Preview: Thumbprint Cookies with Icing are a traditional rolled cookie, coated with pecans and filled with colored frosting. My husband’s favorite!
These festive thumbprint cookies are my family’s favorite holiday cookies. I bet your family would agree that these shortbread-type cookies are the best. Because they are a bit labor-intensive, we usually save them for Christmas Day.
When I started this blog twelve years ago, my husband of 44 years asked when I was going to post the recipe for thumbprint cookies. He kept asking again and again. I think he was just wanting to eat some.
The original recipe is simple–straight out of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book, copyright 1963. This book was obviously my mom’s. I was too young to be cooking anything this fancy in 1963. Wasn’t I???
Frequently asked questions:
1. How many cookies does this recipe yield?
That depends. If you like larger cookies (a tablespoon or more of dough), you won’t even get 2 dozen.
I think most people prefer smaller cookies when they’re looking at a cookie tray as is usually the case on Christmas. Using a 2-teaspoon spring-loaded cookie scoop will give you exactly 28 bite-sized cookies.
Another reason to make these cookies smaller is that they can be a little crumbly. One bite is much neater to eat.
Need lots of cookies? Double the recipe. I’ve done it many times.
RELATED POST: Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread
2. What can I substitute for the frosting?
- A teaspoon of jelly (placed in the indentation before baking)
- Chocolate ganache
- Chocolate frosting
- If you have a different idea, please leave it in the comments.
3. What can I substitute for the pecans?
If you have someone with a nut allergy in the family, try rolling the cookies in sugar. It will be a completely different cookie but still delicious.
4. Can I freeze these cookies?
Yes. Wrap well (double-wrap) and keep in the freezer for up to three months. They will stay fresh on the counter in a sealed container for three to four days.
5. How do you keep thumbprint cookies from cracking?
- Use a small cork instead of your finger for the neatest indentation.
- Make your indentation before baking the cookies.
- Press your finger or cork into the cookie gently so as not to crack the dough. If it cracks, push it back together.
- Don’t chill the dough or allow it to dry out before you make the balls.
- Measure your flour carefully. Too much flour will make the dough dry.
Don’t worry too much if you get some cracks or drip icing over the side. The pecans camouflage the cracks much better than sugar does when making traditional thumbprints. Also, perfect cookies look like they came from the store. Imperfect homemade Christmas cookies = love!
RELATED POST: Crunchy Gingerbread Bites
How to form Thumbprint Cookies with Icing :
RELATED POST: Lemon-Pecan Thumbprint Cookies
How to make marbleized icing:
Instead of using a solid color icing, drop the tiniest amount of liquid food coloring into a bowl of icing. (Don’t miss the video to see this in action.)
Without stirring, carefully use a spoon to pick up a little of the color. Try to get mostly white icing. Then use a second spoon to push the icing on to the cookie.
This process will slightly mix and swirl the color. It doesn’t take much extra effort.
Alternative Method for the Frosting:
Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.
p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at saladinajar.com.
Hope to see you again soon!
Thumbprint Cookies with Icing and Nuts
- ¼ cup shortening
- ¼ cup butter - room temperature
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg - separated
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour - 120 grams
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup pecans - finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon butter - melted
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Food Coloring
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream shortening, butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Combine well.
- Roll dough into balls. Using a small ice cream dipper will aid in uniformity.
- Beat egg white slightly with a fork. Dip balls in egg white, then roll in chopped pecans.
- Place balls on an ungreased baking sheet, (I use a silicone baking mat) about 1 inch apart.
- Place in your preheated oven for 3 minutes.
- Remove cookies from the oven and use a small cork or your finger to gently press an indentation into the center of each cookie. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are set. Remove from the oven and immediately use a cork or your finger to repress the indentation into the middle of the cookies.
- Make the icing while cookies bake. Add color using the process described above. Or leave the icing uncolored. Or stir in food coloring to make a uniform color. It’s your preference. Many people do jelly–but not at my house.