These classic Thumbprint Cookies combine soft, buttery shortbread cookies with your favorite fillings for the perfect Christmas treat!

The dough is made with just 5 simple ingredients, and then rolled into individual balls. Use your thumb to make an imprint before filling with your favorite jam, chocolate or other delicious fillings!

When it comes to holiday baking, Gingerbread Cookies, Jammie Dodgers and these melt-in-your-mouth thumbprint sugar cookies are hands-down my favorites! They’re so festive and easy to make ahead of time.  Continue reading as I’ll share step-by-step pictures and a video to learn how to make them perfectly.

How to make the best thumbprint cookie recipe

The thumbprint cookie dough is made with only 5 simple ingredients: butter, sugar, all-purpose flour, cornstarch and vanilla extract. To get that perfect sweet, buttery flavor, use high-quality unsalted butter and soften it before mixing. This ensures a smooth dough that’s less likely to crack.

I also used three tablespoons of cornstarch, which give the cookies extra lift and leave them extra soft. Adding cornstarch is a great trick for making super soft cookies! This recipe doesn’t use eggs, as I find the texture is smoother and the cookies hold their shapes better during cooking without eggs.

After mixing all 5 ingredients and forming a dough, roll it into small balls. I made an impression with my thumb right after making each ball, before the dough starts to stiffen. Then chill the indented balls. For jam thumbprint cookies, add the filling before baking. For chocolate thumbprint cookies, add it afterward.

Thumbprint Cookies combine soft, buttery shortbread cookies with your favorite fillings for the perfect Christmas treat! The dough is made with just 5 simple ingredients, and then rolled into individual balls. Use your thumb to make an imprint before filling with your favorite jam, chocolate or other delicious fillings!

 

How do you prevent them from cracking?

To avoid cracking, it’s important to roll the cookie dough balls until the surface is smooth. You need to have nice balls to start without any cracks. The warmth from your hands will help to get that perfectly smooth texture!

Once a cookie dough ball is formed, make an imprint as soon as possible! Don’t make all balls first and then indent all at once, as the dough stiffens while resting, forming a crust that causes cracks when you make a well in the middle. If you still see small cracks, however, you can press the dough to seal.

Close-up of pressing the tip of the thumb about a 1/2 inch into the middle of a cookie dough ball to make an imprint.

How to prevent them from spreading?

Cookies tend to spread out during baking as fats in the dough melt. Without enough flour to hold the melted fat, the cookies will spread too much.

To make sure your cookies hold the shape, you need to use the right ingredient ratios and keep the dough cool before baking. So the first step is to measure your ingredients correctly. It’s best to use a kitchen scale, but if you don’t have one, fill your measuring cup and use a knife to level it off.

Next, don’t over-mix your ingredients. Stop mixing when everything is combined. It’s also a good idea to chill the dough before baking as the colder the dough, the less the cookies will over-spread. Lastly, when you’re baking in batches, never add cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet directly!

Closeup of spooning jam into an indented cookie dough ball.

Filling options

Jam Filling: Old fashioned thumbprint cookies use jam such as raspberry, apricot, strawberry and cherry jam. If the jam is too thick, you can take a few tablespoons out and microwave for 10 seconds before use. It’s best to add it to the cookie dough balls BEFORE baking.

Chocolate Filling: If using a chocolate filling, you bake the cookies first, and then add the melted chocolate to the well AFTER baking. I like to use both melted white and dark chocolate and decorated with festive sprinkles and candies to make different Christmas thumbprint cookies.

Mixture of jam thumbprint cookies and Christmas chocolate thumbprint cookies on a dark plate.

How long will thumbprint cookies last?

Store these homemade thumbprint cookies in an airtight container, and they can last for up to 5 days at room temperature or in the fridge. They also freeze well and last for up to 3 months when stored in a sealed freezer-safe bag.

More Christmas Cookies:

View All Cookie Recipe

These classic Thumbprint Cookies are the combination of soft and buttery shortbread cookies and your favorite fillings. It’s the perfect Christmas treat!
Print Save Recipe
4.58 from 7 votes

Easy Thumbprint Cookies 5 Ways (+ Video)

These classic Thumbprint Cookies combine soft, buttery shortbread cookies with your favorite fillings for the perfect Christmas treat! The dough is made with just 5 simple ingredients, and then rolled into individual balls. Use your thumb to make an imprint before filling with your favorite jam, chocolate or other delicious fillings!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Chilling Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 30 servings

Ingredients

Thumbprint Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Jam Filling

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam, or other flavors such as apricot, strawberry and cherry jam

Chocolate Filling with Holiday Sprinkles

Dark Chocolate Filling with Bear Paw Decor

White Chocolate Filling with Snowman Decor

  • 3 oz white chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon colored sprinkles

Dark Chocolate Filling with Reindeer Decor

Instructions

Make Thumbprint Cookie Dough

  • Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. (You can also use a large mixing bowl and electric hand mixer.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • To the stand mixer bowl, add softened butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, creamy and well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Then add flour and cornstarch, mixing on low speed until completely combined, about 2 minutes. (If you use a hand mixer, now you can mix with a wooden spoon.)
  • The dough will now look dry and crumbly. Scape down the sides again and use your hands to form the dough into one piece.
  • Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll it between the palms of your hands to shape it into a 1 ¼ inch (3cm) ball. Make sure the ball is smooth with no cracks.
  • Press the tip of your thumb about a 1/2 inch into the middle of the ball to make an imprint. (You can also use the back of a ¼ teaspoon instead of your thumb). Repeat until you use up all of the dough.
  • Place the indented balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch in between the balls.
  • Transfer the balls to the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Make Jam Thumbprint Cookies

  • About 10 minutes before the end of chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Take the jam out of the bottle and stir. If it’s too thick, you can place it in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 10 seconds before using them.
  • Remove the chilled cookie dough balls from the fridge, and spoon jam into each indented ball. Fill the indent full, but not over-flowing.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, removing from the oven before they start to brown.
  • Using a rigid spatula, remove the cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Make Chocolate Jam Thumbprint Cookies

  • About 10 minutes before the end of chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Bake the unfilled cookie balls for 10-12 minutes.
  • During baking, place your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at 50% power in 30-second intervals, stirring each time until smooth. (It usually takes 2-3 minutes depending on the amount of chocolate and the power on your microwave.)
  • Remove the cookies from the oven before they start to brown. Transfer to cooling racks using a rigid spatula and allow to cool completely.
  • Spoon the melted chocolate into each well, decorating with sprinkles, candies or pretzel pieces according to post photos or your own preference.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • *If you don't have cornstarch, you can use 2 cups + 3 tablespoons of cake & pastry flour instead of the all-purpose flour and cornstarch mix.
  • These cookies will stay fresh for up to 5 days in a tightly sealed container.
  • Other variations: You can add lemon zest or swap out vanilla for an almond extract for different flavors of cookie dough.
Nutrition Facts
Easy Thumbprint Cookies 5 Ways (+ Video)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 166 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 17mg6%
Sodium 41mg2%
Potassium 48mg1%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 190IU4%
Vitamin C 0.2mg0%
Calcium 17mg2%
Iron 0.7mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Please read our nutrition disclaimer.

Author: TipBuzz
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: European
Keyword: Thumbprint Cookies
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment below! Don't forget to follow us on YouTube and Instagram!

Thumbprint Cookies combine soft, buttery shortbread cookies with your favorite fillings for the perfect Christmas treat! The dough is made with just 5 simple ingredients, and then rolled into individual balls. Use your thumb to make an imprint before filling with your favorite jam, chocolate or other delicious fillings!