Cherry Snowballs

Cherry Snowballs are easy holiday cookies with only 4 ingredients! Buttery cookies with a maraschino cherry center rolled in powdered sugar.

Festive holiday cookies like Italian Wedding Cookies are perfect for gifting, cookies platters, and cookie exchanges. Who doesn’t love a Christmas Cookie Recipe that is easy to make, looks beautiful, and melts in your mouth?

Cherry Snowballs finished with bite taken out to show cherry center

When it comes to baking homemade holiday gifts, the easier the better. Using common kitchen ingredients like flour, butter, and confectioners’ sugar you can make so many delicious treats at once. Plus they come together quickly, so you can finish most of your holiday baking in one afternoon.

If a Cake Truffle combined with a Butter Cookie and had sweet cherry surprise in the middle, it would be Cherry Snowballs. The cookie has the texture and flavor of a shortbread completely melting with every bite, and then you get that chewy maraschino cherry pop.

Cherry Snowballs are so addicting you might need to make an extra batch if you are planning on giving them as gifts. And you should definitely give Cherry Snowballs as gifts! They look so pretty with the powdered sugar, like little bite sized snowballs, especially nestled in festive tissue paper. These cookies with a fun twist be a unique addition to any holiday cookie exchange.

Cherry Snowballs dough preparation and shaping cookies collage

These Cherry Snowballs make perfect Santa cookies because they are so easy that your littlest holiday helpers can do most of the work! The dough is firm enough to easily mold it around the cherries. And kids will love rolling them around in the powdered sugar or other toppings. Add them to your holiday treat tray and watch them disappear!

There are so many variations that you can add to Cherry Snowballs, from almond extract to rolling them in shredded coconut to chocolate chips, the possibilities are endless. There are some ideas to get you started below. You can also add the cherries to the dough to get more of that syrupy sweetness in every bite.

Italian Cherry Cookies

Make your Cherry Snowballs like an Italian Wedding Cookie. Finely chop almonds or walnuts in a food processor and finely chop cherries. Add to cookie dough and bake as usual, rolling in powdered sugar to finish. The chopped maraschino cherries will make the cookie dough a beautiful pink and keep them moist.

What are Snowball Cookies?

Classic snowball cookies are a buttery shortbread style dough, typically with chopped or ground nuts, that is shaped into a ball and rolled in powdered sugar. They are sometimes called Italian Wedding Cookies or Mexican Wedding cookies. They have a pillowy soft texture, with a slight nutty crunch and a salty sweet combination of flavors.

Cherry Snowballs cookie dough rolled unbaked in powdered sugar

How to Make Cherry Snowball Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add flour and mix until well combined.
  • Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each cherry, forming a ball.
  • Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned.
  • Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks.
Cherry Snowballs cookie dough rolled on cookie sheet unbaked rolled in powdered sugar

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make these cookies ahead of time?

Cherry Snowball cookies will last in the refrigerator up to 1 week. You can prepare the dough up to 2 days ahead and bake them fresh when you are ready to serve. If you’d like to make them much more in advance, I recommend freezing the dough and thawing when you are ready to bake. 

Can I freeze Cherry Snowball Cookies?

You can freeze these snowball cookies in a resealable freezer plastic bag for up to 2 months. Wait until they are thawed to roll the cookies in sugar so that they don’t get sticky when they thaw.

Can I add nuts to Snowball Cookies?

Finely chopped or ground almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans would all make a delicious addition to the buttery cookie dough. Add ½ cup of your favorite nuts to the dry ingredients before adding the flour mixture to the dough.

How do I make gluten free snowball cookies?

Substitute the flour for your favorite gluten free all purpose alternative. You can also use almond flour instead of flour for a nutty flavor that goes wonderfully with the sweet cherry center.

Cherry Snowballs ingredients in separate bowls

Key Ingredients in Cherry Snowballs

  • Butter: Let your unsalted butter soften to room temperature before baking. This allows the dough to be mixed together smoothly without any lumps and keeps your cookies tender and soft.
  • Powdered Sugar: Using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar in the cookie dough helps to keep the cookies soft, and gives them some extra sweetness. Powdered sugar also coats the cookies for an extra festive touch. Make sure to sift the powdered sugar so there are no lumps.
  • Flour: All purpose flour also should be sifted when baking. First, properly measure by fluffing the flour a few times in the bag or container. Then spoon the flour evenly into your measuring cup, using a flat knife or spatula to level the top.
  • Cherries: Maraschino cherries will give these cookies a festive, fruity bright red center. You can also use candied cherries as a way to incorporate holiday goodies into these festive cookies.

Tips to Keep Cookies Fresh

  • Completely cool homemade cookies on a wire rack before storing them. Storing warm or hot cookies causes condensation which makes soggy cookies.
  • Keep different types of cookies separate. Storing soft cookies affects the crispness of harder cookies and the flavors will mesh together.
  • Use parchment paper to separate layers of cookies if you are baking in large batches to keep the cookies from sticking together.
  • Place a piece of white bread or tortilla in the container with cookies to absorb moisture.
  • Label your bags or containers with the baked date and an “eat by date” to take the guesswork out of how fresh they are.
Cherry Snowballs stacked with one on top with bite taken out to show cherry center

Variations on Cherry Snowball Cookies

  • Cherry Coconut Snowball Cookies: Roll Cherry Snowballs first in a Buttercream Frosting and then into finely shredded sweet coconut.
  • Lemon: Easily make these into Lemon Cherry Snowballs by adding 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest to the dough.
  • Chocolate Chips: Add chopped white chocolate chips or mini dark chocolate chips to the cookie dough. Melt chocolate chips to coat baked Snowballs for a cookie truffle.
  • Chocolate: Make Chocolate Cherry Snowballs by sifting 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder into the flour. Drizzle Chocolate Ganache over baked cookies. Turn them into Mexican Hot Chocolate Showballs by adding a pinch of cinnamon, too.
  • Almond Cherry Cookies: Cherry and almond extract taste amazing together (like a cherry cordial!) Use a bit of almond extract and finely chopped almonds to give this signature flavor.
  • Cherries: Instead of maraschino cherries, you can use red or green candied cherries or other candied fruit like pineapple. If you want a more adult cookie, use Luxardo cherries (liquor soaked cherries).
Cherry Snowballs finished with bite taken out to show cherry center

How to Store Cherry Snowball Cookies

  • Serve: Place Cherry Snowballs in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  • Store: Keep your cookies a little longer by storing in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in a sealed container.
  • Freeze: Freeze cookies before rolling them in powdered sugar for best results. Keep cookies for up 2 months in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
Cherry Snowballs finished with bite taken out to show cherry center

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Cherry Snowballs

Cherry Snowballs are easy holiday cookies with only 4 ingredients! Buttery cookies with a maraschino cherry center rolled in powdered sugar.
Yield 30
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup butter , softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries , 6 ounces, drained and halved
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add flour and mix until well combined.
  • Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each cherry, forming a ball.
  • Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the bottoms are browned.
  • Roll warm cookies in confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 54mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Cherry Snowball Cookies
Cherry Snowballs finished with bite taken out to show cherry center collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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Comments

  1. My mother made these when I was growing up and never found the recipe until now! These are delightful and brought back many happy memories. Look forward to making these soon. Thank you Sabrina for posting!