The old-fashioned thumbprint cookies are the perfect treat: easy, fun, and delicious. You can adapt them to your tastes, using your favorite fruit jam (or a combination of a few.)
We love how simple this recipe is, too – no fancy ingredients or tools required. I make them every Christmas, but they are my husband’s favorite cookie year-round.
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
Putting cookies together
- ¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
- ½ cup fruit jam of your choice strawberry and raspberry are a good choice
- Prep the oven and baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350°F with two racks spaced equally. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chill the dough. Cover the bowl of dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
- Roll into balls and press indentation. 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 your thumb or the handle of a large wooden spoon. Carefully place a small amount of jam into each cookie.
- Add jam. Carefully place a small amount of jam into each cookie. I usually use only a 1/4 teaspoon per cookie.
- 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.
What you’ll love about this recipe:
Simple! – They’re easy to make, with just a few ingredients
Customizable – You can customize them with your favorite fruit jam
Versatile –They’re a Christmas classic but are also appropriate any time of year
What you’ll need
For the cookie dough
- unsalted butter
- granulated sugar
- egg yolks
- pure vanilla extract
- all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar for rolling cookies
- 1/2 cup of your favorite jam (raspberry jam is the classic choice)
Preheat oven to 350°F with two racks spaced equally. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (or baking spray if you prefer.)
Cream together butter + sugar until lightened color & fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the egg yolk one at a time, carefully beating well after each addition, and then add vanilla extract.
Place the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. In a different bowl, mix salt and flour well. Then, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture on low. Add
Mix the ingredients, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed.
Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet about one inch apart. Press your thumb into the center (or the handle end of a wooden spoon). You can also use a thimble if you have one. It works. These cookies are often called thimble cookies for this reason 😊. Fill with your favorite sweet jam flavor. You’ll only need to add a 1/2 teaspoon or so to each.
Chill the cookie dough for thirty minutes to keep it from spreading as it bakes.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are set, with bottoms and edges being light golden brown. Let the thumbprint cookies cool completely before handling. The jam is hot!
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days on the countertop.
Thumbprint cookie variations
- Add almond extract instead of (or in addition to) the vanilla.
- Fill with caramel and add a sprinkling of sea salt.
- Use raspberry jam filling and drizzle white chocolate on top.
- Try orange marmalade or apple butter as a filling.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days
- For longer storage, freeze the dough ahead of time, then defrost and proceed with the recipe. Stick in a freezer bag and store up to one month.
- You can freeze thumbprint cookies fully assembled, but they may crack or crumble.
More old-fashioned Christmas cookies
- If you enjoy buttery shortbread cookies, you will love chocolate-dipped shortbread. This recipe has a light brown sugar base.
- Chewy molasses cookies are a classic recipe you’ll enjoy any time.
- Soft butterscotch cookies are a traditional favorite.
The best part about old-fashioned thumbprint cookies? You can customize them by using different fruit jams, icing, or caramel sauce. Choose something you love. ❤️
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Happy baking!