Thumbprint Cookies – easiest recipe ever

This thumbprint cookie recipe is probably one of the easiest cookies I’ve ever made. Throw all the ingredients together (all FIVE of them) and mix it all up. Refrigerate for an hour, roll them into balls, poke, bake, fill, bake. Done. Eat.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

When I was young, just married and before kids, I knew how to make a few things. Spaghetti, hamburgers, baked chicken and of course, chocolate chip cookies (as long as I had the instructions on the chocolate chip bag). That was about it. I relied very heavily on a cookbook my dad gave to me when I moved away from home for the first time. The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

Since my parents had been divorced since I was six years old and both parents were always working, I really never learned to cook. Then my mom passed away when I was 23, so I was left to figure it out on my own. I digress. There are several different versions of this book, but the one I linked here is the one I have, and have had since 1986. Of course, there was that incident when I was a brand new mom 18 years ago…

I set the cookbook on the stovetop to answer the phone and promptly forgot about it. That wouldn’t have been a big deal except that I had an electric stove in that little apartment and I had just turned the burner off a few minutes before. Well, if you’ve ever used an electric stovetop you know that the burners take a while to cool down. Needless to say, my cookbook suffered severe burns and I was devastated. My dad heard about it and bought me the same book, a new copy, for my birthday. What a guy :) I still have that book. I still love that book. And that dad. ;)

Well inside the pages of that lovingly tattered cookbook is a recipe for Spritz cookies. Then below that are instructions for using that same recipe to make raspberry thumbprints. I’ve been making these thumbprint cookies, same recipe, no changes except the fillings, every Christmas for 24 years.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

I’m sure I could have altered the recipe, added vanilla or almond extract, experimented with spice additions, maybe nuts or almond flour… but why? They are wonderful just how they are. I wouldn’t change a thing. They are firm but soft and totally delicious. I’ve made them with margarine (I used to use it a lot when I was younger) and with butter and they come out great either way. I hope you’ll try them, and maybe even adapt them to fit your tastes. Or maybe you’ll make them as is and love them as much as I do. Either way, I’m happy to be able to share one of my Christmas traditions with all of you. :)

ANOTHER DELICIOUS IDEA >>  Homemade Baker's Square French Silk Pie

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

I do have a few tips for this recipe. The recipe itself is rather short, but a bit longer with my added notes.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the cookies with the red centers, those are maraschino cherries. Didn’t give me the “umph” I thought they would, but they certainly didn’t get thrown away. :)

Thumbprint Cookies

adapted from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients (makes 132 cookies!)

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (may substitute milk if you prefer)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Preserves, flavors of your choice

Combine all ingredients and mix together until combined. I’m so used to creaming butter and sugar and following those steps, that putting everything together is weird to me now. So, I cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, then slowly add the orange juice. Then I slowly add in the flour until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Use a TEASPOON to ensure uniform sizing. Measure out level teaspoons of dough (in order to get 132 cookies), otherwise you can use a cookie scoop for larger cookies like I did here.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

Roll balls in your hands to smooth, place on cookie sheet.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

Use your thumb or pointing finger to gently press the center of the cookie, forming an indent.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

Since pressing the cookie will cause it to lean to one side, after creating all the indents, I turn the cookie sheet around and repress each indent from the other side. This makes then stand back upright. Bake for ten minutes.

Remove from oven, fill indents with preserves, lemon or lime curd, marmalade, or even apple butter.

ANOTHER DELICIOUS IDEA >>  Seven Layer Bars Recipe

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

Return to oven and bake 5-6 minutes more, do not let them get brown. Cool on racks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

If you followed my indenting tip above, you should have very little spillage… like this.

Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'Thumbprint Cookies - easiest recipe ever! From Amanda's Cookin'

5 from 1 reviews
Thumbprint Cookies – easiest recipe ever
 
Servings: 11 dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • 3¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cups unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Preserves, flavors of your choice
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and mix together until combined. I'm so used to creaming butter and sugar and following those steps, that putting everything together is weird to me now. So, I cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg, then slowly add the orange juice. Then I slowly add in the flour until combined. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. Measure out dough in level teaspoons to ensure uniform sizing.
  4. Roll balls in your hands to smooth, place on cookie sheet.
  5. Use your thumb or pointing finger to gently press the center of the cookie, forming an indent.
  6. Since pressing the cookie will cause it to lean to one side, after creating all the indents, I turn the cookie sheet around and repress each indent from the other side. This makes then stand back upright. Bake for ten minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, fill indents with preserves, lemon or lime curd, marmalade, or even apple butter.
  8. Return to oven and bake 5-6 minutes more, do not let them get brown. Cool on racks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Notes
Please note that the photos in this recipe are for larger cookies where I used a cookie scoop. This will yield FAR less cookies. If you measure level teaspoons of dough, it should yield 132 cookies (11 dozen).

Comments

  1. Lana @ Never Enough Thyme says

    Beautiful thumbprint cookies, Amanda. Those are one cookie I've never made, but I'm about to fix that!

  2. Estela @ Weekly Bite says

    Those cookies look incredible! I've never ever heard of using orange juice in thumbprint cookies. I can't wait to try this!

  3. Sue says

    Your cookies are beautiful, and so perfectly round and uniform, Amanda! So nice to have all the different fillings. The top photo is my favorite!

  4. Jenn says

    Of all the cookies I've made year after year, I've yet to do thumbprints…until now. Just one question…how long do these keep, or can they be frozen? I want to fit them into my baking schedule for cookie trays!

  5. Amanda says

    Thanks ladies!

    Jenn – you can freeze the dough without a problem. I have never frozen the finished cookies, however I'm sure they would be fine. I would suggest freezing just the dough, maybe already separated into balls, just to be safe! :)

  6. Chow and Chatter says

    I am book marking to make them I really need easy not as good a baker as you lol
    lovely post Amanda wow 24 years

  7. RecycleCindy says

    Yum Yum — Those are so pretty and are a wonderful Christmas cookie. Thanks for sharing your step by step process.

  8. Amanda says

    Niki – I would imagine you could try it, or even use milk. There really isn't an orange flavor to the cookies at all :)

  9. Shelby says

    Yum Amanda! Awesome photos….and the cherry one? Maybe a little melty chocolate first, then plop the cherry in? Yummy ;)

  10. Katrina says

    Great cookies. Great post.
    Love the idea of indenting both side to make it even. Can you tell I've had dam issues in the past? ;)

  11. NikiTheo says

    I was mostly thinking that we don't keep it in the house… I was being flaky there, milk would be perfect! I am not thinking sometimes! :)

  12. sheila @ Elements says

    My husband's been wanting me to make some of these cookies so I bookmarked this page. It looks easy, and since I generally suck at making cookies, I'm hoping I'll have some cookie success for a change. :) Wish me luck! :) Cheers! sheila

  13. Jerri says

    Your thumbprints look wonderful! I love that you used all the different flavors!

    I'm hosting a Christmas Recipe party on Thursday (with prizes). Hope you can stop by!

  14. Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] says

    Ahh gorgeous thumprints!! Did you simply spoon the fillings in? I tend to create a huge mess while doing that!

  15. Amanda says

    Thanks you guys! :)

    Avanika – Yes I did, but I used a small measuring spoon, I think it was a 1/4 teaspoon :) Thank you!

  16. Cathy McLeod says

    Amanda, thank you SO much for this post. I have also made these thumbprint cookies for 15 years, but this past year lost that very well used and loved cookbook during a divorce, moving, etc. When I searched for Raspberry Thumbprint cookies with orange juice….there it was again! I am going to have a perfect Christmas with the cookies on the plate in their proper place. Last, thanks for the great tip on keeping the spillage down.

  17. Golfindaddy says

    I like to roll the dough balls in the egg white prior to making the filling holes. Handles much better and has a nice browned crust without overcooking. Been making them since the 80’s.

    • says

      Hi Kim. I have not tried this recipe with margarine so I can’t tell you for sure. I know that margarine and butter are often times interchangeable in recipes, so you could certainly give it a try :)

  18. Hayley says

    Thank you for posting this recipe. The Good Housekeeping Isslustrated cook book is a family fave. Its where all of our Christmas recipes come from. This year my mom is not in town for Christmas and i was panicking about how i would find this recipe.Everyone else makes theirs with nuts…That is NOT tradition lol. but thank you thank you now i am going to make them the way our family always has.

  19. Suzie says

    These look great. Do you think you could substitute the orange juice for another type of juice? I’m allergic to oranges, and it might not be so bad since its cooked into the cookies, but I don’t typically risk it.

  20. A J says

    Making them now … I have made them for quite a few seasons now … They make great gifts … Sidebar .. Mint and apple butter jelly are great for these cookies … I have started to use a lightly greased round measuring spoon if u have one …to make a uniform thunbprint … Use the bottom to make an even indentation … A teaspoon I think makes the appropriate indentation … I know then they tecnicaly aren’t thumb print cookies are they .. Lol

  21. Alex A. says

    I would like to try this recipe as my first attempt at Christmas cookies. Is there an approximate number of cookies that this recipe yields? I know it probably depends on how big you make them, but is there a ball park number I could use? I need to make 6 dozen, so I wondered how many batches that might require? Thank you!

  22. Lexi says

    These look great! I’m really excited to try them, but I unfortunately can’t have any citrus fruits… Could I substitute the Orange juice for maybe Apple juice or a different kind of juice?

  23. Jennifer Ellicott says

    Did I read that this is also a spritz cookie recipe as well? I’d love to play around and add a little rum extract and leave out the indent and make an egg nog drizzle….. mmmmm, cookies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • says

      I have never tried, however I wouldn’t freeze them with the jam. If anything I would roll the dough into balls and freeze them that way. Then just thaw the dough balls before baking

  24. Laurie says

    My middle schooler found this recipe because linked it on Pinterest and said Iwas going to make it for guests at Thanksgiving. Him being who he is decided while I was away at my daughters competition over the weekend, he was going to surprise me and make them for me. Awesome kid right?!! LOL well when it said combine all ingredients, he took that literally and mixed one of the jars of preserves (apricot) into the batter and cooked it that way then put blueberry preserves in the thumbprints (He realized his mistake as he finished the recipe- so Iguess it was a double lesson for him lol). it was interesting to say the least lol. He said well Icouldnt very well call you and ask and Grandma wasnt home so I improvised. I love stories like this. Its a good one to eventually pass down if he has kids =) thanks for the inspiration =)

  25. Carol says

    Just made these. Love them! I wasn’t sure how big to make the scoops of dough, so i made 2 sizes. the ones made with 1 level tsp are ideal. I did have to remake the holes though after baking the first time. On the batch that worked the best, I baked them for 8 minutes instead of the 10′ listed. The holes puffed up so that there wasn’t much of a hole left to fill, so i used the back of a small measuring spoon while they were still hot and remade the hole before filling. The next batch were slightly bigger, so I let them go for the 10′. When I tried to fix the holes though to deepen them on that batch, some of them cracked. Will definitely make these again. I just made 1/2 the recipe. Now I’m wishing I made the full batch!!! Thanks for the recipe…

  26. Martine says

    Ok, I just made these and doubled up on the recipe, which turned out fine, as I did not think that one patch yielded 144 cookies? how this possible 12 dozen cookies with the original batch. I tried with the original measurements and only got 37 cookies..am I missing something?

  27. Rachel says

    I was really disappointed with this recipe. I followed the directions to a T. The batch did not yield 144 cookies, the dough was pasty and did not hold its shape well enough to be filled. I picked this recipe for a cookie exchange and could not recommend it. They taste good, though.

    • says

      Hi Rachel. I’m sorry you had trouble. If the dough was pasty there must have been a mis-measurement somewhere. I’ve been making this exact recipe for over 20 years and the dough has never been pasty. I hope you get a chance to try it again. As for the number of cookies, that’s dependent on the size of the balls that you roll.

  28. Cindy says

    This was a MAJOR fail on many levels. First off, you didn’t specify whether to grease or not grease the pan. The size? You said to use a cookie scoop for uniformly sized cookies. I had forgotten to get one but I saw it in the store and they make one inch balls in diameter, so I made them all that size. After cooking and filling them, I had a grand total of 49 cookies. The recipe states that it yields 144 cookies. A Cookie scoop to make a cookie that small would be minuscule. I never saw anything that small, so, seriously? This completely messed up my holiday cookie swap, thanks so much.
    The bottom line? They don’t even taste good. Sorry, I don’t think I’ll be trusting another one of your recipes again.

    • says

      Hi Cindy. First of all, I’m sorry that this recipe was a disappointment to you. When I listed the amount of cookies that the recipe made, I was simply stating what the cookbook said. However, with that said I actually made these again tonight, like I do every Christmas, because I truly wanted to see how many cookies I would get from it. You are correct that when using a cookie scoop you will not get that many, and that is in fact my fault. I will take the blame for that. The cookbook says to use “rounded” teaspoons, however, even when doing that I didn’t get that many. So I ended up using level teaspoons to measure the dough and them rolled them into balls. I actually got a total of 132 cookies, 11 dozen. They were smaller than the ones that I usually make, but not miniscule.

      I’m sorry that this messed up your cookie swap. I will correct the recipe to reflect the teaspoon measurement to get that number of cookies. I’m sorry you didn’t like the way they tasted. I’ve been baking these for 20 years and everyone always loves them.

  29. CANDICE says

    WHEN i MADE THESE I ROLL THE COOKIES IN EGG WHITES AND THEN ROLL THEN IN CRUSHED NUTS AFTER THEY WERE COOK OR BEFORE i FORGOT NOW IT’S BEEN A WHILE lol !

  30. Christine says

    I used leveled .5T and got 124, which should be 1.5 tsp. The dough cracked for most of mine when making the prints though. Any suggestions? Warmer dough? Also, one of the preserves I used didn’t warm enough to “melt,” so I think I’ll warm them up a bit before filling next time.

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