Thumbprint Cookies Make Your Christmas Tray Classic

A Traditional Cookie

Thumbprint cookies appeared yearly on our Christmas dessert tray when I was a kid.

Ours were filled with frosting rather than jelly. But no matter how you choose to fill them, these cookies are delicious.

The traditional recipe calls for half butter and half “shortening.” You’ll find this is true in many old recipes.

Yet I made these with only butter and they were just as good and crispy as the traditional recipe.

Thumbprint or Thimble?

Although you would think that the best way to make the indentations for the filling in these cookies would be your thumb, I found that using my index finger worked better.

That’s because the cookies spread a bit when baked, and the indentation tends to flatten out. It’s no wonder that these cookies have also been called thimble cookies.

Let’s Get Cookie-ing

Introduce your family to the flavors of classic Christmas cookies by including these thumbprint gems on your holiday cookie platter.

Looking for other traditional Christmas cookies? Try our bourbon laced kolachki cookies.

Thumbprint cookies filled with pink cherry frosting
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Classic Thumbprint Cookies

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: cookies
Cuisine: International
Keyword: thumbprint
Servings: 22 cookies
Author: A. JoAnn


  • ¾ c. butter, softened and divided
  • ¼ c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. maraschino cherry syrup
  • ½ c. walnuts, finely chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Beat together 1/2 c. butter, egg yolk, brown sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until fluffy.
  • Beat in flour and salt.
  • Whisk egg white in a separate, small bowl until frothy.
  • Form dough into small balls (about 3/4"). Roll in egg white and then in finely chopped walnuts.
  • Place balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
  • insert your index finger into the center of each cookie to form a deep well.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Remove cookies from sheet and let cool 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, beat together 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/4 c. butter, and 1 tbsp. cherry syrup
  • Beat in remaining powdered sugar and syrup until a soft frosting is formed.
  • Fill cooled cookies with cherry frosting.

Copyright 2023 All rights reserved. See Legalese page for permissions.

Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

One thought

  1. Love the taste of these, plus no chill time makes them quick.

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