My thumbprint cookies recipe takes classic Christmas cookies up a notch with a secret ingredient in the cookie dough–vanilla pudding!
The result is the most flavorful and soft thumbprint jam cookies ever. They literally melt in your mouth!
The homemade jam cookies are easy to make too. Simply mix up your cookie dough, then roll into balls, press an indent in the top, fill with your favorite jam or preserves and bake.
While we made our cookies with strawberry jam, feel free to use your favorite jam or preserves. Raspberry, apricot, blueberry, orange, etc… will all work well.
Sometimes I like to use 2 or 3 different jams to make different flavored jam-filled cookies. I also really like the color contrast it gives when I divide the cookies and use multiple jam fillings.
The cookies look beautiful and will look wonderful as part of your Christmas dessert spread. I really love how they add color to a cookie platter.
This recipe yields about 5 dozen jam thumbprint cookies, making it perfect for serving up at Christmas, bringing to a cookie exchange, or making as a sweet homemade gift for friends, neighbors, and coworkers during the holidays.
If you want to make other Christmas cookie varieties you can divide and use the same pudding cookie base dough to make frosted cookies, hidden kiss cookies, and sprinkles cookies as well!
Now on to the jam thumbprints recipe!
This section includes ingredient notes and substitution options. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.
- Butter – unsalted butter, at room temperature. If using salted butter cut the added salt in half.
- Shortening – I like to use a combination of butter and shortening for this cookie recipe. The butter gives the cookies that real butter flavor while the shortening helps prevent the cookie from over-spreading while baking.
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs – Let your eggs come to room temperature on your countertop with your butter.
- Vanilla – I always recommend using pure vanilla extract, not the imiation stuff.
- All-purpose flour
- Instant vanilla pudding – The “secret ingredient” for these soft thumbprint cookies! You will need a 3.4 ounce box of instant vanilla pudding mix. Be sure that you don’t grab a box of cook & serve pudding by mistake!
- Baking powder
- Jam or preserves – We used strawberry but you can use whatever kind you like.
Variations and additions
- Chocolate: Instead of jam, try filling your cookies with melted chocolate! (Wait until after baking).
- Sugar: Roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before pressing the indentation for extra sweetness and an almost sparkling look.
- Glaze: Add a drizzle of glaze over cooled cookies for a beautiful touch.
How to Make
This section shows you how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions. For the full printable recipe, see the recipe card below.
Step 1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and place them aside.
Step 2. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer and large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
Step 3. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and pudding mix.
Step 4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, a little at a time, mixing between additions.
Step 5. Scoop out dough with a cookie scoop (or by the tablespoonful) shape it into a ball, and place it on a lined baking sheet. Use your finger or the bottom of a measuring spoon to press into the center to create an indentation. Repeat until all dough is used, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart. Spoon jam into the center of each cookie.
Step 6. Place the cookies in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
Step 7. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Step 8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
Countertop: The cookies will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Refrigerator: Store your cookies in an airtight container in the fridge to keep them fresh for up to one week.
Freezer: For longer storage, fully cooled cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
While no, you don’t absolutely have to chill the dough before baking, I do recommend it as it helps prevent the cookies from overspreading. These are soft pudding cookies, which spread enough as-is, so we want to prevent them from spreading anymore.
If making traditional jam thumbprint cookies you will fill them with jam before baking. However, if you are filling your thumbprints with melted chocolate you will want to wait until after baking.
More Yummy Christmas Cookie Recipes
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Old-fashioned no-bake cookies
- Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
- Soft gingerbread cookies
- Kitchen sink Christmas cookies
Thumbprint Cookies with Jam
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- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup shortening
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3.4 ounce box instant vanilla pudding
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup jam or preserves, we used strawbery jam
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer and large bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in eggs, vanilla, and instant pudding mix.
- In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, a little at a time, mixing between additions.
- Scoop out dough with a cookie scoop (or by the tablespoonful) shape it into a ball, and place it on a lined baking sheet. Use your finger or the bottom of a measuring spoon to press into the center to create an indentation. Repeat until all dough is used, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart. Spoon jam into the center of each cookie.
- Place the cookies in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by a third party and intended to serve as an estimate only. The accuracy of nutritional information is not guaranteed.
what kind of shortning??
Jaclyn Shimmel says
I use Crisco vegetable shortening
The recipe for these cookies is perfect! I’ve been trying to find one for a long time. Thank you!
I only got 3 dozen and the dough was very crumbly. What did I do wrong?
Jaclyn Shimmel says
Oh no! This particular cookie dough shouldn’t be crumbly at all, it is actually rather sticky and moist. Crumbly dough usually indicates that 1) the dough was overmixed, 2) not enough wet ingredients were used (in this case likely butter or shortening or possibly eggs) or 3) too much dry ingredients were used (flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder).
Did you use a 3.4 ounce box of instant pudding mix (not cook & serve pudding)? If so, what brand? (any brand I have tried worked well but worth checking)
When measuring your flour, did you pack the flour in the measuring cup or did you spoon in into the cup and level it? (if you pack the measuring cup full if will cause you to use too much flour which would then cause crumbly dough).
I used all butter( not a fan of shortening) refrigerated, they are too sweet and spread out, texture is chewy, not cake like. Next time, for cake-like I’ll add 3-4 TBsp of sour cream, like I do to soft cookies and will use 1 cup of sugar instead of this much. The cookie is sweeter than the jam inside. Bad recipe, i question the whole pack of pudding as well. Every time I try a new recipe from a blogging site, I often get disappointed and this is that case again..
I made them. WOW!!!! They were fantastic. I also rolled them in balls and put sprinkles on them. Just as good. I’m going to give them to people for Christmas. I’m sure they will ask for more. Thank you for sharing the recipe-
Jaclyn Shimmel says
Thank you so much for coming back to let me know how you liked the cookies. Your comment made my day!
I haven’t made them yet and was wondering if I could use strawberry jelly instead of jam? I am not crazy about jam, but love jelly. Thoughts…. love your recipes, so many ideas I have never thought of. thanks for sharing. Michelle.🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪
Jaclyn Shimmel says
Hi Michelle, yes any jam or jelly will work 🙂