Buttercream Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are a classic favorite. Thumbprint cookies filled with buttercream? Even better.

These have a classic buttery base that you’ll love and want to add to your cookie jar every year.

(Note: If you prefer a thinner buttercream that settles into the indentation, just add a tad more milk.)

cooling rack with thumbprint cookies filled with pink buttercream.

Thumbprint Cookies with Buttercream Filling

A buttery cookie base and luscious, creamy filling.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients 

Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 drops food coloring optional

Instructions 

  • Prep. Prep the oven and baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350°F with two racks spaced equally. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
    parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Wet ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes or until well combined. Add the eggs yolks and vanilla extract and beat 1-2minutes more until lightened in color and fluffy.
    butter and sugar before and after creaming.
  • Add the dry ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the salt and flour. Add it to the butter-sugar mixture, one cup at a time. Mix on low after each addition and stir just until the flour is combined.
    dry ingredients before and after adding to bowl.
  • Chill the dough. Cover the bowl of dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
  • Roll into balls. Using cookie scoop or tablespoon, portion out the dough and roll into balls. Roll them in the granulated sugar and place them onto the baking sheets one inch apart in all directions. Indent each ball of cookie dough using a ¼ teaspoon or the handle of a large wooden spoon. (The indentation will spread as the cookies bake)
    rolling cookie dough balls into sugar.
  • Indent. Indent each ball of cookie dough using a ¼ teaspoon or the handle of a large wooden spoon. (The indentation will spread as the cookies bake)
    pressing indentation into cookie dough ball.
  • Bake. Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are set. The bottoms and edges will be slightly golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack until cool. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
    baking and cooling cookies.
  • Buttercream Filling. While the cookies cool, prepare the buttercream. In a medium bowl, beat the softened butter until creamy. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla extract and enough heavy cream or milk to achieve a piping consistency. If you wish to color your buttercream, add a few drops of food coloring and mix until the color is uniform.
    buttercream ingredients in bowl.
  • Assemble Cookies. Once the cookies have cooled, use a small piping bag fitted with a star or round tip to pipe the buttercream into the indentations of each cookie. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can also use a small spoon or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off.
    buttercream thumbprint cookies on white plate.
  • Serve. The cookies are ready to be served once the filling is set. You can pop them in the fridge to speed up the process. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Whether for a special occasion or a cozy night in, these buttercream cookies with icing. are sure to bring smiles and memories ❤️.

buttercream thumbprint cookies on white plate.

🥣 important ingredients + tools

  • Unsalted Butter: The foundation of both the cookie and the buttercream, ensuring a rich, smooth texture.
  • Egg Yolks: They add richness and help bind the cookie dough.
  • Vanilla Extract: A dash of vanilla brings a warm, aromatic flavor to both the cookies and the filling.
  • Powdered Sugar: Key to a silky, smooth buttercream.
  • Food Coloring (Optional): To add a playful twist to your buttercream.
ingredients laid out on white wood surface.

I bet you already have everything you need on hand!

  • Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer: For creaming butter and sugar and for making the buttercream.
  • Baking Sheets: Preferably two, lined with parchment paper.
  • Cookie Scoop: Ensures uniform size for the cookies.
  • Piping Bag with Star or Round Tip: For neatly filling the cookies with buttercream.
  • Wire Rack: For cooling the cookies evenly.

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Tips for the best thumbprint cookies

  • Room temperature butter. To cream butter and sugar, make sure the butter is at room temperature. This step is crucial for light and fluffy cookies.
  • Chilling. Chill the dough before handling it to prevent cookies from spreading too much.
  • Making the Indentations: Be gentle when making the indentations. They should be deep enough to hold the filling but not so deep that the cookies crack.
  • Baking Time: Keep an eye on the cookies as they bake. They should be just golden brown at the edges.
  • To achieve the desired thickness for the buttercream, simply adjust the amount of cream or milk. It should be smooth but not too runny.

Storage and make ahead instructions

Like most cookies, these can be made ahead of time easily

  • Make-Ahead: You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: Both the unbaked dough balls and the baked, unfilled cookies freeze well. Freeze them on a baking sheet, then transfer to a ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Thaw and then bake or fill as directed.
  • Defrosting: Thaw the dough or cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking or filling.

The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is freezing them already frosted.

More drop cookie recipes

I have plenty of cookies to share.

  • Old Fashioned Jam Thumbprint Cookies
  • Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies
  • Apple Butter Thumbprint Cookies
  • Chewy Molasses Cookies
  • Old Fashioned Roll Out Cookies

This is a fun recipe overall. Rolling in sugar, filling with icing, get a partner and enjoy the process as much as the result. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different flavors of buttercream for variety.

finished cookies with frosting.
Buttercream Thumbprint Cookies
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