Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

Raise your hand if ever in your life you have struggled with a recipe. My hand is waaaaaay up there (well, as high up as it can get when you’re only 5’1). Sometimes it’s cupcake batter that runneth over and spills all over the inside of the oven. Sometimes it’s a cake that ends up looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sometimes it’s an experiment gone terribly (and inedible-y) awry. Sometimes it’s trying to recreate a favorite treat from a restaurant or bakery and you just.can’ These have all happened to me (some, many times over!), but today, I’m focusing on that last one – recreating a favorite treat. Here in Pittsburgh, Giant Eagle is our large supermarket chain, and their bakery sells the most addicting cookies ever – Chocolate Thumbprints with Sprinkles.

These are, without question, my Chief Culinary Consultant’s favorite store-bought cookie and he has done a fabulous job of getting me completely addicted to them. Approximately one out of every two times we wander into the grocery store, we wander out with a dozen of those cookies. Then, we promptly polish them off in less time than I care to admit. For the longest time, I have been trying to recreate those little devils, and I’ve finally got something close!

The cookies from Giant Eagle are not crispy, but they’re not soft or chewy either; rather, they’re very tender. They crumble a little bit when you bite into them, but then they have some give. The cookie is only the first part of the equation; once we get past that part, it’s figuring out the frosting. To be quite honest, it tastes pretty much like chocolate frosting from a can, which normally I’m all “bleh” about, but oh my, on these cookies… I want to swim in it. Turns out, it’s pretty darn difficult to try to make frosting from scratch that tastes like frosting from a can. Shocking, right? I think that’s probably a good thing, but doesn’t make it any easier!

I have gone through no less than four or five iterations of these cookies, two batches of which needed to be thrown out when experiments went awry! I’ve played with different ingredients, ratios, and mixing methods and have taken copious amounts of notes on pretty much every thumbprint recipe known to man.

These babies are my pseudo-final (but-still-a-work-in-progress) version of the ever-famous Giant Eagle Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies. They are close, but I’m dying to get it as close to exact as possible. The recipe, of course, is a “Giant Eagle bakery secret” so I’m on my own! If I make any changes to the recipe below in the future, I’ll add a date and an edit note so you know what’s been changed.

What recipes have left you stumped? Or scrubbing your kitchen from top to bottom? 😉

One year ago: Fresh Strawberry Pie

Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


For the Cookies:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles

For the Chocolate Icing:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 tablespoons whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside. Pour the chocolate sprinkles into a small bowl; set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Once it is mostly incorporated, slowly increase the speed back to medium-high and beat for another minute or so until a dough forms.

3. Scoop out a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and then roll it in the chocolate sprinkles and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing your cookies about 1½ inches apart on the baking sheet. Make a slight indentation with your thumb (or the back of a melon baller - my favorite tool for this task) on the tops of all the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, then make a deeper indentation in the middle, and bake for an additional 8 minutes. The cookies should not brown much at all around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate icing for the filling. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and creamy. Reduce speed to low, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth. Add the milk and the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or milk to achieve the desired consistency.

5. Once the cookies are cool, pipe some frosting into the middle of each cookie (or you can spoon it in). Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.[/donotprint]


126 Responses to “Chocolate Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies”

  1. Tracey on June 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    We don’t have Giant Eagle up here so I’ve never had these, but they look awesome! I’m a sucker for anything with sprinkles :)


  2. Kelly on June 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    These were my favorite thing about visiting grandma in Pittsburgh she had a never ending supply form Giant Eagle! Also the multi colored sugar cookies. I love the vanilla and chocolate ones equally.


  3. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray on June 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Whoa…I have to come to Pittsburgh to get me some of these (the real ones or yours…whichever)! :)


  4. caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy on June 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    those are so pretty! i love the sprinkles on the outside!! thanks for sharing!


  5. ACR on June 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I’ve been trying to create something similar myself. I found this recipe yesterday and I’m thinking this might work for the fudge center :)


  6. Mia on June 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I’m not the hugest cookie fan, except when it comes to a chewy chocolate chip. These look pretty awesome, though :)

    Memorial day weekend, I had many baking issues. None were exactly due to the recipes (except maybe the first two pie crusts I made: one burned, one so soggy it never really set up). Once I finally resolved my crust issues, I dropped an entire pie on the floor. From looking at my kitchen, you’d think I threw the pie in the air first. There was lemon curd and meringue all over my oven, cabinets, and floor. When I finally stopped fuming, I cleaned it up and went to bed :)


  7. Lisa from the 'Burgh on June 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Ha ha ha — Store cookies for up to 5 days. Like they would last that long.


  8. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on June 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I adore your version. Your frosting swirls are so pretty!


  9. Leticia on June 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I love thumbprints! And my favorite thing to grill is shishkabobs! YUMMY!


  10. Angelyn on June 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Oh boy, these look amazing!! Definitely going to have to try them soon!!


  11. Amber @ Slim Pickin's Kitchen on June 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    These just look completely dangerous…and absolutely frickin *FANTASTIC*!!!!


  12. Joy on June 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Very Cute!


  13. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on June 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    These look amazing! Too bad they aren’t a perfect match yet! Chocolate frosting is so hard to duplicate! I will have to try this one, it looks a lot more like what I am looking for. All the recipes I have tried are always way to light in color!


  14. Gail on June 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Oh. MY. Word.
    These look like the “Chinese” cookies back home, which I am quite certain are not Chinese in origin.
    Sub the sprinkles with some chopped walnuts and they are Chinese cookies. I have been trying to nail that frosting FOREVER! Like canned frosting, without the ickiness of canned frosting.

    I can’t wait to try this one, forgive me if I roll mine in nuts :)


  15. Dana Smith on June 15, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I’m sure someone already suggested it, but maybe you should get a “spy” job in the Giant Eagle Bakery to find out exactly how the sprinkle cookies are made! I’ve contemplated working at Panera, if for no other reason than to maybe get baking out of my system! :)


  16. Diane on June 15, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    These look Amazing and mouth watering!!!
    Love the sprinkles!
    Will try these for sure!


  17. Tamara on June 15, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    These look amazing…wasn’t planning on baking this weekend but I think I have just changed my mind.

    Kudos to you for taking the time to keep trying…I think they look better than the store bought ones.


  18. Courtney G. on June 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Just made these for a party we are going to tomorrow. The thumbprint cookie tastes like a shortbread cookie and the icing is delicious. Not too sweet! I can’t wait to eat more!


  19. Tracy on June 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I for one think these cookies look absolutely amazing. While I always enjoy the traditional version with jam, I just love this chocolatey version!!


  20. Clarissa on June 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Oh my gosh, they make a cookie like this at our grocery store in Chicago-Dominicks, which is affiliated with Safeway, called Susan cookies. They’re amazing, the crumbly cookie is a great balance for the rich fudgy top. We’re just missing the sprinkles, which would make them even more amazing, I love the texture of sprinkles. THis was just added to my “to bake” list, once my apartment is cool enough!


  21. Emily @ Life on Food on June 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Oh man these look way better than any jam thumbprint cookie I have ever had. Glad you finally could create it at home. They look yummy!


  22. Amber, RD on June 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    These look amazing!!
    I am glad to hear that even you have recipe disasters! I like to think of myself as pretty proficient in the kitchen, but I have had my share of kitchen screw-ups! Just the other day I tried some cinnamon sugar cookies that ended up like a messy cookie sheet cake. Oops!


  23. Jocelyn on June 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Okay. These look delicious!! My dad loves thumbprint cookies and I love chocolate. I should make these tomorrow for fathers day!


  24. SueAnn on June 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    When I read your description of this cookie, the first thing that popped into my mind was “vinegar”, particularly cider vinegar. I’ve seen it used in recipes before when the crumb was tender. (I’m a self-confessed cookbook junkie). They look wonderful, and are probably better than the store ones, you’re just used to the others!


  25. Annamaria @ bakewell junction on June 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Your cookies look wonderful. Don’t give up; keep looking for the taste and texture you’re looking for. I’ve been looking for an Irish Soda Bread recipe that results in similar product to the one I remember from a co-worker’s mom. I worked with that person while I was in college and that was too long ago to count the years.


  26. Marie on June 17, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I made these yesterday and they turned out really, really good. We don’t have Giant Eagle but I would bet that no one would challenge me if I told them that I bought these cookies at a bakery. I froze them and will bring some to work and some to a party next weekend.


  27. Julie on June 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    These little cookies are soooo cute! And they look amazingly good! Thanks for sharing this recipe, definitely something to try!


  28. Sarah on June 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I too was raised on giant iggle thumb prints. I’m not as tempted by them now since they switched to the glaze on top. I miss the frosting swirls that would always get smashed in the box ( I guess that is why they switched…) I thought the cookie part was better a than giant eagle’s. Not sure if giant eagle uses much butter in their baked goods these days.


  29. Karissa on June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I’m a transplant in Boston having grown up in Pittsbugh. These cookies are my absolute favorite from Giant Eagle. The frosting is the perhaps the best part of these cookies and I’m not even partial to frosting! My craving for these is now unwavering and will most definitely be getting some on my next visit to da burgh.
    For now I will try your recipe and hope for the best!! Thank you!


  30. Carolette on June 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I grew up in Pittsburgh but have lived in Atlanta for 20 years. One of the first things I do when I get home to visit is go to Giant Eagle and get these cookies! Thanks for the recipe to try!


  31. Amanda on June 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I love Giant Eagle’s thumbprint cookies! Yours look exactly like them. Putting this recipe on my holiday cookie list for this year.


  32. Javelin Warrior on June 22, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I’d take these over Giant Eagle’s cookies any day – they look positively scrumptious (and I’ve never been a big fan of GE’s cookies anyway)… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and always excited to see what you’ll create next…


  33. Manali on June 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

    These look fabulous! Waiting to try them. gonna make them soon! 😀


  34. Michelle on June 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I have a thumbprint cookie that I love from a Texas-based supermarket chain (United). I have looked all over for a recipe, and while theirs don’t have sprinkles, the cookie itself looks very similar to yours. Will definitely have to try this one! Thanks!


    • Cindy on October 3rd, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Michelle, did you try these? Do they taste like United’s? I’ve been on the hunt for a recipe like theirs!! Love them!


  35. Valery on June 29, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I would like to make these cookies soon. My one concern is about the chocolate sprinkles, won’t they melt when u bake them together with the cookies? Hoping for an honest reply.


    • Michelle on June 29th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Valery, No, they don’t completely melt. As you can see from the photo, they pretty much retain their same size/texture.


  36. Chelsea Bakes on July 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Hi Michelle, longtime reader but first-time commenter! I just wanted to thank you so much for developing this recipe and posting about it. I am a native Pittsburgher now living in Wisconsin and this post brought back SO many wonderful memories! I just baked up a batch and oh, they’re absolutely perfect! I even made the vanilla kind too :) ( Thank you again for inspiring me and making me homesick (in a good way!). Love your blog–cheers!


  37. Kristin on July 13, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Thank GOODNESS that I found your site!! I’m a PA girl living out of state trying to explain to my British husband the intricate nature of my baking roots. The stores out here do not compare and he looked at me like I was crazy when trying to explain what a chinese cookie was :)


  38. WindRN on October 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe. They turned out great! I was looking for a recipe that would emulate the cookies I buy from my local Safeway. I actually think these are better! The only thing I changed was that I used a different icing recipe. Keep up the good work!


    • Michelle on May 1st, 2014 at 2:42 am

      What icing did you use? I love the Safeway cookies!


  39. Ann on November 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I adore Giant Eagle cookies and had missed them terribly…had to google it and came up with you…no other recipe out there comes close…this one does. Being in Florida, I can’t get my Giant Eagle and these are now the next best thing. I found the cooking time to be a bit long for my next time around shorter for me. That’s the only change I’ve made (other than doing their rainbow sprinkle and vanilla glaze version too) I’ve only shared these cookies with a few people and everyone of them has asked me for the recipe. You’ve got a winner here….can’t thank you enough.


  40. Lisa on December 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I use a recipe my mom gave me and I don’t know how the cookie compares to GE’s. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of theirs, even though I pass one everyday! The recipe I use is 1c butter, 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c light corn syrup, 2 egg yolks and 2 1/2 c flour. I also wanted to add that one year I made a cake for my friends daughter who is allergic to dairy, soy and nuts. For the frosting I used the soy free and dairy free earth balance margarine and rice milk instead of the traditional butter and milk. It was a chocolate frosting and when I tasted it I swore it tasted like the frosting you buy. It was actually pretty very tasty. I will be trying this with my thumbprints this year.

    Happy Baking!


  41. Kim on February 15, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Hi Browneyedbaker! I am a Pittsburgh girl and also LOVE the Giant Eagle thumbprints, but can’t seem to recreate them. However, I made a personal discovery recently – cake flour! (used it before for cakes but not cookies) I also love the colorful “Chinese cookies” from Giant Eagle, but couldn’t find a recipe for them either. Well, recently I found a knock-off recipe for Paradise Bakery sugar cookies and they call for cake flour in lieu of all purpose. They taste damn near spot on like the Chinese cookies! Now, I’m wondering if the cake flour would make a difference in the thumbprints? It gives the cookie a crumbly, almost “flour-y” texture, yet soft, which those have. Hmmmmm. Something to think about. Also, the fudge icing on the thumbprints- can’t for the life of me recreate it! looked for a recipe everywhere, but it ends up being too “chocolate buttercream” or chocolate syrupy. Thought it would be like a ganache, but no. I’m stumped! Well, anyway, I love your recipes- keep up the good work. Happy baking!


    • Michelle on February 16th, 2013 at 10:51 am

      Hi Kim, Thanks so much for the tips, I’m going to give that a try! I’ll report back :)


    • Nicole on June 2nd, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I am on the hunt for a recipe for those Giant Eagle Chinese Rainbow cookies! Could you share your Paradise Bakery find that is similar? Once I have those conquered, I just need to recreate Eat n Park’s honey sauce and their ranch dressing! Then, I will be a happy Pittsburgher living in the south!


  42. Michelle H. on March 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I buy these all the time here at our Giant Eagle in Cleveland. I swear I taste a hint of cherry or almond in the cookie which is why I love them so much. Thanks for the recipe, I’m going to give it a try.


  43. Andrea on July 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I have always loved these cookies from the bakery. Figured they were much too difficult to make. Then I stumbled onto this recipe. Tried it immediately. LOVED them! Mine were a tad bit salty; but that’s because I used salted butter. Next time I’ll use unsalted, and can’t wait for the next time. Delish! So happy to have access to this recipe (and website)!


  44. Jen on August 7, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I LOVE the Giant Eagle thumbprints so I tried this recipe as soon as I found it. My dough came out really crumbly. It was so crumbly that I could roll the cookies into balls. I had to pack them into balls. I also could not get the sprinkles to stick. What did I do wrong? I thought I followed the recipe exactly . . .


    • Michelle on August 7th, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Hi Jen, I’m sorry you had some trouble with the recipe. Unfortunately, due to all of the variables that can go into baking a single recipe, a lot of times it’s virtually impossible for me to pinpoint what might have caused a problem since I wasn’t there with you. I hope you’ll give them another try!


      • Megan on March 1st, 2014 at 5:17 pm

        I had the exact same problem. :(. So disappointing!!


  45. Andrea on August 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    This recipe was perfect!! These cookies are my husband’s favorite and I just made them for his birthday. I made mine with rainbow sprinkles and used a glazed frosting instead, since that’s what he wanted. I can’t wait to try the chocolate frosting next time! They are even better (for obvious reasons) than Giant Eagle’s cookies =)


  46. Brittany on November 5, 2013 at 10:32 am

    The chocolate icing from Baked’s black and white cookie recipe might work well with these:)


  47. SL Coups on November 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    These cookies did not taste like the store brand. Cooking time was way too long and cookies were hard. Highly disappointed.


  48. Stefanie on December 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I moved from Pittsburgh 10 years ago and these were always my favorite from Giant Eagle. My mom still brings them to me when she visits and buys them when we come home. I’m going to try these!


  49. Becky on December 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I’m so excited to find this recipe and try these. As a former Pittsburgher I miss the thumbprint cookies at Kaufmann’a (macy’s) and these look very similar!


  50. Nancy on December 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I am making these today and had to taste test the not-so-perfect ones–delicious, even without the topping! I am curious if you decided to tweak the icing recipe or if you stayed with the one you list with the recipe? Thanks for all of the great recipes!


    • kristin on March 12th, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for sharing~ I’m getting the ingredients to make these. I found a cookie glaze that might work, it looks just like the store bought picture.
      2 oz chocolate chips
      2 T unsalted butter
      1 T corn syrup
      Melt in microwave 30 secs. Stir until smooth


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