These Key Lime Snowball Cookies are almost, but not quite, like Grandma’s Snowball Cookies. Filled with finely chopped, toasted pecans and rolled in layers of powdered sugar, they are buttery and have that melt-in-your-mouth texture of traditional snowball cookies. But these snowball cookies have a tropical twist with the addition of a hint of Key Lime flavor. Serve them at any holiday party or gathering and watch them be devoured! (And for more homestyle holiday cookies, check out my recipe for Old-Fashioned Gingersnaps!)
I come from a long line of Christmas cookie makers. Like my mother and grandmother before me, the holidays awaken an urge in me to bake – I am talking dozens and dozens of cookies. December inevitably turns into a cookie avalanche around here. Luckily, cookies make great gifts. I give them to the neighbors and mail them out to friends and family in care packages. I also try and stash as many away in the freezer as possible so that I can serve them on Christmas day and New Year’s Day.
These Key Lime Snowball Cookies, however, often never make it that far. Don’t get me wrong – I make plenty of these snowballs. This recipe, in fact, makes a batch of about 4 dozen. They are so delicious, though, that they are usually devoured before I can hide any away for gifts or for the freezer. I mean, regular snowball cookies are melt-in-your-mouth delicious anyway, but with a hint of lime, they are pretty much irresistible.
Tips for making Key Lime Snowball Cookies:
- I use actual key lime in this recipe, but regular Persian limes will do the job just fine. If you can pick a sack of key limes at the grocery store, or if you are lucky enough to have a key lime tree in your backyard, that’s great. If you can’t find key limes or don’t want to go through the trouble of tracking them down, just use regular limes. And bottled lime juice just won’t work here because we’re using the zest, not the juice.
- But don’t let that lovely lime juice go to waste! Juice those limes and then refrigerate or freeze the juice to use in marinades, salad dressing, cheesecake, chili, or wherever else you use lime juice.
- If you want a subtle key lime flavor, use the 2 tablespoons of lime zest called for in the recipe. For more lime flavor, use more zest.
- If you prefer a citrus flavor other than key lime, try orange, tangerine, or even lemon.
- If you’re looking for a more traditional recipe that is actually more like your Grandma’s Snowball Cookie recipe, simply leave out the lime zest. The recipe is still outstanding without it.
- For a nut-free version of snowball cookies, substitute toasted, shredded coconut in place of the nuts. (And the coconut really adds to the tropical vibe of these cookies.)
So if you’d like to give a little tropical flavor to your holiday baking, try these Key Lime Snowball Cookies. They will surely bring a little extra cheer to any holiday gathering.
I hope you enjoy!
Key Lime Snowball Cookies
- Total Time: 0 hours
- Yield: about 50 cookies 1x
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons finely-grated lime zest (3–4 tablespoons for more lime flavor)
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 16 ounces powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 325°F
- In a dry skillet, lightly toast pecans on the stovetop over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Be sure not to burn them. Set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and lime zest.
- Toss the pecans, flour, and salt together. Mix this into the creamed butter and sugar mixture until well combined.
- Scoop dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 16-17 minutes, or until they are lightly browned on the bottom of the cookie.
- While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the powdered sugar and set them aside to fully cool.
- When cookies are completely cool, roll again in powdered sugar.
- Dust with extra powdered sugar and lime zest before serving.
- Store in an airtight container, or freeze.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Inactive Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
Keywords: Christmas cookies, tropical holiday cookies, Key Lime recipes
Miz HelenDecember 9, 2018 at 6:52 pm
I love the lime flavor for your awesome snowball cookies! Hope you are enjoying your week and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday!
janet pooleDecember 14, 2018 at 4:59 pm
Can you make these with out nuts
MelissaDecember 14, 2018 at 5:27 pm
I haven’t tried making it without nuts, but I think it would work. You could also try substituting sweetened coconut flakes for the nuts. If you try it without nuts, please let me know how it turns out!
Angela WoodsDecember 14, 2018 at 9:16 pm
Sweetened coconut is an amazing idea thanks
MelissaDecember 15, 2018 at 5:25 pm
ConnieDecember 27, 2018 at 5:55 pm
Can you use walnuts in place of pecans?
MelissaDecember 27, 2018 at 7:56 pm
Yes, I think that would work just fine. If you try it, please let me know how they turn out.
Steven LacasseJanuary 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm
Thanks. for the snowball cookie recipe. I liked the lime taste and I did use walnuts. It turned out fine. I’am used to using walnuts in many of my recipes. I had a. Hungry crew to feed and the cookies didn’t last long at all. My guests had no idea what they were. Nevertheless, they were worth making. I guess, I’ll have. To make them more often. I will try coconut instead of walnuts next time. Thanks again and have a great weekend.
MelissaJanuary 11, 2019 at 9:38 pm
I’m glad you liked them. I think coconut would go very well with the lime.
Gloria PetersJanuary 6, 2019 at 4:14 pm
Please check your directions carefully for typos. My sister was going crazy trying to figure it out. I made an assumptions but I would like to know if I was correct. Thanks!!
MelissaJanuary 6, 2019 at 4:19 pm
I checked my directions and I don’t see any typos. Can you please tell me what you think is a typo so I can fix it? Thanks!
MelissaJanuary 6, 2019 at 4:58 pm
I think I found the typo and went ahead and corrected it. Thanks for letting me know!
VickiOctober 22, 2019 at 9:28 pm
Probably dumbest question ever. Just made the cookies. It said to add sugar not plural. I only put on the 1/4 c granulated sugar. Was the powdered sugar supppose to go in the dough as well or just used for coati g the outside?
MelissaOctober 23, 2019 at 1:05 am
The granulated sugar goes into the dough, and the powdered sugar coats the outside of the cookie, so it sounds like you did it right! I hope you enjoy them!
Old-Fashioned Ginger Snaps - My Homemade RootsNovember 14, 2021 at 4:55 pm
[…] These Old-Fashioned Ginger Snap Cookies have crispy snap and a festive, ginger-spiced bite that I just love. And if you love the spicy flavor of ginger as I do, you’ll love these cookies, too! They’re perfect to serve as a Christmas cookie, but they’re good any time of year – especially with a cup of tea or coffee for dipping. And because they freeze so well, I like to stash a few batches in the freezer and pull them out throughout the holiday season when I need them. (And if you’re looking for holiday cookie recipes, check out my recipe for Key Lime Snowball Cookies.) […]
AngieDecember 12, 2021 at 3:29 pm
These snowball cookies look so good. I am wondering how they would taste with alternative sugars, perhaps with Monk Fruit. They look like they taste amazing.
MelissaDecember 14, 2021 at 9:19 pm
I haven’t tried the cookies with any alternative sweeteners, so I can’t say for sure how well it would work. But if you do try it, please let me know how they turn out!
Tami GOctober 24, 2022 at 1:24 am
Wondering if lime juice could be used instead of the flavoring for more lime taste.
MelissaOctober 25, 2022 at 6:07 pm
I’m not sure if juice will work or not. Generally, it’s the zest that has the most flavor. If you try using juice, let me know how it turns out!
Diane BransfordDecember 4, 2022 at 9:28 pm
I followed the instructions but my dough was crumbling and dry and instructions didn’t say when to add the salt. To moisten the dough I added another half stick of butter and lime juice. The dough only yielded 14 balls. Hoping they come out edible and in 1 piece.
MelissaDecember 5, 2022 at 4:28 pm
Diane, I’m not sure what went wrong. I only ever use the 2 sticks of butter the recipe calls for and it works fine every time. Also, I always get around 50 cookies out of one batch. It seems like something went terribly wrong but I don’t know what it was. Sorry the recipe didn’t work out for you.
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