Thumbprint Cookies

Have leftover egg whites? Make some meringue cookies to go with your thumbprints!

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Chilling time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 3/4 cup jam, any kind


1 Make the cookie dough: Beat the butter and sugar on high speed with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes.

Separate the eggs. Add the yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture. Set aside the egg whites in a separate shallow bowl.

Add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined.

2 Chill the dough: Place the dough in the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.

3 Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4 Roll the cookies: Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place the balls on the parchment-lined cookie sheets spaced a few inches apart.

If using nuts, whisk the reserved egg whites until frothy. Dip the dough balls into the egg whites and then roll them into the nuts until covered. Arrange them on the baking sheets a few inches apart.

5 Add the jam: Press down on each ball of dough with your thumb to make a small well in the center of the cookie. Do not press too hard or the cookie will fall apart. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

6 Bake and cool: Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly firm. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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  • Irma elam

    How many does a batch make?

  • Donna

    They came out just Perfect!


  • Kara

    Follow the recipe exactly. Don’t flatten them too much. These are my go-too every year and they are perfectly delicious. Perhaps the people who had issues skipped the chill step? Not sure… but don’t let negative reviews dissuade you. These are great and you will get rave reviews!


  • Margaret

    A ball of butter melting in an oven. Thats what you’ll get if you try to make these! Very disappointed.


    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Margaret! I’m so sorry that these cookies didn’t work for you! I’m a little stumped why your cookies flattened so much. My best guess is that your butter might have been a little warm (at room temperature, it should be soft enough for you to cut through with a little resistance, but not so soft that it’s become the consistency of hand lotion), or that your oven temperature was a little high. I’ll keep an eye on the comments and see if others encounter your same problem. Thanks!

  • Donna

    Disappointed:( I’ll go back to my Betty Crocker recipe for these cookies. They definitely need brown sugar. They spread flat which made it impossible to fill. The taste is just so-so.

  • Kat

    Did not hold their shape. Spread out flat

    • Steph

      The dough really needs to be chilled well before baking so they don’t spread out

  • C Shug

    I needed to make something to use up extra lemon curd I had from a pie, so I threw these together last minute and they turned out to be the favorite dish of the evening! I also added some fine blueberry preserves in the middle, and the tartness really complemented the mellow taste of the shortbread.


  • Marie

    Awesome old-fashioned cookies – these don’t last long.:)


  • Mary

    The longer you keep them in a sealed container the better they taste! I’ve been making these for 25 years and always make them at least 10 days before the holiday, everyone ask what my secret is ;) Merry Christmas :)

  • Patricia Zito

    Patricia Zito. Wonderful recipe. Needed to bake for about 17 mins. Thanks for sharing.

  • Janey

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve made these before for my husband and he just loves them. I was planning on doing this for a Christmas cookie exchange, but one of the girls is gluten free. Any suggestions as to what I can use to replace the flour?

    • Stephanie

      I’m planning on making a GF version with bobs redmill 1to1 gluten free baking flour. I’m hoping it works!

  • Aly

    one of the best cookie recipes ever! i always come back to this one, been using it for a few years now and they always turn out great.

  • Mary LaConte

    I rolled the balls slightly larger, flattened them slightly with the palm of my hand, then made the indentation. They baked more thoroughly this way, and did not crack as much. I used “Simply Fruit” spread, and this worked very well. I sprinkled confectioner’s sugar on them and this made them quite festive looking! These cookies are delicious.

  • suze

    Mine turned out dry and had no flavor. Not a good recipe.

  • Laurie

    We always have made these cookies and used a dollop of colored frosting and xmas sprinkles for the centers..they look lovely…

  • Ashley

    My mom and I made these every year around the holidays when I was a kid. We always made some with a Hershey’s kiss with almonds! Delicious!

  • Sara

    Made these yesterday and it tasted heavenly!!!! As a child, I was always awestruck by the jam cookies (thats what we called them!) at the local bakery and now I can make them too!!!

    Wanted to know, are these supposed to be really crumbly? My cookies tasted awesome but turned out to be very delicate. The dough was a little too soft even after refrigerating for 45 min. Did i do something wrong or is it the way its supposed to be? And what do I do, if I want slightly firmer cookies? Up the flour a bit???

    Anyways, thanks for this lovely recipe!

  • Ingrid

    Made these cookies today with margarine (because that’s what I had on hand, omit the salt), homemade pineapple filling and almonds for the outside. They were absolutely delicious. I baked them for 14 minutes and they are just perfectly crumbly and melt in your mouth with the first bite. Thank you Garrett and Elise for yet another perfect cookie recipe; those brandied cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies are now a staple in my house and even made it to the Dominican Republic to my family this past Christmas.


  • A

    Oohh, I made these the day before yesterday for my family, and they loved them. My mom ate 5, and she is not a dessert person. They took a long time, but so worth the effort. I baked mine for much longer than 15 mins, at 25 mins they were good. Maybe something wrong with the oven? I don’t know. Beautiful cookies, try it tonight!

  • Evelyn

    I made these cookies exactly according to the recipe, both with and without pecans. The dough was a bit dry and crumbly but the resulting cookies were lovely – buttery, delicate and pretty enough to give away as gifts. I will definitely make these again.

  • Danielle A. Zito

    Can you freeze these? If so, what is the best way to go about doing so? Thank-you.

    Freeze the dough, not the cookie. ~Garrett

  • v

    I baked the thumbprint cookies and brought them to my cousin Maria’s house for a birthday party, they were a success. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

  • Lindylou

    I’ve made similar cookies and put a “Rolo” on top halfway thru the baking…mmmm melted caramel and chocolate.

  • Maggie

    Just made these and they are FABULOUS! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Britt

    We just made these with rave reviews!
    We’ve already made the nut version filled with melted chocolate chips for ages, calling them thimble cookies. Today, we switched to jam filled ones with your inspiration. We made them tiny and stuck into clusters of three with grape, strawberry and apricot jam. They looked like beautiful clusters of jewels. These have been dubbed “Jeweled Thumbprints” and will forever more have a place alongside the thimble cookies at Christmas!

  • Sara

    Dumb question: is it supposed to be unsalted butter? Is it a matter of personal taste?

    Not dumb at all. It’s a matter of having control of the salt content in the recipe. I suggest you always use unsalted when baking. ~Garrett

  • xta

    These are so buttery and delicious.
    I made some with chopped pecans and some without nuts. I found it easier to use my thumb to make the indentation, a spoon tended to crumble the dough. I used strawberry jam, orange marmalade and also melted chocolate. I melted the chocolate and spooned it into the cooked cookie. Personally I thought the orange marmalade were the most delicious. They are so pretty and really delicious. Thanks, Garrett!

  • mark

    I substitute 1 cup of almond flour for white flour.

  • Linda

    I remember a bakery that sold these with chocolate or icing in addition to jam.

    What kind of chocolate would work best?

    Maybe a Hershey’s kiss? Never use anything but jam for these myself. ~Garrett

  • Michele

    I made these a few weeks ago and they were delicious. Especially the dough, which my husband suggests we make and not bake!

  • Cindy

    Can I use whole wheat flour in this recipe? I have white whole wheat flour that I use for gravy, but would like to try using it when I bake as well.

    Shouldn’t be a problem. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! ~Garrett

  • jayne crayton

    Would these work with lemon curd? Would you fill it when they first go in the oven? Or, at the seven minute mark as suggested by Ron? Thanks.

    Never used lemon curd, so not sure. ~Garrett

  • Sherihan

    Loved them!!! Made them for a family gathering and they all liked it very much :D half of them plain and the other half with nuts and those were more delicious (I used toasted peanuts and almonds).

    Although I had a hard time with the dough because it wasn’t holding together easly and I thought they would fall apart anytime. They weren’t holding themselvs together like the ones in the picture, there was few cracks in each one so I had to add some oil to the daugh to pull it together more plus I added a little bit of orange peel to the butter mixture which gave the cookies a delicious aroma and taste which everyone noticed and loved, also I used light raspberry jam, it was perfect, thanks for sharing these yummy cookies.

  • Ron

    I have been making thumbprint cookies since I was a boy and still make them regularly as they are a favorite for nearly all my friends. My recipe is very similar in ingredients except I use brown sugar and egg yolks instead of whole eggs for more of a shortbread feel.

    The method change you might like that works well for me. Instead of baking the 12 – 15 minutes try baking for 7 minutes, remove from oven and then make the thumbprint with the back of a tablespoon, return to oven for the remainder of time, remove from oven and when cool for 15 minutes and add the jam. This method will yield a buttery cookie and a really fresh jam. I have even put the jam in at the 7 minute mark with good results. I am usually using a homemade jam and like to frame the fruit with the cookie.

  • Simone

    My daughter and German exchange student (I call her my German daughter) made these today. They were fantastic! We had raspberry, apricot and strawberry. Great spring break food for a rainy day.

  • Susan

    Thanks for the recipe. I tried it yesterday with orange and apricot preserves. They came out great! I shared some with my brother for he and my mom to try and they are loving them. I am adding this recipe to my Christmas cookie list.

  • JaninaM

    I use a plastic syringe to fill thumbprints. Much faster (especially as my friend love micro-sized cookies). I fill the cookies after baking and heat the jam up a bit to make it more fluid.

    Suzanne, chocolate works fine. Just fill the cookies after baking when they are cooled down (the syringe technique works well for chocolate, too (-; ) You can use molten Nutella as well.

  • Kiran

    The nuts are a great idea, I used dessicated coconut when I made them some time back.

  • Kia

    These cookies look and sound yummy. I’ve got a big sweet tooth and so does my daughter. I’m definetly going to try this recipe. I’ve seen thumbprint cookies before, I just never knew the name of them. Now I know and can’t wait to make and especially try them for the first time.

    I do have one question though. Can you use a little melted chocolate in the middle except jam? Has that ever been tried? If so, when should I add the chocolate? Before or after the baking? Thank You!!

    Never tried chocolate, if it works out for you, let us know! ~Garrett

  • Lisa

    I make these lovely little cookies every Christmas. When my sons were little, they always looked forward to helping me make them so they could squish the dough! :) My boys are grown men now, but it isn’t Christmas without them getting in the kitchen with me to squish the dough!! :) Thanks for the recipe and the smiles!

  • Shruti

    If you’re not using nuts, do you only use the yolks?

    Yep. Or save the white for meringues or pavlova! ~Garrett