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Really Good Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

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You’ll love this classic thumbprint cookies recipe. Our family has been making them for years and they’re a tradition at Christmas, but you can change the icing color and make them any time of year.

vintage jadeite mixing bowl, measuring spoons, various baking items

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Really Good Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

thumbprint cookies decorated for Christmas

Eating thumbprint cookies is one of my favorite memories of growing up. We had a local bakery that always displayed a beautiful variety of colors and I could never resist. My favorites were the ones in spring that had pink, green, and yellow glaze, but they all had the same yummy flavor.

girls baking thumbprint cookies

In recent years I’ve enjoyed having a baking day in December with my daughters and my mom, and sometimes my niece. One of the things we love to bake are good old-fashioned thumbprint cookies. And last year I made some yummy red velvet whoopie pies.

green icing being drizzled on a thumbprint cookie

Admittedly, I eat too many of these little gems. They’re just so easy to pop in your mouth and enjoy. And they’re so darn good! It’s impossible to resist them. (Another cookie I love to eat is old-fashioned peanut butter cookies.)

thumbprint cookies with red and green frosting

We’ve used a recipe from an old Southern Living Cookbook for years but I tweaked it by adding a bit of almond extract. I think it’s better than ever!

A few fun facts about thumbprint cookies:

  1. Where did thumbprint cookies originate? 
    Many believe that they were first made in Poland, Sweden, or the Jewish communites of Europe. 
  2. In Sweden, they were traditionally made with raspberry jam. The little indention for the jam was created by using their thumbs. The Swedish name for them is “hallongrotta”, which means “raspberry cave”. 
  3. They have also been called butterball, bird’s nest, and Polish tea cakes. 
  4. They are believed to have originated sometime in the 1800’s.
cookie baking ingredients on marble background

Here’s the recipe for these delicious little bite-sized cookies. They’re super simple to make and you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry. 

thumbprint cookies with red and green icing

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

Yield: 36 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This old-fashioned thumbprint cookie recipe is easy to follow and will be family favorite. We've been making these for years and everyone loves them!


  • Ingredients for Dough
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Ingredients for Glaze
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A few drops of food coloring
  • Sprinkles (optional)


Dough Instructions

  1. Cream butter and gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Slowly add to the creamed mixture. Mix well.
  5. Chill dough for at least one hour.
  6. Shape chilled dough into 1″ round balls. 
  7. Place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Flatten cookie balls slightly, then press thumb into each cookie, leaving an indention large enough for icing.
  9. Bake at 300° for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not brown.
  10. Cool on wire racks.
  11. Using a spoon, add about 1/2 teaspoon of glaze into each cookie indention.

Glaze/Icing Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth. 
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired.
  3. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie.


If desired, you may substitute strawberry or raspberry preserves for glaze. If you do, bake the cookies for 15 minutes,spoon on the preserves, then bake an additional 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 9 Serving Size: 4 cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 593Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 80gFiber: 1gSugar: 43gProtein: 5g

Happy baking! Let me know if you make these thumbprint cookies and how you like them!

christmas thumbprint cookie recipe

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