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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
15 mins
total:
30 mins
Servings:
14
Yield:
28 to 32 cookies
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Ingredients

14
Original recipe yields 14 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Arrange rack in center position of oven.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, 15 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.

  • Let cool exactly 5 minutes then roll in remaining 1 cup 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.

Nutrition Facts

321 calories; protein 3.4g 7% DV; carbohydrates 36.1g 12% DV; fat 18.8g 29% DV; cholesterol 34.9mg 12% DV; sodium 23.3mg 1% DV. Full Nutrition

Reviews (60)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2017
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 listed separately, but not mentioned in the recipe. Read More
(20)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
12/22/2019
I LOVE Russian teacakes so Russian teacakes Chef John sounds like a winner. Nope these lacked flavor and were pretty dry despite being slightly brown on the bottom. I think the lack of flavor can be blamed on the unsalted butter. The other recipe I typically use is very similar to this and uses salted butter. Read More
(1)
90 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 73
  • 4 star values: 10
  • 3 star values: 6
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2017
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 listed separately, but not mentioned in the recipe. Read More
(20)
Rating: 5 stars
05/24/2016
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. Thanks Chef John! Note to self: When recipe asks for 1 cup of butter it means 2 sticks of butter. Read More
(10)
Rating: 5 stars
11/29/2016
i have been making these for years you can also freeze them they last forever Read More
(9)
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Rating: 5 stars
12/10/2016
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 from a blob of unmixed butter. They are sweet crumbly nutty good. Read More
(5)
Rating: 4 stars
12/29/2017
I've been making these for years and they are good and simple to make. My kids didn't think they were sweet enough but they are perfectly sweet in my opinion. They are a nice addition to any Christmas cookie plate and because they are simple to make you can spend more time on cutouts and other fussy cookies. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
12/08/2018
I used pecans. Same yummy goodness with a different nutty taste. More like pecan sandies. Definitely hold out the 5 min before coating with powder sugar and be sure to roll them twice if not three times. Read More
(3)
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Rating: 5 stars
12/06/2016
They are very easy and delicious. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
12/12/2016
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'. Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2018
For a Christmas twist I added about an 1/8 tsp of peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candy. Everyone loved them. Read More
(2)
Rating: 3 stars
12/22/2019
I LOVE Russian teacakes so Russian teacakes Chef John sounds like a winner. Nope these lacked flavor and were pretty dry despite being slightly brown on the bottom. I think the lack of flavor can be blamed on the unsalted butter. The other recipe I typically use is very similar to this and uses salted butter. Read More
(1)