January 30, 2023

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Thumbprint Cookies Recipe – Mom On Timeout


These Thumbprint Cookies are pretty as a picture and the perfect bite-sized cookie for your next holiday gathering! Buttery, shortbread style cookies are coated in sugar and filled with your choice of jam. Perfect for holiday parties, cookie exchanges or a late night treat for Santa!

Leaving cookies out for Santa? Check out these classic Christmas cookie recipes for inspiration:  Whipped Shortbread Cookies, Grinch Cookies and these yummy Peppermint Snowball Cookies!

christmas plate piled high with thumbprint cookies filled with apricot and raspberry jam.

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

These jam filled Thumbprint Cookies are stunning on a dessert table or cookie tray and are as easy as it gets! The cookie is a shortbread style cookie with no leavening agents and the filling is simply your favorite flavor of jam. The dough does need to chill for a bit but that allows the flavor to really intensify and makes the dough easy to work with.

Try different flavors of jam as well as curd, caramel and chocolate centers for fun twists on this classic recipe. The cookies can be baked and then filled as needed.

Why You’ll Love This Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

  • You choose the flavor. Mix and match your choice of fillings by selecting your favorite flavors! I went with a sweet raspberry and tangy apricot jam. Strawberry, cherry and blackberry are also favorites. 
  • Super versatile. The cookie base is sweet and simple and the perfect foundation for any number of variations on this classic cookie recipe.
  • Pretty as a picture. Jewel toned jams really look impressive on cookie plates and dessert tables. I like to use at least two different flavors so I have nice contrasting colors.
top down look at jam filled cookies piled on a plate with bright orange and red jam filled centers.

More Christmas Cookies To Try

Planning a baking session? These cookies are so much fun and incredibly delicious!

  1. Peppermint Shortbread Cookies
  2. Peanut Butter Blossoms
  3. Peppermint Snowball Cookies
  4. Cookie Empanadas
  5. Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe Ingredients

These stained glass cookies are so gorgeous! And fun to make! As always, you can find the full printable recipe with complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need…

  • unsalted butter – the butter needs to be at room temperature to easily cream together with the sugar. Make sure to put your butter out on the counter an hour before baking to bring it to room temperature!
  • granulated sugar – you’ll need sugar for the cookies and then again to roll the cookie dough balls in.
  • vanilla extract – adds depth of flavor and warmth to these cookies. Almond extract is a delicious alternative.
  • salt – helps to intensify flavors and balance the sweetness.
  • all-purpose flour – provides structure to the cookies.
  • jam – I used apricot (Bonne Maman’s) and seedless raspberry jam (Smucker’s) but you can use any flavor and brand you like.

One thing you’ll notice about this recipe is that there isn’t any leavening ingredients: no eggs, no baking soda, no baking powder. What this means is that whatever shape and size the cookies go into the oven as, that’s how they’ll come out.

thumbprint cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet with spatula lifting off one cookie.

How To Make Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium speed for two to three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and reduce to a low speed.
  4. Gradually add in the flour, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The dough may not appear like it’s coming together but give it a minute or two. You can also work the dough with your hands to make it come together quicker.
  5. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Once the dough has chilled for an hour, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Place 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl.
  8. Scoop one tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Coat each ball of dough by rolling in the bowl of sugar. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets.
  9. Make an indentation in the center of each cookie using your thumb. Fill with half a teaspoon of jam. Repeat until all cookies are filled.
  10. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or until the bottom edges just begin to brown. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for one additional minute before moving to a wire rack to cool.
  11. Let cookies cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
eight image collage showing how to make thumbprint cookies step by step.

Storage Information

Store any leftover stained glass cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. To increase longevity you can store them in your refrigerator for up to a week!

To Freeze: You can freeze these jam filled cookies as well. Store cooled cookies in a freezer safe container for up to a month. Thaw to room temperature and enjoy!  If you want to make the cookie dough in advance, make the dough, transfer to an airtight, freezer safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Thumbprint Cookies FAQs

What kind of jam should I use to fill thumbprint jam cookies?

One of the fun aspects of this cookie is that you can fill the center with your favorite flavor of jam! Raspberry is the most popular filling and apricot is another classic, but you can fill them with flavors like orange, strawberry, cherry – you name it! We recommend using a thicker jam so that it doesn’t spread out over the cookie while baking in the oven. 

How long do these cookies last?

Thumbprint cookies last for about 3 days in a container at room temperature. 

Can you freeze thumbprint cookies?

We’d recommend freezing the unbaked cookie dough, and then allowing the cookie dough to thaw at room temperature when you’re ready to bake. You can either make the dough, roll into a ball, wrap in a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze it or portion out the dough into balls, to be stored in a sealed freezer-safe container. Freeze the unbaked dough for up to three months. Wait to fill the dough with jam until thawed and about to bake. 

What other variations can I make with these cookies?

You can add a teaspoon of almond extract to the cookie dough, which pairs really well with raspberry jam. 
Drizzle icing across the tops of the cookies.
For a smooth cookie texture, don’t roll the cookies in granulated sugar before baking in the oven.

four cookies stacked with jam centers. top two cookies have bites taken out of them.

Trish’s Tips and Tricks

  • If your cookies are spreading it’s because the dough has become too warm. Chill your the dough in the refrigerator for an additional 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
  • Don’t overfill the centers or they will bubble up over the top of the cookies.
  • Chilled dough is the easiest to work with. If you find yours is becoming sticky, place it in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes or until it becomes more manageable.
  • A quick dusting of powdered sugar is a magical finish to these cookies. I like to use my dusting wand for this. (It also make a great stocking stuffer!)
  • For this recipe we used ⅛ cup of apricot and raspberry jam each, but it can be made with any combination or single flavor of a total of ¼ cup jam.
  • The mixture will look crumbly at first, but will come together in about 1-2 minutes
  • Because the indentation left from pressing down your thumb can be a bit uneven,  one thing you can do is press a second time into the indentation, leveling out any slopes and creating an even hole for the jam to go in.
  • One thing you’ll notice about this recipe is that there isn’t any leavening ingredients: no eggs, no baking soda, no baking powder. What this means is that whatever shape and size the cookies go into the oven as, that’s how they’ll come out.
top down look at christmas plate piled high with thumbprint cookies filled with raspberry and apricot jam

How To Make Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

These Thumbprint Cookies are pretty as a picture and the perfect bite-sized cookie for your next holiday gathering! Buttery, shortbread style cookies are coated in sugar and filled with your choice of jam. Perfect for holiday parties, cookie exchanges or a late night treat for Santa!

Keyword jam thumbprint cookies, thumbprint cookie recipe, thumbprint cookies, thumbprint cookies recipe
Author Trish – Mom On Timeout

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup jam I used apricot and seedless raspberry jam

Instructions

  • In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and granulated sugar. Beat on a medium speed for two to three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy.

    1 cup unsalted butter, ⅔ cup granulated sugar

  • Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat until thoroughly combined.

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and reduce to a low speed. Gradually add in the flour, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The dough may not appear like it’s coming together but give it a minute or two. You can also work the dough with your hands to make it come together quicker.

    2 cups all-purpose flour

  • Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour.

  • Once the dough has chilled for an hour, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • Place 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl.

    ⅓ cup granulated sugar

  • Scoop one tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Coat each ball of dough by rolling in the bowl of sugar. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets.

  • Make an indentation in the center of each cookie using your thumb. Fill with half a teaspoon of jam. Repeat until all cookies are filled.

    ¼ cup jam

  • Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or until the bottom edges just begin to brown. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for one additional minute before moving to a wire rack to cool.

  • Let cookies cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Notes

Storage Information Store any leftover stained glass cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. To increase longevity you can store them in your refrigerator for up to a week! To Freeze: You can freeze these jam filled cookies as well. Store cooled cookies in a freezer safe container for up to a month. Thaw to room temperature and enjoy!  If you want to make the cookie dough in advance, make the dough, transfer to an airtight, freezer safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 11mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.3mg