Vanilla Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

5 from 3 votes

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These Vanilla Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies are sweet and tender. The vanilla extract complements the jam and the optional glaze is gorgeous! 

This week I made Vanilla Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies! I served these to some company and I have approximately zero leftovers. So I’d say they were a hit. The shortbread is sweet, tender and the vanilla extract complements the jam and actually comes through as you eat the cookie altogether. SO delicious and perfect for the holidays.

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookie Recipe

Let’s jump right into the ingredients to these thumbprint cookies. 5 ingredients for the cookie itself and then the jam and optional drizzle outlines below. Pretty simple, right? So here’s what you’ll need:

  • Butter – softened. Use real butter here instead of margarine for an authentic taste.
  • Granulated Sugar – to sweeten.
  • Salt – to balance out the sweet.
  • Vanilla – this flavors the whole cookie. SO GOOD GUYS.
  • Flour – this is used for structure and as the base.
  • Jam – traditionally this cookie is filled with jam, but I’ve outlined a couple of other options later in this post.

How to Make Shortbread

Simple Glaze Recipe

This glaze is totally optional for these thumbprint cookies but I think it tastes and looks great. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Powdered Sugar – to sweeten!
  • Milk – this liquifies the glaze, make it as thick or thin as you like.
  • Optional Flavorings – you can add flavorings in as well like vanilla extract or even a bourbon flavored glaze. Go easy on the flavorings though because a little goes a long way with such a simple recipe.

Shortbread Dough

Thumbprint Cookies Tips and Tricks

Indenting the Dough. Because the dough is crumbly, don’t push too hard or else your sides will crack completely and you’ll have to start over. A little cracking is totally fine though.

Spreading. Don’t ever place your cookie dough on a warm cookie sheet. Cool your cookie sheet completely (or just use two cookie sheets and rotate them out) before placing your next batch of cookies. Otherwise, they’ll start melting before they can start baking and thus are much more likely to spread.

Filling. If your filling is too stiff to place into your cookies, try microwaving it in short intervals to make it a little more viscous.

Shortbread Dough Balls

Shortbread

If you haven’t noticed already, this is a shortbread thumbprint cookie recipe! Shortbread is an amazingly simple cookie recipe that perfectly complements the jam filling. I am no stranger to shortbread so if you are looking for more delicious recipes I’ve got you covered.

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and flour until crumbly dough forms. {Right near the end of stirring, I use the warmth of my hands to help it come together.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop {2 teaspoon size} divide the dough into even mounds of dough.
  4. Roll dough to create a smooth cookie ball and press an indentation into the center using your thumb.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until puffed and barely golden brown on the bottom.
  6. Cool 10 minutes.
  7. Scoop 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each cookie and drizzle with glaze, if desired.
  8. Cool completely and serve.

Thumbprint Cookies

Fillings

Traditionally, Thumbprint Cookies are filled with jam, namely a berry-based jam. Like raspberry or strawberry, both are super delicious. However, the beauty of this recipe is that you can add whatever you’d like to the middle! Here are a couple of adventurous ideas:

  • Nutella – if you are a chocolate lover, this is for you. Consider swirling with peanut butter too!
  • Caramel Sauce and Bacon Bits – ever heard of a bacon maple bar donut? Well here’s my take on a simple cookie version. You could also just do salted caramel.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting with Cinnamon Sugar – hello cinnamon roll flavors!

You get the idea, you can go as wild as you’d like with this recipe! 🙂

Thumbprint Cookies

Leftovers

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If they even last that long…

Make-Ahead

What’s so great about this thumbprint cookie recipe is that it can be made ahead of time! Hallelujah! Simply make the dough as instructed, indent and everything, then freeze for up to three months.

When you’re ready to bake, add an extra minute or two onto the time, then fill and enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies

More Classic Cookies to Make!

Anyways, I hope you all have a grand day! The printable recipe card is below 🙂

Have a wonderful week, friends!

5 from 3 votes

Thumbprint Cookies

These Vanilla Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies are sweet and tender. The vanilla extract compliments the jam and the optional glaze is gorgeous! 
servings 24 small cookies
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup softened butter you want it really soft but not melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup jam

optional glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons milk stirred together until smooth and runny

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and flour until crumbly dough forms. {Right near the end of stirring, I use the warmth of my hands to help it come together.
  • Using a small cookie scoop {2 teaspoon size} divide the dough into even mounds of dough.
  • Roll dough to create a smooth cookie ball and press an indentation into the center using your thumb.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until puffed and barely golden brown on the bottom.
  • Cool 10 minutes.
  • Scoop 1 teaspoon of jam into the center of each cookie and drizzle with glaze, if desired.
  • Cool completely and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 90kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 11mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Course: Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Make Thumbprint Cookies, Thumbprint Cookie Recipe, Thumbprint Cookies
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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11 Responses
  1. Natalie @ Life Made Simple

    Ugh, I’m so sorry- I know exactly how you feel! Our almost two year old is refusing naps, waking up during the middle of the night and is wide awake at 6am… and we have a 4 week old. Life is exhausting… thank goodness for sugar & cookies like these 🙂

  2. Barb T

    My only baby was exactly the same way with screaming all night long every night. After months of this I, too, started trying to end this habit by letting him scream and only going in his room 2 maybe 3 times a night the first week. The next week I cut the amount of times I would go in by one. The same the following weeks until one week he only cried once during the night. I was so worn out I had to stuff cotton in my ears after this just to get my own rest and one week he quit crying at night altogether. It took over 2 months. It is not easy and I feel for you. Keep watch on his sleep habits even when he gets older. Try to enforce a young child to remain in the bed at night and not roam around or get up and play in his/her room. Try to enforce the bedtime routing even when he becomes a teen. Even eating late at night can keep some children from resting internally even though they are seemingly asleep. I was always a late night person myself, but never had problems sleeping, so when my son became a teen I went easy on his staying up late at night and now 30 years later my son is an insomniac and has trouble sleeping at any time day or night. I wish you the best and will absolutely pray for your son.
    Barb

  3. Vandana

    Hi Lauren
    I couldn’t post a comment for your Cinnabun so posting here!
    That was yum my 21 year old son (a picky eater) loved it.
    I didn’t get corn starch so used corn flour and instead used golden syrup. I was wondering if I had right content my son would have asked me to open a bun corner around his uni :-D.
    I could use only three and a half cup of flour though! May be the measuring cup or may be me so excited to try to make these that I forgot the count ?
    I am planning to try your thumb cookies today and if it turns out to be same as yours I will distribute these for Diwali(I am Indian origin).
    Keep up the good work girl and keep us inspiring!
    Many thanks!

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  6. Nikki

    5 stars
    My absolute favorite cookies! I’ve made these with strawberry jam from our local farmer’s market and they are DIVINE. I actually put the jam in before baking, to really make it firm up (it turns out kind of like those Knott’s Berry Farm cookies I adored as a kid). Today I’m thinking of adapting the recipe to make stamped cookies for our 4th of July party! To brighten it up (since it won’t have the jam), I’ll add a bit of lemon to the glaze and dip the backs of the cookies in it. Here’s hoping it turns out well!