Sand Tarts (also known as pecan snowball cookies, Mexican wedding cookies or crescent cookies)… Whatever you call them, these easy-to-make cookies are rolled in powdered sugar and have a wonderful nutty buttery flavor!
Today’s cookie recipe is brought to you by my mother. My mom was a micro-paleontologist. She has a PhD and is one of the first women to break through in this field of study. She is also an amazing cook.
I was raised in Houston, Texas and enjoyed Persian food as well as amazing seafood delights like shrimp scampi. My mom, though, is a terrible baker.
Any baking done in our house when I was growing up was done by me. And it was mostly the box stuff: cake, muffins, brownies. My mom taught me to cook. Girl Scouts taught me to read directions on a box and bake.
And once I got the baking bug, I never stopped.
Why you must try this recipe
One cookie that my mother does bake are these Sand Tarts. She loves them so much that she sent me the recipe in the hopes that I fall in love with them, too. You have probably seen it in a different name, Mexican wedding cookies, snow balls or crescent cookies.
Made with chopped pecans, for a Southern twist, and rolled into balls, the cookies are baked and then rolled in powdered sugar while still warm. These beauties are so easy to make that anyone (including my mom) can bake these with ease.
You only need 5 or 6 ingredients and you probably have everything you need on hand in your pantry. And the ingredients you need aren’t super expensive, so you won’t break the bank. You also don’t need fancy equipment and can easily mix the cookie by hand.
They are buttery cookies with lots of pecan flavor. Perfect for holiday cookie swaps or whenever you want something sweet with your afternoon tea.
Need another easy no-skills required cookie? My family loves these Christmas shortbread peppermint bark cookies. It is also super easy to make with no fancy equipment needed.
Ingredients you need
- Pecans: You can also use walnuts or almonds. My friend, Beth, makes these snowball cookies with pistachios.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for my baking so I can control the salt. If you use salted butter, do not add the salt.
- Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar.
- Pantry staples: All purpose flour, vanilla extract and salt
1. Grind pecans in a food processor until fine crumbs. You can also place the nuts in a resealable bag and roll it with a rolling pin or crush them with a can of tomatoes!
2. Mix butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or wooden spoon.
3. Mix in ground pecans, flour, vanilla and salt until just combined.
4. Scoop up a tablespoon size amount of dough and roll into small balls, or shape into crescents. Do not overwork the dough or pack too tightly or the cookie will be tough.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes until edges are lightly golden.
5. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on cooling rack for 1 minute. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar then place cookies on cooling rack to cool completely. The heat will help the sugar adhere to the cookies.
6. Once cooled you can dust or roll the cookies with more powdered sugar.
Recipe tips and FAQs
You can change the flavor up by using different kinds of nuts. You can also add mini chocolate chips, sprinkles or crushed peppermints to the cookie batter.
Crescent cookies use the same dough but are shaped into half moons. Simply roll out a small log with tapered ends then shape it into a crescent as you place it on the baking sheet.
If using chopped almonds, you use almond extract instead of vanilla for more almond flavor. You can also add a dash of cinnamon or grated orange zest for more flavor.
Yes, you can freeze pecan snowball cookies for up to six months. Once cooled, place in freezer safe containers so they don’t get crushed in the freezer. To thaw, remove from freezer and let it come to room temperature on the counter. They may need an additional dusting of powdered sugar before serving.
Homemade sand tart cookies will last for at about 5 days at room temperature. If placed in a resealable container, they will last for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator as there is no egg or milk in these cookies.
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup butter, unsalted, softened
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar, divided
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Grind pecans in a food processor until fine crumbs
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
- Mix in ground pecans, flour, vanilla and salt until just combined.
- Scoop up a tablespoon size amount of dough and roll into small balls, or shape into crescents. Do not overwork the dough or pack too tightly or the cookie will be tough.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and place baking sheet on cooling rack for 1 minute.
- Roll warm cookies in 1 cup powdered sugar.
- Place cookies on cooling rack to cool completely.
Serving Suggestions: Also great with walnuts and almonds.
Serving Size:1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 98Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 8mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
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