Those Cookies Your Grandmother Used To Bake

Those Cookies Your Grandmother Used To Bake December 24, 2023

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him (Psalm 127:3-5).

Traditions Your Grandmother Used To Bake

One of the most enduring traditions in my family is the baking of Christmas cookies. Every branch of the family tree on both sides had their favorites. They would appear every year without fail. Today I am going to begin baking. I’m a little late, but I wouldn’t dream of letting my children and grandchildren down … or my husband … or those relatives who have gone to glory leaving their recipes in my care. Because everyone, everywhere, knows there’s nothing like those cookies your grandmother used to bake.

Cookies My Grandmother Used to Bake

When I was just a chubby little girl, there was a cookie my Grammy used to bake every Christmas and Easter, and once in a while, just for fun. All my life they were my favorites. “Walnut Butterballs,” she called them.

She would prepare everything in her cozy, yellow kitchen, mix all the important stuff together, then separate the batch into three parts: one part would remain “white,” one part would be colored green, and one part would be colored red (well, pink, because the old-timey food-coloring never would quite get you to red. 


After they were baked and cooled, they were rolled in powdered sugar, giving them a “snowed-on” appearance–well, that’s what it was supposed to be. My Grampy always said the green ones looked moldy. Of course, the green ones were my favorite. He laughed at me for insisting that the green ones tasted better than the red or white ones. After all, they were made all at the same time and mixed in the same bowl! The only difference was the food coloring.

Losing Track of a Cookie Tradition

In my twenties, I moved to the South, first to Georgia and then to Alabama. It was a priority in my life to come home to Ohio twice a year, in the summer and at Christmas. Even as an adult I was convinced “there’s nothing like those cookies your grandmother used to bake.” Grammy never failed to bake them; and Grampy never failed to laugh at me about the “moldy ones.”


Then, when I was thirty, my Grammy went to be with Jesus. I still miss her to this day for so many reasons. One thing I regretted for a long time was never getting that cookie recipe from her. I guess I just figured she would be there to make them forever. When I was finally able to get to their house after she passed, the recipes were gone. Someone else had taken them, but no one seemed to know who. 


I thought I would never get another one of Grammy’s Walnut Butterballs.

A Cookie Miracle

A decade and more passed, and I never forgot about them. They were a golden moment in my Christmas memories. Then one day, I was sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. There was a magazine on the table, and my eyes fell upon an article title: “Those Cookies Your Grandmother Used To Bake.”


My heart literally skipped a beat! I knew it was silly to hope, but I opened the magazine to that article and there it was! I knew it was the correct recipe, even though they were called some ridiculous thing like “snowballs” or something. I knew it 100% because a weird memory kicked in–those Walnut Butterballs Grammy made did not have eggs in them. The recipe in the magazine did not include eggs.


I scribbled down the recipe, and as soon as I could get home, I whipped up a batch of cookie dough. After 15 minutes in the oven, oh, the aroma! I picked one up as soon as they came out of the oven. The tears that came to my eyes were not from the blister the scalding cookie left on the roof of my mouth … no … the tears were from that taste; that dear, familiar taste that took me back to a little yellow kitchen in Ohio and my precious Grammy.

The Recipe: Cookies My Grandmother Used to Bake (Walnut Butterballs, NOT Snowballs–ha! ha!)


1 cup of softened butter–2 sticks (don’t replace with margarine)

6 tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. Vanilla

⅛ tsp salt

1 8 oz. bag of walnuts chopped fine

2 cups of flour


Beat top 4 ingredients with a mixer until creamy

Add flour and nuts and mix well

Separate dough to color as desired

Roll dough into balls in your hand and arrange on cookie sheet

Bake at 325 for 13-15 minutes–they do not have to brown

Cool, then roll the balls in powdered sugar

Walnut Butterballs/B. Green-those cookies your grandmother used to bake


Still Baking Those Cookies My Grandmother Used to Bake

These days the tradition goes on. My daughters and granddaughters have even helped me bake them from time to time. Today I will bake them again. From these cookies, I have learned two very important facts-of-life: there’s nothing better than those cookies your grandmother used to bake; and the green ones really do taste better!


God bless you, and merry, merry Christmas!

Browse Our Archives