Russian Tea Cakes are tender and buttery on the inside, studded with crunchy walnuts and rolled in powdered sugar. They dissolve in your mouth and you won’t be able to stop at just one.

This is also one of the easiest cookie recipes. We have perfected it over the years. Read on to learn the KEY to making the best Russian Tea Cakes.

Russian tea cakes cookies served in a mug

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Russian tea cakes are one of our favorite Christmas cookies and a staple of holiday cookie platters, right up there with classic Sugar Cookies. Just like our Almond Snowball Cookies, these look like adorable little snowballs.

What are Russian Tea Cakes?

Russian Tea Cakes are also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowball Cookies. The cookie dough contains nuts, usually walnuts or pecans which gives the cookies a nutty flavor and slight crunch.

The butter in the cookie dough makes the cookies tender and powdery and they almost dissolve in your mouth. The cookies are rolled in powdered sugar twice to give them a white coating making them look like snowballs.

Center of a Russian tea cake cookie

Ingredients for Russian Tea Cakes

  • All-purpose flour – be sure the flour is measured correctly.
  • Unsalted butter – softened at room temperature. Gives the cookies a tender crumb. Forgot to soften your butter? See our tip to soften butter in 5 minutes.
  • Walnuts – toasting the walnuts until they are golden will give you the best tasting cookies. You can substitute with pecans or even pistachios. Powdered Sugar – also known as confectioners sugar. We add 1/2 cup to the batter and use more to roll the cookies.
  • Vanilla Extract – adds flavor. We love homemade vanilla extract for all of our baking.
  • Salt – balances the sweetness. Fine sea salt is our salt of choice.
Ingredients for making snowball cookies

The KEY to the Best Snowball Cookies

Toast the walnuts on a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently for about 5 minutes or until nuts are lightly golden and fragrant then remove to a cutting board to cool and chop the nuts. Whether you are using walnuts or pecans, toasting the nuts will really bring out their best flavor and will make your cookies even better.

Pro Tip: Nuts can burn very quickly on a skillet. Never walk away from your skillet and be sure to toss them frequently. As soon as you can smell the aroma of the nuts, they are done toasting.

How to toast and chop nuts for snowball cookies

How to make Russian Tea Cakes

  1. Cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Add flour and salt and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain. The mixture will be lumpy and not smooth.
  3. Add walnuts once they are cooled and chopped. Use a firm spatula to mix them in until well distributed in the dough.
  4. Shape into 1-inch balls (using a small cookie scoop makes portioning easy) and place them on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet, keeping them at least an inch apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned at the base.
  5. Roll hot cookies in powdered sugar and place on a cookie platter to cool completely to room temperature.
  6. Roll cooled cookies again in powdered sugar to get an even and generous coating of powdered sugar.
Step by step how to make Russian tea cakes cookies

How to tell when Tea Cakes are Done?

These cookies bake up quickly. They are done when the edges of the cookies are lightly golden in color with a golden base.

Baked Russian tea cakes and how to roll in powdered sugar

Make-Ahead

Storing at room temperature – Cookies may be stored up to 1 week in an airtight container.

To freeze Russian tea cakes – store in a freezer-safe lidded container or zip bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and enjoy.

Russian tea cakes rolled in powdered sugar

Common Questions

Can I omit the nuts?

You don’t have to use nuts. You can leave them out completely or fill them with a surprise such as a few butterscotch chips (my son’s favorite). If omitting nuts, I suggest adding another 1/4 cup of flour or the cookies will spread in the oven since the nuts help them keep their form.

What is the difference between Mexican wedding cookies and Russian Tea Cakes?

They are essentially the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably. At Christmas time, they are referred to as snowball cookies.

Can I use whole wheat flour?

You can sub with half whole wheat flour if you prefer. It will add flavor and color to the center of the cookies.

Russian tea cakes served on a blue plate

More Christmas Cookies and Bars

Christmas baking is a nostalgic activity and a great time to make beautiful food memories. Explore all of our best Christmas Recipes Here and I’m sure you’ll find many new favorite cookies in this list.

This Tea Cakes recipe was first published in January 2010. It has been updated with new photos and we shared all of our best tips for richer flavor and texture.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

4.99 from 277 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Russian Tea Cakes cookies in mug
Russian tea cakes are buttery, tender, and studded with walnuts. These snowball cookies are easy to make, keep well, and are perfect for your Christmas Cookie Platter.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 36 cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, or 16 tbsp, at room temperature
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar, powdered sugar, plus 2 cups more for rolling cookies
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Quick Prep:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silicone liner.
  • Toast nuts on a dry skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, tossing frequently until fragrant and lightly golden.

How to Make Russian Tea Cakes:

  • In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream together butter, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla, until smooth.
  • Add flour and salt and continue mixing until no streaks of flour remain. The mixture will be lumpy. Use a firm spatula to fold in the nuts until evenly incorporated.
  • Use a firm spatula to fold in the chopped nuts until evenly incorporated.
  • Shape the dough into 1-inch balls (using a small cookie scoop to portion the dough makes the process easy) and place them on a clean baking sheet at least 1-inch apart. Bake at 400˚F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden at the base.
  • Fill a bowl with 1 cup powdered sugar and roll the cookie balls in it while they are still very warm then transfer to a platter to cool completely.
  • Once cookies are at room temperature, roll them in more powdered sugar to get perfect little snowballs. Cookies may be stored up to 1 week in an airtight container.

Notes

Please Note: Nutrition label is an estimate per cookie. This recipe makes about 36 cookies. 

Nutrition Per Serving

99kcal Calories7g Carbs1g Protein7g Fat3g Saturated Fat2g Polyunsaturated Fat2g Monounsaturated Fat1g Trans Fat14mg Cholesterol17mg Sodium23mg Potassium1g Fiber2g Sugar158IU Vitamin A1mg Vitamin C6mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
99
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
7
g
11
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Cholesterol
 
14
mg
5
%
Sodium
 
17
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
23
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
7
g
2
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
2
g
2
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
158
IU
3
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
6
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowball Cookies
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 99

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Marilyn Wheeler
    January 6, 2024

    Natasha,
    This recipe has been in my family for years. We make it every year for Christmas or Thanksgiving or both. And we also call it Russian tea cakes. I’ve heard it referred to as many other names. I inherited a very very old cookbook from my mother. The recipe is on a well worn page covered with smudges of wonderful memories of every year we shared and I am continuing through this generation.

    Reply

  • Kailyn
    December 30, 2023

    I’m the fourth generation in my family to make these. My great Aunt added some changes to make the flavor unique; 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/3 cup pecans, 1/3 cup almonds, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. It’s a family favorite.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 30, 2023

      That’s so wonderful, Kailyn! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

      Reply

      • Kailyn
        December 30, 2023

        You are wonderful, Natasha! I’ve sent links to your website and YouTube channel to several family members. And, even though there are enough recipes on your site to last half a lifetime, I still bought the hardback AND spiral-bound cookbooks! I’m keeping the spiral and giving the hardback as a gift to a friend. Keep dazzling us and I can’t wait for your second cookbook!

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          December 30, 2023

          I’m so happy you’re loving my recipes and book, Kailyn! Thank you so much for your wonderful review!

          Reply

  • Maria
    December 27, 2023

    These cookies are amazing. I searched for the right recipe and glad I settled on this one. They melt in your mouth. I received many compliments and shared the recipe.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 27, 2023

      They really do melt in your mouth, I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you for your comment, Maria!

      Reply

  • M
    December 24, 2023

    Hi. Could you please share your tip for quickly softening butter? I cannot find it on your site. Thank you.

    Reply

  • Vicky
    December 21, 2023

    This recipe for Russian Tea Cakes tastes just like we made when I a child, many years ago! I made a batch today and would like to freeze them just until next week (thanks for the instructions) and am wondering if I should freeze after the first powdered sugar rolling then after thawing, or complete them and do the double roll? Thanks!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 22, 2023

      Hi Vicky! Either way will work. If the powdered sugar has melted you can re-roll when you thaw them.

      Reply

  • Swearing in PA
    December 21, 2023

    My fault, I misread 1/2 lb butter as 1/2 C. “Dough” was almost impossible to squeeze into balls. Thankfully, I’ve been increasing strength for the past three months with a personal trainer, so I persevered and squeezed those little suckered into balls. While they baked, I looked up another recipe and saw it called for twice the amount of butter with other ingredients about the same. It was then I re-read your ingredients, 1/2 pound….duh.
    Would you please edit to read 2 sticks or 1/2 # so no once else had the brain fade I did?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 22, 2023

      Thank you so much for that suggestion and for sharing that with me. Butter is typically labeled in pounds or tablespoons, so it’s easier for most to read it that way. On my recipe it does say “1/2 lb unsalted butter, or 16 tbsp, at room temperature”. I hope this helps!

      Reply

      • No more swearing
        December 31, 2023

        OMG These are heavenly!
        I did it right this time. They are like biting into a a cloud of butter and nuts! And, my 1/2 Slovak husband is delighted.
        Thank you so much.

        Reply

        • NatashasKitchen.com
          December 31, 2023

          That’s wonderful! So glad you tried the recipe again!

          Reply

  • Rob
    December 20, 2023

    There are so many ads popping up, including videos, that this site is too difficult to use. The download of those ads also slows down the site. I give up.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 20, 2023

      Thank you for sharing your concerns and feedback. The only way we can continue providing free recipes is by having ads on our site so we are not able to remove those at this time. We find that most people would rather see the ads than pay to see the recipes. You may also close the ads after a while,
      I appreciate your feedback and I hope you love every recipe you try.

      Reply

    • TiddlyBlinx
      December 21, 2023

      There are people that use the AdBlock Plus extension for their browser.

      Reply

  • Karen B.
    December 17, 2023

    These Russian Tea Cakes are absolutely delicious! The toasted walnuts are what sets them apart. Thank you for a terrific recipe and Happy Holidays!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 17, 2023

      You’re so welcome, Karen, We’re glad that you enjoyed them!

      Reply

  • Dan
    December 15, 2023

    These delightful Russian Tea Cakes are so easy to make and so good to eat!!! They remind me of many childhood Christmases where these were always a staple among the deserts. Thanks Natasha for this and so many other fantastic recipes!!!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 16, 2023

      You’re very welcome, Dan! So glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply

  • Celeste
    December 14, 2023

    Can this dough be shaped as crescent cookies and frozen until ready to bake? Also, approximately how long should they bake? Thanks, Natasha. Love your cookbook!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 15, 2023

      Hi Celeste! I have not tried freezing the dough. I know that the baked cookies freeze well for longer storage. Let us know if you experiment with it.

      Reply

  • Liz Cederwall
    December 13, 2023

    Hi , can you substitute gluten free flour in these , do they turn out ok.

    Thanks Liz

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 13, 2023

      Hi Liz, I haven’t tested that so I can’t say for sure but I think it should work. I don’t have much experience with gluten-free flour but I would suggest using a gluten-free flour that is intended for baking.

      Reply

  • Amy Bender
    December 5, 2023

    Can I make this recipe using cultured butter? It’s so delicious, but SO expensive! So I thought I’d better ask before I ruin a batch (and waste cultured butter!)

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 5, 2023

      Hi Amy! I think so. I haven’t tried in personally but I don’t see why not. Let us know how it turns out if you experiment.

      Reply

  • Debbi Stewart
    November 29, 2023

    I couldn’t find my Russian tea cake recipe and I knew I could go to you. I made two batches around 90 cookies. I didn’t roast my pecans. I haven’t made cookies in a few years due to surgeries, so thank you so much for your help.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      November 29, 2023

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Debbi!

      Reply

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