Pecan Nougat Cookies


I love these things. They are only available seasonally (thank goodness) but I find my buggy steering towards them each year soon as they make their first showing in the grocery store. I’ve always wanted to make my own and wondered if they would be even better at home. Well the good news is, I FINALLY got a recipe for them from Mama! Woohoo!

Bad news is that as much as I like the store bought ones, the ones at home are even better. ~sighs~ And they know how to call my name in such a piteous longing fashion that I can’t prevent myself from visiting them just…one…more…time.

My only complaint is that the name is silly and misleading to us normal folks. People with culinary degrees and such may realize that “nougat” applies but the rest of us think about the chewy filling inside a candy bar and so don’t realize that this is just a yummy buttery shortbread with finely chopped nuts inside. So when I tell my kids what they are, I just say Shortbread Snowballs. It works.

No matter what you call it, these cookies are evil. Evil, I tell ya. Evil – and man are they good.

You’ll need: Flour (all purpose), Sugar, vanilla, butter, finely chopped nuts of your choice, and salt.

That little whooha on the left hand side is an antique grease jar but its far too pretty to use as a grease jar so I use it as a little salt crock and set it beside my stove. It was made by Fire King and the pattern is called “tulips”. Ain’t it purty? Makes me happy just to look at it.

Disclaimer: the real vanilla pictured in the photo was just the result of a really good deal. I promise I’m not gonna go all crazy and start tossing out money on things like real vanilla. The real butter, however, was on purpose. These cookies really need real butter but y’all know if I could eek by with margarine I sure would! And yeah, I’m mortified at how many pecans I’m using in this considering how expensive pecans are.

Just so ya know-M o r t i f i e d.

Place your softened butter, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and cream it til it’s git up and go done got up and went.

Like this

This is where the original recipe said to sift the flour. Pfft. Right.

I have a sifter and it sits up on a pretty little shelf in my kitchen where it collects dust.

I don’t sift. It is against my personal convictions.

Just dump your flour in there. Be rebellious with me.

Pour in your vanilla.

The recipe calls for two teaspoons but y’all know I just kinda pour and leave it up to the good Lord how much ends up in there.

It’s called divine baking – and I just made that term up. How cool is that? Stick with me, we’ll be the cool kids, even if no one knows it but us! ~winks~

Oh, you’re gonna need to scrape down the sides of your bowl some but you’ll figure that out…

Dump in your pecans.


I just thought I’d spell that phonetically for anyone who may not know.

I know I just impressed you with that two dollar word, now didn’t I?

Oh, now you need to mix it all up again until well combined.

Like this.

Go ahead and get you a pinch of that dough and taste it.

Be sure to save some to bake though…I know it will be tempting.

I used my little cookie dough scoop and made some pretty generous sized cookies. you can just make them with your hands and make little one inch balls and have twice as many as I did but I was in a lazy, cookie dough scoop kinda mood and when I’m in those moods I try not to deny myself the pleasure of indulging in the easy way out.

Oh who are we kidding, I’m always in those moods but just for the sake of appearances lets both act like its a once in a while thing with me, k?

Now bake ’em.

This is what they look like when they are done.

Unless you rolled them into little balls because if you did yours will be smaller and neater than mine…and more plentiful.

I made about thirty but you can easily make fifty or so instead.

After they cool roll those little puppies in confectioner’s sugar..

or “confectionary sugar” as one of my grandmother’s calls it.

Oh, here is me and two of my grandmothers at Thanksgiving.

I got Grannies coming out my ears so there are actually more.

If you’d like to see more of my Thanksgiving photos, click here. Yes, you’ll see my kitchen dirty, too. See how well I know you? Reading your thoughts and all that. Dirty dishes in the sink, junk on the counter, all part of my “keepin’ it real” policy!

Now tell me something, you see that puffy bubble vest thing I’m wearing? Can you honestly see one of those and NOT think Michael J Fox? I couldn’t resist. I gave into peer pressure. Everyone else jumped off the cliff and got one so I got one too…mine was $15.00 at Target so it wasn’t that bad. ย 

~Begins singing Huey Lewis~

I need to learn how to say “finished” in some foreign language so I can do it with a real flourish here.. .~goes to look it up in Italian~

Hmm, well that was kinda dull. Maybe we should just use a Southern Saying here.

Well if them thar cookies don’t beat all I ever saw! They sure look good!

They are absolutely, melt in your mouth, delicious.

Pecan Nougat Cookies
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely ground nuts of your choice (I'm using pecans)
  • Confectioner's sugar
  1. Cream butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy. Add flour and vanilla, mix well, scraping down sides as needed. Add nuts and mix until well incorporated. Shape into one inch balls (mine are bigger because I use a little cookie dough scoop) and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 for twenty minutes, but don't let them brown.
  2. Cool cookies. When cooled, roll in confectioner's sugar.

โ€œJust when the caterpillar thought the world was overโ€ฆ.

it became a butterfly!โ€

Submitted by Judy Clark. Submit your quote or read others to help brighten your day by clicking here.


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  1. Marne Holstein says

    I absolutely love your site, and look forward to all your posts. I must however disagree about real vanilla versus artificial vanilla. You can’t afford not to use the real stuff when you are baking…there are other ways to save pennies. I’m a terrible baker, but your recipe’s always give me hope so I will definately try these. Merry Christmas to all!

    • says

      I see your point. My heart is with the folks who truly can’t afford real vanilla, since I’ve been there so often in my life :)
      We are so very blessed, with each pour of that real vanilla bottle :)
      Thank you so much for being part of the family and sticking with me !

  2. Joyce says

    I have made these cookies for many many years, never buy them. We’ve always called them Pecan Sandies and one of the first things my family expects to see in my holiday baking. You’re right, they’re evil, very evil !! I have also been making your Sugared Pecans, which my 3 yr old grandson calls “futons” ! Don’t you just love childrens’ interpretations ! I have been fortunate to be able to go and pick up pecans for free, so I have lots ! They are evil too, I can’t quit eating them !

  3. juanita says

    I let my 4 grandkids help me when I bake cookies. When my life on earth is finished, I want them to remember the good times we had baking or cooking because I didn’t have that chance with my grandmother. She passed away in 1962 when I was 16. She had health issues so grandpa or one my aunts that live with them did all the cooking. Ok, I know you’ve done the math now just to see how old I am. lol

    • juanita says

      Oh, I forgot the main reason for the comment. I am deffinately going to try these tomorrow. We have about 17 peacon trees, spelled the way I say it, so going to get cracking and put my mini chopper to use.

  4. says

    These are tasty for sure, but it is definitely Pu Con here in Mississippi. I was lucky enough to grow up with a 40 acre Pu Con grove behind my house that my grandfather planted. I surely miss the dozens of big brown grocery sacks of cracked pucons we used to have for the holidays.

  5. Jamie says

    One of my favorite cookies. My Granny Whitaker called them Lady Fingers – instead of making balls, she would make them about the size of your pinky finger. I miss all of the wonderful things that she would make at Christmas each year….Lady Fingers, Cheese Straws (she always had to buy a new tin of cayenne pepper each year “because it lost its heat” lol), every kind of cookie you could imagine and another of my favorites – sausage balls. YUMMMMY!!!!

  6. Debra Trimble says

    My mother-in-law, who is deceased, made these every Christmas for the family. They were wonderful. She called hers “pecan logs” because she rolled them out into little logs, about the size of your finger.. They were wonderful. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  7. terry says

    I HAVE to make these every year or people get mad!! I call them snowballs, but mine are made with confectioners sugar not reg granulated sugar……hmm, wonder if that makes a difference~like are then more crunchy with the regular sugar? Mine are very delicate, rolled in confectioners sugar when warm, usually twice! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Alison Arsenault says

    Will try your recipe, they sound good but only one batch for me as I will probably eat the majority of them. LOL

    You can use c’est fini – it is finished or tout fini – all finished in Freanch

  9. Carolyn says

    Aren’t these the same as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Balls? I think they are but for some reason I can only get about 4 dozen out of them and I and rolling 1″-2″ balls. Drives me crazy because most recipes say it makes 4-6 dozen.

    • Patsy Sweetra says

      I got my recipe from a very old Blue Ribbon Winners cookbook and mine are called “Mexican Wedding Cookies”, mine are also made with confectioner’s sugar, and rolled twice. These are my husband’s favorite so I have NO choice and have to bake a double batch of these at Christmas time. He was horrified one year when I actually made the silly mistake of making a batch for him for Father’s Day! Isn’t it ironice that we deem certain foods as “only for Christmas” or “only for Easter”, etc? Bless ALL our hearts! LOL

  10. Susan says

    The day you posted this I had been thinking of these cookies. My grandmother would make them for me all the time. My mother was not a baker but this was her one and only cookie. You can see why they bring back such memories for me!! I saw the cute little chinese take out boxes you found to package them in and thought they were so cute. In my family they were called “Chinese Tea Balls”.
    What a perfect name to go with your cute chinese boxes. I will be making this for sure when I get back from visiting my daughter in Franklin, TN.
    I have so enjoyed becoming a part of the Southern Plate Family this year!!

  11. Susan N says

    i think this is called Danish Wedding cookie and also pecan sandies….in some old 1960’s Alabama Home Ec teachers cookbooks. Those books have some great old fashioned recipes. We made them for my sis’s wedding. i think i will make up a batch for the cookie tray this year.
    our N. Alabama family says pu cons too.
    You go Christy! We’re proud of you.

  12. Michelle says

    I am no baker, that is for sure, but these were very boring and bland to me. I used walnuts, because I already had some, but I don’t think that would matter (and my hubby concurred on that). Bummer. :/

  13. Jenny says

    I may have to bake a batch of these, if only so I can call them nut balls. My grandma called us that when we were running around and getting in the way. As in “quit running around like a nut ball”

  14. Debbie Strum says

    This recipe was in the Woman’s Home Companion Cookbook and was a ‘must have’ cookie at Christmastime…still is after more than 50 years! They were called Butter Balls. Whatever name is given them, they always bring back wonderful memories for our family. And like Christy says, they do have a way of calling your name!!

  15. Cheryle says

    I love these too! I got a recipe for them years ago with a hershey kiss rolled inside the dough ,baked for 10 to 12 minutes and then rolled 2 in powdered sugar. A must have in my family at Christmas. The recpe was called Chocolate Kiss Sursprise Cookies. It is on the hershey web site now, when I got it it was about 30 years ago from a newspaper in Ohio.

  16. Mary says

    My 92-year-old Mother has made these all MY life – her recipe is from the original Charleston Receipts. The cookies are sort of oblong shaped and she calls them – wait for it – Moldy Mice!

  17. sharie strickland says

    Use almond extract and chopped almonds orleave off nuts and add peppermint extract and dip in melted chocolate instead of Xxxix sugar. 3 cookies with one recipe! Been doing this for Christmas since I was a child and I am 65 now!

  18. Donna says

    Our family has made these for years. We always called them dough balls. The recipe we use doesn’t use granulated sugar but powdered sugar as we call it. As soon as they come out of the oven we roll them in more powdered sugar! We have always used puh-cahns but may have to try with almonds or cashews!! I love to try different ingredients with a recipe. No matter what they are called, they are favorites and disappear quickly.

  19. Diana says

    We have made these cookies for as long as I can remember for the holidays.. We call them snowballs.. and we roll them in powdered sugar as soon as they are out of the oven and then again once they have cooled a bit.. There is no sneak eating these as the powdered sugar gets all over me.. although my husband doesn’t seem to have that problem!! It must be me.. LOL.. I think our recipe came from my mom’s good ol’ Betty Crocker cookbook… Betty has never steered me wrong in my 39 years of marriage so far!! :-) Thank you Christy for your down-to-earth wisdom and reminding me of what a good upbringing I had… My mom is from Arkansas.. we live in Illinois, so I have been afforded both southern and nothern manners and recipes… It’s the best!! :-) Have a wonderful day!!

  20. says

    oh my goodness you have made my heart so excited. My grandma who passed away some time ago used to make a cookie that I could never find the recipe for. It is the very one you just posted above. They were my dads favorite and i have always wanted to make them for him. Thank you , thank you for sharing this recipe!!!!


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