Who doesn’t love cookies? Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and the list goes on. But what I really adore are these Thumbprint Cookies with all of the sweetness and texture of cookie goodness dotted with the freshness of fruity jam.
These shortbread style buttery cookies with a jam filling could be considered classic Christmas cookies but they’re amazing any time of year. I like to make them just to have around, but thumbprint cookies are also great for cookie platters for a party or a baked goods sale.
This is an easy dessert recipe that you can throw together on the fly. With simple ingredients that you already likely have in your kitchen, you can make these quickly.
If this is your first time making homemade cookies, you’re in for a treat. These are easy to bake and they will wow a crowd for any occasion!
Why You’ll Love Thumbprint Cookies
Whether used for a cookie exchange, or on a holiday cookie tray that you’re gifting, these chewy cookies are perfect.
- Buttery flavor – These shortbread cookies are full on flavor and the buttery taste really shines.
- Fruity – The cookie centers boast an abundance of fruit flavor that you don’t typically find in a cookie.
- Customizable – You can make these cookies as fancy as you want, and you change up the jam to whatever suits your mood or the season.
- Seasonal – You can make these cookies summery for a cookout or they’re also a perfect addition to holiday cookie trays.
The ingredients to make these classic cookies are quite simple. In fact, you might already have most of them on hand!
- Unsalted butter – Make sure to use room temperature butter for this thumbprint cookie recipe so that it mixes easily, so that the dough can be stored if need be, and so that they don’t spread when baking. Since there is salt in the recipe be sure to use unsalted butter to avoid introducing added salt.
- Granulated sugar – When mixing, make sure that the sugar is completely combined.
- Light brown sugar – Always make sure to pack your brown sugar when measuring.
- Egg – Just like the butter, ensure that egg yolks are at room temperature when you begin to bake.
- Almond extract – I love the flavor almond extract gives to this thumbprint cookie recipe. However, you can use vanilla extract instead if you’d like.
- Salt – Typical table salt is fine for this recipe, but you can use other varieties if you have them on hand.
- All purpose flour – Make sure to use this and not self-rising or cake flour. While we haven’t tried it, you could experiment with alternative flours like almond.
- Raspberry jam – I prefer to use a raspberry jam with seeds, but some prefer a seedless raspberry jam. Use any flavor of jam or marmalade you prefer.
- Powdered sugar – These classic thumbprint cookies are topped with a delightful glaze. Powdered sugar is the base for that.
- Heavy cream – To thin out our glaze a little, I like to use a tablespoon or two of heavy cream for heft, but regular milk also works. Even water in a pinch.
How To Make Thumbprint Cookies
Follow these steps to get the perfect thumbprint cookies every time.
- Prepare oven and pan. Preheat the oven and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly with baking spray.
- Cream butter and sugars. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the salted butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Add egg and extract. Mix in the egg and almond extract. Do not overbeat.
- Add dry ingredients. Gradually add in the flour, mixing just until everything is combined into a smooth dough. The dough may be stiff but it should come together smoothly. If it is crumbly it should be mixed just a little longer.
- Scoop the dough, using a small cookie scoop, into round ball of dough and place on the prepared baking sheets.
- Make indents. Using a rounded spoon or clean thumb, indent the center of each thumbprint cookie. You may need a small amount of flour to dust the back of the teaspoon so it doesn’t stick to the dough.
- Add jam. Fill each indentation with jam, making sure that the jam rounds up slightly above the dough.
- Chill. Refrigerate the cookies before baking. This helps the dough set-up so it doesn’t spread. If you chill the dough and then form the cookie, the chances that the dough will crack when you make the indentation are high.
- Bake. When ready to bake, place the cookies in the oven and bake until set on the edges but not browned.
- Cool. Allow the cookies to cool and then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
- Make glaze. To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and one Tablespoon of cream until smooth. This is a basic powdered sugar glaze.
- Add more cream. Slowly whisk in additional cream a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency. I recommend a thick glaze that runs slowly.
- Drizzle with glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled thumbprint cookies and allow to set before serving.
Thumbprint Cookies Variations
There are plenty of ways you can make these easy thumbprint cookies your own.
- Jams – Choose whichever flavor of jam you like. You can use strawberry jam, apricot jam, raspberry jam, or any flavor that you want, or that’s seasonal.
- Curd – Instead of jam, consider using a filling like lemon curd.
- Nut butters – Replace the jam with a nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter, in fact we even have a peanut butter thumbprint cookie filled with chocolate!
- Extracts – To change up the flavor of the cookie, try using a different extract. Almond extract, for example, will give a nutty taste, but you can use any that you might have in your cabinet.
- Confectioner’s sugar – Sprinkle the cookies with confectioner’s sugar for a little extra sweetness.
- Glaze – Drizzle powdered sugar glaze over the cookies for a fancier presentation or leave it off for a more traditional jam cookie.
Storage and Freezing
Now that you’ve made them, how do you keep them?
How to Store Thumbprint Cookies
You can store these thumbprint cookies for three days at room temperature in an airtight container. Like most baked goods, they are best enjoyed the closer to the original bake dates as possible. Storing in a cool place, not in the sun, will help them last longer.
Can you Freeze Thumbprint Cookies?
Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to six months wrapped in plastic wrap or in a freezer bag. Make sure to get all of the air out of the bag to prevent freezer burn. To thaw allow them to sit at room temperature and then store them like the freshly baked cookies.
Frequently Asked Questions
This buttery shortbread cookie has also been called tea cookies, butterballs, Mexican wedding cookies and jam drops.
There is no need to refrigerate these buttery thumbprint cookies. You can store in an airtight container at room temperature.
You probably used too much flour. When measuring flour, make sure to spoon it into the measuring cup rather than scooping.
The most common reason is that it was pressed after the dough chilled. We imprint the dough, then chill before baking. If you do not chill it, the cookie will spread too much.
More Cookie Recipes
Here are a few more of our favorite cookie recipes.
Thumbprint Cookie Recipe
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Mix in the egg and almond extract. Add in the salt, mixing again.
- Gradually add in the flour, mixing just until everything is combined into a smooth dough. The dough may be stiff but it should come together smoothly. If it is crumbly it should be mixed just a little longer.
- Scoop the dough, using a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop, into round balls and place on the prepared baking sheets.
- Using a rounded 1 teaspoon spoon or clean thumb, indent the center of each cookie. You may need a small amount of flour to dust the back of the teaspoon so it doesn’t stick to the dough.
- Fill each indentation with 1 teaspoon of jam, making sure that the jam rounds up slightly above the dough.
- Refrigerate the cookies for 30 minutes before baking.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 10-14 minutes or until set on the edges but not browned. Cooking times tend to vary greatly, so keep an eye on the first batch to gauge the others.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes and then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.
- To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and 1 tablespoon of cream until smooth.
- Slowly whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. I recommend a thick glaze that runs slowly.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies and allow to set for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.