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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Easy Pecan Sandies Recipe (Snowball Cookies)
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- ⅓ 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
- 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.
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.