Classic Thumbprint Cookies – A Holiday Favorite!

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

A buttery cookie is rolled in nuts, 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.

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.

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.

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.

putting jam filling in Classic Thumbprint Cookies with a jar on a baking sheet with parchment paper

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.
  3. Froth egg white. Roll each ball first in beaten egg white, then chopped nuts.
  4. Gently press your thumb into each cookie and seal any cracks. Place the cookies in the freezer, and then bake (per recipe instructions below.)
  5. Fill each indent with jam, etc. Allow to rest before serving.

Tips for Perfection

  • Chop nuts finely, they will stick to the cookie better.
  • 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.

Thumbprint cookies on a cooling rack

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! 

Thumbprint cookies on a cooling rack

Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery soft cookies rolled in nuts and filled with jam are the perfect addition to any cookie tray!
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 20 cookies
Calories 118

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 and using the end of a spoon or your thumb, 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, they will stick to the cookie better.
  • 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.
  • Make ahead, cool completely and freeze up to 3 months.

Nutrition

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
filling Classic Thumbprint Cookies with jam and a title
close up of Classic Thumbprint Cookies with a title
Classic Thumbprint Cookies with jam and writing
filling a cookie with jam to make Classic Thumbprint Cookies with a title

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