Butter Pecan Balls, A Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookie

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A Cookie Tradition.

Melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness, covered lightly with powdered sugar. Sound tasty? Of course they’re scrumptious any time of year, but Pecan Balls are still one of my favorite and longest Christmas traditions. Especially in the dessert category.

Christmas is a time for tradition. It’s always a treat to see favorite decorations and ornaments unwrapped, lights hung inside and out, the angel placed on the top of the tree. Even if the shopping is done and the house is decorated, I still feel like something is missing, like I’m not in the Christmas spirit yet, if we haven’t baked. It’s a requirement somehow.

Fudge, of course, and the sugar cookies are required. Remember what fun they are to make? Especially when the children are young. Flour everywhere, with sprinkles on the counter and floor (and some on the cookies) were proof that a good time was had by all. It seemed like we’d be finding errant sprinkles everywhere for weeks after baking day. Besides those delights, the third essential cookie at our house is still the butter Pecan Ball.

I remember the Christmas I first tasted one. It was at the home of an old friend, soon after I was married. She was a wonderful cook and baker. Since my husband liked them too this cookie became the first I made (successfully at least).

With the first bite, I could have eaten the rest on the plate. Good manners reigned and I resisted. They are lightly sweet, buttery, with small bites of pecans throughout. Yum! They actually seem to melt in your mouth.

Pecan Balls are Easy to Make

I was pleasantly surprised when the recipe looked so basic and easy to make. It really is simple. Chop the nuts, finely as possible, and toss them in with the rest of the ingredients.

The batch pictured here was made bite sized (25 cookies), but you can make them a little larger (16 cookies) if you’d like. I like the idea of the smaller cookie so they can be popped into the mouth. Handle them gently! They can be very fragile.

The dough will seem a little dry after mixing. It will still squeeze it into balls, but you can sprinkle a few drops of water in the mix if necessary. Once baked, be very gentle when rolling in powdered sugar. They break easily.

Lastly, I nearly always double the recipe, so I’m including the doubled ingredients below too. Then there are some left to share with neighbors. They disappear quickly!

The Pecan Balls look so pretty, with their powdered sugar frost, they are a lovely addition to any cookie platter. If you’ve noticed them before at parties, I bet you’ve also noticed they don’t last very long.

They are a definite tradition during the holidays at my house. I love to make them, along with Grandma’s Ginger Cookies and Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars. Everyone loves them!

Butter Pecan Balls, A Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookie


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 16 - 24 cookies

  • ¼ pound or 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup powdered / confectioner's sugar, or more, as needed for rolling
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. The dough will seem pretty dry. Add a few drops of water if they won't hold together as you roll them.
  2. Roll into little balls, squeezing tightly as you do, and place on greased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  4. Gently roll in powdered sugar as soon as you pull them out of oven.
  5. Then about ten minutes later, roll in powdered sugar once more or sprinkle through a sifter.
  6. Sample at least one, but don't eat them all!

Pecan balls 2


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Air Bake Natural 2 pack Cookie Sheet Set

These cookie sheets are the best! Cookies are less likely to burn on the bottom with the insulated layer. Highly recommended!

To Double the Recipe, Use these Ingredients

½ pound butter, softened
4 tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely chopped pecans
½ cup or more powdered / confectioner’s sugar

Pecan balls 3


Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

Author: Merry

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