Mexican wedding cookies are buttery and rich, with a sandy melt-in-your-mouth texture reminiscent of shortbread. Orange zest and orange blossom water add bright flavour. These or similar cookies are sometimes also called Russian tea cakes and snowball cookies.
We've lightly adapted this recipe from friend, photographer, and creative, Gabriel Cabrera. Mexican-born, Gab says though these sweet treats have gained popularity in the last few years, he's never heard of them being served at Mexican weddings!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Almond flour: fine ground, not almond meal. Use blanched (lighter) for the best colour in the cookies. Ground walnuts or pecans are often used instead of almond flour.
- Powdered sugar: the same thing as icing sugar. Don't use granulated as it won't dissolve correctly.
- Orange blossom water: this adds a sweet floral flavour but if you can't find it, omit rather than trying to replace it. You could add a bit of vanilla extract.
- Almond extract: sub with an equivalent amount of vanilla extract if you don't have almond.
- Make it vegan: replace the butter with a good quality dairy-free butter.
Step 1: add the flours, spices, and orange zest o a bowl, and whisk to combine.
Step 2: in another bowl, beat the butter and sugar, then mix in the extract and blossom water.
Step 3: beat in the flour in two additions, until the dough is crumbly and holds together when pressed.
Step 4: roll the dough into small balls and place onto a baking sheet.
Step 5: bake the cookies for about 16 minutes.
Step 6: sift icing sugar into a large tray or bowl.
Step 7: roll the still-warm cookies in the icing sugar.
Step 8: cool the cookies, then sprinkle with another layer of icing sugar and serve.
- Double dip: for the classic snowy appearance, the cookies must be rolled in sugar once when warm, and then again when cooled.
- Don't increase flavourings: both orange blossom water and almond extract have strong flavours and shouldn't be increased unless you want soap cookies.
- Sift the icing sugar: while this isn't really mandatory, it's an easy step to take and will make for much better cookies.
We double-coated this version in powdered sugar — rolling the cookies in sugar while still warm creates a light melted glaze. Once cool, the cookies are dusted with more sugar like a fresh sprinkling of snow.
Orange blossom water can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores, the international aisles of well-stocked grocery stores, or online. Used sparingly in cooking and baking, it has a fruity, floral aroma not easy to replicate. If you’re unable to get it, simply omit.
How to Store Snowball Cookies
Storage: keep in an airtight container on the counter for several days, but note that the sugar might start to melt into the cookies.
Freezing: place in an airtight container and freeze for up to a month. The icing sugar on the outside of the cookies will melt slightly when thawing, but they can be re-rolled to look fresh.
Why are they called Mexican wedding cookies?
This isn't really clear, and as Gab says, they're not served at weddings in Mexico. The cookies probably came to Mexico with colonizers and became part of the local cuisine over time. Very similar cookies are also called Italian and Danish wedding cookies, are made in Germany and other parts of Europe, and are common Christmas treats.
Do they eat Mexican wedding cookies in Mexico?
Apparently not, though we're sure that some people do! Like Russian teacakes, they're probably not really Mexican, but called that by Americans and served at weddings (especially in the middle of the 20th century).
What are wedding cookies made of?
The important ingredients are flour, butter, icing sugar, and almond flour. Extras like orange blossom water or other extract and flavourings are usually added too.
If you make this Mexican Wedding Cookies recipe or any other cookie recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
- 2 baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowl
- Hand or stand mixer
- Wire racks
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Fine mesh sieve
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Zest of one orange
- 1 cup butter soft
- 2 cups powdered sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180ºC) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, cardamom, salt, and orange zest. Set aside.
- Add the softened butter to a mixing bowl. Sift in 1 cup (120 grams) of powdered sugar.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add the orange blossom water and almond extract and mix to combine.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the butter. Mix on low until all of the flour is mixed in.
- Add the rest of the flour and continue to mix until no bits of dry flour remain. The dough will look very crumbly, but should be soft and stick together when squeezed between your hands.
- Roll the dough into small balls, approximately 2 tablespoons (28 grams) each, and arrange them on the baking sheets about 1-inch (3-mm) apart.
- Bake the cookies for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and cool them on wire racks for 5 minutes.
- While the cookies are cooling sift the remaining cup (120 grams) of powdered sugar onto a baking sheet or into a bowl.
- Roll the still-warm cookies in the powdered sugar. This first coating will melt into a light glaze on the cookies.
- Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack, then sprinkle or roll with a second coating of powdered sugar.