These thumbprint cookies are soft vanilla cookies filled with fruit jam and baked until golden brown. An easy and classic cookie that’s perfect for parties, after school snacks and special occasions.

When the holidays roll around, I find myself in the kitchen whipping up plenty of festive treats including Italian cookies, Oreo stuffed cookies, eggnog cookies, Nutella cookies and these beautiful little thumbprint cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies | Sugar Cookies #cookies #baking #christmas #dessert #dinneratthezoo Thumbprint Cookies | Sugar Cookies #cookies #baking #christmas #dessert #dinneratthezoo

Thumbprint cookies in a tin for gift giving.

Thumbprint cookies are a classic for good reason – they’re simple yet look so impressive, and they couldn’t be any easier to make! You can customize your cookies by adding any number of fillings and coatings for a sweet treat that’s delicious any time of the year.

How do you make thumbprint cookies?

Thumbprint cookies are all about the perfect dough that bakes up crisp on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Make this dough by beating sugar, brown sugar and butter together. Mix in an egg, some vanilla, flour and baking soda and the dough is ready to go. Chill the dough in the fridge and roll it into balls. After a quick dip in sugar, go ahead and press wells in the cookies for the jam. Fill the cookies with a little jam, you can use any flavor of your choice.  After a quick stay in the oven, you will have warm, sugary cookies with wonderful jam in the middle.

Balls of cookie dough rolled in sugar.

Tips for perfect cookies

  • Keep the dough cold when you roll it into balls. If the dough warms up, it can get sticky and the balls can become rough instead of smooth. You can place sticky dough in the fridge or freezer to chill if needed.
  • If you have trouble shaping the dough into balls, try putting a little cooking spray on you hands.
  •  After you put the jam in the cookies, place the sheet pan of cookies in the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking. Chilling the dough prevents the dough from spreading too much as it bakes.
  • Some dark jams and jellies can “stain” the dough of the cookies. If you are worried about staining, avoid using blackberry or grape jams or jellies.
  • Make sure you don’t overfill the cookies or the jam may bubble over and run down the sides of the cookies.
  • If your balls of dough crack as you make the indentations in the middle, your dough may be overly cold and stiff. You can simply patch any cracks with your fingers.

Balls of cookie dough with indentations in them.

Thumbprint cookie variations

Thumbprint cookies are delicious holiday favorites that are delicious enough to make year round. You can modify them to include your favorite flavors.

  • Coatings: Try rolling your balls of cookie dough in coatings such as sprinkles, coconut, finely minced nuts or cinnamon sugar.
  • Fillings: The filling possibilities are endless and include ingredients such as Nutella, lemon curd, chocolate ganache, marshmallow cream or caramel sauce.

Cookie dough filled with fruit jam.

Can you freeze thumbprint cookies?

You can freeze baked thumbprint cookies. Just place them in an airtight container in a single layer. If you want to stack cookies, put a piece of waxed paper, plastic wrap or parchment paper between the layers. The frozen cookies stay fresh for about a month. When you are ready to eat the cookies remove them from the container and let them thaw on the counter.

A plate of jam filled thumbprint cookies.

These delicious cookies are so fun to make because you can fill them with all different kinds of flavors. This is a holiday classic that never goes out of style!

More fabulous cookie recipes

5 from 10 votes

Thumbprint Cookies

AuthorSara Welch
Thumbprint cookies in a tin for gift giving.
These thumbprint cookies are soft vanilla cookies filled with fruit jam and baked until golden brown. An easy and classic cookie that's perfect for parties, after school snacks and special occasions.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Chilling Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Serves 24


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus more for rolling the cookies
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup jam


  • Place the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract, then beat for 1-2 minutes or until well combined.
  • Add the flour, baking soda and salt to the bowl. Beat until just blended.
  • Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Cover the dough completely with the plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 3 days.
  • Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before you plan to use it.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Roll the dough into 1 inch balls, then coat each ball in granulated sugar.
  • Place the balls of dough 3 inches apart on 2 sheets pan lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  • Use your thumb, the back of a teaspoon, or the round end of a pestle to make an indentation in each cookie. Be gentle as you make each indentation so that the cookies don't crack.
  • Fill each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
  • Place the trays of cookies in the freezer. Chill for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are firm.
  • Bake for 10-11 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and cool completely.


Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 43mg | Potassium: 27mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 246IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Awesome timing to find this recipe. These evoke childhood memories and I was wanting to make some with my daughter. These look gorgeous and I love the easy recipe. Thank you!!

  2. 5 stars
    These cookies were my mom’s traditions for the Holidays, we would start baking soon to have homemade gifts ready for the season. You brought me so many good memories.

  3. 5 stars
    I love making these cookies for the holidays. It always brings back memories of my making treats with my grandma.

  4. Yum!!! I’m going to attempt to make these later this week. I saw in Trader Joe’s they have thumbprint cookies, but I have a berry allergy – so I can’t eat them! Can’t wait to make my own!