Skip to Content

4-Ingredient Jam Thumbprint Cookies

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!

Jam thumbprint cookies on a white plate.

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!

FAQs

Where did thumbprint cookies originate?

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.

How do I keep my thumbprint cookies from cracking?

Thumbprint cookies on a white plate.
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.

Why do my thumbprint cookies spread?

Shortbread thumbprint cookies on a white plate.
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.

Do cookies with jam need to be refrigerated?

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.

Thumbprint cookie ingredients in a mixing bowl.

CUT in 1/2 cup of firm butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Thumbprint ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Thumbprint cookie dough in a mixing bowl.

FORM mixture into a ball and knead until it resembles a sugar cookie dough (usually 5-10 minutes).

Thumbprint dough in a mixing bowl.

SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Old fashioned thumbprint cookies on a 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).

Woman makes easy thumbprint cookies.

BAKE for 18-22 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.

Thumbprint cookie recipes on a cookie sheet.

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.

Thumbprint cookies on a white plate.

More Like This

Looking for more Christmas treats? You’ll love these!

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!

 

And if you’d like to get a 4-week meal plan featuring my recipes, just enter your email in the form above and you’ll get it straight to your inbox!

Jam filled cookies on a white plate.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

The Ashcroft Family Table
These deliciously buttery jam thumbprint cookies are a classic Christmas treat. They come together in no time with only 4 ingredients!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Additional Time 5 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 20 -24 cookies
Calories 99 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, firm
  • 1/2 cup jam

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 99kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 39mgSugar: 6g
Keyword easy thumbprint cookies, jam filled cookies, jam thumbprint cookies, shortbread thumbprint cookies, thumbprint cookie recipe, thumbprint cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Pinterest graphic with text and a collage of red jam thumbprint cookies.
Recipe Rating




Jessica

Monday 14th of December 2020

scroll top arrow