Thumbprint Cookies

5 from 17 votes

This jam thumbprint cookie recipe is so easy and so good! With its shortbread cookie base and sweet jam filled center you can't go wrong!

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These easy Thumbprint Cookies have a soft, buttery shortbread base and a sweet, sticky center filled with jam. They’re so good and perfect for any time of the year! Whether you’re looking for a fun baking project on a lazy afternoon, a crowd-pleasing dessert for a party, or a homemade gift for someone special, this jam-filled thumbprint cookie recipe delivers every time.

Three different jam filled thumbprint cookies on a wire rack with a jar of jam nearby.
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Personally, I love making Thumbprint Cookies because they’re like tiny blank canvases waiting for you to put your own creative spin on them. You can play around with different types of jam, raspberry, strawberry, apricot, and more, or even Nutella for the filling, allowing you to cater to your own taste or that of your family. This easy shortbread thumbprint cookie recipe is one of the cookie recipes that I find myself coming back to time and time again, especially during the Christmas season, and I’m excited to share it with you. So, let’s start baking!

  • Memories in the Making: The simple and engaging process of making thumbprint cookies is perfect for tiny hands. It’s a great way to bond with the little ones in your life, creating not just delicious cookies but also precious memories.
  • Elegance Meets Simplicity: These cookies strike a balance between elegance and simplicity. They’re easy to bake, yet the final product looks like a miniature work of art.
  • Perfect Texture: The buttery, crumbly shortbread cookie perfectly complements the sweet, soft jam center, providing an irresistible combination of textures.
  • No Special Equipment Needed: You don’t need any fancy kitchen tools to make these cookies. Your hands, a mixing bowl, and basic utensils are all it takes. It’s all about getting back to the basics and enjoying the simple joy of baking.

Ingredients to make thumbprint cookies

  • Unsalted Butter: For this recipe, you’ll need to use unsalted butter at room temperature.
  • Brown Sugar: This recipe calls for brown sugar instead of white. The brown sugar lends a rich, caramel-like sweetness to the cookies that pairs wonderfully with the butter.
  • Egg Yolk: Egg yolk helps to bind the ingredients together while also contributing to the richness of the cookies. Be sure to separate it from the egg white.
  • Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds a subtle depth of flavor to the cookies.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The base of the shortbread cookies, all-purpose flour provides the necessary structure. Be sure to measure it correctly for the best results.
  • Salt: Salt is used to balance the sweetness of the cookies and bring out their flavors.
  • Jam or Nutella: Here’s where the fun comes in! You’ll need a preferred jam (or a couple of jams) or Nutella for the filling. The type of jam you use can dramatically change the flavor profile of the cookies, so pick one that you love. Nutella provides a twist for chocolate lovers.
Ingredients for recipe: jam, flour, butter, salt, egg, vanilla, and brown sugar.

How to make thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies are super easy to make and take no tie at all to bake!

Prepare the cookie dough

  1. Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated.
  3. Add the flour and salt.
  4. Process just until no streaks of flour remain.
4 image collage making dough: 1- butter and brown sugar before creaming together, 2- after creaming with an egg and vanilla added, 3- dry ingredients added to mix, 4- final dough.

Make Your Thumbprints and Bake

  1. Scoop the dough into even portions, then roll each into an even ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan.
  2. Using your thumb, or the back of a measuring spoon, gently press an indent into the cookie.
  3. If using jam, spoon into the indent.
  4. Bake until lightly golden brown.
4 image collage: 1- cookie dough balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2- a small spoon pressing indentions into cookie dough balls, 3- jam filled inside before baking, 4- cookies after baking.

Tips for making the best thumbprint Christmas cookies

  1. Don’t worry about slight cracking. If the cookie cracks slightly when you make the indent, use your hands to form the cookie back into an even round.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure your butter and egg is at room temperature before starting. This will help it blend more smoothly with the sugar and make for a more uniform cookie.
  3. Choose Quality Jam: Use a high-quality jam for the filling. Since it’s a central part of the cookie, its flavor really shines through.
  4. Do Not Overfill: When adding the jam or Nutella, be careful not to overfill the thumbprints. If there’s too much, it can bubble over and make the cookies too sticky.
  5. Avoid Burning the Bottoms: Keep an eye on the cookies towards the end of the baking time to prevent the bottoms from burning. Every oven is different, so start checking them a few minutes early.
  • Make chocolate pecan thumbprints. Follow the recipe above through step 4, then roll each ball in a lightly beaten egg white and then into chopped pecans. Make an indent with the back of a spoon, then bake as directed. When the cookies come out of the oven, set a Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie. Let cool until set. 
  • Different Fillings: Experiment with different types of jam or even Nutella as mentioned in the recipe. Lemon curd or a dollop of caramel would also be delicious.
  • Spices: Add a bit of ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough for an extra layer of flavor.
  • Citrus Zest: Adding some lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough could give your cookies a fresh and zesty flavor.
  • Powdered Sugar: After the cookies have cooled, dust them with powdered sugar for a snow-like effect. This could be particularly festive around the holiday season.
Thumbprint cookies on a plate with a wire rack of more cookies and a jar of jam nearby.

How to Store Thumbprint Cookies

Storing these thumbprint cookies is easy. Once they have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container. You can stack them, but make sure to put a sheet of wax or parchment paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking together. The filling you use will determine if these cookies can be kept at room temperature. Most jams will be fine for 4-5 days at room temp after baked in a thumbprint cookie.

How Long will Thumbprint Cookies Last in the Fridge?

These cookies will last in the fridge for up to a week. Again, make sure they’re in an airtight container to maintain their freshness.

Can I Freeze Thumbprint Cookies?

Yes, you can definitely freeze thumbprint cookies. First, let them cool completely, then place them in a freezer-safe airtight container or a zip-top freezer bag. They should keep well for up to 3 months. To serve, just let them thaw at room temperature. You may want to add a fresh sprinkle of powdered sugar after they’ve thawed, as it can dissolve into the cookie while in the freezer.

Frequently asked questions

My thumbprint cookies spread too much while baking, what did I do wrong?

Cookies often spread if the dough is too soft before baking. Try chilling your cookie dough balls before making the indent and filling with jam. This should help keep their shape while baking.

What type of jam is best for thumbprint cookies?

The beauty of these cookies is that you can use virtually any type of jam you like. Strawberry, raspberry, and apricot are traditional favorites, but feel free to experiment with other flavors like peach, blackberry, or even a unique marmalade.

I don’t have a stand mixer, can I still make these cookies?

Yes, you can use a handheld electric mixer or even mix the dough by hand. It may take a bit more effort, but the cookies will turn out just as delicious.

Hand holding one thumbprint cookie with a bite taken with the plate and rack of more cookies below.

I hope you enjoy these jam thumbprint cookies, they’re a classic treat that never goes out of style. Their buttery shortbread base and sweet, sticky jam center make them an instant favorite, and they’re just as fun to make as they are to eat. You’ll find yourself coming back to this recipe time and time again, whether it’s for holiday baking, a special occasion, or simply a regular day that could use a touch of sweetness.

If you try this feel good Thumbprint Cookies recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

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Thumbprint Cookies

This jam thumbprint cookie recipe is so easy and so good! With its shortbread cookie base and sweet jam filled center you can't go wrong!
5 from 17 votes
Servings 18 cookies
Course Dessert
Calories 142
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes



  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup jam of choice (or Nutella)


  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add egg yolk and vanilla extract. Mix at medium speed for 30 seconds, or until incorporated.
  • Add the flour and salt and process at low speed, just until no streaks of flour remain.
  • Using a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough into even portions, then roll each into an even ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  • Using your thumb, or the back of a measuring spoon, gently press an indent into the cookie. Press down just enough to make an indent, without pressing all the way to the bottom of the cookie. If using jam, spoon about 1 teaspoon into the indent, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. If using nutella, make the indents, but fill with 1 teaspoon of nutella after the cookies have been baked.
  • Set on a baking rack until completely cool.


Nutrition label is for jam filled cookies.


Calories: 142kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 41mg, Potassium: 30mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 171IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Dessert

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  1. I remember these as a kid long time since but know I will enjoy them as much maybe more with fond memories of time past. Can’t wait to make them. Thanks for the recipe and all your good work.

  2. I always enjoy your recipes, thanks very much for them.
    I would like to make these thumbprint cookies with ground nuts in the dough. Would I have to replace some of the flour to do this?

  3. Hi Yumna,

    I want to give these cookies a try this weekend,but I don’t have a stand mixer. Can I use a regular hand mixer instead?


    1. Hi Liz! A hand mixer will work perfect for this recipe. You’ll have to let me know what you think when you make them!

      1. Hi Yumna,

        I made these this morning, but I only got 9 balls. I used a 1and 1/2 tablespoon scoop, that could be the reason. I did use the hand mixer; however after three minutes it was still a bit grainy. I added an ash of cinnamon and cardamom and they taste so good. What brand of jelly do you use? I used some strawberry and apple cinnamon. Will be trying my hand at these again soon.😄