My Mom’s Pecan Shortbread Balls


OK, we normally just call these “Mom’s nut balls”, which sounds a little like an old SNL sketch, so let’s go with shortbread balls – although these are more commonly known as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes. Regardless, they’re a must every Christmas. I like that they’re lower in sugar than other cookies – 1/2 cup powdered sugar is equal to about 1/4 cup of regular granulated sugar – they’re not enormous, are easy to “decorate”, and taste like Christmas. It’s one of those recipes that comes out once a year, and I’d never dream of making in May or August.

Sorry – this one’s short and sweet!

My Mom’s Pecan Shortbread Balls


December 20, 2016


1 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup icing sugar, plus extra for rolling

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4-1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted


1Preheat the oven to 350F.

2In a large bowl, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla for 2-3 minutes, until pale and light. Add the flour and salt and stir or beat on low until the dough starts together; add the pecans as you stir.

3Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until very pale golden. Place some icing sugar in a shallow bowl and roll the cookies in the icing sugar to coat almost as soon as they come out of the oven - while they’re still very warm. The butter will seep into the icing sugar, giving them an icing-like coating; if you like, roll them in icing sugar a second time, after they’ve cooled slightly.

4Makes 2 dozen cookies.


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10 comments on “My Mom’s Pecan Shortbread Balls

  1. Anonymous
    January 3, 2017 at 6:20 am

    what is icing sugar?

    • Julie
      January 3, 2017 at 6:57 am

      It’s what we call powdered sugar in Canada!

    • Anonymous
      December 15, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      or confectioner’s sugar

  2. Kate
    November 24, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Hi, what’s your mom’s name – I cannot save this recipe with this title – because my mom is not a baker (or even a cook). -K

    • Julie
      November 24, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Ha! Her name is Meg. 🙂

  3. Anonymous
    December 18, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Made these today for my neighbours. So lovely! Thank you for sharing ????

  4. Eilish
    December 13, 2019 at 8:31 am

    It looks like this recipe is very close to the Russian Tea Cakes I have made. I add cinnamon to mine. They’re so yummy!

    • Julie
      December 16, 2019 at 4:26 pm

      A super common formula. Cinnamon sounds delish!

  5. Betty Ann
    December 17, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    We call them pecan puffs (from Joy of Cooking. My Mom always made them and they are my son’s and sister’s favourite. Making batch #3 today. Despite having made them 100’s of times, last time I made them I was talking on the phone to my sister and rolled in icing sugar before I baked them by accident! They still turned out fine (kind of glazed) and I did roll them in icing sugar again for double-coating. Yum!

  6. Darby
    December 17, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    I have a similar recipe except in the cookie part you use honey instead of icing sugar, then you roll them in icing sugar after they bake, and again after they cool. So good!

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