These gluten-free Mexican wedding cookies (aka gluten-free snowball cookies!) will absolutely melt in your mouth. With their delicate texture & delicious flavor, they’re a perfect holiday cookie!
This classic cookie goes by many names–Gluten-Free Snowball Cookies, Gluten-Free Mexican Wedding Cookies, Gluten-Free Russian Tea Cookies, etc. But whatever you call them, they’re a total delight!
This gluten-free holiday cookie recipe is unlike so many others you see during the holiday season. Instead of being soft and chewy like Ginger Cookies or full of colorful mix-ins like these Christmas cookies, they’re delicate and buttery like shortbread, with more subtle sweetness than many other classic cookies.
I think that makes them the perfect addition to a dessert table, holiday cookie plate or cookie exchanges. They’re adorable (hello, cute little snowballs!) and delicious, with a melt-in-your mouth texture you’re going to love–YUM!
Best of all, this easy cookie recipe doesn’t require fancy ingredients. It doesn’t even require things like eggs or baking powder! Here’s all you need to get started…
Our Gluten-Free Snowball Cookies Recipe, At A Glance:
Are Mexican Wedding Cookies And Snowball Cookies The Same Thing?
Basically, yes! These recipes are all VERY similar, with shortbread-like ingredients, a nutty crunch, and a powdered sugar coating. For this post, the names Snowball cookies and Mexican Wedding Cookies will be used interchangeably, but you might also know these buttery cookies by one of their many different names:
- Russian Tea Cakes or Russian Tea Cookies
- Snowball Cookies
- Butterball Cookies
- Italian Wedding Cookies
- Mexican Wedding Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cakes
- Danish Wedding Cookies
- Swedish Tea Cakes
…And more! Did I miss a name you know? I’d love to hear it!
Simple ingredients For Gluten-Free Mexican Wedding Cookies:
- Butter. I actually prefer using salted butter instead of unsalted butter for these shortbread cookies. I think it gives the cookies better flavor!
- Powdered Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar). You’ll need some to sweeten the cookie dough, and some for rolling the cookies at the end.
- Vanilla Extract. A kiss of vanilla adds more notes of sweetness.
- Almond Extract (Maybe). Some recipes add a little cinnamon or almond extract for extra flavor. My favorite is a little almond extract. It’s the perfect little something that keeps people wondering what your secret ingredient is!
- Gluten-Free Flour. We recommend King Arthur Measure-For-Measure gluten-free flour blend for basically all our cookie recipes. The big goal with classic snowball cookies is a light, tender, buttery texture that melts in your mouth. Gluten-free flour can get a bit dense on its own, so we combine it with..
- Cornstarch. Just a few tablespoons gives these gluten-free cookies a lighter, more delicate crumb. I use this trick in our gluten-free Levain cookies, too!
- Salt. A must for these cookies! I’m using kosher salt, but use less salt if you’re using fine table salt!
- Pecans (Or Other Nuts!). Some recipes for gluten-free snowballs use walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or other nuts for their nutty crunch. You can use what you like best, but we’ll be using pecans today.
How To Make Snowball Cookies, Step By Step
- Preheat Oven & Prep. Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Set out two cookie sheets and line with parchment paper.
- Cream Butter, Sugar, Vanilla & Almond. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream softened butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla and almond extracts on medium speed 2-3 minutes, or until creamy and smooth.
- Add Flour, Pecans, Cornstarch, and Salt and gently mix on low speed until just combined and the dough starts to come together.
- Scoop & Roll. Use a small cookie scoop to measure 1 Tablespoon balls of cookie dough. Roll each ball of dough out between your hands to smooth and place 9-12 cookie dough balls on a baking sheet. (Leave the rest of the dough to rest at room temperature)
- Bake Cookies 9-11 minutes, or until the bottoms just turn golden brown and the tops of the cookies have just started to crack. Let the cookies cool 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Repeat this baking process until all cookies are baked and cooled, alternating baking sheets with each batch so you don’t put cool cookie dough on a hot baking sheet.
- Roll In Powdered Sugar. When the cookies are cooled, gently roll each cookie in powdered sugar to coat well. (I do this one cookie at a time, and fluff the sugar up after every few cookies) Repeat until all cookies are coated in powdered sugar.
- Serve & Store. Enjoy cookies right away or store in an airtight container at room temperature 2-3 days. To freeze, store cookies in a single layer in a freezer container up to 2 months. (You can also freeze the cookies once they’re cooled but before you toss them in powdered sugar. Let the cookies thaw, then roll in powdered sugar before serving.)
Cookie Tips To Help You:
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free Mexican Wedding Cookies
Let The Cookies Cool
For the prettiest gluten-free Mexican wedding cookies, let the cookies cool completely before rolling in powdered sugar. I find if you roll warm cookies, the sugar can dissolve or turn gummy. You’ll get a better powdered sugar coating on the cookies if you wait for them to cool first.
Why Do My Snowball Cookies Go Flat?
A few things can be going on here:
- Check that your butter is at COOL room temperature. Your finger should just be able to make an indent when pressed, but the butter shouldn’t look greasy or sweaty.
- Next, weigh or measure your flour carefully to make sure you got just the right amount.
- Lastly, don’t over-mix the batter. This can sometimes incorporate extra air into the dough which can deflate in the oven, causing the cookies to spread.
- Consider altitude. High altitudes can affect the way cookies bake and spread. These are my favorite tips for high altitude baking.
Can You Freeze Snowball Cookies?
Yes! You have two choices:
- Freeze In A Single Layer. To avoid having the cookies rub against each other too much, freeze finished cookies in a single layer in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
- Freeze BEFORE Rolling In Powdered Sugar. For the prettiest presentation, you can bake and cool the cookies as directed, but freeze them without rolling in powdered sugar. Freeze the cookies up to 2 months, then thaw, and roll in powdered sugar before serving.
Snowball Cookie Variations To Try:
- Different Nuts! Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts are all delicious in gluten-free Mexican wedding cookies. Use what your family enjoys or what’s easy to find at the grocery store.
- Add Extra Flavors. Some variations on these buttery pecan cookies include extra layers of flavor, from things like orange zest, ground cinnamon, or almond extract.
- Make Them Vegan. You can easily make this traditional cookie vegan by using vegan butter instead of regular butter. Earth Balance buttery sticks work well here!