Thumbprint Cookies are tender, buttery cookies that are thumb pressed to create a well that’s filled with sweet fruity jam before baking. These colorful, glistening cookies are a traditional holiday treat that people of all ages love!
Easy Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Thumbprint cookies are a simple, richly buttery cookie much like shortbread cookies. They are however even more tender (like butter cookies) thanks to the egg yolks in the dough and also the jam which slightly soaks in and creates more softness.
They have a unique texture differing from most other cookies because of this.
You can use just about any flavor of jam. The most commonly used are raspberry jam, strawberry, apricot, or peach. You can’t go wrong with blueberry, blackberry or fig either.
I think you’ll appreciate the fact that they use so few ingredients (only six plus salt) and they are fun and easy to make. Though a small and humble cookie they are also such a pretty cookie with a purely delicious taste!
These are a delightful treat that can be adapted to include other flavors, other fillings and even can be rolled in various coatings before baking (see ideas below).
A simple cookie that proves old fashioned favorites are often the best!
Thumbprint Cookie Recipe Ingredients and Possible Substitutes
- Unsalted butter: Butter makes a rich and tender cookie. I don’t recommend using salted butter but if it’s all you have just omit the salt in the recipe (the cookies will still be lightly over salted).
- Granulated sugar: These don’t need as much sugar as other cookies because of the jam addition. In a pinch brown sugar would work here as well.
- Salt: Salt is added to keep the cookies from tasting bland and flat. It balances the sweetness.
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks bind ingredients and tenderize the cookies. If there is an allergy you can omit these and have a shortbread thumbprint (leave other amounts the same).
- Vanilla extract: This adds light flavor to the cookies. You can use other flavor extracts here, I love them with 1/2 tsp almond extract in addition to the vanilla extract as well.
- All-purpose flour: I prefer to use unbleached all-purpose flour though bleached will work as well.
- Jam: Jam or fruit preserves work well here. With preserves just avoid the large chunks of fruit when spooning it out into the cookies. Use a high quality jam for best flavor.
How to Make Thumbprint Cookies
- Pour sugar and salt into bowl of stand mixer and whisk.
- Add butter to sugar and blend mixture until well creamed together.
- Mix in egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Add flour and mix until combined.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls (just slightly over 1 Tbsp each, or 20g). Place on a dish lined with parchment paper and make an indent in each cookie using thumb or a wine cork (just don’t push all the way through the dough, but make large enough to fit 1/2 tsp of jam).
- Freeze the shaped cookie doughs for 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove half of the shaped thumbprints and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet spacing 2-inches apart. Fill with 1/2 tsp jam in each indent.
- Bake in preheated oven 13 to 15 minutes until nearly set. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
Possible Variations for Thumbprint Cookies
- Roll in nuts: For nutty thumbprints roll dough balls in whisked egg whites then roll in finely chopped nuts such as walnuts or pecans (before making indentation).
- Roll in coconut: For coconut thumbprint cookies roll dough balls in whisked egg white then roll in sweetened shredded flaked coconut (then make indentation).
- Add other fillings: I’ve also baked these unfilled. If doing so indent still before baking, then after removing from oven re-indent as it will lose a little of it’s form in the oven. Cool then fill with desired filling such as dulce de leche, melted caramel, lemon curd (or other fruit curd), frosting, or chocolate ganache.
- Add icing: These are also tasty with a vanilla or almond icing drizzled over them if you want to boost their sweetness and add a pretty finish.
- Chocolate dipped: Dip bottoms of baked and cooled cookies in melted dark chocolate or white chocolate and let set on parchment paper.
- Chocolate thumbprints: Want to make a chocolate version? Try these chocolate turtle thumbprint cookies.
- Don’t skip chilling dough. This is essential to the cookies spreading less and holding their form.
- Avoid hot baking sheets. With each batch use a cool baking sheet so cookies don’t melt and spread too early.
- Preheat oven fully to temp before baking. As with any cookie if you add them to the oven early they will not bake up properly.
- If you find the thumb indentation is larger than you’d like try a round 1/2 tsp measuring spoon to shape the cookies.
- Use parchment paper so cookies don’t stick. I don’t recommend baking spray as this can make the cookies spread more.
- Don’t substitute margarine or shortening as this will alter texture and flavor.
How to Store Thumbprint Cookies
- Thumbprint cookies should be stored in an airtight container once cooled.
- They can be kept at room temperature for about 5 days.
How to Freeze Thumbprint Cookies
- Baked thumbprint cookies will bleed a bit upon thawing if frozen (jam seeps into the cookies and they won’t look as pretty).
- If you want them to have a nice clean appearance it’s better to freeze dough or shaped dough balls before baking.
- It can be frozen for up to 3 months, then thaw in the fridge overnight before filling with jam and baking.
More Tasty Cookie Recipes to Make
16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)
Rich, tender and buttery cookies filled with sweet fruit jam. A traditional holiday treat with tempting flavor. There are also many different ways to adapt them too (see notes).
Pour sugar and salt into bowl of stand mixer and whisk.
Add butter to sugar and blend mixture using the paddle attachment until well creamed together. Scrape down bowl.
Mix in egg yolks and vanilla extract, scrape down bowl.
Add flour and mix until combined.
Scoop dough out and shape into 1-inch balls (just slightly over 1 Tbsp each, or 20g). Place on a flat dish lined with parchment paper and make an indent in each cookie using thumb or a wine cork (just don’t push all the way through the dough, but make large enough to fit 1/2 tsp of jam).
Freeze the shaped cookie doughs for 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove half of the shaped thumbprints and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet spacing 2-inches apart. Fill with 1/2 tsp jam in each indent.
Bake in preheated oven 13 to 15 minutes until nearly set. Let cool several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Coat cookies in nuts or coconut: Save the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites until frothy then brush egg white over cookie dough balls. Then roll the cookie dough balls in finely chopped nuts or shredded sweetened coconut before making indentation in center.
- Add other fillings: Cookies can also be baked unfilled then after baking gently re-press the indentation back down with a teaspoon, fill with dulce de leche, melted caramel, lemon curd, frosting, or chocolate ganache.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 0.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Vitamin A 192IU4%
Vitamin C 0.5mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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