These cookies have been crowned “The Most Pinned Holiday Cookie,” as featured on Good Morning America and ABC News.
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Jam Thumbprint Cookies are still the classic favorite
The first time I had these tender, melt-in-your-mouth Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies was over a decade ago. A close friend of mine had graciously whipped up a delicious batch of these one night and shared a plate of them with us. I remember it being nighttime, and I was more tired than hungry, so I thought about declining.
For a nanosecond. I don’t actually decline cookies.
One bite and I was smitten. I ended up eating more than a couple right then and there. Plus a few more to go. I didn’t stand a chance against the buttery, tender, melty goodness of these cookies. Similar to these Twix Thumbprint Cookies Recipe and these 3-Ingredient Buttery Shortbread Cookies …they always get recipe requests.
Watch us make these Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies:
I was so taken by these buttery jam thumbprint cookies that I immediately tore out a piece of paper and scribbled out the recipe by hand – this was well before iPhones and iPads. An era my children will never know.
These scrumptious cookies, however, said kids have come to know and love quite well.
Slightly softened butter
Super important: this is in the recipe instructions, but it’s worth mentioning because it makes all the difference — be sure your butter is slightly softened, but not slightly melty. This will determine the texture of the cookies. Butter should be just soft enough to give a bit when you gently press, but not too soft.
Then, beat the semi-soft butter with sugar for about 2 minutes, until mixture is light and “fluffy” as pictured above. Then add the remaining ingredients and beat only until dough comes together into a sticky ball that needs some time to chill.
Narrow, Deep Wells for Cookies
That Won’t Spread Too Thin
Once dough has fully chilled, you can easily work out your dough balls.
I trend toward smaller cookies, about 1-inch size dough balls. The center well should be deep but not too wide; this prevents the cookie from spreading out too thinly during baking.
You’ll be rewarded with adorably cute round cookies that are way better than anything store bought. The kind that’s perfect for bringing to a friend, for cookie exchanges, holiday gatherings, or just for you.
What’s your jam (Or Preserves)?
Be sure to use high quality, real fruit preserves, versus a sugary jam or “fruit spread” for these thumbprint cookies. Real fruit preserves will ensure that the filling stays nice and thick throughout baking. Sugary, thin jams or spreads tend to almost melt during baking, which causes filling to become runny.
If your finished cookies want a tiny top-off of fruit preserves after baking, feel free to oblige them. Just a little dollop of extra jam on top of freshly baked cookies will give them a special sparkle. Sprinkle with powdered sugar as you wish. Eat, share, repeat. Pass along the cookie joy.
Commonly Asked Questions
Classic thumbprint cookies are made with pure, simple ingredients such as butter, sugar, flour, and your favorite real fruit preserves.
Use high quality, real fruit preserves. Preserves are thick and will hold shape better during baking. Sugary, thin jams or “fruit spreads” often becomes runny during the baking process.
Be sure butter is only slightly softened, and not at all melty to start with. Ensure that your cookie dough is adequately chilled prior to forming cookies, as chilled dough keeps its shape during baking. Lastly, be sure to use real fruit preserves and not “fruit spreads” or thin jam in the center.
Absolutely. Keep raw dough covered airtight and chilled for up to a week, or frozen up to a month. Let thaw just until dough is easy to work with, but still cool to the touch.
Baked cookies should be kept airtight. They’ll keep for several days at moderate room temperature, up to a week in the fridge, or up to a month in the freezer.
More to Bake and Eat
- Salted Caramel Cookies – these are the easiest salted caramel cookies you’ll ever sink your teeth into!
- Forever Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – if you love chewy chocolate chip cookies, these are 100% for you. They stay chewy for days, if you can keep them around that long.
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies – these are our all-time favorite white chocolate cookies. They’re chewy, nutty, and taste amazing.
- Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – these cookies are from none other than Cook’s Illustrated’s beloved cookbook.
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Buttery Jam Thumbprint Cookies
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed, beat butter and sugar 10 seconds, or until lightly combined. Switch to high speed and beat until creamy and light, 2 to 3 minutes – do not rush this part.Add extracts and salt. Beat on medium-low speed for 10 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Gently mix in flour, just until combined, about 1 minute. Dough will be somewhat sticky. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides; form dough into a ball, cover, and chill 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F with rack on middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough balls on lined baking sheets. Press down the center of each ball with round end of a wooden spatula or use your finger, making a deep well in the middle – deep but not very wide – it helps to hold the dough ball in palm of hand while forming the well.
- Fill cookie centers with roughly 1/2 tsp preserves (easiest to use a piping bag or a 1/4-teaspoon-sized measuring spoon). Place sheet of cookies in fridge 5 minutes to re-chill before baking.Bake 20-23* minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Let cool 5 min. on baking sheet, then gently transfer to finish cooling on wire rack.
- When cookies are completely cooled, dust with confectioners' sugar. Cookies can be kept in airtight container at room temp for a few days.
- Butter should be softened at moderate room temperature for about 30 minutes; it should not be melty at all.
- It’s important to measure flour accurately. We use the scoop and level method.
- If you’d like less sweet and compact-looking cookies, use 1/2 cup powdered sugar. If you’d like sweeter cookies that spread a little more, use 1 cup powdered sugar.
- Cookies will taste like the jam you use, so be sure to use high quality, thick fruit preserves (any flavor) – avoid thin jams or fruit spreads, as those can become runny during the baking process.
- We’ve updated recipe to include almond extract, as it provides a wonderful depth of flavor. If you prefer, you can omit it and just use 2 tsp vanilla extract.
- These cookies are not intended to brown much; they’ll be shortbread-colored. If you want more browning on top, bake on upper-middle rack.
- We bake these 20 minutes for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you prefer a bit crisper/browned texture, bake up to 23 min.
- If the jam settled more than you’d like during baking, feel free to top off finished cookies with a smidge of fresh jam on top.