Tasty Orange Snowball Cookies

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When it comes to tried and true holiday cookies, snowball cookies have secured their spot as a forever favorite. Their soft, fluffy texture melts in your mouth while the sweet vanilla and nutty flavors delight. Today, I’m so excited to share my recipe for a fresh twist – Orange Infused Snowball Cookies!

The addition of bright orange zest and a splash of juice lends the perfect amount of citrusy essence to complement rather than overpower the classic cookie base we know and love. I also like to incorporate a kiss of almond extract for extra aromatic dimension. While classic snowballs resemble their wintery namesake coated in powdered sugar, these beauties end up with pretty speckled golden exteriors – almost reminiscent of little creamsicles!

Why You’ll Love Orange Infused Snowball Cookies

  • They strike an ideal balance of flavors – sweet yet perfectly enhanced by the orange
  • The fresh orange zest provides a subtle burst you can both smell and taste
  • Ultra soft, pillowy texture from plenty of butter that literally melts away
  • Easy to riff on with nuts, chocolate, coconut etc. to match preferences!
  • Chilled dough keeps beautifully for working ahead when time allows
  • Perfect for gifting or filling up cookie trays for holiday parties


  • Allow butter to properly soften before mixing – should give slightly when pressed
  • Use a sharp zester or microplane for fine orange shreds rather than chunks
  • Refrain from overbeating once flour is added or cookies may toughen
  • Let cookies set on pan 2 minutes before moving to wire rack
  • Only coat with powdered sugar once completely cool or it will melt

The Ingredients

Softened Unsalted Butter

Butter makes up fully half the dough’s total ingredients! I highly recommend using softened, European-style butters like Kerrygold rather than melted. Their higher butterfat percentages lend ultimate richness and that iconic tender, creamy texture. Salted varieties work too, just omit the pinch of salt in the recipe.

Confectioners’ Sugar

Powdered sugar plays a couple important roles. It tempers the acidity from the orange juice and delivers sweetness with more dissolve-away delicateness rather than grittiness from granulated white sugar. I reserve about 1⁄2 cup to roll the baked cookies in for that signature snowy finish.

Fresh Orange Zest and Juice

It simply must be fresh! Wash and zest oranges first before juicing them. I love the flavor boost 2 tbsp finely grated zest affords but tweak to your citrus preferences. Too much liquid affects spread so a mere tablespoon of juice provides plenty of orange essence.

Almond Extract (Optional)

While I enjoy snowballs perfectly plain, I find just 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract complements the orange flavors beautifully. It lends a lovely, nutty aromatic warmth. But certainly leave it out if you’d rather keep things straightforward.

How To Make Orange Infused Snowball Cookies

Cream the Butter and Sugar

Allow butter to soften completely so it’s malleable but not melted.

With a mixer, cream the butter with 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Blend in Orange Flavorings

Add in the orange zest, juice, vanilla and almond extracts if desired.

Beat again for 1 full minute to incorporate.

Whisk Together the Dry Ingredients 

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and salt until combined.

Finish the Dough

Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet just until incorporated – don’t overbeat!

Cover bowl tightly and chill for at least 30 minutes, or even 48 hours.

Scoop and Shape Chilled Dough

Once chilled, use a tablespoon measure to scoop and shape into balls.

Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

*Don’t flatten.

Bake and Cool

Bake one sheet at a time for 11-13 minutes until set but still pale and soft on top.

Cool on pan for 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack.

Finish with Powdered Sugar

Once completely cool, roll lightly in reserved powdered sugar to coat.


Serving Suggestions

  • Hot cocoa or coffee to make the citrus notes shine
  • Milk for a refreshing contrast to the rich, sweet flavors
  • Orange-scented tea ranging from black to herbal hibiscus
  • Spiced winter sangria with cinnamon, clove studded oranges etc.
  • Apple cider spiked with spiced rum
  • Sweet dessert wines or orange liquors like Cointreau


  • Add 1-2 tsp cinnamon + 1⁄4 tsp nutmeg to dough for snickerdoodles
  • Use half lemon and half orange juices for a complex citrus twist
  • Mix in 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup toasted pecans or almonds for crunch
  • Stir white chocolate chips, toffee bits or raisins into dough
  • Skip powdered sugar roll and use colored sprinkles instead


How long does dough keep chilled or frozen?

Tightly wrapped dough balls can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen 2 months. Thaw overnight before slicing and baking.

What’s the ideal orange type for zesting and juicing?

Navel and Cara Caras have nice mellow zest and juice, while blood oranges add pretty color!

Can I use orange marmalade instead?

You can try substituting in 2-3 tbsp marmalade but the shreds and excess liquid may throw off spread and textures.

Orange Infused Snowball Cookies

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Cookies
Servings: 24 cookies


  • Stand or hand mixer to properly cream butter and sugar
  • Microplane zester for finer orange shreds
  • Ice cream scoop for evenly portioned dough balls
  • Parchment paper to line baking sheets


  • 2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup 2 sticks Butter (Unsalted, Softened)
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar plus extra for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons Orange Zest finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Orange Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract optional for a nutty aroma
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Almonds or Walnuts optional for added crunch


  • Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until light and fluffy. This step is crucial for the snowball effect!
  • Stir in the orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using). Mix until well combined.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined. If you're using nuts, fold them in now.
  • Roll the dough into small balls, about the size of a walnut, and place them on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about an inch apart.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are just lightly golden. They should still be mostly pale.
  • Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes. Then, while still warm, gently roll them in additional powdered sugar. For a thicker snow-like coating, let them cool completely and roll them in sugar again.
  • Once they've cooled, arrange your snowball cookies on a festive plate, and they're ready to serve!


Zest Wisely: When zesting the orange, avoid the white pith underneath the skin, as it can be bitter.
Butter Temperature: Ensure your butter is softened but not melted for the right texture.
Storage: These cookies store well in an airtight container for up to a week.