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Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies – Barefeet in the Kitchen

Light, buttery, almond flavored shortbread thumbprint cookies have been the most requested cookie I make for almost as long as I can remember. My friend Augusta gave me this recipe years ago and it became a forever favorite at first bite.

small jam thumbprint cookies stacked on square plate

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

There’s something so endearing and adorable about jam thumbprint cookies. Fruity jam adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the flaky shortbread cookie. The easy glaze on top of these thumbprint cookies adds a beautiful touch.

These cookies are great as a snack, tucked into lunches, or when served as dessert. I especially enjoy them with cafe con leche, chai, or a London Fog on a chilly afternoon.

Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

With just the right amount of sweetness, filled with jam, and then lightly drizzled with icing, these cookies are a hit with everyone who tries them. Don’t be fooled by their unassuming appearance. They’ll surprise you by just melting in your mouth.

Almond extract is what gives these cookies just a hint of almond flavor. It adds a nice layer of nuttiness that complements the buttery flavor of the shortbread cookie and the fruitiness of the jam.

close up photo of thumbprint cookies with jam, drizzled with glaze

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

I often reach for a jar of my family’s favorite homemade peach jam to use in these cookies. You can use whatever flavor of sweet preserves you like. I’ve made these cookies with several varieties of jam and the cookies turn out delicious every time.

I typically just use whichever flavors of jam I happen to have on hand at the time. For this last batch, I used apricot jam and a mixed berry jam. You really can’t go wrong with the jam choice. If you enjoy eating the jam, you’ll likely love it in the cookies.

filling thumbrint cookies with jam on parchment tray

How to Make Thumbprint Cookies

Chilling the dough for a solid hour in the refrigerator is an important step in this recipe. So even if you’re in a hurry to bake these cookies, don’t skip that step.

Chilling the dough helps keep the butter in this recipe solid. And the cold butter helps the cookies maintain their structure in the oven.

When it comes to filling thumbprints with jam, less is more. A quarter teaspoon or so should do it. Too much and you risk disrupting the structure of the cookie and the jam to cookie ratios. (Yes, jam to cookie ratios are a thing!)

baked thumbprint cookies on white tray with napkin

The last thing to remember here is to be extra careful not to overbake these cookies! You want to take these cookies out of the oven before they are even slightly brown.

Overbaking will result in a much harder cookie without that crumby delicate shortbread texture. If you love thumbprint cookies like we do, you’ll want to try Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies and Marmalade Thumbprint Cookies too.

jam thumbprint cookies on wire cooling rack

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the flour and almond extract. Beat again to combine. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll the dough into 1″ balls or use a 1″ scoop to place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Press down on the top of each cookie and use your thumb to create a small indent. After all the indents are made, fill the indents with about ½ teaspoon of jam.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven before the cookies are browned. Let cool on the trays for 1-2 minutes and then remove to a wire cooling rack. 

almond glaze on whisk with thumbprint cookies in background

To make the glaze, add the almond extract to the powdered sugar and then slowly add the milk. Stir constantly and stop adding milk when you reach the consistency of icing. It should drizzle off the tip of a spoon in a thin white stream.

When the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle the icing over the tops. Allow them to sit until hardened and then store in an airtight container.

glazed thumbprint cookies on cooling rack

Shortbread cookies don’t get as much love as they deserve, in my opinion. Delicious, simple, and not-too-sweet, they appeal to the palettes of kids and adults alike.

If you’re looking for more great shortbread cookies, I recommend Sugared Shortbread Cookies for sure. They’re a simple cookie sprinkled with sugar crystals that you can bake and serve all year round.

If the perfect slice of cinnamon toast met Pecan Sandies, these Cinnamon Pecan Shortbread Bars would be the result. This is a tender shortbread, filled with pecans, and then generously topped with cinnamon sugar.

close up photo of thumbprint cookies with jam, drizzled with glaze

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread is a flaky shortbread that is barely crisp on the outside. These shortbread bites melt in your mouth with chocolate and just a hint of coffee flavor.

Buttery and just barely sweetened, Brown Sugar Whole Wheat Shortbread is a delicious surprise. The addition of whole wheat changes the texture and adds a new dimension to the flavor as well.

For a seasonal shortbread treat, Chocolate Dipped Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies are delightful. They look impressive and festive but take hardly any time in the kitchen making them perfect to whip up during the busy holiday season.

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Servings: 40 small cookies

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  • Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the flour and almond extract. Beat again to combine. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

  • When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll the dough into 1″ balls or use a 1″ scoop to place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  • Press down on the top of each cookie and use your thumb to create a small indent. After all the indents are made, fill the indents with about ½ teaspoon of jam.

  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven before the cookies are browned. Let cool on the trays for 1-2 minutes and then remove to a wire cooling rack. 

  • To make the glaze, add the almond extract to the powdered sugar and then slowly add the milk. Stir constantly and stop adding milk when you reach the consistency of icing. It should drizzle off the tip of a spoon in a thin white stream.

  • When the cookies are completely cooled, drizzle the icing over the tops. Allow them to sit until hardened and then store in an airtight container.

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS: These cookies freeze beautifully. When the icing has hardened, layer them into containers with wax paper between the layers. They will keep in the freezer for at least a month. They would probably keep much longer than that, but I wouldn’t know. Mine never last that long.

Calories: 101kcal · Carbohydrates: 14g · Protein: 1g · Fat: 5g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Cholesterol: 12mg · Sodium: 42mg · Potassium: 11mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 8g · Vitamin A: 142IU · Vitamin C: 1mg · Calcium: 4mg · Iron: 1mg

originally published 8/12/11 – recipe notes and photos updated 12/13/23

close up photo of thumbprint cookies with jam, drizzled with glaze

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