Known by a variety of names, these white melt-in-your-mouth cookies are perfect for the holidays. I know them as Russian Tea Cakes with Maple, but they’re also called Russian tea cake cookies, snowball cookies, and wedding cookies. They’re simple nutty cookies and rolled in powdered sugar, they are the perfect holiday cookie for any Christmas cookie exchange!

a Russian Tea Cake cookie with Maple

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My twist on the classic Russian Tea Cake cookie recipe is to add a touch of maple. This gives them a lovely holiday flavor, and it really transforms them into a deliciously different Christmas cookie!

Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

I grew up eating these cookies. In fact, either my mother or my Aunt Barb made batches of these every year, so I look forward to making them each holiday season with my daughter. In fact, this “snowballs cookies” recipe has been on our blog since 2010!

Tea Cake with Maple cookies on plate

These are simple cookies, but they are delicious. You can use finely chopped walnuts or pecans, and the recipe is easy to double in case you need more. 

snowball cookies with nuts

They’re easy to make, and you roll the dough into balls before baking, so they are all close to the same size. They look amazing on a Christmas or dessert board or any holiday dessert spread. I also love giving them as gifts and they look so pretty in a little gift bag with a nice bow, or take a batch of these to a potluck or party and watch them get devoured!

a bite of powdered sugar cookie

Why I love this recipe

  • This is a vintage recipe, but I’ve made it my own by adding a touch of maple. Try it, and you’ll agree that these Russian Tea Cakes are so much tastier this way!
  • It’s an easy recipe to make and is simple to double in case you need more cookies.
  • They’re so pretty! Rolled in powdered sugar, they look like little snowballs!

ingredients to make Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

Gather these ingredients

  • Butter – Softened.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Maple extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Ice water
  • Walnuts or pecans – Finely chopped.

how to make Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

How to make the best Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

  1. Preheat your oven to 300-F and prepare 2 baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or greasing them well with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Set these aside.
  2. Cream the butter with an electric hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Whip the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla and maple extracts and beat on low until combined.
  4. Add the flour a scoop at a time, alternating with a bit of the ice water until the flour is all worked into the dough.
  5. Stir in the nuts or knead them into the dough with your hands. 
  6. Shape the cookies into balls by rolling dough between your hands into 1 ½-2-inch balls,  and place them 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 300-F then let them cool on the baking pan until just cool enough to handle but still fairly warm.
  8. When cool enough to handle but still hot, roll each cookie in the sifted powdered sugar. Set them on a wire rack to cool, and when cool, roll them a final time in the powdered sugar.
  9. Enjoy!

adding pecans to snowball cookie

Tips & substitutions

  • Finely chop the walnuts or pecans using a food processor, and for more flavor, toast the nuts first.
  • Don’t overwork the cookie dough. Mix until just combined. 
  • Add a wee bit more water or just as much as is needed to form the cookie dough.
  • Roll the balls the same size for uniform cooking.
  • Press a pecan or walnut half into the top of the cookie before baking – this is optional but adds a tasty nutty touch!
  • Don’t overcook the cookies! They’re cooked when set on top and golden brown on the bottom.

plate of Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

Serving suggestions

I never need a reason to nibble on a cookie, especially these delicious homemade Russian Tea Cakes. I love them with a cup of coffee or tea any time of day, but they’re such a pretty cookie to put out on a plate next to Candied Maple Walnuts when friends drop by. They’re great as dessert after festive meals of holiday ham, a prime rib roast, or any festive dinner!


Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container on the counter in a cool spot for 3-4 days. You can also freeze these cookies. Pack them into a freezer-safe plastic container and freeze for up to a month.

buttery bite of Russian Tea Cake cookie

Check out these awesome cookie recipes while you’re here

Russian Teacakes with Maple

a Russian Tea Cake cookie with Maple
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Get the Recipe:

Russian Tea Cakes with Maple

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 12
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 ½ cups butter
  • cup powder sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp. ice water


  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Cream the butter. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla and maple. Work in the flour and ice water. Knead in the nuts. Shape and roll into 1 ½ - 2 inch balls.
  • Bake on a well greased cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.Optional to place a pecan or walnut half on top before baking. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately roll the cookies in powdered sugar. Cool the cookies and roll again in the powdered sugar.
  • Serve!


Reposted from December 2010,
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
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Russian tea cake