Russian Tea Cookies, aka Mexican Wedding Cakes

Russian tea cookies, also known as Mexican wedding cakes, are such a classic holiday cookie. So, we went straight to the classic source for this recipe – The Joy of Cooking. We’re going to be taking it old school this year, browsing older cookie recipes to bring back favorites and discover new ones. Perfect for sharing with your friends, co-workers and possibly the nice mail carrier.

Russian Tea Cookies
Russian Tea Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350.

First of all, this was our first recipe using homemade vanilla extract from our enterprising sister/sister-in-law Ruth. Delightful! (This would probably make a nice holiday gift, as well.)

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, beat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp vanilla until well-blended . Stir in 1 cup toasted pecans (finely ground). Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour until well-blended.

Homemade Vanilla Extract and Cookie Makings
Homemade Vanilla Extract and Cookie Makings

Shape into 1″ balls and arrange about 1 1/4″ apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly brown. Let stand and then transfer to a cooling rack. Once they’re cool, roll them in the confectioners’ sugar.

A tip from our baker friend Angie – add a few pinches kosher salt to the confectioners’ sugar for an extra tastebud tweak.

Russian Tea Cookies, all lined up
Russian Tea Cookies, all lined up

Enjoy with tea (we like licorice spice), holiday lights, a warm fire, and friends.

Russian Tea Cookies
Russian Tea Cookies


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans (toasted and finely ground)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (for rolling)

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Seattle Foodshed

Gardening, foraging, exploring and cooking. Time for a delicious adventure.

14 thoughts on “Russian Tea Cookies, aka Mexican Wedding Cakes”

  1. WOW!! I used to make these for you kids and you loved rolling them in the powdered sugar!!
    You can add interest to the powdered sugar with cocoa, cinnamon, or a few drops of Anise Seed 100% pure essential oil in the cookie dough We used to take these to potlucks and shared dinners. Yes, these will always be a wild hit – as long as they are not forgotten. Love, MOM

  2. There’s a version I’ve had with a really strong, tart lemon flavor to the sugar. It’s like lemon zest plus citric acid. Love ’em.

  3. Coincidence – I just decided today to add these to the menu for my Christmas Open House next week, and then I saw this post! I’ll take that as reinforcement of my decision to have these on the holiday sweets tray!

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