Recipe: Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (2024)

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Christine Gallary

Christine GallaryFood Editor-at-Large

Christine graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and she has worked at Cook's Illustrated and She lives in San Francisco and loves teaching cooking classes. Follow her latest culinary escapades on Instagram.


updated May 1, 2019


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Recipe: Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (1)

Makes36 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

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Recipe: Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (2)

Whether you also know these little powdered sugar-dusted cookies as Russian tea cakes or Italian wedding cookies, these buttery, nutty cookies are a welcome addition to any cookie plate — especially since they can be made ahead and frozen. You can use almost any nut that you’d like, and this version adds cocoa powder and cayenne pepper for a taste that’s reminiscent of a mug of spicy hot chocolate.

Make Ahead and Freeze

I love how Mexican wedding cookies have a hint of savoriness to them, especially when many holiday cookies swing more to the sweet side. These cookies are easy to make ahead and freeze: Just form the dough into little balls, freeze, and bake when you need them. After a final dusting of powdered sugar, they’re ready to throw on a cookie plate or package up as a food gift.

Learn how: How To Make Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

Our recipe uses pecans, which are standard for wedding cookies, but feel free to swap in other nuts or use a combination — almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, cashews, or walnuts work equally well. The key with the nuts, though, is to toast them first so they add lots of deep, rich flavor to these simple cookies.


Makes 36 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 1 2/3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup

    pecan halves (about 3 3/4 ounces), toasted and finely chopped

  • 1/3 cup

    unsweetened natural cocoa powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    fine salt

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cayenne

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups

    powdered sugar, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract


  1. Whisk the flour, pecans, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne together in a medium bowl; set aside.

  2. Place the butter and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and a large bowl.) Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.

  3. Return the mixer to low speed and gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap, form into a 1-inch-thick disc, and wrap completely in the plastic. Refrigerate until firm but still soft enough to scoop, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  4. Meanwhile, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a pie plate or large, shallow bowl.

  5. Form the dough into 1-tablespoon balls and place on the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1 1/4 inches apart (fit them all on the 2 baking sheets; they do not spread much).

  6. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the tops of the cookies are set, 7 to 8 minutes more.

  7. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets for 10 minutes. While still warm, gently coat each cookie completely in powdered sugar and place on the rack. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes more, then coat again in the powdered sugar.

Recipe Notes

Nut substitutions: You can substitute an equal weight (not volume) of almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, or pistachios for the pecans, or use any combination of these nuts.

Make ahead: The dough can be made, formed into balls, and frozen directly on the baking sheet. Store the frozen cookie dough balls in freezer zip-top bags or an airtight container for up to 2 months. Bake frozen, adding 1 to 2 minutes to the bake time, and continue with coating with powdered sugar. You can also freeze the fully baked cookies without powdered sugar; thaw completely before coating in powdered sugar.

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Recipe: Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (2024)


What is the difference between Mexican and Italian wedding cookies? ›

Italian wedding cookies typically contain almonds or hazelnuts and are flavored with almond extract, vanilla extracts and spices like cinnamon or anise. Mexican wedding cookies, on the other hand, use a combination of ground nuts such as pecans and walnuts, as well as butter, sugar and sometimes chocolate chips.

Why do they call them Mexican wedding cookies? ›

History of Mexican Wedding Cookies

As Spanish colonizers brought these recipes to Mexico, they seamlessly integrated into the local culinary landscape. The cookie's association with weddings stems from its sweet symbolism of happiness, unity, and the joyful occasions surrounding matrimony.

Which classic cookie ingredient do Mexican wedding cakes Lac? ›

They're always small, hand-formed, coated in powdered sugar, and containing ground nuts of some kind—often pecans, sometimes walnuts or almonds. They're my buttery, crumbly Proustian madeleine, and the only cookie I make without question year after year for Christmas.

Why are my Mexican wedding cookies dry? ›

Over-cooking is the most common reason for dry cookies. They can also be dry if you used too much flour. Be sure to measure your flour correctly.

What is the best type of cookie in the world? ›

Top 10 Cookie Flavors
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are the quintessential cookie. ...
  • Snickerdoodle. ...
  • Sugar Cookies. ...
  • Peanut Butter Cookies. ...
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. ...
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. ...
  • Gingerbread Cookies. ...
  • Black & White Cookies.

Why did my Italian wedding cookies flatten? ›

If your cookies repeatedly turn out flat, no matter the recipe, chances are your oven is too hot. Here's what's happening. The butter melts super quickly in a too-hot oven before the other ingredients have firmed up into a cookie structure. Therefore, as the butter spreads so does the whole liquidy cookie.

Why are they called cowboy cookies? ›

Some claim cowboy cookies hail from Texas, a state many cowboys call home. Others say the treats were named for their ability to withstand long days in saddlebag.

What do you eat at a Mexican wedding? ›

Mexican wedding receptions typically serve traditional Mexican foods like tacos, enchiladas, and Mexican wedding cookies.

What is a carnival cookie? ›

🎡The Carnival Cookie🎡 A massive, buttery-soft sugar cookie topped with. smooth vanilla buttercream icing and garnished. generously with rainbow sprinkles.

What is JFK's wedding cake? ›

It's made with three layers of white cake interspersed with raspberry preserves and raspberry frosting, and it's topped with sweet vanilla buttercream. President John F. Kennedy and Jackie enjoyed this cake as their wedding cake and then again at JFK's Inaugural Ball in 1961.

What are the different names for Mexican wedding cookies? ›

Nowadays, Chef Salazar notes that Mexican wedding cookies are also called polvorones or bizcochitos and are a staple of wedding buffets and holiday parties. Similarly, Italians serve these cookies at celebratory feasts; however, they add star anise for a more pungent, aromatic dough.

What is a Sicilian wedding cake? ›

In Italy, the Italian wedding cake is traditionally a millefoglie or thousand layer cake. It consists of many layers of fine pastry with a Chantilly-style cream between them and on top they put fruits of the forest.

Are Mexican wedding cakes and Russian tea cakes the same? ›

In our house, we call them Snowballs, but you may know them as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies. Same difference! They're all irresistibly tender pecan cookies rolled in powdered sugar and they taste like heaven. And if we're being honest, they're actually my favorite cookie ever.

Can I use butter instead of shortening in cookie recipe? ›

Cookies made with butter are usually crispier than chewy cookies made with shortening, but the flavor is richer with butter. So a one-to-one butter swap will work great if you need a shortening substitute for cookies. In cakes and breads, the substitution is rarely noticeable when using shortening vs. butter.

What adds moisture to cookies? ›

Add Molasses or Honey Another way to add more moisture to your cookies is incorporate a tablespoon of molasses into a standard-sized cookie recipe. Don't use any more than a tablespoon, because it will make your cookies very sweet and runny. One tablespoon is just enough.

What kind of cookies are in an Italian cookie tray? ›

Italian Cookie Tray
  • Italian Horn Cookies. Joyce Wilson. ...
  • Italian Anise Cookies With Icing and Sprinkles Recipe - ...
  • Traditional Cookie from Italy by frances n - Key Ingredient. ...
  • Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookies | Christmas Cookies. ...
  • Chocolate Canestrelli Cookies. ...
  • Italian Almond Cookies. ...
  • Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe.

What are Italian cookies called? ›

Today, I want to share a little bit about Italian cookies called Biscotti. Biscotti, also known as cantuccini or mandelbrot (Mandel bread), are traditional Italian cookies with a long history and rich cultural significance.

How are Italian weddings different? ›

During the Reception

Italian highly rever food, and enjoying a meal together at a wedding is a celebration like no other. Some southern Italian weddings offer up to 15 different courses, including various local meats, cheeses, and other produce. Of course, a custom selection of wine from the local vineyard is a must.

How are Mexican weddings different from American weddings? ›

Mexican weddings take place within a mass, which is similar to the mass that takes place every Sunday, but with the addition of marriage rituals. Those rituals include the exchange of consent (or vows), and the nuptial blessing.

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