Healthy Vegan Snowball Cookies

Snowball cookies set on old newspaper clipping with handwritten recipe card nearby
Photo: Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, CLT

I’ve loved to cook since I was a kid — some may say it’s in my blood. The best memories of my childhood always seem to stem around a gathering in which food was involved. Go figure — my Italian roots remain true!

My grandma’s snowball cookies are without question the most memorable cooking recollection I have. I remember so fondly how we’d gather in the kitchen near Christmas and create a “winter wonderland” in sunny Southern California from the amount of powdered sugar we’d get everywhere. I know my mom probably wasn’t happy with us for being so messy, but neither she nor my grandma would yell. They just cherished the moment of sharing their passion of creating devilishly good food with us.

Over the last few years these cookies have remained absent from the holiday gatherings, largely due to my grandma’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. But my wonderful grandma did a very important thing when she realized her memory was fading — she gifted me and other family with a handwritten Snowball Cookie recipe and wrote a kind, gentle note on the back.

This recipe has hung in my kitchen ever since, and it was inevitable that I make my own vegan version of snowball cookies this month so everyone could enjoy! Healthy Vegan Snowball Cookies - So, I’d like to honor the wonderful woman who created and inspired these Healthy Vegan Snowball Cookies: Denise Mary Barbarino, loving wife, mother, grandmother and friend!

Healthy Vegan Snowball Cookies

Makes 24 snowballs


  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons natural nut butter
  • ¼ cup vegan butter spread or butter of choice, softened
  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse walnuts for 10 to 20 seconds, until finely chopped.
  3. Add walnuts to a large bowl, stirring in vanilla extract, nut butter, vegan butter and brown sugar. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes using a spatula.
  4. Add sifted flour a little at a time, stirring in between, until uniform and mixture resembles a dough.
  5. Portion dough into 1-tablespoon balls and place on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar.
  8. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for two weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Elizabeth Shaw
Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, is a nutrition communications consultant, fertility specialist and author based in San Diego. You can find her at or Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.