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Nutty Jam Thumbprints

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These Nutty Jam Thumbprints could win a cookie contest on looks alone, but they’re just as delicious as they are pretty.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

These Nutty Jam Thumbprints could win a cookie contest on looks alone, but they’re just as delicious as they are pretty. The cookie is actually a Mexican wedding cookie, also known as a Russian tea cake, Viennese crescents or snowball cookies. Nutty and not-too-sweet, these cookies make a wonderful shortbread-like base for a dollop of luscious fruit preserves. The recipe is adapted from Alice Medrich’s award-winning cookie book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy.

What you’ll need to make Nutty Jam Thumbprints

Cookie ingredients including jam, vanilla, and sugar.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The most tender wedding cookies are made with superfine sugar, so begin by pulsing the granulated sugar in a food processor until it is fine and powdery.

Sugar in a food processor.

Next, add the flour, salt, and pecans.

Pecans in a food processor with dry ingredients.

Process the mixture until the nuts are finely ground.

Food processor of finely ground nut mixture.

Add the butter.

Butter in a food processor with a nut mixture.

Then pulse until the mixture comes together.

Cookie dough in a food processor.

Transfer the dough to a bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Bowl of cookie dough.

Roll the dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Balls of cookie dough on a lined baking sheet.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press an indentation about 3/4 of the way down into the center of each ball (you could also use your thumb but a wooden spoon works much better).

Person using a wooden spoon to make indents in balls of cookie dough.

Bake for 22-24 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack. Let the cookies cool slightly, then dust them generously with powdered sugar.

Sieve dusting powdered sugar on cookies.

Now, for the fillings. You can use any jam or jelly you like. I love Bonne Maman strawberry, raspberry, four fruit or apricot. For kids or chocolate lovers, try Nutella or chocolate ganache. Fill the cookies using a tiny spoon or the tips of teaspoon handles.

Jam thumbprint cookies on a wire rack.

That’s all there is to it. Such beauties!

Jam thumbprint cookies on a wire rack.

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Nutty Jam Thumbprints

These Nutty Jam Thumbprints could win a cookie contest on looks alone, but they’re just as delicious as they are pretty.

Servings: 48 cookies


  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups pecans
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut unto 1-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • ½ cup favorite jam, jelly or preserves (best quality, such as Bonne Maman)


  1. Put the granulated sugar in the food processor and process until it is fine and powdery, about 30 seconds. (Be sure to cover the feed tube so the powder doesn’t float out.)
  2. Add the flour, salt and pecans and pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
  3. Add the butter and vanilla and process until the mixture looks damp and comes together. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  4. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Use the tip of a wooden spoon handle to press an indentation about ¾ of the way down into the center of each ball (twist slightly to release; if the handle sticks, dip it in flour). Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until lightly colored on top and golden brown on the bottom. (If your oven cooks unevenly, rotate cookies from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through baking time.)
  6. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Using a sieve, dust cookies with confectioners’ sugar. Use a tiny spoon or the tip of a teaspoon handle to fill with jam, jelly or preserves.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The Cookie Dough can be Frozen for up to 3 Months: Roll the dough into balls, let set on a baking sheet in the freezer, then place in a sealable bag and press out as much air as possible. Bake as needed directly from the freezer. (Allow 1 to 2 minutes longer in the oven.) To Freeze After Baking: Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature. (For best results, add the jam after defrosting.)

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 90
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 26 mg
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Cookies look delicious. Cant wait to make them.

    Question: Your recipes have you adding the jam AFTER baking while other recipes bake them with the jam already in the thumbprint. What is the reasoning behind this?

    • — Verna on December 11, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Verna, You really can go either way but I like putting the jam in after baking because it remains shiny that way (whereas the surface gets a little dull when it’s baked. Hope you enjoy them!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2023
      • Reply
  • I just made these for the first time, following the recipe exactly. I had problems with several of the techniques. Firstly, it was impossible to powderize the sugar in my food processor as the level was below the blades. Perhaps just use powdered sugar instead of granulated? Secondly, I refrigerated my dough overnight and ended up with a rock solid, unmanageable ball of dough the next morning. I would definitely skip this part next time as the dough seems to be stiff enough. Thirdly, I experienced the same problems as others with cracking when I used the wooden spoon method. The cookies that actually held together were difficult to fill with jam because of the small opening. All that being said, they tasted good but weren’t pretty enough to gift.

    • — Fay on December 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • These turned out beautifully, but could be a little tricky. I refrigerated them overnight and didn’t have time to wait for the dough to warm up so microwaved it at 20% power for a minute and then again for another 30 seconds. That made it pliable, but once I had made the dough balls I felt they might be too warm and spread, so put the balls in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Baked for 23 minutes and they came out perfectly. However, the wooden spoon end was not particularly wide, and if I tried to go deep the cookies would crack. I used cherry Bonne Maman as that was all I had, and the cherries made it tough to get jam into the little hole that the spoon end made. But all’s well that ends well–they tasted great and while they looked a little like eyeballs, didn’t deter anyone! Next time I would probably make the dough balls right after making the dough, and refrigerate those overnight. They were delicious, though–lovely shortbread.

    • — Juliette on December 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Juliette, I’m glad these came out well, overall. Also, I just saw your earlier question — sorry I didn’t have the opportunity to get back to you before you made them!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’m looking for a chocolate thumbprint recipe. Would this one work if I substituted a hot fudge in for the jam? If so, is there a store bought fudge you’d recommend or would you have a recipe for homemade? Thank you!

    • — Jenny on December 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, I think that would work. I like Ghiradelli’s. I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    These look amazing! Just curious how much dough should I use to form the balls? Do you use a cookie scoop and if so what size?

    • — Chris on August 18, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Chris, you’ll need about 1.5 tablespoons of dough for each ball. If you’re going to use a scoop, I’d recommend the #40. Hope you enjoy the cookies!

      • — Jenn on August 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I have been filling these cookies with jam that I’ve placed in a ziplock bag and snipped a tiny hole in one corner. I then pipe the jam into the indentation. Very quick and easy. Since some brand of jams can be a bit thick and lumpy, I first mash them up, right in their jars, with a mini whisk to smooth them out to make for easy piping.

  • I used almond flour (decreased the amount), refrigerated dough overnight, thawed for half hour before rolling balls and found they crumbled apart when I pressed the spoon handle into them. Took a little finessing/sculpting to hold them together. Good flavor though

  • Hi, a family member is allergic to nuts, do you have a suggestion of what can be substituted for the pecans? Would ground pretzels work?

    • Hi Anna, Unfortunately, there’s not a great substitute for nuts here; I’d look for a thumbprint cookie that doesn’t require them.

  • I love these. Used Bonne mamman preserves – 1/2 with apricot 1/2 with raspberry. These are so subtle and delicious. Don’t think they will last until Christmas.

  • Delicious! I didn’t add the jam and ate the cookies with just the powdered sugar. Not overly sweet, and was a soft/crumbly cookie!

  • These are so tasty! The perfect cookie for a cookie exchange or holiday plate. I recommend cooking them at the lower end of the suggested time, although they are also delicious when a little overdone.

  • I’m sad. I was going to use these for part of my holiday goodie boxes but they didn’t turn out great. Tasted good but a few things went wrong somehow. I used an amazing mixed berry jam that looked purple in jar but looked black once in cookie… so they looked like eye balls. I will say that’s user error. Just a caution warning. But then a moist circle ring became visible around the jam circles overnight. Not pretty. Also the cookie turned a grayish color not the light color in pics and I didn’t use whole wheat flour. They crumble apart when you take a bite. I didn’t see any instructions on how long you can keep them and if they need to be refrigerated. I would say this recipe is extremely finicky. Be careful maybe use a scale because I followed it to a T and I’m super bummed.

  • Hi Jen, I don’t have a food processor. Could I just substitute equal additional flour for the ground pecans?

  • These look so pretty and festive. Could almond flour be substituted for the ground nuts?

    • I haven’t tried, it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

  • Hi Jenn,

    If I start with superfine sugar, what would the measurement be?


    • Hi Deborah, I think you can use the same amount of granulated sugar that’s called for. Hope you enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn, I’ve made jam thumbprints for many years but your recipe is the best. They’re delicious and beautiful to look at. They’ll definitely be on my holiday table this year and they’ll be included in care packages for the kids and grandkids…. provided my husband doesn’t eat them all!
    Thanks again for your wonderful recipes.

  • They are so good! I’ve been searching for thumbprint cookies in Latin/Hispanic websites trying to find recipes under “polvorones” or “mantecaditos” -as we call them in Puerto Rico, and I tried several, but all of them turned out awful. I have no idea why I didn’t look at your site in the first place. Your cookies are delicious! I used almonds instead of pecans to make them “true to Spanish taste”, everything else I followed to a tee.
    I have spent this time learning to cook, and I was lucky enough to find your site. Your recipes are so appetizing and so easy I CAN COOK! Next thing on my list is your cookbook.

    Another good recipe I can’t seem to find is the “arroz con leche”, sort of a rice and milk pudding. Do you have one you could recommend? Even better, could you make one? I am sure it will be excellent.
    Thank you Jen, I believe you are a wonderful chef and a wonderful teacher.

    • Hi Eugenia, Glad you like the recipes and that they are helping you improve your skills in the kitchen! I don’t have a rice pudding recipe of my own — sorry! I will add it to my list of recipes to potentially develop. 🙂

  • Hi Jen,
    Baked a batch of these biscuits this afternoon. They turned out perfectly and are so delicious.
    The rest I have frozen according to the directions. I also used lemon curd as an extra filling.
    Thank you for another winning recipe.

  • made these at Christmas time… impossible to place “thumb print” with any utensil or thumb…. dough just crumbled ….not at all sure what happened. flavor wonderful but not fun to make at all.

    • — mary alice grieco
    • Reply
    • Sorry you had a problem with these, Mary Alice! Based on what you described, I suspect the dough was probably too cold. Next time, work it a bit with your hands to warm it up.

  • Hi Jen,
    Your recipes are like a cooking bible to me:) Every single recipe I tried so far worked out very well!
    Anyways, can I substitute the pecans to walnuts? I just want to avoid another visit to a supermarket. Would it work with walnuts??

    • Yep, walnuts will work, Sirena. So happy you like the recipes! ❤️

  • I usually love your recipes and recommend to everyone! I have tried several of your cookie recipes and all turned out delicious! However, this recipe I was super disappointed with. As the previous commenter posted mine also cracked and I followed the recipe to a T. After putting the dough in the fridge (only for a few hours) it was super hard. They went in looking like yours so I’m not sure what happened. As soon as I went to make the ident for the jam they cracked. Smoother them out but still cracked badly in the oven. They did taste good still!

    • Hi Brittany, I’m so sorry you had trouble with these! Were the nuts finely ground?

  • Hi Jenn,
    I am trying to figure out why my cookies cracked in the oven. They looked just like yours when I put them in. If the granulated sugar was not fine enough – powdery- would that impact the results?

    • Hi Liz, I don’t think it was the sugar…did you by chance make any substitutions?

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