Thumbprint Cookies

Looking for a way to use up some of that delicious jam you made this year, or just looking for a tasty treat?  Try Thumbprint Cookies!  These little gems are something my mom used to make when we were kids, and it’s a great way to use up the last little bit of jam or jelly in a jar.  I know that I wind up with tons of jelly jars that only have a couple of tablespoons in each one by the end of the canning season–all the leftover stuff that didn’t fill up an entire jar so got stuck in the fridge instead of canned.  This recipe is a great way to make sure that doesn’t go to waste!

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe -- A great use for leftover jam

These cookies are a bit more like a shortbread.  There is no leavening at all in them-so they don’t particularly rise or spread.  That’s ok though, you wind up with a sort of dense crumbly cookie that pairs well with the sweetness of jam and jelly.  For the cookies you see in the photos I used Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Homemade Concord Grape Jelly and Apple Butter.

The eggs in this recipe are divided.  You use the yolks in the batter, but then the whites are used as an egg wash to make the chopped walnuts stick.  If you don’t have walnuts I’ve used peanuts as well–I’ve even made them without nuts at all.  I personally like the crunch and taste they add, but if you’ve got a nut allergy in the house (or just are out of nuts when the urge strikes you to bake) don’t worry, you can still make this recipe and have success.

Steps for Making Thumbprint Cookies

The reason these cookies are called “Thumbprint” is because before you put the balls of cookie dough into the oven you use your thumb to press a little well into the cookie that you can use to hold the jam once they are baked.  Kids LOVE helping you with that part :)

It’s best to store these cookies dry and then add the jam when you serve them.

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies


  • 2/3 C butter
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C walnuts, finely chopped
  • Jam, Jelly or Fruit Butter


  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • In a mixer, beat butter for about 30 seconds to soften. Add 1 C of flour, the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla.
  • When thoroughly combined, beat in remaining 1/2 c flour.
  • Chill dough for 1 hr.
  • Lightly beat egg whites and place in a shallow bowl or tray. In another shallow bowl or tray place walnuts.
  • Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll each in the egg white then the nuts. Place on a cookie sheet 1 inch apart (they will not spread much at all).
  • Use your thumb to press in the center of each cookie to make a "well" for the jam eventually to go into.
  • Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.
  • Cool fully. Just before serving place a dollop of jam, jelly or fruit butter into the center of each cookie.

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