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These irresistible Mexican Wedding Cookies are the perfect combination of crumbly and soft. Pecan puffs that literally melt in your mouth!
My grandmother’s recipe for Mexican wedding cookies makes light, delicate cookies with bigger pieces of pecans. Unlike these snowball cookies where the pecans are chopped very finely. They have a buttery shortbread texture and a lightly sweetened pecan flavor. They almost seem to melt in your mouth. .
Around my house, these cookies were always called Pecan Puffs, but when I became a professional pastry chef I learned that they were also known as Mexican wedding cookies and Russian tea cakes!
Family recipes have a way of making the holidays sweeter. My Great-Grandmother’s Pecan Tassies have been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. Grandma’s Chewy Molasses Cookies, my mom’s 5-Ingredient Christmas Crinkle Cookies, and my family’s award-winning Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies are all tried-and-true Christmas cookies we’ve made for generations. I feel so much joy that I get to share them with you!
Why you will love this Mexican wedding cookies recipe:
- Grandma knows best. This recipe has been passed down for over 100 years, and these nutty, buttery cookies have been a family favorite for just as long!
- No-fuss Christmas cookie. The dough comes together in less than 10 minutes in one bowl, and can even be made in a food processor.
- Updated by a pro chef for maximum flavor. I pre-toasted my pecans for maximum flavor and added a little salt. Old recipes never call for salt – why? Such an easy flavor boost!
- Watch for doneness to avoid over-baking. Even though these bake for longer at a lower temperature, they still have a chance of over-baking and becoming dry. Watch for them to start to brown, and for the surface to appear matte with small cracks.
- Coat your cookies twice in powdered sugar for a gorgeous finish. The first coating in powdered sugar soaks in and adds sweetness and moisture.. The second coating secures not only a festive outer layer but locks in the moisture of the cookies so they stay delicious longer.
- Wait for your flavors to meld. Yes, you can definitely eat these cookies immediately. But, for an even more delicious cookie, wait until the next day.
- For longer storage, dip in icing. If you would like to make these further in advance, dip in a glaze made with powdered sugar and milk. This will set on the outside and lock in moisture. Place on a cooling rack to drip dry!
What are Mexican Wedding Cookies?
Mexican Wedding Cookies are tender, buttery cookies coated in powdered sugar. They typically contain nuts and have a shortbread-like texture. Yes, they were historically served at Mexican weddings, but have actually become a larger category of cookie since cultures from around the world have versions in their own culinary heritage. Due to this, they are interchangeably known as Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies and also Pecan Puffs. Whatever you call them, get ready for a sweet mouthful of powdered sugar!
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar, like in my Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies, is here for sweetness. If you add too much sugar in proportion to the butter and flour, the cookies will spread instead of staying tall.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds a beautiful flavor and boosts the flavor of ingredients around it.
- Pecans: You can chop pecans with a knife or pulse in a food processor. I like to toast my pecans for extra flavor. I do the same thing in my toasted pecan pumpkin cupcakes!
- Powdered Sugar: The powdered sugar coating adds a bit of additional sweetness. It also helps keep the cookies moist for longer storage.
- All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour has just the right amount of gluten to make soft, tender cookies that hold their little round shape.
- Kosher salt
- Unsalted butter
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations & Substitutions
- Other types of nuts to use: Any ground or finely chopped nuts would be wonderful in this recipe. I made a walnut cardamom snowball version that was magnificent. Or try a combination of nuts and dried fruit, like I do in my ginger orange almond biscotti! Tie it all together with an orange zest and cardamom version.
- Use a different flour. Substitute up to ½ cup of the all-purpose flour for nut flour to add another flavor dimension and a little extra texture. Pecan meal would be delightful! You can use gluten free all-purpose flour in this recipe. I prefer Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour because I find it is the closest texturally to regular all-purpose flour. If you’d rather use whole wheat flour, just add a bit more butter so your cookies hold together.
- Vegan: You can use a vegan butter substitute or shortening to make these Mexican wedding cookies vegan. You will lose a bit of the flavor, but the texture will still be delightful.
How to Make Traditional Mexican Wedding Cookies
Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Make the dough:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Step 2: In a large bowl with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla until well-combined.
You can make the entire cookie dough in the food processor if you want. They will be a little less light and airy because you aren’t trapping that air between the butter and sugar molecules during the creaming process, but they will be fast! Just be sure to follow the same steps.
Step 3: On low speed, add the flour, salt, and pecans; mix until combined.
Portion & bake:
Step 4: Roll heaping 1-inch balls of dough and place 1 inch apart on your prepared baking sheets. I use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the dough and then roll into balls.
Chill the dough for taller cookies! This is completely optional and I did not chill the dough for the cookies in the photos. They will still flatten a bit on the bottom but will remain beautifully domed.
Step 5: Bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops are beginning to brown and show small cracks, 45 minutes.
I personally like to underbake these…usually only 20 minutes or so, but that isn’t technically correct for this type of cookie. Your kitchen, your rules!
Step 6: Cool the cookies 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Place powdered sugar in a large plastic bag or bowl. Work with two cookies at a time. Toss gently to coat and place back on the wire rack.
Step 7: Allow the cookies to sit at least an hour, up to overnight. Repeat the tossing in powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
For the tallest cookies, chill dough balls before baking. They’ll also hold their shape better!
Frequently Asked Questions
Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Layer the cookies between pieces of parchment or waxed paper. For a flawless finish, toss again in powdered sugar before serving.
You can freeze these baked cookies for up to 3 months. Once cooled and tossed in powdered sugar, layer between parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. After thawing, toss in powdered sugar to refresh the coating.
There are a couple reasons your dough could be crumbly. If you substituted or inaccurately measured your flour, there’s a possibility you might need to add a little more butter to keep your ingredients together. You might have also added your dry ingredients too quickly. Try turning the whole thing out onto the counter and kneading it together. The warmth of your hands will help work the flour into the dough faster.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Make the dough:
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla until well-combined.
- On low speed, add the flour, salt, and pecans; mix until combined.
Portion & bake:
- Roll heaping 1-inch balls of dough and place 1 inch apart on your prepared baking sheets. I use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop the dough and then roll into balls.
- Bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops are beginning to brown and show small cracks, 45 minutes.
- Cool the cookies 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Place powdered sugar in a large plastic bag or bowl. Work with two cookies at a time. Toss gently to coat and place back on the wire rack.
- Allow the cookies to sit at least an hour, up to overnight. Repeat the tossing in powdered sugar. Enjoy!