Gluten Free Snowball Cookies Recipe (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes)
Gluten Free Snowball Cookies have the classic buttery, nutty flavors of the traditional Christmas cookie recipe. But they are easy to make gluten free using a basic 1:1 flour blend. Only six ingredients and packed with walnuts, they are sweet, tender, and literally melt in your mouth.
As crazy as it sounds, despite being a food blogger I do less Christmas cookie baking than I used to. Some of it comes from, you know, life. Back when I would make fifteen different varieties, I didn’t have kids, so I had more time. I also wasn’t blogging and trying to make and photograph and share all types of holiday and non-holiday recipes.
But the other part of it is going gluten free. When I first had to give up gluten, the only way to start baking gluten free was by mixing and matching different kinds of flours and starches. I felt intimidated and like I wouldn’t be able to make my old favorites the same as how I had always loved them.
Now there are so many 1:1 gluten baking flour blends on the market, so I decided to keep things simple, I would test out my recipes with those. And you know what? They work.
Classic Snowball Cookies have been my mom’s favorite for decades, and this version even passed her taste test!
Sure, in the future I will test out the combination of individual flours, but for now, I am making my life and trying to help you make your holiday season simply gluten free!
What are Snowballs?
Also known as Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, or Butterballs, these are a nutty, buttery cookie that is soft and tender and melts in your mouth. Because of their snowy appearance, they are a popular Christmas cookie, often showing up on holiday cookie platters.
It starts with an easy cookie dough made simply from butter, powdered sugar, salt, flour, and vanilla. Then you stir in nuts, roll them into balls, and bake.
This classic version is made with walnuts, but you can use your favorite nut from pecans to pistachios, almonds to cashews.
How to make Gluten Free Snowball Cookies
By starting with a 1:1 gluten free baking flour blend and grabbing just a handful of other pantry ingredients, this gluten free snowball cookie recipe comes together in no time! You end up with a soft and sweet cookie chick full of walnuts. And the key to their amazing flavor and beautifully snowy appearance is a double roll in powdered sugar.
Here is a brief overview so you can see just how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the full quantities and details.
But don’t skip my PRO TIPS below!
What you need
Unsalted butter is recommended so that you can control the amount of salt in the recipe. Let the butter soften to room temperature, but don’t melt it in the microwave.
You will need powdered sugar for both the gluten free snowball cookie dough and for coating the cookies.
Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, powdered sugar is made form grinding granulated sugar down to a powder. In order to prevent caking, some brand add a starch to their powdered sugar. While this is most often cornstarch and does not contain gluten, you will want to confirm.
Additionally, if you are also sensitive to corn, you will not be able to use most commercially available brands. Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar is one that is made with tapioca starch. You can also make your own powdered sugar using a high-powered blender.
If you need a high-powered-blender, I recommend the Blentec. I am a Blendtec ambassador, and should you make any purchases through my Blendtec Store link, I will receive a small commission, but that also means you can use the code CUPCAKESANDKALECHIPS to receive 20% off
Yes, as with most sweet recipes, there is a small amount of salt to enhance the sweetness, as well as the buttery and nutty flavors in these cookies.
1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour
You can buy a bag of pre-chopped walnuts or chop them yourself.
Making the gluten free snowballs
Start by creaming the butter, powdered sugar, and salt with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Blend in the vanilla, then gradually add the flour. The dough becomes quite stiff, so I recommend a strong stand mixer or the paddle attachment on your KitchenAid mixer.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, work the walnuts into the dough. You may find it a bit crumbly, but it will eventually come together. Press it into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
Now scoop out the dough and using your hands work it into 1-inch balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
NordicWare Baking Sheets are my favorites for cookie baking and much more. From roasting veggies to sheet pan meals, cookies to cake rolls, we use them almost daily. They are light, and the aluminum distributes the heat evenly.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until set and lightly golden, but not browned.
Now is the part that makes the snowball cookie so identifiable and iconic – double rolling in powdered sugar. That right, they are rolled not once, but twice.
After they come out of the oven, let them cool for a couple of minutes. You need them to cool enough to set, as they are quite crumbly while still warm. But you want them to be warm enough for the sugar to melt and form an icing-like coating that helps the second coating of powdered sugar to stick.
Fill a bowl with powdered sugar and gently roll the warm cookies until they are covered. Place them on a cooling rack to cool completely. Then give them once more roll in the sugar to make them sweet, snowy, and perfect!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make gluten free snowball cookies without walnuts?
Yes, you can leave the walnuts out for a simple and sugary butter cookie. You can also replace them with pecans, as many people do, or try chopped pistachios, almonds, or even cashews.
Can you make the dough ahead?
Yes, you can make the cookie dough several hours or even a day in advance. Just cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. You may need to let it warm up slightly to be able to scoop the dough balls.
It can even be frozen for up to two months either before or after you roll the balls. Just thaw in the refrigerator and take out of the fridge shortly before baking.
How do you store snowball cookies?
Gluten free snowballs can be kept at room temperature for up to a week if sealed well in an airtight container. I recommend placing them in a plastic Ziploc bag and squeezing out all of the air before sealing. Then place the bag inside a cookie tin or plastic container to keep out more air and prevent the cookies from breaking.
Can they be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze them for up to two months. You can either freeze them after the first roll in powdered sugar, then give them the second roll after they thaw. Or freeze the finished cookies knowing that they might not be quite so powdery after being frozen.
I like to put them in a plastic freezer storage bag and press out all of the air before sealing. Then place the bag in a cookie tin or plastic storage container. This helps keep them from getting crushed and crumbly while you have them in the freezer because they are a tender cookie.
More wintery gluten free treats
- Chai White Chocolate Muddy Buddies
- Gluten Free Eggnog Coffee Cake
- Gluten Free Coconut Cake
- Snowman Chocolate Bark from The Decorated Cookie (use GF pretzels!)
Gluten Free Snowball Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups 1:1 gluten free baking flour (recomended: Bob's Red Mill)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Additional powdered sugar for rolling the cookies
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Using a hand mixer or paddle attachment of a stand mixer, in a large bowl, cream the butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and salt.
- Blend in the vanilla.
- Gradually add the flour, blending until well combined.
- Using a spoon or spatula, work the nuts into the dough.
- Chill dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes (can be left overnight) .
- Form the dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until barely set, but not browned.
- Cool on the pan for just a couple of minutes, roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar, and place on a rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled completely, roll in powdered sugar again.