Jam Thumbprint Cookies
I have been making these Jam Thumbprint Cookies for 15 years, and they never get old! Buttery shortbread is filled with sweet jam for this easy and delicious 5-ingredient cookie. They’re great any time of year, but also wonderful for Christmas on a festive platter with Peanut Brittle, Candied Pecans, and Lemon Crinkle Cookies!
Sometimes the simplest cookies are the best, and to me, jam thumbprint cookies are all about enjoying a simple buttery shortbread with the sweetness of a quality berry jam.
These cookies are adapted from an Ina Garten recipe that my friend Jess introduced me to in college. Ina’s recipe is slightly different, most notably in that the cookies are dipped in egg and coconut.
Even though I like coconut, I’ve come to prefer these classic thumbprint cookies without it. It’s a bit more elegant, and the coconut has a tendency to take over the show. It’s still delicious, just more about personal preference. I’ll leave instructions for both in the recipe box below, so you can decide for yourself.
You can also use an assortment of different jams here, so you get a colorful tray with pops of different colors.
Tips for Best Results
Use great quality butter – It’s incredible how different brands make wildly different tasting butters. Some don’t taste like much of anything, while others have incredibly rich flavor. My favorite is Kerrygold, but Plugra and Vermont Creamery also make great butter. If you look up butter taste tests online, you’ll see that they are definitely not all equal.
Use salted butter – You’ve probably heard a million times that in baking you should always use unsalted butter, and then add your own salt. I’ve actually found that using salted butter is better here, because the saltiness is more evenly dispersed.
Let them cool – Unlike certain cookies that taste best warm out of the oven, like Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies, these actually taste better after they’ve cooled. Every time I’ve made these jam thumbprint cookies with company, the agreement is unanimous!
Step by Step Overview:
In a bowl, combine good-quality salted butter with granulated white sugar:
Remember, just as with my shortbread cookies, I like to use salted butter here. I find the evenly dispersed salt is better than having bits of salt added throughout the dough. However, if you only have unsalted butter on hand, you may use that and add 1/2 tsp salt.
Mix together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), then add vanilla extract to the wet ingredients:
Because there are only five ingredients in the jam thumbprint cookie dough, make sure you’re using an excellent quality vanilla extract. I like Nielsen-Massey and Simply Organic.
Mix that in, then add all-purpose flour:
Flour is all you need for the dry ingredients. There are no leaveners here!
Mix until a dough forms. It will look crumbly:
Now it’s time to portion the cookie dough out. I find the easiest way to do this is to first scoop portions with a cookie scoop. This ensures a uniform size.
Then roll each scoop into approximately 1-inch balls, and press your thumb into the center of each ball:
Chill the cookie dough balls for 30-60 minutes, until the cookies are firm to the touch.
This will keep the cookies from spreading in the oven. I chill the unbaked cookies right on the cookie sheet by covering with a lid (this is the pan I have, affiliate).
When you’re ready to bake, space the cookies out on a sheet pan, and fill the centers of the cookies with about a teaspoon of jam each:
Most of the time I use storebought jam, though you can also make your own.
I’ve had good success with this Strawberry Refrigerator Jam. Raspberry jam and apricot jam are the two other most traditional flavors for these classic cookies, but you may use whatever flavor of jam you enjoy. You could even add lemon curd, chocolate ganache, or a chocolate kiss to the center.
Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden brown on the edges:
Jam thumbprint cookies shouldn’t take on a ton of color, so make sure not to overbake them.
There’s also no need to bake these on parchment paper, unless you want to. Because these jam thumbprints are such buttery cookies, they do not stick, even to an uncoated pan.
These are the kinds of cookies that taste best once they’re fully cooled. But that’s what makes them keep so well for holiday cookie trays!
So let them cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, though there’s nothing actually stopping you from digging in earlier, if that’s your prerogative.
Several hours of cooling time is even better, which is great if you’re planning to bring this to a party or potluck! They’re such a sturdy cookie.
How to Serve
While you can certainly make these to enjoy on their own, I like to pair Jam Thumbprint Cookies with other small treats during the holidays.
Sometimes I’ll add other kinds of cookies, like Molasses Cookies, Monster Cookies, and Snickerdoodles. Then sometimes I’ll add other types of sweets altogether, like Pecan Praline Candy, Cream Puffs, and Oreo Truffles. Because these are best suited to making in advance, it opens up a lot of options.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
These freeze beautifully! Store in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Or you may place them in a freezer bag. To thaw, let them sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
Yes, these ship quite well! For optimal freshness, wrap the cookies tightly in plastic wrap. You don’t have to do them individually, but try to stack them in groups of 3-4 so there’s not much air around them. Then place in an airtight tin or plastic tub, and ship in a padded box. You don’t need to overnight these, but you shouldn’t pick the slowest option either, since cookies really go downhill after a few days. Try to pick a shipping option that’s somewhere in the middle.
Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- 12 tbsp salted butter* softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 7.5 ounces by weight all purpose flour (1.5 cups, if measuring)
- assorted jams of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- With an electric mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until they are blended and creamed together. Then mix in the vanilla.
- Add the flour, and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes, until the ingredients have combined into a dough. Note that the dough will look crumbly at first, but if you keep mixing, the dough should eventually come together.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to portion out scoops of dough, then roll each one into a ball. Use your thumb to make small indentations in the top, for later holding the jam.
- To keep the cookies from spreading during baking, refrigerate the cookies for 30-60 minutes, until firm to the touch. You can rush this process by freezing for 15 minutes instead, but they may spread slightly.
- Evenly space the cookies on a half sheet tray, then fill each cookie with 1/2 to 1 tsp of jam in each indentation.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges, but still mostly pale in color. You don’t want to overbake these.
- Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before enjoying. For optimal taste, I recommend at least 30 minutes, but ideally a few hours. These aren’t the kind of cookies that taste good when they’re hot. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Here’s a video showing them coated in coconut, if you enjoy the flavor and texture of some coconut shreds on the outside: