Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes

  • Recipe By
  • Published Jun 8th
  • Ready In30m
  • Servings14
  • Calories286
As the old joke goes, these Russian tea cakes might not be Russian, but at least they're not cakes. No one knows exactly how these came to be known as Russian tea cakes but, nevertheless, they are quite delicious.

Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes Ingredients

The following are the ingredients needed to make delicious Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes for 14 servings:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup packed confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting, or more as needed

Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes Cooking Instructions

  • Prep15m
  • Cook15m
  • Ready In30m

To cook Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes, you need about 15 minutes of preparation time. The time needed to cook this Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes is about 15 minutes , and you can serve your Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes within 30 minutes . The following are the steps to cook Chef John’s Russian Tea Cakes easily:

  1. 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Arrange rack in center position of oven.
  2. 2 Place butter, 1/3 cup packed powdered sugar, walnuts, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Top with the flour. Mix with your clean hands until the dough starts to clump up. Keep mixing by hand until all the flour and clumps of butter are evenly mixed into the dough and it can be easily formed into balls.
  3. 3 Scoop out dough and roll by hand into uniformly round balls, just slightly larger than 1 inch. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat about 2 inches apart.
  4. 4 Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, 15 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.
  5. 5 Let cool exactly 5 minutes then roll in a shallow bowl full of confectioners' sugar. Let cookies cool completely and toss them again in the confectioners' sugar.


  • Cook's Notes:
  • The only tricky thing here is the baking time, since there are so many variables: the size of the dough balls, whether you use a silicone mat or parchment, how light or dark the sheet pan is, etc. These factors can all affect the final time significantly.
  • I think this cookie tends to get under-cooked, and some recipes call for as little as 12 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). I like these fairly golden, so I get that nice brown-butter flavor, and that took me about 20 minutes or so, which is why I gave such a wide range. Start checking at 15 minutes, and proceed from there.
  • Tip
  • Parchment can be used for easier cleanup/removal from the pan.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 286 calories; 18.8 grams of fat; 27.2 grams of carbohydrates; 3.4 grams of protein; 35 milligrams of cholesterol; 23 milligrams of sodium.

  1. Dec 22nd 2017

    Uncertain what the extra 2 tablespoons of flour are for. If it was to be included with the 2 cups of flour, maybe it would be less confusing if it stated 2 cups plus 2 tbls of flour. It's li ...

  2. Dec 2nd 2017

    I have been making these for the last 40 years, and my mom made them before that. These are the best cookies. Don't change a thing.

  3. Dec 1st 2017

    These were a huge hit!!! I gifted each of my children a dozen. I am not sure if they even made it home with the kids. These will be added to the annual Christmas Cookie list!!!

  4. Dec 9th 2016

    These are easy to make and taste great! I love the powdered sugar coating for the holidays. Just make sure you get all the butter completely mixed in:; i had one lonely piece that spread ...

  5. Dec 3rd 2016

    I have been making these for over 30 years. The name is the only difference--Mexican Wedding Cakes. My whole family love these little 'snow balls'.

  6. Nov 29th 2016

    This recipe has been in my family for generations - we call them "Sand Dabs" and use pecan bits. They just melt in your mouth!

  7. Nov 28th 2016

    They are very easy and delicious.

  8. Nov 28th 2016

    i have been making these for years you can also freeze them they last forever

  9. May 24th 2016

    Instead of waiting for Christmas season to come, I took upon myself to bake these goodies in Spring time and shared them with friends. This one is a good recipe and a holiday gift idea. Than ...