Celebrate Christmas with our special Pecan Balls – a soft, not-too-sweet delight that makes for the perfect holiday treat!
Why We Love This Recipe
- Festive Fun – Get into the holiday spirit with these cute Christmas cookies. They melt in your mouth, similar to our walnut crescent cookies and look just like snowballs.
- Unique Recipe – Our special cookie recipe uses a touch of cream cheese, resulting in extra moist cookies that are sure to wow your family and friends, just like our orange ricotta cookies.
- Super Easy – These pecan snowball cookies are so easy to make – they’re ready in under an hour. They’re a great make-ahead snack for holiday parties or Christmas cookie swaps, along with chocolate caramel thumbprint cookies.
- Popular Everywhere – Known worldwide as Snowball Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, or Southern Butterballs – these delicious treats are loved all across the globe.
All the ingredients you need to craft these delicious pecan snowballs should be available at your local grocery store:
- Flour: The foundation that gives structure and softness. We use all-purpose white flour.
- Pecans: For that lovely crunchy texture. Buy pre-chopped pecan pieces or finely chop them yourself.
- Cream cheese: Makes the cookies deliciously moist – with added richness and a unique tang.
- Egg yolk: Binds the ingredients together and helps produce a tender crumb.
- Butter: For extra flavorful cookies. Use unsalted butter to keep the sodium down.
- Sugar: A little cane sugar to slightly sweeten the dough.
- Vanilla extract: Adds a warm flavor that compliments the pecans’ nuttiness.
- Confectioners’ sugar: For coating the cookies – a snowy finish for the winter season.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Make your version of these pecan cookie balls with these creative ideas:
- Nuts: Replace the pecans with almonds, cashews, or even pistachios. Avoid walnuts as they have too much oil.
- Topping: For a decadent twist, wait till cooled and dip in chocolate or even drizzle with white frosting.
- Spice: A pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg in the dough makes for a more Christmassy flavor.
How to Make
Our version of the traditional pecan balls recipe is easy! Just follow these straightforward steps for a quick and delicious batch. For more detailed directions, see the recipe card below.
Step 1: Beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt until creamy.
Step 2: Add the egg yolk and vanilla.
Step 3: Beat in flour just until combined.
Step 4: Mix in pecans.
Step 5: Form the dough into balls and place it on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes.
Step 6: Roll the baked cookies in confectioners’ sugar and place on a wire rack to cool.
These expert tips will help you get the most from this delicious cookie recipe:
- Toast the nuts: For a richer and deeper flavor, toast the pecans in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Use an ungreased baking pan for best results.
- Pulse, not paste: If using a blender or food processor to chop the pecans, use the pulse setting and be careful – you want finely chopped pecans, not pecan butter!
- Chill if sticky: If the cookie dough is sticking to your hands, chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes before rolling it into balls.
- Measure properly: Measure all the ingredients correctly and avoid over-mixing for the best texture. The dough should feel moist but not sticky.
How to Store
Here’s how to keep your pecan cookies deliciously fresh. Just follow these simple storage tips:
Fridge: Store the Pecan Balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Freezer: Freeze the raw dough for up to three months. For easier baking later on, shape the dough into balls first. Layer them in a container with parchment paper in between to prevent sticking.
Reheat: If the balls are already shaped, you can bake them directly from the freezer for about 22 minutes at 375°F. If they’re not shaped, defrost the dough in the refrigerator first.
The key is to aim for a thick dough – this means that when you form the balls, they’ll hold their shape nicely.
The most likely cause of flattening is the butter in the dough being too warm. This makes the dough soft and unable to keep its shape while baking. In this case, just chill the dough in the fridge before shaping so it firms up.
Another problem is the amount of flour. Be sure to measure the flour carefully. If there’s not enough – the dough becomes too soft and prone to spreading.
Yes, you can make gluten-free pecan balls by substituting the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Just make sure to choose a blend that’s designed for baking – this way, you’ll get the best texture and flavor.
If nuts aren’t your thing or you’re catering to allergies, you can easily swap out the pecans. Some options include seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Just give them a quick chop and use them similarly to nuts.
You can also get creative and use rolled oats or crushed cereal – though this will result in a much different texture.
Pecan Balls are perfectly baked when they are deep golden brown around the edges, which usually takes about 15-18 minutes. They should be firm to the touch but still slightly soft in the center.
More Cookie Recipes
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Celebrate Christmas with our special Pecan Balls – a crumbly, not-too-sweet delight that makes for the perfect holiday treat!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 pkg. (8 oz.) full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 3/4 cup cane sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, spoon and leveled
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans*
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- With the mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt until creamy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla, scraping down the side of the bowl. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour just until combined. Mix in pecans.
- Form the dough into balls using a heaping tablespoon. If the dough is sticky, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before rolling. Place on a cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until deep golden brown around the edges. Cool on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, cookies should still be warm but cool enough to touch. Dunk each cookie in confectioners’ sugar while still warm and set on a wire rack to cool. When cooled, dunk in confectioners’ sugar again. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Pecans: You want small pieces of nuts, similar to the consistency of Panko breadcrumbs. If you purchase pre-chopped nuts, you’ll need to chop them further. It’s best to chop pecans by hand so they don’t release too much oil. If you do end up using a food-processor, use the pulse setting, and be careful – you want finely chopped pecans, not pecan butter.
- Serving Size: 2 cookies
- Calories: 280
- Sugar: 15.2 g
- Sodium: 51.6 mg
- Fat: 18.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 26.9 g
- Protein: 2.8 g
- Cholesterol: 42.1 mg
Keywords: christmas, snowball cookies