The Ultimate Pecan Sandies – Easy Recipe

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In my family, it’s not Christmas without pecan sandies! This recipe has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. It’s quick and easy to make, and it’s a great treat for any holiday gathering.

Pecan sandies frosted in powdered sugar on a Christmas tree shaped serving dish. Text overlay reads "Quick and Easy Pecan Sandies Recipe"

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Easy Pecan Sandies – A Holiday Treat Exchange

Christmas is always better when you celebrate with friends! Today, I’m joining a wonderful group of fellow bloggers for a holiday treat exchange.

Collage of Christmas dessert recipes with text overlay reading "10 Delicious Christmas Treats"

I’m so grateful to my dear friends Aliya from Open Doors Open Hearts and Jen from Midwest Life and Style for hosting this Christmas dessert collaboration.

I’m sure your mouth is already watering if you came here after seeing Jen’s almond shortbread cookies. Aren’t they so pretty too? You’ll find links to all of my other friends’ recipes at the end of this post.

Tips for Making the Perfect Pecan Sandies

Let’s get this out of the way first. Do you say “puh-cahn” or “pee-can” where you’re from? I go with the former, but I’m not here to judge!

However you say it, pecan sandies (a.k.a. snowball cookies) are packed with flavor and couldn’t be easier to make.

Pecan sandies in a Christmas tin with gift tag

Much like shortbread, these cookies come out light and soft rather than brittle. They almost crumble in your mouth! (For a crispier cookie, try my sugar cookie recipe.)

The best part is, they only take about an hour to make…start to finish!

You’ll only need a few simple ingredients for this scratch recipe.

Ingredients for pecan sandies recipe, including flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, and pecans
Pecan sandies ingredients

The sweetness of the powdered sugar coating is well balanced by the chopped pecans and dash of salt in the cookie itself.

It’s really hard to make a mistake with this easy recipe, but here are a few helpful tips to make the best pecan sandies ever!

1. Chop your pecans for the best flavor

This is a minor point, but I find that chopping the pecan pieces will unlock extra flavor when baking these cookies. Of course, if you’re short on time, this isn’t required.

2. Chill your dough before you bake

To make round “snowballs” that keep their shape, it’s helpful to chill your cookies for about 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.

Placing pecan sandies on a cookie sheet before baking

I tried this recipe both ways (chilling and not chilling), and the chilled cookies definitely looked prettier. However, we had no trouble eating allll of the cookies.

3. Experiment with shapes and add-ons

Related to point #2, these pecan sandies don’t need to have a snowball shape to taste delicious.

They often come in round shapes, fingers, or crescent shapes, depending on who’s making them. My mother is known to drop a dollup of chocolate in the center to mix things up.

4. Coat with powdered sugar (or not)

I like to let my cookies cool completely before rolling them in powdered sugar.

Pecan sandies coated with powdered sugar on cookie sheet

If you choose to roll them while they’re still warm, the sugar could melt slightly. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I prefer a soft dusting rather than a thick coating.

5. Gift your cookies or freeze them for later

The great thing about pecan sandies is that one batch makes plenty to freeze or share.

Pecan sandies cookies in Christmas tin with gift tag

I suggest using wax paper to separate layers of cookies when freezing them or placing them in a cookie tin. They can remain at room temperature for several days after baking or defrosting, too.

Pecan sandies cookies on a tray shaped like a Christmas tree

If you’re planning to make some cookies for friends, you can download my free Christmas gift tags by joining my VIP newsletter community.

Whether or not you choose to share is up to you. When paired with a glass of milk or hot chocolate, these cookies don’t last long around here!

Pin it for later!

Pecan sandies in Christmas tin with stack of pecan sandies shown with one cookie eaten. Text overlay reads "Easy Recipe Pecan Sandies"
Christmas tin filled with pecan sandies cookies next to gift tag

Easy Pecan Sandies Recipe (Snowball Cookies)

Author: firstdayofhome.com
These light and crisp pecan sandies are some of the easiest cookies to make. The powdered sugar coating makes them look like snowballs, so they're perfect for the holiday season. If you love pecans and shortbread, you'll love these snowball cookies.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Additional Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 32
Calories 119 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • cup sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp Kosher salt (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Cream the sugar and butter with a hand mixer on medium speed until well blended. (If using a stand mixer, you can scrape the sides of the bowl and continue mixing, as needed.)
  • Add water and vanilla to the mixture, and mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, add 1/4 tsp to 1/8 tsp Kosher salt to the flour, if desired, and mix well.
  • Gradually add the flour and pecans to the butter mixture, and mix just until combined.
  • Shape the dough into 1 ½-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. You can also grease the cookie sheet as an alternative.
  • Chill the cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to better maintain the round cookie shape before baking. You can also bake the cookies immediately if using a different shape like a traditional flat cookie or crescent shape.
  • Bake the cookies for 20 minutes. Do not let cookies brown. They should be off-white when fully baked, like the color of traditional shortbread. If chilling the dough beforehand, you may need to add 1-2 minutes to the baking time.
  • Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack. Then roll the cookies in powdered sugar to coat.

Notes

These cookies taste great with or without the powdered sugar coating. The addition of Kosher salt adds a bit more contrast to the sweetness of the cookie but can be omitted or reduced based on your taste preference.
These cookies freeze well for up to 3-4 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 60mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 179IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Note: Some websites offer a similar version of this cookie using powdered sugar in the cookie dough, referring to these as “Mexican wedding cookies.” In the true Tex-Mex tradition, Mexican wedding cookies (hojarascas or pan de polvo) are made with lard or shortening, not powdered sugar.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to tag me on Instagram if you make your own batch of cookies!

Now I hope you’ll enjoy visiting my friends and the tasty treats they’re sharing below! Next on your list is Brendt from She Gave it a Go who is sharing festive M&M chocolate chip cookies.

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22 Comments

  1. These are some of my fave cookies for the holidays. Love how they looked stacked on a tree plate! I never think to use my Christmas dishes. I need to find them. Thanks for the inspo. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! I can’t remember a Christmas in my family without them. Yes, I bought that Christmas plate on sale after the season last year. I’ve been waiting all year to use it! Merry Christmas to you and your family as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I am a huge fan of Pecan Sandies!! I’ve been known to down an entire package of store-bought cookies. Yours look far better than the packaged ones! Pinned the recipe because I need these in my life!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one, Cindy! They have been a Christmas staple since I was a kid. My mom is the one who has always made them, and I was shocked at how easy they are to bake! I guess I always thought there was some magic behind making them. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Ha ha! I love hearing the differences in pronunciations around the country. These cookies are both yummy and super easy to make. I hope you’ll give them a try!

  3. I love how beautiful these are for the Christmas season, Crissy!
    And, I can only imagine how delicious they taste.

    Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful inspiration.

    Warmest,
    Brendt

    1. Thank you, Brendt! I loved seeing the variety of recipes in this treat exchange. I think I need to make a giant dessert board for Christmas and try them all. Happy Holidays!

  4. Oh yum, Crissy. My mouth is literally watering. I’ve had these cookies several times, but never attempted to make them myself. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I pinned them so I can make them later!

    1. Thanks, Jen! I hope you do try them. I think this was one of my favorite hops of the season. I love trying new recipes, especially ones that have been passed down in people’s families. Thanks again for helping to organize this!

  5. Crissy – what can I say except YUM! These sound so delicious! I bet they are a huge hit with everyone in your life that is lucky enough to get them from you!!
    XOXO – Pasha

    1. Thanks so much, Pasha! We enjoy them as a family each year, and I love that they don’t take much time to prepare. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Hugs, Crissy

  6. These look absolutely delicious! I love anything with pecans, so I can’t wait to try your recipe! I’ve never made pecan sandies before, so your tips are super helpful. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us!

    1. Thanks, I’m a fan of pecans too! Your cookies were so gorgeous. I loved learning about the wooden molds and seeing how beautiful they are for baking! Happy Holidays!

  7. Crissy!! These cookies look amazing!! I love the little snow ball shape!! And up here in Ohio we say “pee-cahn” in fact on Black Friday I had to tell my husband that our beloved dog ate all his “pee-cahn” pie!!! Bahaha The hubby was not a happy camper lol But the dog LOVED it lol

    1. Thanks, girl! It’s funny how everyone says things differently, isn’t it? That’s hilarious about your dog! It’s like a scene from a movie. What a lucky day for the dog! I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas!