Thumbprint cookies are the perfect Christmas cookies! A classic German recipe made with ground nuts and filled with jam, Nutella, or Lemon Curd.

We love fun Christmas Cookie Recipes like our Cornflake cookies and Zimtsterne cookies, so this recipe is a winner because it is even simpler to make and very versatile! You can fill them with jam, curds, or your favorite spread.

Cookies filled with Nutella and whole hazelnuts on a serving platter

Thumbprint Cookies

These melt-in-your-mouth tender cookies with their sweet filling are one of my favorite things to bake during the Holidays! Similar to Linzer Cookies but easier to make, these cookies are perfect for making with your kids, and you don’t need cookie cutters to make them.

In Germany, these cookies are known as Engelsaugen (Angel’s eyes) or Husarenkrapfen. They have some ground nuts added to the dough, which adds flavor and gives these cookies their extra tender texture. But even though these cookies are a classic in Germany, the originate from Sweden, where they are known as Hallongrotta, which means “Raspberry Cave” in English.

Fillings for Thumbprint cookies

I love that these cookies can be filled with your favorite jam or spread. You can add the filling before or after baking, but I recommend adding it before. This way, the cookies keep for longer, and the filling sticks better to them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lemon Curd or Lime Curd: Add after baking
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Nutella or any other hazelnut spread, add before baking and put a hazelnut (filbert) in the middle
  • Jam: Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry, or any other jam
  • Chocolate: Dark, milk, or white chocolate work well, add melted chocolate after baking
How to make Thumbprint Cookies

How to make Thumbprint cookies

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found at the bottom of the page on the printable recipe card.

Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar
  • Butter: Unsalted butter
  • Flour: All-purpose flour (Plain flour in the UK), don’t use self-rising flour
  • Salt: Adding salt deepens the sweet flavor of the cookies
  • Vanilla extract
  • Egg yolks: Add richness, flavor, and color (TIP: Use leftover eggwhites for Meringue cookies)
  • Ground hazelnuts (filberts): Bind the dough and add flavor. You can also use ground almonds, pecans, or walnuts
  • Jam: Or any of the other fillings above

Instructions

  1. Combine butter and sugar. Add other ingredients, except jam. Mix until a crumbly dough forms. Chill dough for an hour.
  2. Cut dough into 3/4-inch pieces and form into balls. Put balls on a baking sheet and make a dent into each ball. Fill holes with jam.
  3. Chill cookies on a baking sheet for 30 min, then bake for 12-15 min.
  4. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Then transfer to cookie tins and store in a cool and dry place.

Recipe FAQ:

Can I refrigerate the dough and bake the cookies later? You can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days. Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

Do I have to use hazelnuts (filberts)? No, you can also use the same amount of ground almonds (blanched or unblanched), walnuts, or pecans.

Why are my Thumbprint cookies cracking? Sometimes these cookies crack if the dough is too cold. To prevent this, knead the dough balls for a bit in your hand to make the dough more elastic.

When to add the jam to the cookies? Some recipes call for the jam to be added before baking, some for after. We prefer to add the jam before baking because it cooks down in the oven and then sets during cooling, which keeps the cookies fresh longer. But it also depends on the filling; for example, chocolate is best added after baking.

Do I have to heat the jam? It depends on your jam, but I never heat the jam before piping it into the cookies. Stirring it well and using a piping bag, always worked well for me.

Can I refrigerate the dough and bake the cookies later? Yes, you can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days (or longer) and bake the cookies later.

Cookies in a metal tin layered with parchment paper

How long will Thumbprint cookies stay fresh?

Store cookies in metal tins or airtight containers with layers of parchment or wax paper between them. Cookies keep for up to 3 weeks stored in a cool and dry place. These cookies don’t need to be refrigerated.

Can I freeze them?

These cookies keep up to 3 weeks at room temperature! Thumbprint cookies don’t freeze well because of the jam filling, but you can freeze the raw cookie dough wrapped in plastic foil. Let it defrost overnight in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.

Cookie filled with Nutella
Servings: 36

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are the perfect Christmas cookies! A classic German recipe made with ground nuts and filled with jam, Nutella, or Lemon Curd.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Course: Cookie
Cuisine: German
Keyword: Thumbprint Cookies
Calories: 96kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts, or almonds
  • 1/3 cup jam, or Nutella

Instructions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. Add flour, salt, vanilla extract, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts and mix until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and shortly knead by hand. Shape the dough into a roll with a 3/4-inch diameter. Cut 3/4-inch pieces of the roll and form into balls. Put balls on a baking sheet and use your little finger, the end of a cooking spoon, or another similarly shaped tool to make a dent into each ball.
  • Whisk the jam until smooth, put it into a pastry bag, and press some jam into each dent. Don’t overfill the cookies.
  • Put the baking sheet for 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  • Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes.
  • Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Then transfer to cookie tins and store in a cool and dry place.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 13mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 133IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
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