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Gluten Free Snowball Cookies

Gluten Free Snowball Cookies

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies, are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.

Get to the recipe already?

Have you seen the memes around lately where readers of food blogs are complaining about all the conversation that comes before the actual recipe? Conversation exactly like we’re having right here, right now?

Personally, I find most of the memes to be really funny (the best so far is “really sorry about the divorce, Pamela, but can you tell me how many eggs?”). In fairness, I do tend to be an easy laugh for silliness and sarcasm. It did occur to me that readers may not already know why food bloggers tend to talk so much before we tell you how many eggs. Spoiler: in this recipe? no eggs at all. :)

The first reason I talk before the recipe is because I have things I want you to know before you get to the recipe (already). There are things to keep in mind about the recipe as you decide whether or not to make it, including tips and tricks that will ensure that you have plenty of success.

And it never fails that, the more information I provide (like the whole section below about “ingredients and substitutions”), the more I get questions that are answered right there in the post. And in the comments, I’ll say “please see that information above in the post.” At least that’s faster than having to repeat the information over and over again, right?

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.

There’s also a second (and third) reason for the pre-recipe talk: It helps our content rank more highly in Google search results (also known as SERP), plus it gives our ad networks a chance to serve advertisements to our readers (like you!). That’s how we make money on a typical food blog—through ads. It’s like clicking on an affiliate link since it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

And advertisers increasingly pay for what’s called “viewability.” If you don’t see the ads, they don’t pay for them. And if you come here super fast, print out the recipe and never come back? We really don’t make any money. I understand that being served ads can be a nuisance.

But not only is running a website super expensive (my email list alone costs about half the amount of the mortgage on my house!), this is part of my job. I provide you with free recipes, and you’re served ads in the process. Give and take. I don’t consider it greed. I consider it a time-tested transaction much like watching commercial television—or paying for commercial-free TV. But I really don’t spend much time talking about myself or my family anyway. So you don’t have to scroll past that with me!

If you’re still reading (thanks! 🙂), you should also know that I do think that ad revenue is becoming a dangerous thing to rely upon for content creators like me. That’s why I’m creating more and more products to sell so that I can continue to serve you more and more in-depth content. In fact, if you’re on my email list, you’re about to receive notice of my next online self-directed course, this time about gluten free yeast bread.

But for now, if you’re looking for just the recipe and that’s all, you should go to Allrecipes. I’ve checked out their gluten free recipes, and frankly, they’re really lacking unless you’re looking for naturally gluten free content. But it’s there for you, if that suits your needs better.

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.

Back to the cookies!

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about these amazing buttery delight gluten free snowball cookies! Much like the whipped shortbread cookies that we made the other week, these incredibly simple cookies are a mixture of butter, flour/starch, and sugar, but this time we’re adding finely chopped nuts to the mix.

They still melt in your mouth, though, since the nuts should be very finely chopped. I chop mine in a miniature food processor or a blender. Be sure not to continue grinding until you have a flour, as you want the nuts to provide a bit of texture and not to completely disappear into the batter.

Watch this 1 minute video and learn how to make gluten free snowball cookies

Just push play ▶️ and see how to transform a few simple ingredients into the cookies you love and miss!

Another word about the nuts: When I use mostly raw pecans to make these snowball cookies (a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes), I grind the nuts a little more coarsely since pecans are such a soft nut. When I use almonds, I grind them more finely. You don’t want the cookies to have any noisy crunch, which would all but ruin the overall silky smooth texture.

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.

Ingredients and Substitutions

As always, unless I specifically state otherwise, I haven’t tested these cookies with any substitutions. These are just my best-educated guesses:

Dairy-Free: I haven’t tried it, but I bet these cookies would work just fine with butter-flavored Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening in place of the butter.

Corn-Free: I recommend trying potato starch as a substitute for cornstarch in the recipe. Since most confectioners’ sugar is made using cornstarch, you’ll also have to source a corn-free version of that ingredient. A fellow reader has mentioned in the past that Trader Joe’s has a corn-free confectioners’ sugar, but I haven’t investigated that personally. It’s worth a look, though!

Flour Notes: If you use a gluten free flour blend that is already high in starch, like Cup4Cup, replace the cornstarch gram for gram with more Cup4Cup.

Nut-Free: If you can’t have/won’t have/don’t want to have nuts, instead of these snowball cookies, I recommend my meltaway cookies. Or my whipped shortbread cookies. They’re both very similar in taste and texture, but naturally nut-free! The nuts provide a depth of flavor to these cookies, but the other cookies of course have their own merits. You really can’t lose.

Now, finally, here’s the recipe itself. And thanks for reading (if you did). And if you didn’t, and just skipped to the recipe, you’re always still welcome here.

These gluten free snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies are super tender butter cookies, made with chopped nuts and always covered in powdered sugar.
Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 24 cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I like Better Batter here)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend already contains it)

10 tablespoons (90 g) cornstarch

1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (90 g) finely chopped raw pecans and/or almonds

16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Lukewarm water, by the teaspoonful as necessary

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (77 g) and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the finely chopped nuts and whisk again to combine. Add the butter and vanilla, and mix until well-combined. I find that pressing down on the butter with the back of a spoon helps to distribute it throughout the dough. The cookie dough will look somewhat sandy, and will clump in places. Add water by the teaspoonful, mixing after each addition, and mix to combine until the dough holds together when scoop or squeezed.

  • Scoop the dough by the heaping tablespoon (an overfull #70 ice cream scoop is ideal here, but two spoons work well, too) onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2-inches between pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a round gently between the palms of your hands. Don’t pack the dough; just shape it. Place the remaining 1/3 cup (38 g) confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and place the balls of dough, one at a time, in the sugar. Toss to coat completely in the sugar and return to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes or until the cookie dough is firm.

  • Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are set in the center and firm to the touch (they will be fragile, but shouldn’t be wet), about 12 minutes. Sometime between 10 and 12 minutes, the cookies will take on a slightly crackled appearance on top. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow to cool completely before rolling in more confectioners’ sugar (optional) and serving.

  • These cookies can be stored for at least 3 days in a sealed glass container at room temperature. For longer storage, seal tightly in a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. For best results, don’t toss in extra confectioners’ sugar before freezing. Defrost completely at room temperature before tossing in sugar a final time.

Love,
Nicole

  • Barb Lewis
    November 14, 2017 at 6:47 PM

    These cookies just made the holidays for my gluten free daughter who was feeling sad about not having her favorite cookie. It appears that if you use a #70 scoop which is approximately 1 T, you get 48 cookies instead of the listed 24… an added surprise. Will have to make more. I barely got one to try!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 15, 2017 at 9:21 AM

      Aw, Barb, that’s so sweet. Happy holidays from my gluten free family to yours. :)

  • Brian Nicholson
    November 13, 2017 at 7:51 AM

    Nicole,
    I need your advice please on a totally different topic ie bread making but don’t know to get in touch with you hence this message on this thread.
    Is there another address I can contact you on.

    Many thanks

    Brian

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 13, 2017 at 8:22 AM

      Hi, Brian,
      You can use the “questions” form to contact me, but I’m afraid I don’t check those emails very frequently and have an assistant who responds to most emails. I’m afraid I’m not available for individual consultations, but if you’re on Facebook you should try joining my Facebook group as there are tons of helpful fellows readers who can likely help as well. Here’s a link to the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/everythinggfoas/

  • Reggie Rullan
    November 12, 2017 at 6:43 PM

    Thanks for the recipe as Russian Tea Cakes was one of the 1st cookies I learned to bake as a child. Since going GF I had to abstain from it. I am also going sugar free. Will Stevia work with this recipe and in what proportion? Thanks again!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 13, 2017 at 8:20 AM

      Hi, Reggie,
      I’m afraid that Stevia won’t work, no. I would recommend Swerve alternative sweetener since they even have a confectioners’ sugar variety. I bet it would work great.

  • Lois
    November 12, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    Made double recipe of your one bowl choc. cake last week for a birthday cake. Help! It didn’t turn out. Rose really high in oven , then slowly sank. I weigh my ingred.
    Thanks for any help.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 13, 2017 at 8:24 AM

      Lois, when a cake rises rapidly and then falls, it usually due to a too-hot oven. Most ovens run hot, which is why I always recommend using an oven thermometer. That, and if you didn’t use one of my recommended flour blends or made any other substitutions, you’re essentially creating a new recipe that wasn’t properly balanced. Good luck!

  • Barbara
    November 12, 2017 at 1:31 PM

    What a delightful recipe, tho i will have to tweak it a bit…can’t have the sugar. But, your daughter is absolutely beautiful! She looks just like her mom…. Thank her for being the taste-tester…..she was obviously pleased!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 1:46 PM

      Thank you, Barbara! If you can’t have sugar, I would recommend Swerve alternative sweetener since they even have a confectioners’ sugar variety. I bet it would work great. And thank you so much for the kind words about my daughter. I will be sure to thank her. My children are all 3 my guinea pigs!

  • Ruthie
    November 12, 2017 at 12:45 PM

    These look good, every year I make Kourabiedes — greek celebration cookies, with either finely minced walnuts or almonds… if i get a chance I may try these this year. Though I still sometimes can’t resist some food with gluten in it (my husband doesn’t follow being GF), I realize more and more that I PAY FOR IT. So I’m anxious to try these, I made a GF apple coffee cake that is really great, dear husband doesn’t even know it’s GF. Thanks for your recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 1:45 PM

      Don’t cheat, Ruthie! Just make things that are GF like this that are good enough for everyone. Take care of yourself!

  • Melissa
    November 12, 2017 at 11:42 AM

    I just made these and instead of using vanilla extract, I had almond extract and the cookies came out great. I did forget to put them in the freezer before baking. Can’t wait to make them again for Christmas for my family. Thank you Nichol for sharing.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 1:44 PM

      I love love almond extract, Melissa. I’m always looking for ways to use it. Great idea!

  • Dena Logan
    November 12, 2017 at 9:50 AM

    Why not toast and cool the nuts before baking?? I would think it kuldip enhance the flavor.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 11:16 AM

      Feel free to do that, Dena! They’re chopped very fine so I didn’t consider it necessary, but there’s no harm in doing that if you’d like.

  • Teril
    November 12, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    I operate a restaurant so I don’t always read every word, but as I’ve said before your recipes are ALWAYS absolutely great. For some reason this morning I read the whole thing. Some things did NOT occur to me before but it has never bothered me and of course it makes perfect sense!
    We make these every day here and I’m super excited to use this recipe for my DH and my GF customers. Thanks!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 11:19 AM

      Thanks, Teril! I’m glad you have so much success with my recipes. :)

  • No1uno
    November 11, 2017 at 6:20 PM

    Wow, I may or may not read the blog on a recipe I want but I now know what I won’t be doing. I won’t be pining this recipe or buying any of your cookbooks for sure. That was an unbelievably snark bit of self-affirmation.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 11:15 AM

      I see you’ve gone out of your way to make sure that no one knows who you are, No1uno, leaving an email address of none@none.com. That’s a shame.

  • Carol
    November 11, 2017 at 6:04 AM

    I used a similar recipe (pre gluten free days) to make a crust for strawberry pie that had fresh uncooked strawberries. It was so GOOD!

    Do you think it would be ok for use with pecan pie too?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 11, 2017 at 5:52 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment in the context of this recipe. Did you perhaps mean to leave it on a different recipe, Carol? This cookie recipe definitely wouldn’t work as a crust.

  • Penny O
    November 9, 2017 at 1:25 PM

    Where is yr Pinterest button?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 9, 2017 at 5:33 PM

      Penny, there are sharing buttons at the top and bottom of every post. Just click where it says “SHARE” on the ribbon and it’ll bring up all the buttons, including Pinterest. Here’s a pin for these cookies, if that helps: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/11329436546711908/

  • Mare
    November 9, 2017 at 12:21 PM

    Never will I ever go to Allrecipes for gluten free! No thank you! I am happy to come here and also buy your books (I do have them all). As far as I am concerned, and my family too, you are the Gluten Free Guru! I absolutely love these cookies and cannot wait to make them! Thank you for all you do for us! Your daughter is adorable!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 12, 2017 at 1:48 PM

      Aw, Mare, you’re the best!

  • Michelle Stringham
    November 8, 2017 at 9:29 PM

    Hi Nicole,
    I’ve been making these for years. My mom used to make them (of course not gluten free) when I was a kid. My made up recipe is not the same as yours. They end up a bit dry. I will be trying your recipe this year.
    And by the way – I love our conversations. I don’t skip to the end because you always have useful and often times funny things to pass on. Like I’ve said before, it’s like sitting in your kitchen having coffee while you pass on your wonderful knowledge.
    Thank you! :-)
    ~ MIchelle

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 9, 2017 at 11:45 AM

      You have indeed said that before, Michelle, and it’s always super gratifying since that is absolutely the spirit in which it’s offered. Thank you for your kindness, and for reading along! :)

  • Doris Panagis
    November 8, 2017 at 12:48 PM

    Hi Nicole;
    Thank you, I love these, as well as a Greek Cookie called Kourembietes – butter cookies, that have no nuts, but some put them in there just like these. I had a friend in Greece, studying to be a Pastry Chef help me with a GF option. I haven’t tried it yet, I’ll share once I do.
    Question, I have 2 bags of Nut.com Tapioca Flour/Starch that I need to use up before they expire (I bought (4-5 of them at once….thinking I’d use them faster) , do you have any uses for it other than using it IN the flour blends??? Appreciate any help!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 3:22 PM

      Definitely, Doris. You should try my Paleo bagels, Paleo pizza, soft tapioca wraps… Just use the search function. There’s plenty here!

  • Mindi
    November 8, 2017 at 12:00 PM

    No Xanthan gum in the video’s list of ingredients. Is there a reason why it’s listed on your recipe and is there a need for it?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 3:17 PM

      It’s part of the flour blend in the video, Mindi. And yes, it’s necessary. I just realized that I hadn’t included a note in the recipe to eliminated the xanthan gum as an ingredient if your gluten free flour blend already contains it. I’ve typed that so many hundreds of times over the years; I can’t believe I left it out!

  • Tracy
    November 8, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, my husband’s family is Greek and this is similar to Kourabiethes. I look forward to making these for Christmas. Also, thanks for the lesson above, I’m a skimmer and don’t always take the time to do more than look at a recipe but, I’ll be more careful to do so in the future. We are all spoiled with how much information is on the internet these days but, don’t take the time to be thankful to those that put it there.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 3:21 PM

      That’s really kind of you to say, Tracy. I just figured I might as well explain the idea behind it all, since if you’re not a blogger, too, it most likely wouldn’t even occur to you. 🙂

  • El
    November 8, 2017 at 11:44 AM

    “But for now, if you’re looking for just the recipe and that’s all, you should go to Allrecipes. I’ve checked out their gluten free recipes, and frankly, they’re really lacking unless you’re looking for naturally gluten free content. But it’s there for you, if that suits your needs better.”
    BETTER YET…..just buy Nicole’s books….no ads and BEST of the best GF recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 3:20 PM

      Haha thanks, El!!

    • Michele
      November 9, 2017 at 6:36 AM

      I agree! Your books are awesome! Kindle edition makes it easy to reference when I’m in the kitchen. Thanks!

  • Lisa BergerLisa
    November 8, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    Hi. I am using Cup 4 Cup flour and was wondering if I still needed to add the Xanthan gum. Also, I didn’t quite understand the cornstarch instructions.

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2017 at 3:24 PM

      Cup4Cup has xanthan gum already in it, Lisa, so no you don’t need to add more. You just replace the cornstarch in the recipe with an equal amount of additional Cup4Cup, as that blend is already very, very high in cornstarch.

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