Chopped pecans, vanilla, and orange zest make these Mexican Wedding Cookies a favorite holiday treat. Bonus? They’re pretty easy to make. Check out the video!
Quick, what’s your favorite holiday cookie? The one that it’s just not the holidays until you’ve had it?
Truth be told, I’m a cookie person, so there are many on my list. These Polvorones are up there as are chewy, chocolatey Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts (seriously, don’t knock them til you’ve tried them). But ultimately, it is Mexican Wedding Cookies I crave.
I love them so much, this is the third Mexican Wedding Cookie recipe I’ve created for the site! If you are into them as much as I am, be sure to check out the gluten-free, vegan version as well as my Pumpkin Spice Mexican Wedding Cookies too!
Let’s take a look at how to make this more traditional Mexican Wedding Cookie with butter, finely chopped pecans, and vanilla extract coated in powdered sugar.
Are Mexican Wedding Cookies Really Mexican?
Um, nope. Not really. These melt-in-your-mouth cookies go by many different names: Snowballs, Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes and are all variations of a popular cookie eaten all over the world that are a basic mixture of nuts, sugar, butter, flour with no leavening or eggs.
Historians believe in the United States these cookies were most commonly called Russian cookies until the 1950’s when during the Cold War it wasn’t in the best interest of anyone to make anything Russian, so they went with our more friendly neighbor to the south, Mexico, instead.
Ingredients in Mexican Wedding Cookies
The flavor of these cookies is simply wonderful with the nutty toasted pecans, orange zest, vanilla, and nutmeg. See the list below for some variation suggestions.
- Pecans or almonds or even hazelnuts
- Unsalted butter, must be at room temperature
- Powdered sugar
- All purpose flour
- Orange zest or lemon zest, or just leave it out
- Vanilla extract or almond extract
- Kosher salt
- Ground nutmeg or ground cloves or ground cinnamon
How To Make Them!
This recipe results in cookies with a very crumbly texture—almost explosive when you bite into one! To get that texture, the dough needs to be packed tightly into a cookie scoop to get the required shape. You could roll them by hand, but they won’t be as smooth.
Toast the pecans. Lay the pecans in an even layer in a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and darkened in color. Pour into a bowl to let cool.
Grind the pecans. Transfer the cooled pecans to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped but not so much they turn into nut butter.
Prepare the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat butter. Combine room temperature butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric mixer. Start the mixer on low speed then increase the speed to medium. Beat until light and fluffy.
Add remaining ingredients. Add the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and all the other ingredients (except the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar) and beat, starting on low then increasing to medium speed until combined. The mixture will be crumbly, but when you pinch a handful it should hold together.
Scoop and bake. Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough and pack to create 1-inch balls. This is easiest if using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop. It will seem like they’re not going to stay together, but they will. Lay 1-inch apart on the sheet pan. Then bake in the preheated oven until golden on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
Roll in powdered sugar. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before you start rolling in powdered sugar. Place remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl and gently roll the cookies, coating them in powdered sugar. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
If you want an extra coating of powdered sugar, roll them again in the sugar after they’ve cooled completely.
How To Store Them
Keep the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Christmas Cookies You’ll Love!
- Orange Sour Cream Drop Cookies
- Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies (from our sister site, Kate’s Best Recipes)
- Extra Spicy Molasses Crinkle Cookies
- Mega Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Soft Pumpkin Cookies (again, from Kate’s Best Recipes)
- Strawberry Hibiscus Cookies
- Soft Lime Sugar Cookies
Watch These Disappear!
I’m pretty sure you just found your new favorite Christmas cookies. I hope you try this recipe out and if you do, let me know how it went! Share a photo and tag me on Instagram using @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so that I can see your stuff (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating)! Also, sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
Classic Mexican Wedding Cookies
Chopped pecans, vanilla, and orange zest make these Mexican Wedding Cookies a favorite holiday treat. Bonus? They're pretty easy to make. Check out the video!
- 1 cup pecans
- 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- Zest from 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Toast pecans by placing them in a single layer in a large frying pan and toasting them over medium heat, stirring frequently until they are fragrant and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and let cool. Once they are cool, transfer to a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped, but not so much that they turn into nut butter.
- Heat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Beat butter and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixter fitted with the paddle attachment on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add ground pecans and remining ingredients except the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Start on low then increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. It will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze a handful of dough in your palm.
- Scoop into tablespoon-sized balls using a cookie scoop. Press the dough into the scoop to compact it so it holds together then transfer to the baking sheet. Continue scooping out balls of dough and place them 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake until the bottoms are golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile place remaining cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
- Let cool 5 minutes then roll the cookies in the powdered sugar to coat. Set on a wire rack to cool completely. If you want an extra thick coating of powdered sugar, roll the cookies one more time after they have cooled.
- To Store— Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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