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Also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, these 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.
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.
Classic Snowball Cookies are made with walnuts, but you can use your favorite nut from pecans to pistachios, almonds to cashews.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
I started making classic snowball cookies for my mom years and years ago. They are her favorite, and yes, my gluten free version even passed her test. Here’s why they are beloved in my fmaily and will be in yours.
- Few ingredients. Only six ingredients, but they come together so perfetly to make a delicious and delicate cookie.
- A total classic. What makes the snowball cookie so identifiable and iconic is double rolling in powdered sugar. That right, they are rolled not once, but twice to make them sweet and snowy and festive.
- Easy to make gluten free. It’s the same traditional recipe, but using a 1-to-1 flour makes it so simple.
- Adaptable. You can use diffeent nuts if you aren’t a fan of walnuts, leave them out completely, or add a bit of chocolate.
Here is a quick overview ofn the six ingredients you’ll need to make these cookies. The full amounts are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, along with the detailed instructions.
- Unsalted butter. Let the butter soften to room temperature. You can use any of the methods for how to soften butter, but don’t melt it in the microwave.
- Powdered sugar. Also called confectioners sugar or icing sugar, you’ll need it for both dough and for coating the cookies. Make sure yours is gluten free. You can read more about this in the Tips for Success section below.
- Salt. A small amount enhances the sweetness, as well as the buttery and nutty flavors in these cookies.
- 1:1 Gluten Free Flour. There are many of these types of blends available now. I most often use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Blend, but Pillsbury works well and many people recommend the Cup 4 Cup brand.
- Walnuts. You can buy a bag of pre-chopped nuts or chop them yourself.
Grab your cookie sheets and ingredients, preheat the oven to 400°F, and let’s get started.
Make the dough. 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.
Add the walnuts. 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.
Shape the cookies. Now scoop out the dough and using your hands work it into 1-inch balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until set and lightly golden, but not browned.
Roll in powdered sugar. 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. Place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Double roll. Once they are cooled completely, give each cookie another roll in the sugar to make them sweet, snowy, and perfect!
Tips for Success
Use a good mixer. The dough becomes quite stiff, so I recommend a strong stand mixer or the paddle attachment on your KitchenAid mixer.
Invest in quality baking pans. 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.
Check your powdered sugar. In order to prevent caking, some brands 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.
Make the dough ahead. 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.
Use other nuts. 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. For something extra sweet, try mini chocolate chips or bits of toffee.
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.
- 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.