Sweet thumbprint cookies have always been a holiday favorite for me!

A buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookie is rolled in nuts and an indent is pressed into the middle. They’re baked until golden and finally filled with a sweet jam center.

These are the ultimate cookies for any occasion, and they have that perfect homemade taste of nostalgia.

a plate of Thumbprint Cookies

As a young girl, my grandma’s shortbread cookies and my mom’s thumbprint cookies (I always called them thimble cookies) were always my two favorites.

This classic holiday cookie is amazingly rich and melt-in-your-mouth. While not all thumbprint cookies are dipped in nuts, ours always were.

  • This version is different than our usual jam thumbprint cookie as they are rolled in crushed nuts before baking.
  • It produces a delicate cookie with a texture similar to shortbread.
  • They can be made well ahead of time and frozen.

Ingredients for Thumbprint Cookies

What’s in a Thumbprint Cookie?

BUTTER is a must in thumbprint cookies, giving the dough a rich buttery taste while the addition of shortening provides a great texture and keeps the cookie from spreading too much.

JAM My first choice is raspberry jam (I prefer seedless), but it’s okay to use other favorite kinds of jam or jelly. My mom often used to use seedless raspberry jam and green mint jelly for pretty red and green filled cookies!

NUTS Walnuts are the coating we always grew up with but pecans work too. I usually prefer pecans but in this case, walnuts have a kind of a bitter note which pairs perfectly with the sweetness of this cookie.

Steps for making Thumbprint Cookies

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. (Save the egg white in a small bowl, you’ll need it for dipping).
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients and slowly add the creamed mixture to the dry. Divide into 20 evenly sized balls.

rolling Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Froth egg white. Roll each ball first in beaten egg white, then chopped nuts.
  2. Gently press your thumb into each cookie and seal any cracks. Place the cookies in the freezer, and then bake (per recipe instructions below.)

forming Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Fill each indent with jam, etc. Allow to rest before serving.

Tips for Perfection

  • Chop nuts finely, a food processor works best. They will stick to the cookie better.
  • When pressing the indent, the cookies will crack a little bit on the edges. Use your fingers to form them into shape.
  • Don’t skip freezing the cookies or they will spread too much.
  • The indent will rise a bit so you may need to press it again before you fill them. The back of a measuring spoon works well.
  • Warm the jam slightly to make it easier to spoon or pour.
  • If your jam has seeds, heat/melt it in the microwave and run it through a small sieve if you’d like.

baked Thumbprint Cookies

Make-Ahead Cookies

  • Thumbprint cookies are perfect for make-ahead and easy to take to parties or potlucks! They’ll keep in a covered container for about 5 days with a slice of bread to soak up extra moisture.
  • Freeze cookies once they have been cooled in zippered bags for up to 3 months. Cookies can be frozen before or after filling with jam. If filled with jam, separate layers of cookies with parchment paper.

Favorite Holiday Cookies

Did you love these Thumbprint Cookies? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below! 

a plate of Thumbprint Cookies
4.78 from 18 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery soft cookies rolled in nuts and filled with jam are the perfect addition to any cookie tray!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Freeze Time 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 20 cookies

Ingredients  

  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¼ cup brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 egg divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour all purpose
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • raspberry jam seedless

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. (Set egg white aside in a small bowl.)
  • Combine flour and salt and add in a little at a time to the wet mixture until incorporated. 
  • Divide dough into 20 pieces and roll into balls. Beat egg white in a small bowl. Dip each cookie dough ball in the egg whites and then into the nuts, pressing to adhere.
  • Place each ball of dough about 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Use the end of a spoon or your thumb to make an indentation in each cookie. Seal any cracks that form on the sides. Freeze 15-20 minutes.
  • Bake 16-18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and use the back of a ½ teaspoon to press the indents again if needed.
  • Fill indents with jam. Cool completely.

Notes

  • Chop nuts finely, a food processor works best. They will stick to the cookie better.
  • When pressing the indent, the cookies will crack a little bit on the edges. Use your fingers to form them into shape.
  • Don't skip freezing the cookies or they will spread too much.
  • The indent will rise a bit so you may need to press it again before you fill them. The back of a measuring spoon works well.
  • Warm the jam slightly to make it easier to spoon or pour.
  • If your jam has seeds, heat/melt it in the microwave and run it through a small sieve if you'd like.
  •  
4.78 from 18 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 118 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 39mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Cookies, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American

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baked Thumbprint Cookies on a baking sheet with a title
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Thumbprint Cookies on a baking sheet and plated with writing

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. We’ve never made thumbprint cookies but are going to try several different recipes, this one among them, to expand our repertoire. We send “we love you” packages of a variety of cookies and miniature tea breads to family and friends around the USA from late fall to late spring, and we like sending some new types of cookies every time along with old favorites. I must say this recipe is the best-described both in words & photos than any I’ve seen, and I really appreciate the author/baker responding to everyone’s questions and concerns. I will definitely post info about how this receipt works out.

    1. Thanks, Mary Lynne! We look forward to hearing how this recipe turned out for you. We hope your lucky recipients love them as much as we do!

    1. I can’t say for sure why your cookies would be fragile. We’ve made this exact recipe for many, many years and while you may consider them “slightly” delicate, they definitely hold together and should be able to easily be moved without breaking. When measuring your flour, did you scoop it with the measuring cup or sprinkle it into the measuring cup? (scooping can add extra flour).

  2. I used earth balance in place of butter and it was more like frosting so I added another cup of flour. They needed to cook longer too, more like 18min.5 stars

      1. I’m sorry Landys, when the site was updated, this reverted to an incorrect version of the cookies. This has been updated.

  3. These cookies were delicious, but when they cooled they became really fragile and crumbled when picked up. I followed directions exactly.