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Thumbprint Cookies are a buttery shortbread bite-size delight filled with your favorite jewel-colored jams, then drizzled with a simple vanilla glaze. They make a fun and tasty addition to any holiday cookie plate!
It’s the perfect canvas for showcasing other flavors in a crumbly, buttery cookie that practically melts in your mouth.
And it’s not as sweet as most cookies, which is why it goes so well with the fruity jam baked in the center of each little one- or maybe two-bite cookie.
These thumbprint cookies are no exception and one of my favorite traditional Christmas cookies. The easy shortbread dough comes together quickly and little helpers love rolling the dough into balls, then making the thumbprint to hold a dollop of jam.
And speaking of jam, you can use any jam flavor you like! I grabbed raspberry, blueberry, and apricot jam from my fridge for these thumbprint cookies and all were absolutely delicious.
But I just bought a jar of cloudberry jam from Ikea and will try that when I make these again closer to Christmas! And strawberry, boysenberry, and peach jam are also yummy choices.
The glaze is optional and thumbprint cookies are good with and without the glaze, but I love the way it dresses up these cookies and makes them just a bit more special.
How to Make Thumbprint Cookies
- Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a stand mixer.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla, beating until combined and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Add flour, cornstarch, and salt. At first it might seem like the dough isn’t going to come together because there isn’t much liquid for binding, but if you keep mixing it will form a nice dough that is perfect for shaping into balls.
- Scoop out small amounts of dough and roll into 1 tablespoon size balls, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Use your thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Some people get hung up on thumbprint cookies with no cracks, but I find that’s pretty hard to avoid. You can press the dough back together a bit before filling with jam and baking, but I actually think it adds charm and a homemade quality to the cookies that I like.
- Fill with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. If the jam is thick, you may need to warm it just a bit in the microwave until you can stir in, but you don’t want to get it too hot.
- Bake until barely browned around the bottom edges of the cookies, but definitely don’t overbake. 9-11 minutes in a 375 degree F oven is perfect for me.
Do I need to chill the dough?
I have found that this dough is easy to work with right after mixing without chilling it in the fridge first.
You should be able to roll the balls of dough between the palms of your hands without any difficulty, even with unchilled dough. Because the cookies are small and have little liquid in them, they don’t spread much while baking, so chilling is unnecessary.
How to Store Thumbprint Cookies
Jam thumbprint cookies can be stored in an airtight container on the counter at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For longer storage, you can freeze the cookies for up to 3 months. Just let them thaw on the counter for 30-60 minutes before eating.
More Christmas Cookies You’ll Love
- Mexican Wedding Cookies [aka Russian Tea Cakes]
- Homemade Iced Oatmeal Cookies
- The Best Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe
- Oatmeal Rolled Sugar Cookies
- Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- Peppermint Macarons
- Chocolate-Dipped Almond Biscotti
- Greek Baklava Recipe
- Double Chocolate Nutella Sandwich Cookies
- Soft & Chewy Gingerbread Men Cookies
Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup jam or preserves raspberry and apricot are our favorites but you can use any you like
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and mix on medium-high speed using the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix again until everything comes together in a nice dough. It may seem crumbly at first, but just scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and keep mixing until the dough comes together.
- Shape the dough into 1-tablespoon size balls and arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press in the center of each cookie with your thumb or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create and indentation. Fill with your favorite jam, warming the jam first for about 10 seconds so it is stirrable.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until set and just barely starting to turn golden around the bottom edges. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
- While the cookies cool, prepare the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, cream or milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Transfer to a ziplock bag and snip off one corner. Drizzle the glaze over cookies, then let set for 1-2 hours until the glaze has set up.
- These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months. Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.