Russian Tea Cakes

My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother landed on Ellis Island with an amazing recipe for Russian Tea Cakes.

My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother landed on Ellis Island with an amazing recipe for Russian Tea Cakes, each other and a surprise… my father! He’s the baby in the photo.

My all time favorite Christmas cookie is a recipe my Grandmother brought with her when she fled Russia with her mother during World War II. She lovingly passed the recipe down to her daughter-in-law, my mother. She in turned passed the recipe to me.

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes are a delicate buttery-pecan cookie lightly sweetened with a double dusting of powdered sugar. As I child I thought these cookies were a long, laborious work of art reserved only for special occasions.

Russian Tea Cakes pair will with bubbly.

Russian Tea Cakes pair well with bubbly.

As an adult my perception has changed. You do need time to chill the dough, but the rolling doesn’t take long, and the double dusting of powdered sugar is pretty quick too. It’s my time in the kitchen to sit, reflect and create. A rarity in a busy house and a true treasure this time of year. A glass of bubbly on the side keeps the baking festive.

A printable version of the recipe follows.

Mary Christmas!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Russian Tea Cakes
Light, buttery pecan cookies rolled in powdered sugar.
Cuisine: Russian
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 4 dozen
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • ½ cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2¼ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup finely chopped nuts
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Mix together the first three ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl sift flour and salt together. Add mixture to butter in two or three batches.
  3. Use a coffee bean grinder to chop nuts to nearly a paste. Nuts should look like wet sand. This method of over chopping creates a more creamy tea cake compared to cookies made with finely chopped nuts. Blend nuts into dough.
  4. Chill at least 30 minutes.
  5. Roll dough into ¾ inch ball.
  6. Place on un-lined, un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes at 400 degrees until set but not brown on top. (To test, lift one cookie off the sheet, bottom should be golden brown.)
  7. While still warm, roll cookie in powdered sugar. Handle with care, cookies are extremely delicate.
  8. Cool. Powdered sugar will melt into cookie, creating a soft creamy outer layer.
  9. Roll in powdered sugar a second time.
  10. Indulge.


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23 thoughts on “Russian Tea Cakes

  1. Pingback: Cookie Exchange |

  2. They look delicious! Family recipes are so special. I feel the same way about my grandmothers red velvet cake. I’ve never had any other red velvet cake like hers and hope to be able to perfect her recipe one day.
    Cyndi recently posted…School Christmas Parties on a BudgetMy Profile

  3. Wonderful recipe and I love that you enjoy your time with a glass of bubbly!!

    • Once you have one… there is no stopping the cravings! Make them small you don’t feel too guilty about going back for “just one more.”

    • Thanks! I hope you get a chance to whip up a batch. I bet your family will love them!

  4. Jennifer Brown says:

    Looks very good, nice photography

    • Thanks Jennifer!

    • I hope it works out well for you! I always think the homemade ones taste best. I hope you agree.

    • Please send me your Jamaican recipe… I would love to give it a try!

  5. These look delicious! I love all types of tea cakes and tea biscuits. They are so easy to make and have simple ingredients. I enjoy mine with a hot cup of coffee. I will have to try your recipe some time as well. Yours look so yummy!
    Thank you for sharing 🙂
    Bismah recently posted…DIY Colored Cloud DoughMy Profile

    • No, sorry these do have flour. 2 1/4 cups of flour, I would imagine you could sub with a rice flour for a gluten free recipe. The butter could also be substituted with a non-dairy spread, almond butter would give the cookie a really great flavor.

  6. These look amazing and how special to have your grandmother’s recipe! I have a couple of my grandmother’s recipes that are staples in my life! I will have to try these for sure!
    Cara @ Craftdictator recently posted…Cookie TreeMy Profile

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