These delightful thumbprint cookies are made with a nutty dough and filled with your choice of sweet fruity jam. You can change up these cookies in so many ways from jam to Nutella to keep things exciting. The texture and flavor of these cookies are such a treat – you’re sure to keep coming back for more.

Thumbprint Cookies on a tray with crumbled nuts.

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Everyone loves holiday cookies from our Christmas Sugar Cookies to Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and lets not forget Snickerdoodles! If you are looking to build your best cookie platter without too much effort, these Thumbprint cookies are a beautiful addition to your Christmas cookie box.

What are Thumbprint Cookies? 

Thumbprint cookies are classic sugar cookies with a jam-filled center. To make them, the cookie dough is first rolled into a ball, then the tops are flattened a little. Next, an indent is made in the center of the cookie and filled with any jam or sweet filling of choice. Finally, the cookie is baked.

Thumbprint cookies are said to have originated in Sweden, where they are called “hallongrotta”. This name translates to “raspberry cave” because traditionally, raspberry jam/filling is used to fill the indent or “cave” in the cookie, although any filling is equally delicious. 

Ingredients

Thumbprint cookies require simple pantry and refrigerator baking staples (scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements):

  • Butter – use unsalted butter to control the salt in the recipe
  • Sugar – use granulated sugar to sweeten the cookies
  • Egg – helps to bind the dough and enriches the cookies
  • Vanilla extract – for the best flavor, use real vanilla extract
  • Flour – all-purpose flour is best for a stable but tender cookie base.
  • Salt – balances the sweetness
  • Pecans – finely chopped and blended into the dough for nutty flavor and texture
  • Raspberry Jam – the traditional choice for thumbprint cookies
Ingredients for thumbprint cookies.

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

These thumbprint cookies use eight ingredients and take only 20 minutes to prepare. Here’s a quick overview before you get baking.

  1. Cream the Butter: In a stand mixer, whisk softened butter and sugar until combined. Add in egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  2. Add dry ingredients: Switch to a flat beater and mix in the flour, salt, and toasted and finely chopped pecans.
  3. Form the cookies: Using a small cookie scoop, place equal-sized dough mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  4. Make an indent in the cookies: Using your thumb or the back of a teaspoon, make an indent in the center of each cookie. 
  5. Fill cookies with jam: Fill each indent with your choice of jam.
  6. Bake: Bake in the oven at 350°F for 15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before serving. 
Step by step of making thumbprint cookie dough.

Pro Tip: Did you forget to soften your butter? Don’t fret! Quickly soften it using this hack.

A step by step on how to shape cookies.

Cookie Filling Options

The wonderful thing about thumbprint cookies is that the filling can be changed each time you make the cookies. You can also split the batch and make half with one type of filling and the other half with a separate filling. It’s like a new cookie, but without the hassle.

Here is a list of our favorite fillings for thumbprint cookies. If you are planning to use a store-bought filling, be sure to choose a filling with a thicker consistency. If the preserve is very thin, it may not solidify as it should while baking. 

Thumbprint cookies filled with Nutella.

Tips for the Best Cookies

It’s hard to go wrong with thumbprint cookies because they are so simple and easy to make. Follow these tips to make the process even more enjoyable. 

  • Use a cookie scoop: A small cookie scoop will help you control the size of the dough balls to make them all the same size for even baking.
  • Coat cookies in coarse sugar: Coat each cookie in coarse sugar or turbinado sugar for extra texture and sweetness.
  • Add filling with a piping bag: Use a piping bag to make it easier to perfectly fill the center of the cookies with jam. Alternatively, add jam into a ziplock bag and cut off a small corner for the jam to squeeze through. 
  • Make indents right away: Make the indents as soon as you roll the dough into smooth rounds and gently flatten the tops. This will help prevent the cookie from cracking. 

Pro Tip: Use the leftover egg white to make an egg white omelet and you’ll feel even better about eating your cookies!

Common Questions

How do I prevent thumbprint cookies from cracking and crumbling?

Avoid overmixing or using too much flour (it’s important to measure ingredients correctly). Also, roll the cookie dough balls until the surface is completely smooth, then make an indent as soon as possible. Indent the dough balls as you make them.

How do I stop my thumbprint cookies from spreading?

Prevent thumbprint cookies from spreading too much by using softened, not melted butter. Melted butter doesn’t hold the round cookie shape like softened butter does. Also, use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper to line the baking pan instead of nonstick spray or butter, as these tend to make an overly greasy foundation.

Why did my thumbprint cookies go flat?

Thumbprint cookies can go flat if the flour is not properly measured. Too little flour results in a cookies that spread too much and go flat.

Thumbprint cookies on a serving tray.

Storing Thumbprint Cookies

Storing at Room Temperature: Thumbprint cookies are best stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Keep the container closed to prevent the cookies from drying out. 

To Freeze Cookies: The cookies can also be frozen in a freezer bag for three months, but make sure to freeze them after they have been baked. Thaw cookies to room temperature before enjoying. Alternatively, freeze the cookie dough for up to three months. When ready to bake, thaw the frozen dough in the fridge before shaping and filling the cookies with jam. 

More Cookie Recipes

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

4.98 from 40 votes
Author: Natalya Drozhzhin
Thumbprint Cookies
Thumbprint cookies are so easy to make and you can fill them in so many different ways. This is everyone's favorite Thumbprint Cookie recipe.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 40 cookies

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer, whisk together the softened butter and sugar on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  • Switch the whisk to to a flat beater. Add in the flour, salt, and chopped toasted pecans, mix just until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  • Use a small cookie scoop, or a spoon to portion out equal-sized rounds (about 1 Tbsp each) of the cookie dough into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place them 2 inches apart. Indent dough balls as you go.
  • Use your thumb or the back of the teaspoon, and press halfway into the center of each cookie.
  • Fill each cookie in the center with jam. Bake at 350°F for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. If baking on 2 racks, rotate the pans halfway. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before serving.

Nutrition Per Serving

161kcal Calories19g Carbs1g Protein9g Fat5g Saturated Fat1g Polyunsaturated Fat3g Monounsaturated Fat0.3g Trans Fat23mg Cholesterol19mg Sodium31mg Potassium1g Fiber9g Sugar221IU Vitamin A1mg Vitamin C8mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Thumbprint Cookies Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
161
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
9
g
14
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
0.3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Cholesterol
 
23
mg
8
%
Sodium
 
19
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
31
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
19
g
6
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
9
g
10
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
221
IU
4
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
8
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Thumbprint Cookies
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $
Calories: 161

Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya is a food blogger who founded Momsdish.com to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Ukraine, Natalya was inspired by the amazing dishes that were prepared using simple ingredients. Natalya is most notably known for making cooking approachable for any person.

Read more posts by Natalya

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  • lena
    December 23, 2023

    How can i cut the recipe in half please help i need it for christmas thanks

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 23, 2023

      Hi lena, I recommend clicking “Jump to recipe” at the top of the post, it will take you to our printable recipe where you’ll have the option to change the number of servings. Hover over the number of servings highlighted in red and slide it to how many servings you would like to make. I hope that helps!

      Reply

  • Ashley Blount
    December 21, 2023

    Hey there! I made these for the first time and they did not turn out right. When I took them out they were 3 times the normal size and flat..not sure what I did wrong. My butter did seem to get a lil too soft so I did store it in the fridge overnight..I know I used the correct scoop. So lost😕 TIA

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 22, 2023

      Hi Ashley! I’m sorry to hear that. See my notes in the “common questions” section above. Be sure to watch my tutorial on How to measure ingredients .

      Reply

  • Laurie Bellino
    December 10, 2023

    Tasted good, but even following the measurements as noted, still cracked and somewhat dry. I’ve made similar recipes with no problem, but this one called for pecans. Not sure if that was the culprit for both issues.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      December 11, 2023

      Hi Laurie! See my note in the common question section. The most common reason would be if the wet/dry ratio is off- for example, using too much flour. I have a tutorial on How to measure ingredients .

      Reply

  • GEORGIA HADJICOSTA
    December 3, 2023

    I made this cookies,I called them nest birds cookies.also,I use diffrent kind o jams.Last time I use blueberry pie filling..ONE,more comment I USE 1banana and 3 table spoons milk,dew egg allergy.DELISIOUS!!!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 3, 2023

      Thanks for sharing, good to hear that you enjoyed these cookies!

      Reply

  • Lena
    December 1, 2023

    HI Natasha I like that you put the nuts in the dough. Thank for the recipe,,,Merry Christmas

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 1, 2023

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Lena! Merry Christmas!

      Reply

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