Russian Tea Cakes are my go-to Christmas cookies, and this recipe is extra festive with dried cranberries and chopped pistachios!
We make tons of Christmas cookies every year, and these Cranberry Pistachio Russian Tea Cakes are a family favorite! They’re super crumbly and dusted with powdered sugar for the best bite-size treat. It’s a toss-up between these and my lemon cookies for my favorite cookie, honestly.
CRANBERRY PISTACHIO RUSSIAN TEA CAKES
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This is the BEST Russian tea cake recipe for Christmas. They look so festive with green chopped pistachios, red dried cranberries, and snowy white confectioners sugar!
These basic shortbread-style cookies are all dressed up for Christmas! If you love these melt in your mouth cookies, check out my 50 Must-Make Christmas Cookies.
Russian Tea Cakes vs. Mexican Wedding Cookies
There are so many Christmas cookies, it’s hard to keep up! So, what’s the difference between Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies?
The short answer: Absolutely nothing! All of them are rounded cookies made with finely ground nuts and dusted with powdered sugar. There are so many variations, too.
These cookies are traditionally made with pecans or almonds, but I use pistachios for this Russian tea cakes recipe.
You may also know these by another name: snowball cookies!
Ingredients for Cranberry Pistachio Russian Tea Cakes
CRANBERRIES: I love a little bit of tartness, and dried cranberries are a great addition to these Russian tea cake cookies! They have a great red color for the holidays. Plus, they’re a little chewy and a little tart for one amazing Christmas cookie. You can always leave these out, but they take this cookie over the top!
PISTACHIOS: These cookies are traditionally made with chopped nuts, and I love the different flavor pistachios bring to the mix! I use unsalted roasted pistachios in this recipe. Just make sure they’re shelled before you put them in the food processor.
COOKIE BASE: You’ll also need butter, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, and powdered sugar for these Christmas cookies. I use 1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar so there’s plenty to make sure each cookie gets completely coated. You won’t use all of it, but better too much than not enough for this recipe.
How Do You Make Russian Tea Cakes?
- First, crush your pistachios in a food processor until finely chopped. You want them to be very small pieces, not dust. You can also chop them by hand, just be sure to get them teeny tiny.
- Then, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. After that, add the vanilla and water and mix everything together.
- Next, add the flour, pistachios, and cranberries, mixing until just blended. You don’t want to overmix!
- Now, cover the dough and let it chill for a few hours in the refrigerator.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and roll the dough into 1-inch balls. You want everything the same size for even baking.
- Then, put the balls on prepared baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place them into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Once the cookies are set, let them cool completely on a wire rack before rolling them in the powdered sugar.
These Russian tea cakes cookies will last about a week in an airtight container at room temperature. They never last that long in our family!
Why are They Called Russian Tea Cakes?
This cookie is known by many names, but why is Russian tea cakes one of them?
The exact reason for the name is unknown, but some say it is derived from other Eastern European shortbread cookies. It’s likely these soft, crumbly cookies were served alongside Russian samovars for tea time.
Eventually, these cookies were a popular treat in the United States for Christmas, weddings, and Easter.
Other Delicious Christmas Desserts
- Crockpot Salty Sweet Candy
- Eggnog Cookies
- Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies
- Peppermint Sugar Cookies
- White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Fudge
- More DESSERT recipes…
Tools used to make this Cranberry Pistachio Russian Tea Cakes recipe
Silicone mats: These cookies are meant to be baked until just before they turn golden. Using silicone baking mats help the bottoms bake without getting too lightly brown.
Cookie scoop: If you want your cookies to all be exactly the same time, get a cookie scoop! Make uniform cookies every time a craving calls your name.
- Place pistachios into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. (You can also chop them by hand.)
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add vanilla and water, and mix to incorporate.
- Add flour, chopped pistachios, and cranberries. Mix until just combined.
- Chill cookie dough for 3 hours in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Scoop cookie dough with a tablespoon or cookie scoop. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared cookies sheet at least 1-inch apart.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is set and the bottom edges are lightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. (If the cookies are still warm, the sugar will melt onto them.)
- Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll cooled cookies in sugar until coated. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.