Buttery nut-filled cookies, coated with a layer of powdered sugar, these cookies transport me back to my grandmother’s kitchen every time I make them. Sugar Butter Balls have been one of my family’s favorite holiday cookies ever since I was a child along with Grandpa’s Date Nut Roll.
Whenever we visited Grandmother’s house, I knew she’d be in the kitchen first thing in the morning, no matter how early I woke up. She’d have a plan for every meal, every snack, and for all the desserts throughout our visits. Her enthusiasm for hosting family visits was matched by her happiness watching our faces as we tasted the foods she made for us. Nothing takes me back to Christmas at her house quite the way these cookies do when I bite into them.
When I partnered with McCormick to put a new twist on a long lost family recipe this holiday season, I immediately thought of my grandmother’s cookies. These cookies are known by countless names throughout the world; Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies, and Polvorones, just to name a few. My grandmother always called them Sugar Butter Balls. Made with little more than butter, sugar, flour, and a handful of nuts, this is a distinctive little bite-size cookie that everyone loves.
I’ve added citrus zest to these cookies in the past and the cookies are wonderful with any number of spices, but for today I want to share one of my favorite spices with you. Aromatic nutmeg has a sweet, nutty, nostalgic flavor and the fragrance is incredible. It pairs perfectly with these buttery nut filled cookies and I’m happy to tell you that McCormick has one of the freshest, most fragrant ground nutmegs I’ve ever used.
The first time I tried making these cookies on my own, I was 18 years old and living in my first apartment. I had my grandmother’s recipe for them, but I figured I knew best. Instead of rolling the warm cookies gently through the powdered sugar, I placed them in a Ziploc bag and poured sugar over them. When I shook the bag to coat them with sugar, at least half the cookies broke apart. The cookies were still delicious, but they were a mess to eat. In the years since I’ve learned that Grandmother knew best. If you follow her directions for rolling the cookies in the sugar, yours will turn out every bit as perfectly as hers always did.
Sugar and Spice Butter Balls
Buttery nut-filled cookies, coated with a layer of powdered sugar, these cookies are a holiday favorite around the world.
Servings: 24 -30 cookies
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus 1 cup more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ - 1 teaspoon McCormick ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together the butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla. Slowly add the flour, nutmeg, and salt and mix just until combined. Stir in the nuts. Use a 1-inch scoop to scoop into balls and round them smooth between your hands. Bake 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set but not browned.
- While the cookies are baking, place the remaining cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl. Let the cookies cool on the tray for a minute or two and then roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar and set on a cooling rack. Once cool, roll them once or twice more in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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Disclosure: I’ve partnered with McCormick, a company that I’ve known and loved for years, to share this recipe with you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Barefeet In The Kitchen possible. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
12 Comments Leave a comment or review
Do you have a gluten free version of these?
Unfortunately, I do not. I’ve been working on a gluten-free version of this recipe for several years, but I simply haven’t found any combination that truly measures up to the original.
I’m curious why you bake them at 400 when your grandma’s recipe said 350. Did you experiment with the temperature a bit, also, and determine that high heat was better? Just curious. These look delicious, and I’m going to try a batch tonight with chai spices 🙂
They do bake fine both ways. I’ve simply found that 400 degrees was the way I liked them best. Enjoy!
P.S. I love that you noticed that change!
Tracy Goree says
What flour are you using? All purpose or self-raising? (I think SR is cake flour in the US).
I use regular all-purpose flour.
Marie ind says
I’ve gonna try using coconut or almond flour
Let me know how that works out for you, Marie!
Can you make this without the nuts?
Mary Younkin says
You bet. The cookies are delicious both ways, Alice.
I love your receipts, I follow you all the time. I’ve tried “most” of your creations. Some my family (aren’t use to yet) not sure of, some they all want more. Please keep traveling and posting.
Mary Younkin says
I’m so very happy to hear that you are enjoying the recipes, Jill!