The first time I tried “snowball” cookies, also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, I was in love.
I just can’t get enough of their sweet and buttery pecan flavor! Of course, what I recall most about the traditional version of these cookies is their flour-like texture and flavor– the combination of butter, flour, and powdered sugar creates an almost crumbly cookie that melts in your mouth. I wanted to recreate that texture and flavor without the use of white flour or powdered sugar, so I used fiber rich dates to naturally sweeten and bind these “cookies,” then added arrowroot to provide flour-like quality.
The result is a sweet and buttery cookie that is quick to prepare, without the need for an oven. Though these cookies don’t have a sugary coating like the traditional version, they look very pretty with a dusting of arrowroot powder. Alternatively, you could roll them shredded coconut, or coconut sugar if you’d prefer a sweeter coating.
No-Bake Pecan Snowballs
Makes 12 balls
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted (about 10 dates)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup arrowroot, or tapioca starch
Extra arrowroot for dusting, or coconut sugar (see note below)
Place the pecans and shredded coconut in a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, and process until the pecans are broken down and crumbly. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process again, until a sticky dough is formed. (It should stick together when pressed between two fingers.)
Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoons and roll the dough between your hands, forming balls. Arrange the balls on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place them in the freezer to set, about 1 to 2 hours. For a “snowball” look, roll the balls in additional arrowroot or tapioca starch– just a light coating will do, since the starch will not enhance the flavor. It’s just for looks!
Note: If you’d prefer to roll the balls in coconut sugar or shredded coconut, roll them in one of those options before freezing, so the coating will stick better.
Store and serve these cookies in the fridge for best texture. They should keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks, though they didn’t last nearly that long in our house before they were gobbled up!
No-Bake Pecan Snowballs
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup soft Medjool dates , pitted (about 10 dates)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup arrowroot , or tapioca starch
- Extra arrowroot for dusting , or coconut sugar (see note below)
- Place the pecans and shredded coconut in a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, and process until the pecans are broken down and crumbly. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process again, until a sticky dough is formed. (It should stick together when pressed between two fingers.)
- Scoop the dough by rounded tablespoons and roll the dough between your hands, forming balls. Arrange the balls on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place them in the freezer to set, about 1 to 2 hours. For a "snowball" look, roll the balls in additional arrowroot or tapioca starch-- just a light coating will do, since the starch will not enhance the flavor. It's just for looks!
- Store and serve these cookies in the fridge for best texture. They should keep well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks, though they didn't last nearly that long in our house before they were gobbled up!
Per Serving: Calories: 146, Fat: 9g, Carbohydrates: 15g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 1g
- If you don’t care for pecans, try using another buttery nut, like walnuts, instead. For a nut-free version, I have a feeling sunflower seeds could be used, too.
- Other dried fruit, like raisins, can be used to replace the dates, but they will definitely change the flavor of the resulting cookies.
Reader Feedback: Are you a fan of Mexican Wedding Cookies, or “snowballs?” Austin didn’t think he would like them, but he ended up asking for a second helping!
Questions and Reviews
My mom always made these cookies at Christmas (so did her mom). Thanks for doing a GF version. I look forward to making them with my daughter!
What can I substitute for the coconut oil as my hubby dislikes the flavour. I’ll certainly omit the shredded coconut as well, he doesn’t like it. Thanks, I look forward to your reply.
It’s one tablespoon, so he won’t taste it.
However, you can always use butter instead of coconut oil.
I’ve always heard these cookies referred to as “Italian wedding cookies” so it was interesting that you called them Mexican Wedding cookies. Interesting! Maybe it’s a regional thing. Anyhow, I love them. The current version I make looks like yours but uses butter, butter and more butter. In fact, you might as well just eat 3 sticks of butter whole. So for obvious reasons, I’m excited to try your version. And I find that pecans taste like cookie to me. So delicious.
Yum these are gorgeous. Love the dates and pecan combo. I’m sure these are amazing and full of flavor. Thanks for sharing!
Does it have the same crumbly texture as the normal snowballs? it seems like these would be more chewy than crumbly..
That’s why I added arrowroot– it helps add the crumbly texture. They have a great texture when chilled!
I haven’t tried this yet, but if you want to roll them in something sweet, the brand Xyla (find it online) sells powdered, hardwood xylitol…
I love these cookies! So excited to have found this website. Our family has started using the Xlya brand as well and we LOVE it. It’s the perfect substitution for sugar. We can taste no difference in this product that sugar……except it has 40% less calories and is much better for you. A win win for sure! Yay for Xyla. WE use it in our coffee too and it’s great!! Don’t you think?
This looks really wonderful! I’d love to give them a try, but I’m having a lot of problems trying to convert the quantities from cups to grams, somehow it doesn’t work out… Please help…
•1 cup pecan halves = 99 grams
•½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut = 40 grams
•1 cup soft Medjool dates, pitted (about 10 dates)= 80 grams (this is based on one date weighing 8 grams and as you know there are different sizes of dates)
•1 tablespoon coconut oil = 15 grams
•½ teaspoon sea salt = 3 grams
•½ teaspoon vanilla extract = 2 grams
•½ cup arrowroot, or tapioca starch = 66 grams
•Extra arrowroot for dusting, or coconut sugar (see note below)
These look so good! I think I will try this this afternoon!
You can put the Xylitol in the food processor to make your own powdered “sugar”. This sounds fantastic – I’m going to try them tonight! I’ve missed these at the holidays and now I won’t have to anymore.
I love pecans at xmas time and great idea for using arrowroot as dusting – I have tons of it and needed something to dust my yule log with (oh that sounds weird!!) so great shout! Have a great christmas Megan!
These were so delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe. Since I started a gluten free diet, I had to give up baking Christmas cookies with my mom, but these are a great substitute to carry on the tradition!
I made these today. They are terrific. The only change I made was rolling them in powdered sugar to make them more like traditional snowball cookies. I’d like to make them again in a more decedent version for Christmas Eve. I’m thinking of adding more cashews, maybe some bigger chunks in combination with the finely ground ones. I am considering adding a bit of alcohol such as rum or amaretto or frangelico, like a 1/4 teaspoon, but since the cookies aren’t baked it might overpower the flavor of the nuts. Can you suggest anything else I might try to make the cookies richer?
Thanks for another stellar recipe, Megan! I live in the middle of nowhere, and dates are hard to come by here in Podunk. Any other refined sugar-free options? You ROCK! 🙂
Oh my gosh! I made these, then made the traditional Mexican Wedding Cookie to compare (and for my family members that are not vegan). Guess what? I like yours better!! No.. Really. The only thing I did different is that I processed coconut sugar WITH arrowroot and rolled the cookies in that. It still does not look white like the others, but the taste is excellent! Thank you…again. I cannot wait for your book.
Should the pecans be raw or roasted?
I always use raw nuts, but I assume if you like the flavor of roasted pecans they should turn out fine with those, too.
Hi! Recipe looks yum! What can i use instead of the arrowroot or tapioca starch? I don’t have either of those and need a substitute. Thanks!
These are amazing! I love them and have them in the fridge regularly now since you posted. 🙂 I was just wondering if you’re able to give a ball park figure for approximately how many calories would be in each morsel? I’m trying to log all my calories into Myfitnesspal.com at the moment and I’m struggling with this one. I’m really only looking for approximation. 🙂
Thank you for such a great recipe! Followed the recipe exactly and made two batches right away to enjoy as a snack all week! Your recipes are truly life changing! Husband and I love sweets and making these helps us to stay away from store bought cupcakes and other sugar filled deserts!
I just made these today and they were absolutely incredible. I substituted 3 tablespoons of butter for the 1 of coconut oil, as I know the secret to the original is the butter! I’ve made quite a few paleo treats over the past few years and these are by far the best! Thanks for sharing.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them!
These are amazing!!! And so easy!
These were surprisingly delicious! I liked them right out of the freezer. I did a mix of rolled in coconut sugar, coconut and plain. Thank you for this easy and great recipe!
Hello, what do you recommend to substitute for the shredded coconut? I’d like to make a bath for grandma.
These are my kids new favorite!
This look so delicious! Is there anything I can use to substitute the coconut shreds? I don’t like the taste of coconut. Thank you!
Should the dates be soaked first? Thanks!
I usually find very soft and squishy dates at the store, so they don’t need to be soaked. If yours are hard to split open or feel dry, then soaking for 10 minutes in warm water might be a good idea!
I loved these!!! They are simple and buttery and satisfying. Thanks for the delicious recipe!
Should the coconut oil be melted first?
It doesn’t have to be, but you can for easier measuring.