Thumbprint cookies are traditionally a cookie with a dollop of jam or preserves nested in the center. Often served around winter holidays, they look like little jewels on a cookie tray. But who needs a holiday to enjoy the foods you love? We eat them all year long because they are just so good!
In my video recipe, I am using a combination of red currant jelly and chopped walnuts. It’s my husband’s favorite flavor because red currant berries are not as sweet as some other fruit. His grandmother made these thumbprint cookies every year around Christmas. He’s carried his love for them over the years and is now the only cookie he ever asks for.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Thumbprint cookies are versatile and come in a wide variety of flavors and combinations. Don’t be afraid to substitute the finely chopped walnuts for other types of nuts like almonds or hazelnuts. You could even roll them in sugar if you’re looking to increase their overall sweetness.
Traditional thumbprint cookies usually lean toward berry-based jams for their sweet centers. Alternatives to red currant jelly (which can be hard to find) can be strawberry, raspberry, or apricot. I even went a little crazy and successfully made a batch with habanero jelly once. Spoiler alert: they were delicious!
Flavor Ideas For Thumbprint Cookies
- Walnut with Raspberry Jam (Most Traditional)
- Walnut with Strawberry Jam
- Hazelnut with Raspberry Jam
- Hazelnut with Chocolate
- Almond with Apricot Preserves
- Almond with Cherry Preserves
- Sugar with Lemon Curd
- Sugar with Peach Preserves
The combinations you can make for your thumbprint cookies are endless! Once you get the hang of the dough and the thumbprinting technique, you can mix, match, and experiment as your tastebuds desire. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled too. This makes it super easy to make a variety of different flavors of thumbprint cookies at one time.
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup walnuts finely chopped
- 1/4 cup jam or preserves
- Heat oven to 350°
- Separate the egg yolk and the egg white. Lightly beat the egg white in a separate bowl and set aside.
- Mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla.
- Add the flour and salt. Mix well.
- Refrigerate dough for 15 to 30 minutes so it is easier to handle.
- Roll portions of the cookie dough into 1" balls.
- Dip each dough ball into the beaten egg white then coat the ball in finely chopped walnuts. Place on a cookie sheet 1" to 2" apart .
- Bake for 8 minutes at 350° then remove from the oven.
- Carefully create a small dip in the center of each cookie with your thumb or a spoon. Do not press all the way through the cookie. You want at least 1/4" of dough to remain in the center of each thumbprint.
- Fill each thumbprint with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
- Return to the thumbprint cookies back to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 17 minutes. The cookies should be lightly golden brown and the edges firm to the touch.
- Remove from oven. Be very careful! The jam will be extremely hot.
- Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cookie rack.
- Allow to cool completely before enjoying.
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Baking These Thumbprint Cookies
We’re baking cookies here, so you’re going to need an oven that can sustain 350°. A toaster oven will work just fine but you will definitely be working in smaller batches. At nearly 20 minutes for the total bake time, this could be an all day affair.
If you want to prepare the dough in advance, it freezes very well for up to a month. I recommend freezing the dough before you roll it into balls. At that point, it will store smaller and you won’t risk ruining their shape. Thaw the dough completely on the countertop and pick back up at step 6 in this recipe.
Dishes will include a large mixing bowl, a small bowl, large spoon, small spoon, measuring tools, a cookie sheet, and possibly a knife and cutting board (if you’re chopping your own walnuts.) The dough is fairly dense and doesn’t leave a lot of residue from the butter. It’ll be an easy wash. There’s just a lot of it. I usually start on dishes after the jam is added and they go back in for their final bake.