Classic Jam Thumbprint Cookies — These easy thumbprint cookies are tender, buttery, and the 3 different types of jam turns into chewy little jewels that make these nostalgic family favorite cookies! Great for holiday entertaining, cookie exchanges, showers, or just because! No one can resist the allure of these classic thumbprint cookies!
Christmas Thumbprint Cookies with Jam
I have great memories making thumbprint cookies with my grandma, especially before Christmas. This is her recipe and it’s full of classic charm.
The jam thumbprint cookies are light and buttery and when baked, the jelly in the centers is bright, cheery, and slightly chewy after baking.
Classic thumbprint cookies are the perfect addition to your cookie trays for entertaining, holiday dessert tables, cookie exchanges, baby or bridal showers, or tea parties.
The centers shine like little jewels nested inside the tender cookies and people seem to gravitate towards these cookies! They’re easy to make, keep well, and are also a fun baking project to do with kids or grandkids.
Ingredients in Jam Thumbprint Cookies
To make these holiday cookies with jam in the middle, you’ll need these common fridge and panty ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Raspberry jelly
- Strawberry jelly
- Peach jelly
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Vanilla extract (or almond extract)
Ingredient measurements and recipe instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post!
How to Make Thumbprint Cookies
Believe it or not, these thumbprint jam cookies with icing are a cinch to make. Follow these easy steps:
- Beat together the butter and sugar.
- Add the egg and extracts.
- Slowly add in the dry ingredients and beat to incorporate.
- Chill the dough for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge.
- Using a small cookie scoop, make 24 balls of dough.
- Using your thumb, make indentations in each ball of dough.
- Add a small amount of jelly to each indentation.
- Bake and then cool the cookies.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle if over the cookies with a small spoon.
Do I Have to Chill Thumbprint Cookie Dough?
Yes, the dough for thumbprint cookies is much more manageable if it’s been chilled for 1 to 2 hours. Any longer than that, and it will become difficult to chisel it out of your mixing bowl if it gets too cold.
However, any less time, and the dough is very soft and a bit sticky to work with.
Is Almond Extract Necessary for the Cookies?
I absolutely love the flavor of almond extract and really think it takes certain baked goods, like these jam thumbprint cookies as well as say my Sweet Soft Cherry Bread with Cherry Almond Glaze, to the next level.
Almond extract adds a richness, a more luxurious taste, something that you maybe can’t put your finger on, but it’s present. It also adds classic, nostalgic flavor and since this is a classic thumbprint cookie recipe, I definitely recommend using it, but it’s not an absolute requirement.
If you choose to omit it, double the amount of vanilla extract that’s called for in the thumbprint cookies recipe.
What Kind of Jelly or Jam Is Best?
Let’s first talk about jelly versus jam. Jelly is smoother and more blended, whereas jam has chunks or bits of fruit in it. Because you’re using a very small amount of jelly in each cookie, I recommend jelly for that reason.
Sometimes with jam, you can encounter a chunky strawberry or hunk of peach, and while wonderful on your morning toast, it’s not as easy to work with in thumbprint cookies.
That’s because you’ll likely end up with just a bit too much quantity of jam, it can spread, it can burn, and so my vote is to use jelly with classic thumbprint cookies.
Raspberry thumbprint cookies are the top choice for many, but strawberry and peach (or apricot) jelly are also favorites. Feel free to experiment with another favorite type of jelly, including blueberry, mixed berry, or your favorite.
My raspberry jelly has seeds in it, which I guess could technically make it a jam, but we are getting into semantics at this point. Choice a seedless option if you’d like.
Do I Have to Glaze the Thumbprint Cookies?
No, you do not. It’s a lovely touch, both in terms of visual appeal and a bit of extra sweetness, but not required.
For those who especially adore almond extract like me, adding it to the glaze is a great way to play up the flavor profile. Otherwise, just use vanilla extract.
How to Store the Cookies
I personally store these jam cookies airtight at room temp for up to 1 week, even when glazed.
However, if you prefer to store glazed baked goods in the fridge, feel free to do so. I try to avoid refrigerating my baked goods if possible since the fridge can tend to dry things out.
Thumbprint cookies can also be frozen airtight for up to 4 months.
You can also freeze just balls of dough for up to 4 months and bake them off as desired. Allow them to come up to room temp, add the jelly, and then bake.
Tips for the Best Thumbprint Cookies
Following a couple essential tips will help you create the best Christmas thumbprint cookies that your family and friends will request year after year!
Chilling the dough: You need to chill the dough for 1 to 2 hours.
Creating the indent: The thumbprint in your cookies must be made using your thumb. If you try to use a spoon the indentation will not be deep enough and the jelly once hot and bubbly in the oven will spill over the edges of the cookie leaving browned jelly down the edges of your cookie.
Filling the cookies with jam: Fill each indentation with no more than ½ teaspoon of jelly or it could overflow or burn around the edges.
Scooping out the cookie dough: Do not make cookies bigger or smaller than indicated because it will throw off the ratios of jelly, baking times, risk for overflowing, and so forth.
Baking the cookies: I always recommend baking one sheet of cookies at a time, on the center rack, rotating once midway through baking for optimal results.
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Jam Thumbprint Cookies
These easy thumbprint cookies are tender, buttery, and the 3 different types of jelly turns into chewy little jewels that make these nostalgic family favorite cookies! Great for holiday entertaining, cookie exchanges, showers, or just because! No one can resist the allure of these classic thumbprint cookies!
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 ¼ cup all purpose flour (or 281grams weighted)
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup raspberry jelly
- ¼ cup strawberry jelly
- ¼ cup peach jelly (or apricot jelly)
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear vanilla extract recommended; or use almond extract if you enjoy the flavor)
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or large bowl and handheld electric mixer, add the butter, sugar, and beat on high speed until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes; stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the egg, extracts, and beat on medium-high speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- To a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In stages and slowly, add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl with the wet, and beat until just incorporated; don't overmix.
- Place the mixing bowl in the fridge and allow the dough to chill for 1 to 2 hours; do not skip this step.
- Preheat the oven to 350F, and line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper; set aside.
- Using a small cookie scoop, divide dough into 24 balls, or about 2 to 3 teaspoons of dough each. Tip - Do not make cookies bigger or smaller than indicated because it will throw off the ratios of jelly, baking times, risk for overflowing, etc.
- Place 12 cookie dough balls on each baking sheet, spaced evenly.
- Press your thumb into the middle of each ball of dough to create the indentation for the jelly. Press down about halfway taking care not to go too deep or too shallow.
- Fill each indentation with no more than ½ teaspoon each of jelly. Evenly fill 8 indentations with raspberry jelly, 8 with strawberry jelly, and 8 with peach jelly.*
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are set around the edges and jelly appears set; note that cookies will firm up as the cool so don't overbake. Tip - I recommend baking one sheet at a time, in the center rack of the oven, and rotating midway through for optimal results. Start checking at 8 minutes since all ovens bake differently.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes until you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure they are completely cooled before glazing.
- To a small bowl, combine all ingredients, and whisk to combine. Start with 1 tablespoon of milk, and work you way up from there depending on the desired consistency of glaze.
- Using a small spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cookies as desired. Allow it to set up for about 20 minutes before moving the cookies.
* Feel free to experiment with another favorite type of jam, including blueberry, mixed berry, or your favorite.
Storage: I store these cookies airtight at room temp for up to 1 week, even when glazed. However, if you prefer to store glazed baked goods in the fridge, feel free to do so. I try to avoid refrigerating my baked goods if possible since the fridge can tend to dry things out. Thumbprint cookies can also be frozen airtight for up to 4 months.You can also freeze just balls of dough for up to 4 months and bake them off as desired. Allow them to come up to room temp, add the jelly, and then bake.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 157Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 39mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 2g
More Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes:
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Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies – These traditional sugar cookies are just like Grandma used to make!! They’re thin but still soft, topped with a simple 2-ingredient royal icing, and loaded with sprinkles! So festive and perfect for cookies exchanges or hostess gifts!!
Soft and Chewy M&M’s Chocolate Chip Cookies – If you’re looking for a new M&M cookie recipe, this is THE ONE! Soft, buttery, and irresistible!!
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Chocolate Covered Christmas Oreos – Oreo cookies dipped in chocolate and loaded with sprinkles are an irresistible holiday treat! Fast, EASY, no-bake, can be made in advance! Perfect for cookie exchanges and hostess gifts. Get ready to break out the sprinkles and have fun making and then eating these family favorite Christmas cookies!
Hot Chocolate Cookies — These gooey hot chocolate cookies are complete with big gooey marshmallows and chunks of melted dark chocolate. This is the perfect holiday cookie recipe!
I’ve used this recipe but it is identical to one I was already using. I prefer the almond extract with the glaze as it adds what I call a touch of elegant flavor. Using the thumb is the easiest for making the indent and yes, too shallow and preserves will bubble over onto the side of the cookie. I’ve use a rounded measuring spoon which works but your thumb is the easiest. Great recipe any time of the year as this cookie is not one that everyone is familiar with. Most of the time when I ‘ve baked these cookies for a church or work dinner/dessert, many people have never tried them and really enjoy this cookie.
Thanks for the 5 star review and glad you agree that your thumb is just the easiest – same! That is crazy to me that people have never heard of these?! Ok I guess I grew up with sugar addicts then because everyone in my family made these! Maybe not year round but a holiday staple. Good for you for sharing this cookie with others!
Averie – I find it quick, clean and easy to use the back of a small ice cream scoop to make the thumbprint. Small round measuring spoons work too.
Averie – I find it quick, clean and easy to use the back of a small ice cream scoop to make the thumbprint.
That could work for some people I’m sure.
I would use extra creamy Planet Oat oat milk (or any oat milk) in any recipe calling for milk. I use extra creamy oat milk all the time in recipes, and it seems to work just like milk. Oat milk is soooo much more healthy than cow’s milk. Extra creamy tastes exactly like half & half.
Not everyone has access to it and I haven’t personally tested it in this recipe but if it would work, it’s an option for some people potentially.