Classic Thumbprint Cookies

Classic Thumbprint Cookies by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

I have been on a serious manhunt for my “go-to” thumbprint cookie recipe. I’ve tried nearly a half-dozen recipes over the last month and just hadn’t found the one. Thumbprints are a cookie that I remember seeing on countless cookie trays around the holidays growing up. The ones filled with strawberry jam and rolled in nuts were always my favorite. I wanted a thumbprint that was buttery soft and a perfect ratio of dough and jam filling. Most of the recipes that I tried were too much like buttery shortbread that, while delicious, were too crumbly when you bit into them. I finally swapped out half of the butter for shortening and used only brown sugar instead of white sugar, and I ended up with exactly what I had hoped for when I began my thumbprint quest. I now have a huge batch of them in my freezer, ready for Christmas cookie trays!

Classic Thumbprint Cookies by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

You can customize these cookies in a number of different ways to suit your tastes. Instead of rolling the cookies in sugar, you can dip them in some beaten egg whites, then roll them in chopped nuts or shredded coconut. The filling is totally up to you – I did a mixture of blackberry jam, strawberry jam, and apricot preserves. Surprisingly, my favorite is the apricot! You could also do chocolate, caramel, dulce de leche… there are tons of possibilities!

I’m thrilled to have come up with a favorite thumbprint recipe; it’s one that will be part of my holiday baking for years to come.

Classic Thumbprint Cookies by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

One year ago: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Two years ago: Sticky Toffee Pudding and Nutter Butter Snowmen
Three years ago: Fig and Walnut Biscotti
Four years ago: Nut Crescents

Classic Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

A traditional recipe for soft, butter-flavored thumbprints filled with jam.

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup light brown sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup your favorite jam, jelly or preserve
Granulated sugar, for rolling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

2. Cream together the butter, shortening and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes or until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the egg yolks, milk, vanilla and salt, and beat until well combined. Reduce the mixture speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until well blended.

3. Measure about 2 teaspoons dough for each cookie and roll into balls. Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl and roll the balls of dough in the sugar to coat. Using the back of a teaspoon or your thumb, make a deep rounded indentation in the top of each cookie.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven. (At this point there was a little bit of melted butter underneath the cookies, but when they finished cooking it was all absorbed, and they were perfect!) It may be necessary to create the indentation once again with a spoon. Place about 1 teaspoon jam, jelly or preserves into the indentation of each cookie. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month.

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70 Responses to “Classic Thumbprint Cookies”

  1. Olivia at ohmy Olivia on December 10, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Thumbprint cookies are probably my favourite kind of cookie! They are so adorable xo

    Reply

  2. Helen on December 10, 2013 at 1:07 am

    The cookies look so yummy! I’m really wanting to make these for the holiday season. But did I read that right that the recipe lists 1 cup of butter + 1 cut of shortening for 2 cups of flour? It just seems like high fat/liquid content for only 2 cups of flour. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Hi Helen, Thank you for catching that typo; it should be ½ cup of each. I have changed it above.

      Reply

      • Helen on December 10th, 2013 at 10:11 am

        Perfect! I’m excited to try this recipe! I have a container of dulce de leche that I’ve been dying to use.

        Reply

      • Jennifer on December 10th, 2013 at 11:18 am

        When you choose the print option, it still prints 1 cup each…

        Reply

        • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 11:22 am

          Hi Jennifer, I just clicked print and the correct ½ cup each shows up. Maybe try again and make sure the cookies are cleared on your browser.

          Reply

      • Nancy L on December 10th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        I started making these without thinking about the fat to flour ratio at all! (Kinda in a fog today anyway!)) When I got to reading about rolling the cookies in a ball, I knew something was wrong. Checked out your blog again and saw that you had corrected it! So I just started adding more of this and more of that….not sure my cookie tastes anything like it was supposed to, but my husband really likes it!! ;-) Just thought I’d share my funny day!

        Reply

      • phyllis on December 14th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        a bit upset here…, I just made these cookies and the dough is so soft, I figured there was something wrong, but I put the dough in the fridge anyway to harden up. So now I see the recipe is WRONG that I prepared, and i will have to throw it all out. UGH!!!

        Reply

        • Bridget on December 20th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

          Well you could have just added some more stuff to it like Nancy did. No need to get pissy she made a mistake. I am sure you have before in your life.

          Reply

  3. Ellen on December 10, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Ooh, I like the brown sugar swap!

    Reply

  4. Angelina on December 10, 2013 at 4:01 am

    I was literally just heading into the kitchen to bake these when I looked closer and saw that it had shorten ending in it! Kind of disappointed…but that’s okay.

    Reply

  5. Angelina on December 10, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Oh God, not an auto correction again! Shortening, not shorten ending! But I know you wouldn’t have used shortening in this recipe unless you absolutely had to :)

    Reply

  6. Hallie B. (TheWordyBaker) on December 10, 2013 at 5:39 am

    What timing! I was planning on making thumbprint cookies to bring to an event tonight, and this recipe looks perfect!

    Reply

  7. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on December 10, 2013 at 6:31 am

    I just love the classic thumbprint cookies! Yours look so cute and delicious!

    Reply

  8. Adrianne on December 10, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Looks yummy but I am also wondering about the 1 cup butter and 1 cup shortening seems like a lot!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Hi Adrianne, You are correct; it should be ½ cup of each. I have made the correction in the recipe above. So sorry for that!

      Reply

  9. Nancy on December 10, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I started the quest a couple of weeks ago for a jam thumbprint cookie recipe. I wanted one that included finely chopped nuts. I found a recipe that I thought would work but it involved the egg white step to ensure the nuts would adhere to the cookie. I was not happy with the result. The egg whites do not enhance the texture of the finished product, in my opinion. I think I will try your approach but stick with butter only, and hope that enough nuts adhere without the egg whites. I love your site–I always enjoy reading what you have to say, even if I cannot keep up with all of the baking!

    Reply

  10. Rita on December 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

    One of my favorite cookies, ever and I totally agree with the apricot filling :) I like to roll mine in chopped walnuts in the end. I assume you mean 1 C butter or 1 C shortening??

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Hi Rita, It is actually ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening; I have corrected the typo above and apologize for the inconvenience!

      Reply

  11. Steph on December 10, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Oh, yum! I’m snowed in today, so I’m making these! I may only have salted butter, though. I follow you on Pinterest, too. :)

    Reply

  12. Teresa on December 10, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Like Helen, I’m wondering about the amounts of shortening, butter & flour. Seems the “fats” are too much given the flour amount.
    Thanks.

    Reply

    • nancy K on December 10th, 2013 at 8:48 am

      I had the same question as well. When I saw the amount of fat I went right to the flour amount and was surprised. I love thumbprints but I am not sure I would want tihs much fat in a cookie.

      Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Hi Teresa, My apologies for the typo; it should be ½ cup each butter and shortening. I have made the change in the recipe above. So sorry about that!

      Reply

      • nancy K on December 10th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        Thanks, Michelle.

        Reply

  13. Rena on December 10, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I am for sure trying these!
    They look great!
    Thank you!

    Reply

  14. Beth Gould on December 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Could you incorporate lemon juice and zest to make it a lemony cookie with, say, a blackberry or raspberry jam? I really like that flavor pairing!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Hi Beth, I wouldn’t use lemon juice, as I wouldn’t incorporate more liquid into the recipe, but you could certainly add some zest!

      Reply

  15. Jamie @ Dishing Out Health on December 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

    These are some of my favorite holiday cookies as well :) I love the idea of dulce de leche.. I’ll have to give those a shot!

    Reply

  16. Cate @ Chez CateyLou on December 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’m so glad that perfect the classic thumbprint cookie – what a perfect Christmas cookie! These look delicious – you can see that the texture is just perfect!

    Reply

  17. Susan Sunde on December 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Can this recipe also be used with a Hershey’s Kiss in place of the jam?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Hi Susan, I think you could do that!

      Reply

  18. Paula on December 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    One of the best and most versatile cookie ever created. Yours look wonderful.

    Reply

  19. Dalia on December 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    HI. I would like to make these this weekend. Can you please give me a substitute for the shortening.
    Thanks,
    Dalia

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Hi Dalia, Unfortunately, I cannot. As I mentioned in the write-up of the recipe above, I wasn’t pleased with the texture of the all-butter cookies, which is why I turned to shortening for half of the fat.

      Reply

  20. Amy owen on December 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Yum. Cant wait to try. Thanks for sharing

    Reply

  21. Ashley on December 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I love how pretty your thumbprint cookies are! The apricot ones are totally my favorite, too. :)

    Reply

  22. Maxine on December 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    These look absolutely perfect! I’m definitely going for the apricot preserves in the center, but I also want to add some chocolate. Do you think a Hershey’s kiss in the center will work prior to baking? Or will it come out tasting dry? I want to add the chocolate into the baking process…Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Hi Maxine, I think the kiss will melt during baking, but if you don’t mind that, then it should work!

      Reply

  23. Alexe @ Keys to the Cucina on December 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    I love these cookies, they remind me of growing up too. Enjoy the holidays!

    Reply

  24. Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate on December 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    These would be so good filled with chocolate or Nutella too!

    Reply

  25. Arthur in the Garden! on December 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Yum!

    Reply

  26. Martha in KS on December 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Looks like several people like me don’t cook with shortening. You said you tweeked the recipe to come up with the right mix. I’m wondering if margarine would work the same – or would that add too much water? I know margarine isn’t much better than shortening, but I just can’t buy that white stuff – haven’t in over 20 years. Thanks, Michelle!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 11th, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Martha, I have only used margarine once or twice in my baking (due to really, really old recipes that I didn’t want to tweak), so I’m not sure how it would work here. Although, I don’t really see much of a difference between the shortening and margarine, from a health perspective ;-)

      Reply

  27. joan on December 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    well i just threw the whole batch down the disposal. turned out flat as a pancake. next time i will check ‘comments’ before i attempt a recipe. always nice to get ingredients correct. thanks

    Reply

  28. joan on December 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    if you want a good thumbprint cookie try Ina Garten’s recipe. it’s great!

    Reply

  29. Janelle on December 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I tried so many recipes in an effort to replicate my grandma’s buttery apricot thumbprint cookies and I could never get it right. I’m excited to try this one!

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen fun and life adventures with us. Your baking is incredible! I feel so fortunate to be able to read and try your recipes. Thank you so much!

    Reply

  30. Steph in Lex on December 10, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    This may be blasphemy, but I just can’t do the jam/jelly thing. It extends to any and all baked stuff–hate jelly donuts, too. But thumbprint cookies are just so delicious. I can’t wait to try this recipe with buttercream in place of the jelly! :)

    Reply

  31. Denise on December 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for posting this! I have memories of my mom making thumbprint cookies when I was growing up. She made them with red currant jelly and rolled them in finely chopped nuts. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find her recipe. I have tried several others, but they just weren’t the right ones. I can’t wait to try yours. They look delicious!

    Reply

  32. Navar on December 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

    We make these in my family too and they were always one of my favorites. We call them Betty’s Butter cookies because we got the recipe from our next door neighbor Betty.

    Reply

  33. Judy on December 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Instead of a spoon to make the indentation, try using another tool you may have in your drawer such as the pestle (from a mortar & pestle set). Anything with a rounded end would work.

    Reply

    • laura on April 19th, 2014 at 8:32 am

      I used the small side of my tart tamper.

      Reply

  34. Deb on December 12, 2013 at 1:12 am

    These look amazing! I am excited to get baking! So how did you freeze these? Did you make them completely them freeze or did you just freeze the dough?
    Thanks bunches! Love your blog!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 12th, 2013 at 10:20 am

      Hi Deb, I baked them, cooled them, and then froze them in a tupperware-style container with wax paper between the layers.

      Reply

  35. Fen on December 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

    HI, so excited to try this recipe. I run out of shortening, so can I used whole unsalted butter? Thanks

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 12th, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Hi Fen, As I mentioned in the write up, I wasn’t really thrilled with all-butter versions of this cookie, but if you have no other options, you can do it. Just know that they may come out more of a shortbread than soft cookie.

      Reply

  36. Laura Dembowski on December 15, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a thumbprint cookie, but now I can’t wait to try them! Thanks for your hard work perfecting the recipe!

    Reply

  37. karen wilson on December 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Just made these and they are wonderful!! My grandmother use to make these when I was growing up, and could not find her recipe, these are actually better. I did not have apricot jelly, so used blackberry and also pineapple…yummy

    Reply

  38. Charissa C on December 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I was trolling the internet, looking for something to do with caramel on the family baking day, when i came across this – my favorite baking website, the person who pretty much taught me how to make caramel, adding a recipe ON MY BIRTHDAY?!?!?! Obviously a sign! I will be making these cookies shortly. Thank you! – Another Brown Eyed Baker

    Reply

  39. Stevi on December 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Baked a batch of these about 2 hours ago. This is the best thumbprint recipe-the cookie is so light and buttery. I used apricot-pineapple jam and raspberry-cranberry jam-both from Smuckers.

    Reply

  40. Jen Codispot on December 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Long time follower, first time commenter.;-) I really like the idea of a half-butter half-shortening thumbprint cookie as I have the same issues as you do with regular thumbprint cookies. Do you think I could substitute butter-flavored shortening for regular shortening? For some reason, I have a bunch of it and no regular. I would imagine the texture would be the same but I worry about the flavor. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 17th, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Hi Jen, I think the butter-flavored shortening would work okay. Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Jen on December 20th, 2013 at 11:33 am

        Thanks! It did work just great. I really love the texture of the cookies!

        Reply

  41. Kelly P. on December 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I baked 2 batches of these yesterday with wild cherry jam. Yum! They are wonderful! This is a keeper. Thank you for the recipe.

    Reply

  42. Aleesha Banks on December 20, 2013 at 12:41 am

    These look delicious, and I love how flavorsome they are! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  43. Amy on February 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    It just so happens I’m out of butter D: could I use all shortening? Or oil or applesauce in place of the butter?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 6th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Hi Amy, You could use all shortening, it will just make the cookies a tad bit softer/chewier (which I personally love). I would not do oil or applesauce, though.

      Reply

      • Amy on February 7th, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        So I ended up using 1/2 c of coconut oil and 5T of applesauce. The cookies were moist and soft and delicious!

        Reply

  44. laura on April 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I have made these cookies three times in the past month using all butter once and twice using half butter and half butter flavored Crisco. Each time the cookies came out delicious. I’m making them for Easter and to give as treats for for some elderly shut ins. I’ve made them with strawberry, blackberry, black cherry, and apricot filling. The children all prefer the strawberry but will “force” themselves to eat the others. I’m thinking about melting some whipped chocolate frosting to make a sort of ganash for the filling. I have used hershey’s kisses in my peanut butter cookies inserting the chocolate before baking and those were great. The kisses just had a cote little droop on it when finished. I think the kisses would be a little too hard for the cookie and they might crumble when bitten. That’s why i’m trying the melted fudge frosting. I just hope it’s not too sweet. Being a shut in myself I cant run on doew to the store for chocolate so i’ve got to use what I’ve got.

    Reply

    • laura on April 19th, 2014 at 8:27 am

      *cute not cote lol

      Reply

  45. Jana on December 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I love this recipe!!! I did not use the shortening and uses cold pressed coconut oil instead. They turned out light and crisp!!!!

    Reply

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