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Russian Tea Cakes

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  • Prep 60 min
  • Total 1 hr 15 min
  • Servings 48
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There’s no feeling quite as blissful as biting into a Russian Tea Cake. This classic cookie is irresistibly nutty and buttery, but it's the dusting of powdered sugar that makes it so magical—it seems to burst with flavor when you bite into it. If you don’t have powdered sugar all over your face, you’re not doing it right!

Russian Tea Cakes are made the world over and called by a variety of names, including Mexican wedding cookies, Austrian kipferin, butterballs and snowballs. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying they’re a must-bake during the holiday season.

This recipe for Russian Tea Cakes is essentially a buttery shortbread-like dough studded with chopped nuts. It bakes up with a texture that’s wonderfully tender—never dry or crumbling to bits. The classic finish is a roll through powdered sugar while they’re still warm, so it clings to the cookies. Once they’ve cooled, you can dredge them through the powdered sugar a second time, giving them a nice wintry snow covering.

Tea cakes make a wonderful treat for holiday visitors: invite your neighbors and friends in, make a pot of your favorite tea and settle in for a cozy conversation in front of the fire. You’ll definitely want to include them on this year’s cookie trays!

Updated Sep 16, 2023
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  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar
Make With
Gold Medal Flour


  • 1
    Heat oven to 400°F.
  • 2
    Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  • 3
    Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  • 4
    Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  • 5
    Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Tips from the Betty Crocker Kitchens

  • tip 1
    As with most Russian Tea Cake recipes, this one creates a nice firm dough that won’t spread during baking, so you can arrange them about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. And like shortbread, they don't brown; when they’re done, they’ll be firm to the touch.
  • tip 2
    Similar cookies are called snowballs or a version that’s filled with rich pine nuts can also be called Mexican wedding cakes.
  • tip 3
    Wondering what makes tea cakes so rich and crumbly? Like other shortbreads, they have a high ratio of butter to flour, which makes them very tender—and so delightful to eat.
  • tip 4
    If you want to get creative, you can use different nuts in your Russian Tea Cakes. Cashews, hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts are fantastic choices. You’ll want to toast and finely chop them before you add them to the dough.


75 Calories, 5 g Total Fat, 1 g Protein, 6 g Total Carbohydrate

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Serving
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
5 g
Saturated Fat
1 g
55 mg
15 mg
Total Carbohydrate
6 g
Dietary Fiber
1 g
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
1/2 Starch; 1 Fat;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

More About This Recipe

  • There’s no denying the tactile joy of maneuvering your lips around a dusting of powdered sugar to reach the melt-in-your-mouth center of these tea cookies. The powdery, sweet residue is just one of the signatures of this snowball-shaped treat. Because they’re made with real butter and chopped nuts, these cookies have a melting texture and a distinctively rich taste. In addition to being known as Russian tea cookies, they’re also called Mexican, Italian or Swedish wedding cookies, Austrian kipferin, butterballs and snowballs. No matter what they’re named, these tea cookies are all prepared in basically the same way, being rolled in powdered sugar while still warm, then coated again once they’ve cooled off a bit. Heat up a samovar (or just a regular teapot), brew some of your favorite tea, and have an old-fashioned tea party with these classic treats. If you’d like to try some variations on the snowball theme, check out Betty’s best snowball cookies collection.
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