These easy to make Danish Wedding Cookies are buttery, lightly-spiced cookies filled with pecan nutty goodness. Made in under 15 minutes, they're perfect for your holiday cookie platter as they are an irresistible crowd pleaser.
With the Holiday Season in our line of sight, I don't know about you, but I'm getting excited about all the cookies I'm going to bake. Along with Ginger Snaps, Classic Shortbread, and Almond Biscotti, these Danish Wedding Cookies will be on my hit list!
There is everything to love about these. Made with 4 core ingredients they come together in only 15 minutes. The exterior is crunchy and sweet coated in powdered icing sugar.
But the interior steals the show. It's a tender, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread texture that sings with a hint of cinnamon flavour and the nutty goodness of chopped pecans. Quick, easy, delicious - what's not to love?!
❓ What are Danish Wedding Cookies?
Let's start from the beginning - they are small, round, thick cookies made predominantly with butter, icing sugar, flour, and nuts, usually pecans, walnuts or almonds. They're lightly spiced with cinnamon and sweetened further with a coating of icing sugar after baking giving them a snow ball appearance.
You'd be inclined to think, because of their name, that Danish Wedding Cookies originate from, you guessed it, Denmark! But actually, after a bit of digging around it's believed they possibly originated from the Middle East.
Dig some more and it's soon found that a version of the cookies are also called Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Wedding Cookies, Cocoons, Snowball Cookies or Butter Balls. Greece has their own version of Kourabiedes and Austria has Viennese Crescents.
Being sweet, gently spiced, and nutty, Danish Wedding Cookies are super popular during Easter, special occasions, such as weddings, and during the Holiday Season. When bagged in a cellophane bag, they also make the perfect gift.
Regardless of where they are from or what you like to call them, these cookies are absolutely delightful. Let's get baking!
🌟 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Uses basic ingredients. All the ingredients are basic pantry or fridge staples. No fancy ingredients needed which makes baking them on a whim totally possible!
- The texture is unreal. You just get a taste of that sweet icing sugar before bitting down onto the crunchy outside and then going through to the nutty, tender interior. It's a flavour bomb that you'll love!
- Simple to make. They come together in a few quick steps.
- Perfect for the holidays. What a quick and easy recipe to impress guests on your cookie platter this year. Look no further.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
As mentioned, the core 4 ingredients are butter, icing sugar, flour, and pecans. The additional flavourings of cinnamon, vanilla and salt can be omitted but in my view they add flavour, balance and deliciousness to the cookies! So you do you!
- Butter - I prefer to use unsalted, good quality butter so that I can control the salt that I add to the dough. Salt is vital to balance out the sweetness. And the butter must be at room temperature.
- Powdered Icing sugar - This both sweetens the dough and coats it on the outside. Powdered sugar over regular granulated sugar is used as it melts into the butter and gives the cookies a smooth dough. Blitz sugar in a blender to make your own.
- Flour - All-purpose flour is used rather than self-raising or cake flour. You could swap out a ¼ cup of flour for corn starch which makes the cookies even more melt-in-your mouth.
- Cinnamon and Vanilla Extract - I'm all about adding easy flavour to a recipe and adding both vanilla and cinnamon provides a well rounded warming flavour that pairs well with the pecans.
- Pecans - Nuts are the star of the show. But they need to be super finely chopped - almost to ground pecans with some slightly bigger bits for texture. Toasting them is an optional step that I recommended. It adds so much more flavour.
- Italian Wedding Cookies: Convert the recipe by using toasted almonds instead of walnuts. Instead of rolling in icing sugar, bake them and drizzle in a simple glaze and decorate in multi-coloured sprinkles.
- Russian Tea Cakes: Sub out the pecans for walnuts and they'll take become Russian Wedding Cookies!
- Mexican Wedding Cookies: They're very similar to this recipe, but you can mix a combination of nuts together in the dough.
- Keebler Danish Wedding Cookies: A nostalgic old-school store-bought cookies, these have coconut and chocolate added in. Checkout my Chia Snowball Cookies that I made for a riff on the classic.
- Chocolate Chip: Add in some chocolate chips to the dough (the kids will love them), but make sure to chop it finely before adding.
👩🏻🍳 How to Make
You'll soon see that making this Danish Wedding Cookies recipe is as simple as 1,2,3.
For speed and easy I use a food processor to crush the nuts and a stand mixer to make the cookies. But don't let this put you off- I provide plenty of tips if you don't have this equipment so that everyone can successfully make these at home.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
TIP: How To Toast Pecans
You don't need to do this but I strongly recommend it. Toasting any form of nuts adds more rounded nutty flavour as the oils within the nuts heat (Image 1).
It's easily done by laying a tray and roasting in the oven for 10 minutes or so. Don't burn them though and let them cool in the food processor before carrying on to the next step.
STEP 1. Prep. Turn the oven to 160C (320F) It's slightly lower so that the cookies won't burn on the bottom. Line to baking trays with parchment paper.
STEP 2. Process the pecans. Add the pecans into a food processor and process until they are ground but have little pieces for textural contrast (Image 1). Don't take it too far other wise you'll end up with nut butter!
TIP: Don't have a food processor? Do it by hand.
Start by chopping the pecans as well as you can by hand. Then add the pieces to a sandwich bag, seal and then bash the nuts with a rolling pin.
These cookies are small and the texture super tender, so we don't want any large chunks in the middle.
STEP 3. Cream butter, icing sugar and extract until smooth. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the ingredients until pale and thickened (Images 2 & 3). About two minutes. You can use hand-held beaters too.
TIP: Don't have a stand mixer?
You can either use hand-held electric beaters or beat the butter by hand. If doing it by hand then use a wooden spoon and vigorously beat for as long as you can!!
STEP 4. Add in the dry ingredients. Scrape the base and sides of the bowl and add in the ground pecans, flour and salt and mix on low speed until a dough forms. You'll find it quite a thick crumbly dough on the outset (Images 4 & 5).
STEP 5. Roll dough into balls and bake. Roll 1 tablespoon worth of dough into balls in the palms of your hands. The dough may feel quite dry but the heat of your palms will soften the butter in the balls and help them smooth out (Images 6 & 7).
TIP: Refrigerating Cookie Dough
If your butter was too soft at the start or you live in a really warm climate, then your cookie dough will benefit from a stint in the refrigerator to firm up the butter and stop the cookies from spreading in the oven.
Roll the balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes on the cookie trays before baking.
Place balls 5cm (2-inch) apart on the prepared baking trays and bake for 10 to 12 minutes (Image 8). Keep an eye on them. You don't want them to brown on the top as the bottom may end up burning.
STEP 6. Toss in icing sugar. Once baked, remove the baking tray from the oven and set aside for ten minutes.
When the wedding cookies with pecans are still warm and not too hot to handle, then toss each cookie in the icing sugar (Image 9). Place back on the wire rack to cool completely. The icing sugar will melt into the warm cookie (Image 10).
Then toss in the icing sugar again. As the sugar melts into the warm cookie in the first toss, it's worth repeating this step for the snow ball look (Image 11).
TIP: Double Icing Sugar Coating
The double icing sugar toss means that the cookies get coated fully in icing sugar whilst still having their signature snowball appearance.
Well worth doing but ultimately if you don't fancy it, you can wait for the cookies to cool to room temperature and then toss through the sugar. Or a simple dusting over the top is another option.
Serve alongside a hot cup of tea or coffee or alongside a glass of milk.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Make sure the nuts are fresh. It's easy for nuts to be left to turn stale. Not what we want for this pecan snowball cookie recipe. If they smell rancid and are soft then buy yourself a fresh packet.
- Toasting the nuts goes a long way for flavour. Ultimately the cookies will still taste delicious if you don't want to take the extra step, but they'll lack the depth of flavour that toasted nuts brings to the table.
- Chop the nuts finely. The texture of the cookies once baked is delicate and big chunky nuts doesn't sit as well in it. Don't use pre-bought ground nuts as they are at the other end of the scale and too fine!
- Keep an eye on your baking time. These are only small cookies with a short bake time and an extra minute or two can turn these from having their melting, tender quality to dry and crumbly.
- Aluminium vs dark baking sheets. Black baking sheets absorb the heat and can burn the base of these rustic wedding sugar cookies cookies. Use aluminium or lighter grey cookie sheets if you can.
📋 Recipe FAQs
They are essentially the same cookie. Sometimes Mexican Wedding Cookies have a combination of nuts in the cookie dough, but other than that, they they are made of the same ingredients and in the same way.
Good question! On the outset I would say no you don't. However, if your butter started off as softened rather than room temperature, or your kitchen is a very warm environment, then chilling the dough balls for 30 minutes before baking will ensure the cookies don't end up like pancakes!
Unintentionally, this recipe for Danish wedding cookies is egg-free - bonus hey! You can also make them gluten-free by substituting the plain flour 1:1 for a gluten free flour. Note though that I haven't tested them like this.
Yes you can. Make the dough then place it in an air tight container or wrap dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one week. Let the dough come almost to room temperature before rolling the balls.
❄️ Storage and Freezer Instructions
To store: This buttery pecan snowball cookies recipe stores really well. Once baked, cooled and dusted in icing sugar, store cookies in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
To freeze: I recommend freezing the baked cookies before rolling in icing sugar. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature and then roll in icing sugar before serving.
🍪 More Holiday Cookie Recipes You'll Love
If you tried this Danish Wedding Cookie recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Danish Wedding Cookies Recipe
- 220 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 80 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 270 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 90 g pecan halves
- 120 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar), for rolling cookies in
- Prep. Turn the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Process the pecans. Add the pecans into a food processor and process until they are ground but have little pieces for textural contrast. Don't take it too far other wise you'll end up with nut butter!
- Cream butter, icing sugar and extract until smooth. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the ingredients until pale and thickened. About two minutes. You can use hand-held beaters too.
- Add in the dry ingredients. Scrape the base and sides of the bowl and add in the ground pecans, flour and salt and mix on low speed until a dough forms. You'll find it quite a thick crumbly dough on the outset.
- Roll dough into balls and bake. Roll 1 tablespoon worth of dough into balls in the palms of your hands. The dough may feel quite dry but the heat of your palms will soften the butter in the balls and help them smooth out.Place balls 5cm (2-inch) apart on the prepared baking trays and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You don't want them to brown on the top as the bottom may end up burning.
- Double toss cookies in icing sugar. Once baked, remove the baking tray from the oven and set aside for ten minutes.When they are still warm and not too hot to handle, then toss each cookie in the icing sugar. Place back on the wire rack to cool completely. The icing sugar will melt into the warm cookie. Then toss in the icing sugar again. The sugar melts into the warm cookie in the first toss, so it's worth repeating for the snow ball look.Serve immediately.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.