These Pecan Balls are even easier and faster to make now that we have new appliances geared towards easy cooking and baking! Don't worry, though, these cookies are still easy and delicious when made without fancy equipment and I'll tell you exactly how to make them either way.
Pecan balls have been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. My mom and Aunt Kathy pulled out all the stops to make beautiful cookie trays during the holidays and this cookie took front stage for sure!
They're so easy to make, beautiful, and taste delicious. I have been making them every year around the holidays since adulthood and when I found out that I could use my Ninja Foodi Hot Cold Blender to whip up the dough in less than 1 minute and then bake them in the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven, I was jumping up and down with joy!
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Singing holiday songs loudly as I danced around the kitchen, covered in powdered sugar, I made batch after batch. Finally, my husband quietly asked me to stop. Singing that is. He loves the cookies, but my singing... well, it's not good! Not at all. I still had fun and I hope you dance around and sing loudly when you make the Pecan Balls, too!
What are Pecan Balls?
Sometimes referred to as Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies, and Pecan Melt A Ways, a pecan ball cookie is a simple cookie dough consisting of pecans, butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla extract.
They are usually rolled into a ball and baked until slightly brown. Then they are rolled in powdered sugar while they are still warm and also stored in powdered sugar.
A Pecan Ball is a little bite of deliciousness for sure. One bite and you'll be hooked on the buttery and nutty flavor. They are super easy to make and always the star of a cookie tray!
Can I make Pecan Balls in a regular oven?
Yep! That's how I've been doing it for years and years! The only difference is the temperature of the oven and the bake time. For a conventional gas or electric oven, preheat the oven on 350°F/176°C.
After you roll the balls, place them on a cookie sheet* and bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them after 30 minutes to determine total cook time. They should be slightly brown and might have a few cracks in them.
In my experience, it has taken about 40 minutes for them to be done in a regular oven. You can make several trays at a time.
If you are using a convection oven to bake the Pecan Balls, decrease the heat to 325°F/163°C and make sure to check on them at the 30-minute mark.
*If you are using a dark cookie sheet, I would decrease the oven temp to 325°F/163°C.
Use a food processor to crush the pecans into a fine texture. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together using a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the flour and blend until smooth. Fold in the crushed nuts.
If you don't have a food processor, place the nuts in a sealable baggy and use a rolling pin or a mallet to crush the nuts up fine. Then cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together using a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the flour and blend until smooth. Fold in the crushed nuts.
Tips for Making Pecan Balls
- Measure the pecans when they are halved, not crushed. You need one cup of halved pecans.
- You can refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to prevent spreading during the baking process.
- If you make a larger cookie, you may need to bake them for 30 minutes, but check on them at the 25-minute mark.
- Don't let the Pecan Balls cool all the way or the powdered sugar will not melt onto the cookie.
How to Make Pecan Balls using the Ninja Foodi Hot Cold Blender & Digital Air Fry Oven
Place the 1 cup of flour and one cup of pecan halves into the Ninja Foodi Hot Cold Blender and pulse quickly about 4 times. This will crush the pecans into a fine texture. Don't over-pulse to the point they become like powder, pulse just until they are in very small pieces about the texture of uncooked grits.
Add in room temperature butter (cut into slices about 1 Tbsp), sugar, and vanilla extract. Select the Blend mode on the blender and select the low setting. Blend on low for about 1 minute or until the cookie dough comes together. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Transfer the cookie dough to a bowl. I find this to be much easier than scooping the dough directly from the blender.
Scoop out about 1 Tablespoon (about 13 grams) of dough and roll into a ball. I use the Pampered Chef small scoop and find this to be the perfect size. This recipe will make 24 pecan balls. Set them on the non-stick tray that comes with the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven about 1" apart. These cookies don't spread much, so they don't have to be spaced further than that.
Place the tray into the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven (no need to preheat) and select the bake function, set the temperature to 325°F/163°C and the time to 25 minutes.
While the pecan balls are baking, get your powdered sugar together. I like to use 3 shallow containers as sort of an assembly line approach to coating the pecan balls. Pampered Chef has a product that I just ordered and I think this is going to come in handy for many things, including these cookies. It is called Coating Trays and Tool. I'll keep you posted on how that works! You want about 2" depth of powdered sugar in each container. I usually use about 1 cup for each container and use the leftover powdered sugar for storing.
Check on the pecan balls at around 20 minutes to make sure they aren't getting too brown. I have made these several times in the Digital Air Fry Oven and 25 minutes has been the perfect timing. You may see some cracking on top and that is normal, but if they are getting deep cracks take them out of the oven. I like to transfer them to a cooling rack, but this is not absolutely necessary. I do it so they don't continue to cook on the bottom from the heat of the tray.
Let the pecan balls cool just 2-3 minutes. Then put a few at a time in the first container of the powdered sugar and roll the pecan ball in the powdered sugar. Move the coated ball to the next container and roll again. Move the balls to the third container (this can be your storing container) and roll them again. Repeat the process until all the cookies are rolled at least 3 times. You can roll them a few more times if you want more of the sugar coating.
The cookies should be coated in the powdered sugar, so if you see that they look beige that means the powdered sugar has melted onto the cookie and they need to be rolled again. The final coating should be powdery white.
Store the Pecan Balls in an airtight container with powdered sugar. Serve & Enjoy!
- Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven
- 1 cup pecans halves
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup butter salted and room temp
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar for coating
- Place the flour and the pecans in the Ninja Foodi Hot Cold Blender and pulse quickly 4 times.
- Add the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract into the hot cold blender. Select the blend function on low speed and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Transfer the cookie dough to a small bowl. Scoop out about 1 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Place on the sheet pan that came with the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven. Repeat this until you have used all the dough. You should have about 24 pecan balls.
- Put the tray of cookies into the Ninja Foodi Digital Air Fry Oven and select the bake mode. Set the temperature to 325°F/163°C and the time for 25 minutes. Check on the cookies around the 20 minute mark and if they are getting too brown or cracking too much, remove them early.
- While the cookies are baking, put 1 cup of powdered sugar into 3 shallow containers.
- When the cookies are done baking, remove them and allow them to cool for a few minutes ONLY. You want them warm when they go into the powdered sugar or the sugar won't melt onto the cookie.
- Roll the pecan balls in the powdered sugar at least 3 times and store them in an air tight container with extra powdered sugar. Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Ninja Foodi Fresh & Healthy Meals
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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My mother made these every Christmas except she called them butterballs. I loved eating them just after she put the powdered sugar on them. They were so delicious!
Ohmygosh! These are so easy and so amazing! My husband told me NEVER to make them again that they were terrible. This was after he ate 10!!! I told him if he brought home more pecans I would happily make them again. He brought home a 2 lb bag the next day! I can't keep his hands out of the cookie container. This is a great recipe for a holiday cookie exchange. In fact, this recipe is so delicious I will be making these year round! Thank you again for another unbelievable recipe. 😀
I am so glad you both liked them!
I make these but this year I made cherry, pistachio ones. They are exactly the same as pecan balls and they were delicious!
WOW! Those sound amazing! I love that combination of flavors, I'm going to have to try those!