Thumbprint Cookies

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Buttery shortbread cookies filled with a fruity puddle of jam or jelly.

Thumbprint cookies on a surface and a bite taken out of one.

Hi. Me again. The crazy cookie lady. And this time, I’ve got a cookie that involves fruit, so… Consider it healthy.

Ok. It’s not healthy at all, but it’s EASY. So less stressful on you which in turn can be good for your health?

Uhh… I think I need a cookie break.

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Ohhh, who am I kidding?? Let’s get to recipe #8 in my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!

This cookie is iconic around Christmas time. A soft and buttery shortbread cookie becomes the vehicle for a puddle of jam or jelly. I mean… How delightful is that?

Buttery and slightly salty + tart and fruity?? I’d like to give the inventor of thumbprint cookies a sticky jam high five.

Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. Have you made thumbprint cookies before? I hadn’t, so this was my first attempt. And as some first attempts go… I failed, HARD, twice before coming across the perfect combination of ingredients.

Thumbprint cookies on a plate.

Let’s have a little shortbread history lesson to earn our cookies.


Shortbread is a traditional Scottish cookie typically made up of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. With this ratio in mind, I went for what I figured would be gold.

And it was not.

I even chilled my dough overnight to ensure the butter was nice and hard. But they spread all over the place. See my hideous IG post here.

So, I tried again. I rolled my warm dough and then chilled it, hoping that the warmth of my hands wouldn’t even touch the dough after it was chilled. Nope. Same spready deal.

So I consulted my bloggy/baking buddy Sally and she said to up my flour just a touch. And perfection!

Look how pretty!

Thumbprint cookies on a plate.

Why do I tell you this?


I tell you this because I stress in my recipe that you must measure your flour properly, and this is the perfect example of why. Even the slightest bit off on your measurements, and you can totally have a complete recipe fail.

But yes, the cookies did taste wonderful. They just looked horrendous. Ugh.

You’ll also notice that these shortbread cookies contain no leavener and no eggs. Just butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt. Just like my snowball cookies, which are also a shortbread cookie.

The cookie dough will puff and spread in the oven, which is why chilling in the fridge is so important.

Once you have your dough all together, you’re going to roll it into balls.

Thumbprint cookie dough on a plate.

Then, you’ll print them with your thumb* (hence, thumbprints, duhhh) and chill them for at least 2 hours. You can chill them for longer than this, but if you’re going to chill for longer than just a few hours, I would cover them with plastic wrap.

If you’d like to save room in the fridge and not put a big baking sheet in there, put your rolled and printed cookie dough balls on a plate. It will take up much less room, and you can just transfer the dough balls right before filling.

*your cookies will crack when you print them. This is completely fine. Smooth the cracks with the warmth of your fingers, if desired.

Thumbprint cookie dough with imprints in them on a baking sheet.

Once your dough balls are completely chilled, fill them with your favorite jam or jelly. I prefer seedless all fruit spreads. Any flavor!

I used strawberry and raspberry, but in some of my failed batches, I used grape and also apricot. YUM! Whatever your preference.

Thumbprint cookies with jam in them on a baking sheet ready to bake.

As I said, the cookies will spread. If you’re doubling the recipe, do not put more than 12 cookies on a baking sheet at one time.

Once the cookies are completely cool, you can leave them plain or dust them with powdered sugar. I did both! Bump up that cuteness and make it look like snow with the added powdered sugar.

These cookies have become one of my favorite. I love that the jam/jelly you can fill the cookies with can be literally any flavor you want.

And if you’re like us and you have 4 jars of jams in your fridge at any given time, you can have a variety of cookies to taste test share with your friends!

Aerial photo of thumbprint cookies on a plate.

Plus, added variety and colors for your cookie trays!

Soft, buttery shortbread cookies with sweet fruity jam puddled all up in the center. A Christmas classic but a cookie that can fill up your cookie jar any time of the year.

These would be perfect to fill with homemade jams and jellies, and even marmalade (oh man– orange marmalade thumbprints?! Someone make those for me!).

Aerial photo of a stack of thumbprint cookies.

The cookie possibilities are endless! What flavor will you make yours?

Thumbprint Cookies: Buttery shortbread cookies filled with a fruity puddle of jam or jelly.
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Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery shortbread cookies filled with a fruity puddle of jam or jelly.
Prep Time2 hours 10 minutes
Bake Time14 minutes
Total Time2 hours 24 minutes
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 1 dozen cookies


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour be sure to measure properly
  • 1/4 cup jam in the flavor of your choosing preferably seedless
  • powdered sugar for dusting if desired


  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Make room in the refrigerator to store the baking sheet for a few hours.
  • In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Decrease speed to medium and beat in the vanilla extract and salt. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour into the wet ingredients and mix until soft dough is formed. Dough will be slightly crumbly. This is ok. Press the dough and all of the crumbs into a ball in the bowl.
  • Using a cookie scoop (I use this #50 cookie scoop for all of my standard size cookies), roll the dough into 1" balls with your hands. Place the dough balls far enough apart that they can spread. I baked mine in 4 rows of 3. Once you have filled a baking sheet, use your thumb to make an indentation in each dough ball. Dough balls will likely crack, and this is totally fine. You may smooth the cracks with your fingers if you wish. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. If chilling longer than a few hours, cover with plastic wrap.
  • When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator. Fill each thumbprint with jam (approximately 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon).
  • Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the edges. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving. Cookies stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

Nutrition Disclosure

All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.

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  1. Thumbprint PERFECTION, girlfriend! I’m so impressed with your follow-through — you really NAILED IT! These are soooo gorgeous! My dad is the thumbprint cookie monster in our house and he demands icing as the filling (crazy man!) but I am ALLLLL about a fruit filled version. HIGH FIVES.

    1. Thanks, Leah! I just couldn’t let it go not working. I knew I was close! Because they tasted wonderful! Icing as a filling?! Oh my gosh, my teeth hurt just thinking about it!!

  2. I love thumbprint cookies! They remind me so much of baking with my Dad when I was a little girl! While I will always be a raspberry jam girl, apricot preserves would be divine in these gorgeous gems!