snowballs (butter balls) snow butter balls … they’re balls, y’all

There’s a version of these cookies floating around somewhere in the Christmas baking recipe box of a great many American familes. They’re certainly one of our favorites, and I always make sure I include them when I’m deciding what I’ll bake each year.

This past Christmas was a whirlwind for me. Earlier in the month, I’d traveled to visit Jay and Tereasa in Johnson City, TN. I seriously almost died on that trip. The snow was really pretty until I hit 3700 feet and the temperatures dropped.

sams gap

By the time I reached Jay and T’s, I pretty much wandered in with a dazed look begging for gin. Or Crown Apple. Maybe both. I think there was ginger ale. Sweet mother of mercy.

My travels and my trials weren’t over, though. My father was going to my Aunt Carole and Uncle Ron’s house in Georgia for Christmas, and I very much wanted to be with family. My cousins were there with their families and I decided I was going to have make a pot of gumbo for Christmas Eve dinner and cart it on down there. I set off right after work on December 23rd. It started raining mere seconds after I got started. It rained all the way to I-85, it rained all the way down I-85 into Georgia, and in Georgia, it stopped raining so that it could start pouring. Thunder. Lightning. The whole works.

If you’ve never traveled it, I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta is pretty much the most wretched stretch of road on the face of the Earth. It’s 2 lanes in each direction where it should be 6 and 6 lanes where it should be 12. Every 18-wheeler ever created is doing 55 in both lanes in front of you and the guy directly behind you always has a serious case of road rage and is simultaneously flashing his brights, laying on the horn, gesticulating madly, and hoping his eyes will turn into lasers so he can blow my ass off the road.

road rage

Did I mention it was storming?

By the time I got to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, I pretty much wandered in with a dazed look begging for wine. Daddy had anticipated this and my cousin Jennifer was already opening it.

(I haven’t forgotten this a cooking blog and that I owe you the recipe for some kind of balls. I promise it’s coming. I’m not done traveling yet.)

So that was Christmas Eve Eve (my Christmas Eve Eve track record isn’t that great, now that I think about it.) I hung with the fam for Christmas Eve, which was truly lovely, and then went to bed early so I could wake up at zero dark hundred to drive to my daddy’s house in TN … where he wasn’t. But I needed a place to crash for a little while before I headed to my final Christmas travel destination to spend Christmas afternoon with Cristi, one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world, her sister YaYa, one of my newest and dearest friends in the world, their husbands and their mama. I’d seriously been looking forward to seeing them, and it was nothing less than wonderful. We played games, had a wonderful meal and just generally enjoyed one another.

Which brings me full circle because balls. Scott’s family (he’s Cristi’s husband, yo) makes snowballs in mass quantities every Christmas, except they call them butter balls. It’s a family tradition and I was given an adorable little box of them. I’d brought some cookies of my own to give to them, and I instantly had to compare my snowballs with Scott’s butter balls and you know what?

His were better. Like, WAY better.

He got out his recipe and I pulled mine up on my phone (yeah … I’m THAT girl.) They were almost identical except for a tiny couple adjustments, which I went ahead and made on my file.

And so, after a ton of ado, I give you a recipe I’ve never made. For snowballs.

(Erm. Butter balls.)


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup confectionery sugar (don’t argue with me and tell me it’s confectioner’s sugar. Just don’t. I’ll sic Cristi, Scott, and that road rage guy from up there on you.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup confectionery sugar and beat until well-combined. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, a little bit at a time. (If you’re using a hand mixer, abandon it when you must and go forth without the aid of electricty. Also, get a stand mixer. So fabulous.) Add pecans.

Shape into 1″ balls and place 1″ apart on baking sheets. Bake about 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Roll in powdered sugar and cool on wire racks. Roll in powdered sugar again when cool.

(That double rolling thing was new. That and I used granulated sugar in the dough, and Scott’s family doesn’t.)

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