Perfect Thumbprint Cookies


My mother, Pauline, made really nice thumbprint cookies, but I never wrote down her recipe. I knew the ingredients, but unless you have the right proportions, you won't get that perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture. So, I did an image search and found a recipe that looked very similar, credited to a great-grandma named Mitzi. Since my last name is Mitzewich, that pretty much sealed the deal. In case you can't decide between a shortbread-focused cookie and a jammier one, here's how to make both.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
50 mins
20 to 24 cookies



  • cup unsifted powdered sugar

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt

  • teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • cup white sugar, or as needed

  • ½ cup fruit jam, divided


  • 1 cup powdered sugar, or as needed

  • 1 tablespoon milk, or as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

  2. Mix together powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl with a rubber spatula until creamy. Add egg yolk, vanilla, salt, and almond extract; mix well. Blend in flour until just combined.

  3. Use a sorbet scoop to portion dough into 1/2-ounce (about 1 tablespoon) balls. Roll each ball in a plate of white sugar to coat; roll again between your palms. Place several inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten balls lightly with your fingers.

  4. For jammier cookies, skip to Step 7. For shortbread-type cookies, poke a well into each ball using a finger or the end of a thick wooden spoon dusted with powdered sugar. Fill wells with fruit jam. Tap the baking sheet against the counter to let jam settle.

  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are barely blonde and bottoms are slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

  6. Make icing: Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add milk, a little at a time, until icing reaches a consistency that will hold its shape when piped. Pipe over cookies in a zigzag pattern. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

  7. Press thumb into each ball to make a large, shallow indentation. Spoon in jam. Tap the baking sheet against the counter to let jam settle.

  8. Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

    close up view of Thumbprint Cookies on a white platter


You can use water instead of milk for the icing.

For best results, do not chill the dough.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

139 Calories
5g Fat
23g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 20
Calories 139
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 33mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 18mg 0%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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