These delicious and buttery jam thumbprint cookies are a classic Christmas treat. I love to fill mine with red jam, but feel free to choose your favorite preserves!
I have fond memories of my mom making Christmas treats in the kitchen every December.
It was even more fun when she let me help!
I loved making these jam thumbprint cookies because it was so fun to press the soft cookie dough balls with my thumb.
Now that I’m older, these are still a favorite Christmas treat; mostly because they require few ingredients and they come together in a pinch!
It’s unclear where thumbprint cookies originated because Swedes call them hallongrotta or “raspberry cave” and Austrians call them jam drops.
They’re also known as Polish tea cakes, butterballs, or bird’s nest cookies!
Regardless of where they originated, they are absolutely delish and a staple Christmas cookie.
It was only when I started researching this recipe that I discovered that most don’t like a cracked thumbprint cookie!
I grew up thinking the cracking was part of the shape!
I personally think thumbprint cookies look more unique and a little less picture-perfect with the cracking, but if you’d like to avoid it, here are few things to try:
1. Make sure the dough is soft when you start rolling it. Chilled, cold dough, is much harder to shape than room-temperature dough.
2. Use the back of a measuring spoon to make the indent. You’ll get a perfect circle this way (but a little too perfect for me).
3. You can always close any cracks in the dough after you’ve made the indent and before baking.
4. Alternatively, make the indent after the cookies have baked. A warm, fresh cookie is less likely to crack than the unbaked dough.
According to Sally’s Baking Addiction, cookies spread because the fat in the cookie dough melts in the oven. If there isn’t enough flour to hold that melted fat, the cookies will over-spread.
Here are a few ways to help your thumbprint cookies from spreading in the oven:
1. Correctly measure the flour. I learned this trick from my mom, but you want to scoop the flour into your measuring cup and then level it with a knife. If you want it even more exact, you’ll use a food scale.
2. Don’t overmix the cookie ingredients. There’s no creaming of the sugar and butter in this recipe, but it is possible to over-knead the dough. Once the dough starts sticking together and is a good consistency for rolling into balls is when you should stop.
3. Use light-colored cookie sheets. Cookies are much more likely to burn and overcook on dark-colored pans.
4. Do not spray your cookie sheets. You’ll see that in the directions, but you don’t need any extra grease for these cookies.
5. Use cool pans. If you double this recipe or make smaller cookies, you’ll want to make sure the pans are completely cooled before adding the next batch. That, or use another cookie sheet.
6. If all else fails and you see your thumbprint cookies spreading in the oven, you can use a metal spoon to push the edges of the cookies back to the center.
Yes and no.
They don’t have to be refrigerated, but they’ll keep longer if you do refrigerate them.
They’ll keep well for 5 days at room temperature, and even longer in the fridge. But keep in mind that baked goods go stale and dry when they’re in the fridge, so it’s best to enjoy these cookies as soon as possible!
How to make Jam Thumbprint Cookies – Step by Step
Now to the fun part. Making the jam thumbprint cookies!
PREHEAT the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, STIR together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar.
CUT in 1/2 cup of firm butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
FORM mixture into a ball and knead until it resembles a sugar cookie dough (usually 5-10 minutes).
SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
USING your thumb, press an indentation in the center of each cookie (you can push the cookie back into a circle if it starts to crack).
BAKE for 18-22 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
WAIT for 2-3 minutes and spoon enough jam to fill the cookie centers. Cool completely, then remove from sheet.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
If you don’t have a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture, a sturdy metal fork works just as well. I know this because I still don’t own a pastry cutter. Add that to my Christmas wish list this year!
The instructions say to cook the cookies until the edges are golden brown, but if they’ve been in for 22 minutes and still aren’t brown, it’s probably OK to take them out. They’ll continue cooking on the warm cookie sheet. I have a gas oven and the cookies were in for over 22 minutes without getting golden so I called it and they taste just fine!
I love to put raspberry or strawberry jam in these cookies, but you can literally use whatever jam you’d like: apricot, peach, boysenberry, plum, and blackberry.
Just be sure not to use jelly because it doesn’t melt well.
You’re supposed to put the cookies two inches apart on the cookie sheet. That always seems so technical to me, so just know that 20 cookies fit just fine on a regular cookie sheet.
More Like This
Looking for more Christmas treats? You’ll love these!
- Delicious Marshmallow Fudge
- Cinnamon White Hot Chocolate
- Chocolate Almond Balls
- Mini Cherry Cheesecake Bites
- Christmas Cracker Candy
I hope your family loves these jam thumbprint cookies! If you make it, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram with @ashcroftfamilytable and use the hashtag #ashcroftfamilytable!
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Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, firm
- 1/2 cup jam
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar.
- Cut in butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Form mixture into a ball and knead until it resembles a sugar cookie dough (usually 5-10 minutes).
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Using your thumb, press an indentation in the center of each cookie (you can push the cookie back into a circle if it starts to crack).
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.
- Wait for 2-3 minutes and then spoon enough jam to fill the cookie centers (about 1 teaspoon). Cool completely, then remove from sheet.