I have been making these Thumbprint Cookies since college, and they never get old! Buttery shortbread is filled with sweet jam for this easy and delicious cookie.

Thumbprint Cookies - On a Gray Plate with Jam Filling

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 the 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.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies - On a Gold Wire Rack Cooling

This cookie is a great option to make for holiday gifts or as Christmas cookies, as they’re sturdy and hold up very well, like Biscotti and Snowball Cookies.

You can also use an assortment of different jams here, so you get a colorful tray with pops of different colors.

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies:

In a bowl, combine good-quality salted butter with sugar:

Sticks of Butter and Sugar in Glass Bowl

Because the butter is such a big flavor here, it’s a good time to splurge on the European butter (I love both Kerrygold and the French cultured butter from Trader Joe’s).

Also, 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.

Mix together the butter and sugar, then add vanilla extract:

Creamed Butter and Sugar in Bowl with Vanilla Added

Mix that in, then add all-purpose flour:

Flour Added to Wet Ingredients In Bowl

Mix until a dough forms:

Thumbprint Cookie Dough in Mixing Bowl Crumbly

Now it’s time to portion the cookie dough out. I find the easiest way to do this is first scoop portions with a cookie scoop:

Scoops of Thumbprint Cookie Dough on Sheet Pan

Then roll each one into a ball, and press your thumb into each one:

Pressing Thumb Into Dough balls

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.

Space the cookies out on a sheet pan, and fill each one with about a teaspoon of jam:

Jelly Added to Middles of Thumbprint Cookies on Sheet Pan

Then bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges:

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe - Freshly Baked on Sheet Pan

These are the kinds of cookies that taste best once they’re fully cooled.

So let them cool on a wire rack for at least 60 minutes:

Jam Cookies - On Gold Wire Rack Cooling

Several hours of cooling time is even better.

Jelly Filled Cookies - On Wooden Board and Gold Wire Rack

More Favorite Cookie Recipes:


Thumbprint Cookies on a Board with Jam Filling

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery shortbread is filled with sweet jam for this easy and delicious cookie.

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  • 12 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup 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, for at least 60 minutes, but ideally a few hours. These aren’t the kind of cookies that taste good when they’re hot. Enjoy!


If you desire to coat these in coconut flakes, place one beaten egg in one bowl, and 7 ounces of sweetened, shredded coconut in another. After you've chilled but not filled the cookies, dip each one in the beaten egg, then into the coconut, until well coated. Then add the jam, and bake for the same amount of time as written in the instructions above.


Calories: 161kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 81mg, Potassium: 17mg, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Post and recipe updated in December 2018. Originally published December 2013.

Here’s a video showing them coated in coconut, if you enjoy the flavor and texture of some coconut shreds on the outside: