These buttery shortbread thumbprint cookies are perfect for your holiday boxes, dessert table or a cookie exchange. They are bite-sized cookies which is the perfect portion for a greater sampling of different cookie flavors don’t you think? (I also love them around Valentine’s day with a double thumb “heart” shape in the cookie instead!)
The cookies use simple ingredients you probably have in your pantry and can be filled with a variety of jams and fillings based on what you feel like. I like a sweet icing on these cookies flavored with almond extract, but I give lots of other options and flavor combos at the bottom of this post!
Ingredients needed for Iced Thumbprint Cookies Recipe:
- Unsalted Butter
- Powdered Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Almond Extract
- Egg Yolk (save egg whites for another use.)
- All purpose flour
- Jam, preserves or curd of choice
- Milk or cream for the icing
Supplies needed for Thumbprint Cookies with Icing:
- Cookie Sheet
- Large Bowl
- Cooling rack
- Parchment Paper
- Small cookie scoop
- Piping Bag (for jam- you can also use a little spoon.)
- Electric Mixer
- Rounded bottom of wooden spoon for “thumbprints” if you’d like.
Start with room temperature butter and cream with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop dough into 1 inch balls. Place your dough balls about 1 inch apart from either other on a prepared baking sheet. (They don’t spread much.) Use your thumb or the back of a measuring spoon to make an indent into the center of each cookie. Fill with jam or curd and bake until just barely golden. Drizzle with a simple glaze.
Flavor variations to try for these classic thumbprint cookies:
- Raspberry Almond: I love using a really high quality raspberry preserve as my filling with lots of almond flavor in the icing. This combo is just the best!
- Strawberry Lemon: Strawberry jam with a lemon glaze is bright and refreshing. Use lemon juice in the glaze instead of almond extract.
- Salted Caramel: For this version, fill the cookies with caramel sauce and drizzle a chocolate icing (adding some cocoa powder in place of the powdered sugar!) top with flakey sea salt.
- Lemon Bar: Fill with tart lemon curd and top with a simple vanilla glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar in this version.
Can I make these cookies in advance?
Yes! I like to bake the cookies and freeze them in an airtight container before filling/icing them. They will last for up to a month in the freezer or a week in the fridge.
Why confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar in this cookie dough?
This is my first recipe using this method to create tender cookies with a soft melt in your mouth texture and it worked so well!
My other favorite holiday cookie recipes:
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- Easy Molasses Crinkles
- Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Men
- Cinnamon Roll Cookies
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- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1/2 cup jam, preserves, or curd of choice
For the Icing:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon of milk or cream
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and powdered sugar.
- Add in the egg yolk and extracts and cream until smooth.
- Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Dough will appear crumbly but should come together into a nice ball when you gather it all together with your hands.
- Use a small scoop to portion 1/2 inch rolled dough balls and distribute evenly on a cookie sheet. (These cookies don't spread much.)
- Use your thumb or the bottom of a rounded wooden spoon to make an indentation in the middle of each cookie.
- Pipe or spoon jam or other filling inside the cookies.
- Bake at 325F for 13-15 minutes, or until the edges are firm and just barely turning golden.
- In a small bowl mix together the icing ingredients, adding more liquid or powdered sugar as needed for desired consistency.
- Cookies can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days in an airtight container or 7-10 days in the fridge.