Classic Thumbprint Cookies
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!
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.
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
- ½ cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (102.5 g) vegetable shortening
- ½ cup (110 g) light brown sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon (0.25 teaspoon) salt
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (340 g) your favorite jam, jelly or preserve
- Granulated sugar, for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
I’ve tried these multiple times (I keep coming back because BEB is my go-to recipe site so I keep forgetting and thinking they’ll work) and every single time I’m left with an unworkable greasy mess on my baking sheets. The dough is already too soft to roll, so I chill it, and even still the butter all just oozes out, the cookies flatten, and never cook. Almost all other recipes I’ve found call for only one egg yolk and a quarter cup more flour. I dont know how so many people have had such success with this recipe, but I’m jealous
Great cookie! Great flavor, fun to make. I used raspberry preserves. This recipe is perfect!
Too bad, so sad. Made 2 batches as friends requested these. I forgot the milk in batch one, and the dough cracked when trying to make indentations, so they weren’t very pretty, and definitely NOT a soft cookie, but very yummy classic butter cookie result. I remembered the milk in batch 2 and the dough was beautifully soft and made for a much prettier cookie, however, the texture was terrible…they crumbled into sand…just…awful and unserveable. Very disappointed.
I just made these from my own blackberry plants but having hard time don’t know how to share facebook with pics I clicked your facebook but could not do pic
I usually don’t follow a recipe exactly, but these are perfect as described. I used blackberry jam, and thy were amazing.
How do you recommend freezing them? (ie wax paper in between, etc).
Should they be thawed covered in the same container or placed frozen on the cookie tray to thaw?
I’ve been using your recipe for thumbprint cookies for several years now. Definitely the best!
Oh Wow!! Love this…looking so amazing.. Thanks for sharing.
I really enjoy the post…… Thanks for sharing…Awesome.
Really Perfect Look..
Wow. Very interesting…
I’ve made these cookies twice, and both times the cookies have been really brittle and fall apart easily. Would it be better to use cold butter?
Hi Lily, I think cold flour would make them even more flaky (think pie crust).
We have made this recipe the last couple of years and we love them. This year we tried 2 new jams, a Rasberry Merlot Balsamic jam and a Blueberry Chardonnay Balsamic jam from the Olive Cart store in St. Joesph, MI. You can buy the jams from their website. These jams made this recipe out of this world!
Hi! I want to know if you freezed the cookies already baked or just the dough. Thank you!
Hi Laura, I’ve done both, it works either way!
I just baked these cookies. Followed the recipe exactly to the final detail, except I added lemon zest instead of vanilla extract. IT IS WONDERFUL. Cookies are delicious. Not too buttery, soft and at the same time with some crunchiness. Really good.
Thank you for this delicious recipe. Well done.
Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?
Hi Nina, I wouldn’t recommend that, as the cookies may end up quite crumbly.
Hello! I have been following your website for a while and have tried many recipes! Like the funfetti cupcakes, banana muffins, the pumpkin roll cake, even the red velvet roll (but for some reason that one cracked and fell apart like crazy and I don’t know why :( ).
I tried these cookies because it looks like the flavor combinations are endless! I do have a question because mine turned out differently even though I used fairly close to the exact ingredients, even the shortening. I used crisco’s vegetable shortening specifically. I also used golden brown sugar (I suppose that is light brown sugar), and my milk was 2% fat milk. I did indeed wait for my butter to be room temperature and smooth while being beaten and mixed.
So what happened was, my cookie dough seemed a bit.. dry? The rolled balls felt greasy enough in my hands, but when it came to making the indentations in the center, as I pressed them down, the cookies CRACKED :( !!! I mean, I guess they look like flowers with petals being the cracked portions, but they lost the smooth circular aesthetic that is in the photos of your cookies. Any idea what may have been the problem? I am still a novice at baking so willing to take any advice! I will say the cookies still tasted great anyways, they just um… didn’t look like I expected!
Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks for the recipe. I’ve made them four times, just all butter and I like the texture.
I love this recipe!!! I did not use the shortening and uses cold pressed coconut oil instead. They turned out light and crisp!!!!
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.
*cute not cote lol
It just so happens I’m out of butter D: could I use all shortening? Or oil or applesauce in place of the butter?
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.
So I ended up using 1/2 c of coconut oil and 5T of applesauce. The cookies were moist and soft and delicious!
These look delicious, and I love how flavorsome they are! Thanks for sharing!
I baked 2 batches of these yesterday with wild cherry jam. Yum! They are wonderful! This is a keeper. Thank you for the recipe.
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.
Hi Jen, I think the butter-flavored shortening would work okay. Enjoy!
Thanks! It did work just great. I really love the texture of the cookies!
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.
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
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
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!
HI, so excited to try this recipe. I run out of shortening, so can I used whole unsalted butter? Thanks
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.
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!
Hi Deb, I baked them, cooled them, and then froze them in a tupperware-style container with wax paper between the layers.
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.
I used the small side of my tart tamper.
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.
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!
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! :)
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!
if you want a good thumbprint cookie try Ina Garten’s recipe. it’s great!
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
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!
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 ;-)
These would be so good filled with chocolate or Nutella too!
I love these cookies, they remind me of growing up too. Enjoy the holidays!
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.
Hi Maxine, I think the kiss will melt during baking, but if you don’t mind that, then it should work!
I love how pretty your thumbprint cookies are! The apricot ones are totally my favorite, too. :)
Yum. Cant wait to try. Thanks for sharing
HI. I would like to make these this weekend. Can you please give me a substitute for the shortening.
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.
One of the best and most versatile cookie ever created. Yours look wonderful.
Can this recipe also be used with a Hershey’s Kiss in place of the jam?
Hi Susan, I think you could do that!
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!
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!
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!
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!
I am for sure trying these!
They look great!
Like Helen, I’m wondering about the amounts of shortening, butter & flour. Seems the “fats” are too much given the flour amount.
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.
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!
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. :)
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??
Hi Rita, It is actually ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening; I have corrected the typo above and apologize for the inconvenience!
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!
Looks yummy but I am also wondering about the 1 cup butter and 1 cup shortening seems like a lot!
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!
I just love the classic thumbprint cookies! Yours look so cute and delicious!
What timing! I was planning on making thumbprint cookies to bring to an event tonight, and this recipe looks perfect!
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 :)
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.
Ooh, I like the brown sugar swap!
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.
Hi Helen, Thank you for catching that typo; it should be ½ cup of each. I have changed it above.
Perfect! I’m excited to try this recipe! I have a container of dulce de leche that I’ve been dying to use.
When you choose the print option, it still prints 1 cup each…
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.
Ha ha at “cookies” ….
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!
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!!!
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.
Thumbprint cookies are probably my favourite kind of cookie! They are so adorable xo