Danish wedding cookies are a buttery, bite-sized delight made with finely chopped pecans and cinnamon, then generously coated in powdered sugar. They have a super tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture and make a delicious addition to any holiday cookie plate.
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Homemade Danish wedding cookies
These Danish wedding cookies are just as good as they look. They’re super tender, with crunchy pieces of pecans and a mild cinnamon flavor. The best part? You’ll only need 5 ingredients and 15 minutes prep to make them!
Danish wedding cookies have been a Christmas cookie staple in my family for years, and I always bring them to holiday cookie swaps. But hand to heart, I love these buttery, nutty cookies so much that I’ll have them throughout the year, not just on special occasions.
Maybe you’ve eaten many bags of Keebler Danish Wedding Cookies in your lifetime and already know these melt-in-your-mouth cookies. But, in case you’ve never had a wedding cookie, let me explain why they are so good.
Danish wedding cookies are made with lots of nuts, butter, and powdered sugar. They have the most tender crumb without being cakey or spongey. They have a distinctive mild flavor, sweet, a little cinnamony, with finely chopped nuts throughout. Plus, they’re covered in confectioners’ sugar that seals in all of that softness.
Where do Danish wedding cookies originate?
According to chef Norma Salzar, wedding cookies originated in the Middle East and made their way through Europe to the Americas. Today, several iterations of this recipe exist, spread across different countries and cultures, which vary by name and ingredients.
The exact origin of Danish wedding cookies seems to be unknown. Despite the name, Danish wedding cookies didn’t originate in Denmark. However, similar recipes exist in Scandinavian baking, such as Jødekager and Vaniljekranse.
Danish wedding cookies go by dozens of different names: Mexican wedding cookies, Italian wedding cookies, and Russian tea cakes are among the most popular.
Similar crescent-shaped cookies exit in Greece (kourabiedes) and Austria + other German-speaking countries (referred to as Viennese crescents, kipferl, or vanillekipferl).
They’re also called snowballs because the white powdered sugar dusting resembles snow.
Why are they called wedding cookies?
Wedding cookies were traditionally served as dessert at wedding buffets, hence the name wedding cookies. They’ve also become a popular cookie for holiday parties and other celebrations.
What’s the difference between Mexican, Italian, and Danish wedding cookies?
Mexican, Italian, and Danish wedding cookies seem pretty similar to me (without wanting to offend anyone).
As I already mentioned, different versions of wedding cookie recipes exist, which vary by ingredients. Some recipes call for pecans, while others use walnuts or almonds.
Spices also differ. Many recipes contain vanilla extract and almond extract. Some use cinnamon, with others season their cookies with anise (like Italian wedding cookies).
I love cookies that are made with just 5 simple ingredients, which is far less than the packaged original Danish wedding cookies:
- Butter holds the dough together. I like salted butter for my baked goods to cut the sweetness from the sugar. However, if you prefer to control how much salt goes into your cookies, use unsalted butter plus a 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt.
- Powdered sugar makes Danish wedding cookies extra tender and not gritty at all. You need powdered (confectioners’/icing) sugar for the cookie dough and then roll the warm cookies after baking. If you don’t have powdered sugar handy, make your own by blitzing granulated sugar in a blender a few times.
- Pecans introduce a warm, nutty aroma and subtle crunch to the wedding cookies. You can either chop the pecans by hand or process them in a food processor. To save a few bucks, buy pecan pieces instead of whole pecans.
- All-purpose flour gives the cookies a soft crumb and tender texture. You can use cake flour in this recipe for super silky and slightly cakey wedding cookies.
- Cinnamon is a staple in wedding cookie recipes. You’ll need just a hint to highlight the pecans and add warmth.
Let me show you the easy steps for this Danish wedding cookie recipe:
Step1: Prep work
- Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C / gas mark 2 and position a baking rack in the center of the oven.
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper (baking paper).
Step 2: Make the cookie dough
- Add the butter, powdered sugar, ground pecans, and cinnamon into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the flour and incorporated on low speed until the dough just comes together.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
Step 3: Form cookies
- Using a 1-tbsp cookie scoop, divide the dough into individual portions. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of your hands. If the dough is sticky, lightly dust your hands with flour.
- Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 in / 5 cm apart.
Step 4: Bake
- Bake the Danish wedding cookies until slightly browned around the edges, for 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking.
Step 5: Cool
- Take the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.
- Then transfer the cookies on a wire rack and let them sit until the cookies are cool enough to handle.
Step 6: Coat in powdered sugar
- Add powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. While the cookies are still warm, roll each cookie in the bowl until completely covered in sugar.
Here are a few useful tips for making Danish wedding cookies:
- Cold butter is the key to making the best Danish wedding cookies. “Cold butter” means I take the butter out of the fridge and cut it into cubes. Then I measure out the other ingredients, chop the pecans, and gather my baking supplies. By the time you’re done, the butter is still cold but just soft enough to mix the cookie dough.
- Make sure the pecans are fresh. Pecans contain a lot of fat and expire quickly – and no one likes the taste of rancid nuts in their cookies. If you store your pecans in the freezer like me, let them come to room temp before making the cookies.
- Toast the pecans for super aromatic wedding cookies. I used my pecans as is, but you could toast them for 10 minutes in a 350°F / 180°C / gas mark oven. Let them cool before making the Danish wedding cookie dough.
- Bake your cookies on aluminum cookie sheets. Dark non-stick cookie sheets absorb more heat and can burn the delicate wedding cookies.
- Keep an eye on the baking time. Overbaked pecan wedding cookies are dry and crumbly, which we don’t want.
- Skip the powdered sugar. I know, I know. Rolling the cookies in powdered sugar is an integral part of wedding cookies. But I actually love the modest sweetness these cookies have and often enjoy them without the extra dusting of powdered sugar.
How many wedding cookies does the recipe make?
The recipe makes 32 to 36 cookies, depending on how large you make them. I used the smallest cookie scoop from this set of 3 and portioned tablespoon-sized balls of dough.
I don’t recommend going any larger than this as your cookies might crumble (they are quite soft), but you could certainly make them a bit smaller.
Do I need to chill the cookie dough?
No. Some recipes for Danish wedding cookies call you to chill the dough, but that isn’t necessary with this recipe. The key is using cold butter, and the dough should hold its shape without chilling.
Of course, if your dough is very sticky and too soft to hold its shape, chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
You can also make the cookie dough 1 day ahead and store it in a tightly covered mixing bowl in the fridge overnight.
Can I substitute pecans with other nuts?
Absolutely! You can swap the pecan for ground walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, or almonds. I imagine Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts will also work well, and I’d love to know how this cookie recipe would bode with peanuts. If you try it, please let me know!
Are Danish wedding cookies egg-free?
Yes, Danish wedding cookies are egg-free. Danish wedding cookies rely on butter as the only binding agent, which gives the cookies their incredibly soft texture and delicious butter flavor.
Can I make Danish wedding cookies gluten-free?
I haven’t tried making gluten-free Danish wedding cookies yet, but I guess you could substitute the all-purpose flour with a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend. You’ll want to make sure your gluten-free mix contains xanthan gum. As mentioned, Danish wedding cookies don’t have eggs, which makes them somewhat brittle.
I love cookie recipes with few ingredients and kept the grocery list short. But if you want to make a Keebler Danish wedding cookies copycat recipe, you need to add 2 additional ingredients and make 1 substitution:
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup / 110 g / 3.8 oz shredded, unsweetened coconut (instead of ground pecans)
- 1/2 cup / 80 g / 2.8 oz mini chocolate chips, chopped into small bits
This is what you do:
- First, pulse the shredded coconut in a food processor until fine.
- Then add the ground coconut and vanilla extract when you cream the butter and powdered sugar.
- Stir in the flour and then fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Form and bake the cookies as described in the recipe card below.
A few notes: Keebler wedding cookies contain enriched wheat flour and cornstarch, which gives them a slightly cakey texture. You can replicate this effect by using cake flour.
They’re also made with vegetable oils (or margarine) instead of butter. But honestly, nothing beats the taste of real butter, so I recommend you stick with that.
How to store Danish wedding cookies
Pop your Danish wedding cookies into an airtight container and keep them at room temperature.
How long do Danish wedding cookies last?
Stored airtight, Danish wedding cookies can be kept for 7 days on the counter.
Can you freeze Danish wedding cookies?
Yes, you can freeze Danish wedding cookies for 3 months. If you think you’ll have too many Danish wedding cookies leftover, feel free to freeze a few cookies before rolling them in powdered sugar.
Since these cookies are so delicate, avoid placing them into zip lock bags, but put them into a freezer-safe container and lay pieces of wax (greaseproof) paper between each layer.
When you’re ready to eat your pecan wedding cookies, simply let them taw on the counter and then roll in powdered sugar.
Can you freeze the cookie dough?
Of course! Simple prepare the cookie dough according to the recipe instructions and portion it into balls. Place the dough balls on a lined cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Transfer the frozen cookie balls into a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
You can bake the cookies straight from frozen, just add a few minutes to the baking time.
More cookie recipes
If you like these Danish wedding cookies, browse my other cookie recipes, too:
- chocolate chip cookies without brown sugar
- matcha chocolate chip cookies
- mint chocolate chip cookies
- lemon chocolate chip cookies