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Easy Thumbprint Cookies: Fun Cookie Recipe for Kids and Families

Adapted from The Purple Spoon

These Easy Thumbprint Cookies are a simplified version of the traditional classic – small rolled cookies with wells pressed in the center, filled with a scrumptious topping, usually jam.

They are a favorite cookie recipe for kids, who find immense fun in rolling the dough into balls and pressing a finger or thumb in the middle – hence the cookies' name. Thumbprint cookies have also been dubbed elsewhere as Bird’s Nest Cookies, Butter Balls, Polish Tea Cakes, and in Swedish Hallongrotta (which means “Raspberry Cave”).

Easy Thumbprint Cookies

Prep time: 20-30 minutes

Bake time: 10-12 minutes

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies


1 cup butter, room temperature

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

2 cups cup all-purpose flour

½ - 1 cup jam of your choice (such as strawberry or raspberry)

Directions for Easy Thumbprint Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl continually, about 1-2 minutes.

  • Add egg yolks and extract. Beat until smooth.

  • Reduce speed to low. Gradually stir flour mixture into creamed mixture a bit at a time until well blended, scraping the bowl constantly. Dough will be thick. If dough is too sticky to work with, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes until chilled.

  • Scoop dough into large, marble-sized balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll balls in between the palms of your hands until smooth. Set the balls onto prepared baking pan, about 2 inches apart.

  • Dip your thumb or your knuckle into a bit of water until it is damp, but not dripping wet. Press your thumb or knuckle in the center of each ball, leaving a small well. Spoon ¼ teaspoon of jam into the well.

  • Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until they are set but have not begun to brown. Remove baking sheets from the oven.

  • Let cookies cool for a minute on baking sheets before using a spatula to remove them from the sheet to a cooling rack.
    Allow cookies to cool completely. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper in between layers.

Special Baking Tips for Easy Thumbprint Cookies

Save the egg whites to make meringues or to use in scrambled eggs.

Cookies are prettiest when you roll balls no larger than 1 inch in diameter.

Allow cookies to cool completely before you eat them. Otherwise, hot jam may burn your mouth.

You can freeze Easy Thumbprint Cookies. To do so, prepare cookies with wells but do not fill with jam. Bake as directed. Freeze cookies. After you thaw them, spoon jam into wells and serve.

Add a touch of elegance to cookies when you dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar.

More Thumbprint Cookie Recipes from The Elf

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Halloween Thumbprint Cookies recipe: easy, fun, and gluten-free ...

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