I lost my Grandma earlier this year.  I have never missed her more than this first holiday season without her here.  This past Thursday would have been her 86th birthday.  There was no better way for me to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday than to make her signature holiday cookies, and, most importantly, share them with the people I know.  Since we recently moved to a new city, I decided to continue my Grandma’s holiday-cookie-giving-tradition with my new neighbors.  One neighbor’s mother was visiting when they received them and she told her daughter, “These are the real deal!”  My Grandma would be smiling.

Grandma liked to make her Butter Balls look more festive by sprinkling them with red or green sugars and placing them in cupcake liners (since these are rather crumbly cookies).

These signature holiday cookies go by many names: Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Pecan Butterballs.  But in my family they are known as “Butter Balls.”  My Grandma’s recipe is from her 1945 copy of “Women’s Home Companion Cook Book,” which she got after marrying; back when, as she put it: “I didn’t know how to make a thing!”  Here is that original recipe that my Grandma would make almost every year while we were growing up.  May it warm your hearts as much as it has mine 🙂

(Makes 3 dozen cookies)
  • Butter, 1 cup (2 sticks)
  • Powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons
  • Vanilla, 1 teaspoon
  • Flour, sifted, 2 cups
  • Nuts, chopped, 1 cup
Cream butter; add sugar and continue to beat until light.  Add vanilla.

Add sifted flour and mix well; fold in the chopped nuts.
Shape into small balls on an un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) 15 to 18 minutes. 
Roll in confectioner’s sugar while hot.  

*Grandma’s Note: “Wet palms of hands to roll balls.”
**Grandma’s Note: “Cool cookies 7 or 8 minutes, then roll in sugar.”

 As a child, I loved to peel off the little bits of butter-soaked powdered sugar that would stick to the wax paper that lined my Grandma’s cookie tins.  For the record, my Grandma almost always used pecans in her Butter Ball batches, and being a pecan-lover I don’t really experiment with the nut selection.

My Grandma was the most happy when she baked for her friends and family.  I’m doing my best to carry on that spirit of love and giving.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

xo, Kristen
Kristen Hong of Hello Nutritarian

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  • AntM11 says:

    Kristen: What a great tribute to Grandma. Your cookies look just as good as hers. I should know-I ate plenty of them growing up. I miss her too. Love, Aunt M

    • Kristen says:

      Thanks Aunt M!

  • Mimi says:

    Great tribute to your grandma. You’ve inspired me to break out the mixer and make a batch tonight. Merry Christmas to all!

    • Kristen says:

      Thanks Mom, I thought of her the whole time! Miss you!

  • Kristen says:

    Hi! We’ve been busy with back to back family visits since Thanksgiving and then a last minute trip to Southern California! Good to be home and LOTS to post! Hope you had a great holiday season!

  • Kristen says:


  • everythingofcooking says:

    Grandmas make our lives sweeter and warmer, i really miss mine….thank you for the post, it brough childhood memories…