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Buttery and tender-crisp, these Thumbprint Cookies shine like gems on your Christmas cookie plate. Fill them with any jam you love and watch them disappear.

A pile of thumbrpint cookies on a baking rack.

If you’re looking for ways to engage the younger bakers in your life, Thumbprint Cookies are a great place to start.

The basic sugar cookie dough is just 6 ingredients, squishing dough balls with a thumb is required, and the jam filling makes the cookies look so festive and inviting.

I love raspberry jam (seedless if possible), orange marmalade (especially if you made it yourself), and apricot jelly, and I love to mix and match for the most colorful cookies possible.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for thumbprint cookies.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Butter: Cold butter usually softens up in about 30 minutes when left out at room temperature (much longer if frozen). To soften butter in the microwave, cut each stick of butter in half, unwrap, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Then cook the butter at 10% power (that’s ten percent!) for 1 minute. Afterward, gently press on the butter with your finger. If still too firm, cook for another 40 seconds at 10% power.
  • Jam or preserves: Any jam, jelly, or preserves will work in Thumbprint cookies (just be sure to not overload your thumbprint). Strawberry, raspberry, apricot, and orange marmalade are all delicious.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed, or with an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until smooth.
A bowl of cookie dough for thumbprint cookies.
  1. Gradually add flour and baking powder until combined. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
A bowl of cookie dough for thumbprint cookies.
  1. Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
Pressing a thumb into cookie dough to make thumbprint cookies.
  1. Bake until light golden brown around the edges, about 11 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets after 6 minutes. Remove from oven.
Baked thumbprint cookies without the jelly added yet.
  1. Immediately transfer to wire cooling racks. Spoon ¼ teaspoon jam into the indentation on each baked cookie.
Spooning jelly into thumbprint cookies.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe will make about 42 cookies depending on exactly what size you roll your balls of dough.
  • Storage: Store Thumbprint cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Just portion it straight from the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: For best results, freeze the cookie dough unbaked and unfilled. After chilling the dough (which makes it easier to handle), roll the cookies into balls and make the thumbprints as directed in the recipe. Arrange the cookies on a tray that will fit horizontally in your freezer. The cookies can be close, but not touching (they will freeze together if touching). Freeze the cookies until solid, (6-8 hours) then transfer them from the tray to a zipper-top plastic bag. Press the extra air out of the bag as you seal it. Label and date the bag, adding the baking temperature and time for future efficiency. Freeze for up to 1 month.
A pile of thumbrpint cookies on a baking rack.

Recipe FAQs

What should I do if my dough is sticky?

Chilled dough is less likely to be sticky, so be sure your dough has chilled at least 30 minutes. If the dough still feels sticky on your thumb, wet your thumb between thumbprints.

Why did my Thumbprint cookies spread?

Thumbprint cookies spread when the dough (or more specifically the butter in dough) is too warm. Avoid this by chilling the dough firmly before using, working quickly to avoid handling the dough, and baking the cookies promptly.

What is another name for Thumbprint cookies?

Thumbprint cookies are also known as bird’s nest cookies, butter balls, Polish tea caves, or “hallongrotta” (Swedish for “raspberry cave.”).

What nationality are Thumbprint cookies?

Thumbprint cookies are Swedish in origin and are called “raspberry caves.”

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Thumbprint cookies on a gray plate.

Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery and tender-crisp, these Thumbprint Cookies shine like gems on your Christmas cookie plate. Fill them with any jam you love and watch them disappear.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 42 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 81

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment at medium speed, or with an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until smooth.
  • Gradually add flour and baking powder until combined. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  • Place rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie (if the dough is sticky, wet your thumb between cookies).
  • Bake until light golden brown around the edges, about 11 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets after 6 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to wire cooling racks. Spoon ¼ teaspoon jam into the indentation on each baked cookie.

Notes

  1. Butter: Cold butter usually softens up in about 30 minutes when left out at room temperature (much longer if frozen). To soften butter in the microwave, cut each stick of butter in half, unwrap, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Then cook the butter at 10% power (that’s ten percent!) for 1 minute. Afterward, gently press on the butter with your finger. If still too firm, cook for another 40 seconds at 10% power.
  2. Jam or preserves: Any jam, jelly, or preserves will work in Thumbprint cookies (just be sure to not overload your thumbprint). Strawberry, raspberry, apricot, and orange marmalade are all delicious.
  3. Yield: This recipe will make about 42 cookies depending on exactly what size you roll your balls of dough.
  4. Storage: Store Thumbprint cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  5. Make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Just portion it straight from the refrigerator.
  6. Freezer: For best results, freeze the cookie dough unbaked and unfilled. After chilling the dough (which makes it easier to handle), roll the cookies into balls and make the thumbprints as directed in the recipe. Arrange the cookies on a tray that will fit horizontally in your freezer. The cookies can be close, but not touching (they will freeze together if touching). Freeze the cookies until solid, (6-8 hours) then transfer them from the tray to a zipper-top plastic bag. Press the extra air out of the bag as you seal it. Label and date the bag, adding the baking temperature and time for future efficiency. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 81kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 50mgPotassium: 11mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 147IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. I just love these cookies! I usually make them at Christmas and fill with green mint jelly and some with cherry or raspberry seedless jelly; so festive! No jam, just fill with green or red buttercream! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and tips! Lori