounds and cultures around the world. The variations in the names and ingredients used in different regions highlight the global appeal and adaptability of these delightful cookies.
Ingredients in this Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe
There aren’t very many ingredients in this recipe, making them super duper easy to make anytime!
I’ll bet you already have everything in your fridge and pantry needed to make these delicious little cookies!
This recipe calls for 1 cup unsalted butter, softened. You can plan a bit ahead and take your butter out a few hours before you make this easy recipe. Or you can soften the butter in the microwave using the appropriate setting.
The sweetness in these little cookie cakes comes from 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus extra for rolling)! This ingredient also gives the cookies their delicate texture!
Additional flavor is derived from 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Dry ingredients added to the cookie dough are 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
And lastly, 1 cup finely chopped pecans give these scrumptious cookies their nutty flavor!
Substitutes You Could Use in the Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe
Sometimes when I start baking I don’t always have the necessary ingredients on hand to make a recipe. I love that there are substitutes that can be used! Here are some suggestions:
If you want to make the cookies dairy-free or vegan, you can substitute the butter with vegan butter or margarine. Look for a high-quality vegan butter that has a similar fat content to regular butter for the best results.
While pecans are traditional and delicious, you can use other nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or a combination of nuts. Choose your favorite nut or a combination that suits your taste!
The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but you can use other types of flour if desired. Whole wheat flour can add a nuttier flavor and extra fiber, while gluten-free flour blends can make the cookies gluten-free.
Instead of using regular powdered sugar, you can try using coconut sugar, powdered erythritol, or another powdered sweetener if you want to reduce the sugar content or make a sugar-free version.
If you don’t have vanilla extract or prefer a different flavor, you can experiment with other extracts such as almond, hazelnut, or even rum extract for a unique twist.
Feel free to use sea salt or kosher salt in place of regular table salt. The type of salt may affect the taste slightly, but the difference should be subtle.
If you need a gluten-free version, ensure that all your ingredients, including the nuts and sweeteners, are certified gluten-free.
Remember that substituting ingredients can alter the taste and texture of the cookies, so it’s always a good idea to do a small test batch first. That way, you can fine-tune the recipe to your liking before making a larger batch.
Enjoy experimenting and finding the perfect variation that suits your preferences!
Making the Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar together until smooth and fluffy.
Stir in the vanilla extract until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and salt.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the dough.
Gently fold in the finely chopped pecans, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Take small portions of the dough and shape them into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each cookie.
Bake the pecan balls in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until they are slightly golden on the bottom. The cookies should still be pale on top.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes.
While the cookies are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar until they are fully coated. You can either do this by gently tossing them in a bowl with powdered sugar or rolling them in powdered sugar one by one.
Once coated, transfer the pecan ball cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. As they cool, the powdered sugar coating will set.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can give them a second coating of powdered sugar if desired, for an extra snowy appearance!
Storing Pecan Balls Cookies
To keep your pecan ball cookies fresh and delicious, it’s essential to store them properly. Here’s the best way to store these cookies…
Allow them to cool completely:
Before storing the cookies, make sure they have cooled down completely to room temperature. This prevents condensation from forming inside the storage container, which can make the cookies soggy.
Use an airtight container:
Place the cooled pecan ball cookies in an airtight container. The container should have a tight-fitting lid to seal out air and moisture.
Layering and separation:
If you are stacking the cookies in the container, place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper between layers to prevent them from sticking together.
Keep in a cool, dry place:
Store the container of cookies in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. A pantry or cupboard is an ideal spot. Avoid storing them near appliances or areas with high humidity, as this can cause the cookies to become stale or lose their texture.
Pecan ball cookies do not need to be refrigerated. Refrigeration can actually cause the cookies to absorb moisture and lose their crispness.
Freeze for long-term storage:
If you want to store the cookies for an extended period, you can freeze them. Place the cookies in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag with layers separated by parchment paper. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy them, let them thaw at room temperature.
By following these storage tips, your pecan ball cookies should remain fresh, crunchy, and delicious for several days, providing you with a delightful treat whenever you crave them.
What Goes Well With This Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe?
Pecan ball cookies have a delicate, buttery flavor with a nutty crunch, making them a delightful treat all on their own!
However, there are several ways you can enhance your enjoyment of these cookies by pairing them with other foods or beverages:
Pecan ball cookies are perfect for dipping in hot beverages like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. The warmth of the drink complements the buttery flavor of the cookie, creating a comforting combination.
Classic and always a favorite, dunking pecan ball cookies in a glass of cold milk can be a nostalgic and delicious experience.
Pairing these cookies with vanilla or butter pecan ice cream can create a fantastic dessert. You can even crumble the cookies on top of the ice cream for added texture and flavor.
Pecan or Nut-flavored Desserts
If you have other desserts or pastries featuring pecans or nuts, serving pecan ball cookies alongside them can create a nutty theme that will be well-received.
The sweetness of the cookies contrasts nicely with the tangy flavors of citrus-based desserts like lemon bars or key lime pie.
Pecan ball cookies can be a lovely addition to a traditional afternoon tea spread. Serve them alongside scones, finger sandwiches, and a variety of teas for a delightful tea time experience.
During festive seasons, these cookies can complement other holiday treats like gingerbread cookies, shortbread, or cutout cookies. These cookies are always on our cookie platter at Christmastime!!
Pecan ball cookies can be an excellent addition to homemade gift baskets filled with various baked goods and treats.
Ultimately, the choice of pairing depends on your personal preferences and the occasion. Pecan ball cookies are versatile and can go well with a wide range of sweet treats and beverages, so feel free to experiment and enjoy them in a way that suits your taste!
Pecan Balls Cookie Recipe
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- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus extra for rolling
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar together until smooth and fluffy.
- Stir in the vanilla extract until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour and salt.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the dough.
- Gently fold in the finely chopped pecans, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Take small portions of the dough and shape them into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each cookie.
- Bake the pecan balls in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until they are slightly golden on the bottom. The cookies should still be pale on top.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes.
- While the cookies are still warm, roll them in powdered sugar until they are fully coated. You can either do this by gently tossing them in a bowl with powdered sugar or rolling them in powdered sugar one by one.
- Once coated, transfer the pecan ball cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. As they cool, the powdered sugar coating will set.
- Once the cookies have cooled completely, you can give them a second coating of powdered sugar if desired, for an extra snowy appearance!