These apricot thumbprint cookies are so simple and tasty. They're made with a shortbread-like dough that is rolled in sugar and filled with apricot preserves or jam. The tart jam balances the sweetness beautifully.
Thumbprints are classic cookies for Christmas, and these apricot thumbprint cookies are sure to please! The cookies are soft and buttery with centers filled with apricot preserves. They're so easy to make with less than 10 ingredients and no chill time!
Thumbprint cookies are usually made with raspberry jam, but I decided to make this recipe with apricot jam. Apricots are sweet like a peach but with a tart punch. They're delicate, sophisticated, and super delicious in dessert recipes; this one is no exception!
If you love Christmas cookie season as much as I do, make chocolate marble cookies, molasses crinkle cookies, almond spritz cookies, olive oil sugar cookies, and brown butter pecan chocolate chip cookies.
Why You'll Love These Cookies
- Shortbread thumbprint cookies- These cookies use a base similar to my lemon shortbread cookies. They're sweet, buttery, and melt in your mouth.
- Easy, quick recipe- These cookies don't require any chill time and are fast to make!
- Perfect for the holidays- These cookies are the perfect size for gifting, and everyone will love receiving them in Christmas cookie boxes!
Watch How to Make This Recipe
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. For quantities, see the recipe card below.
- Unsalted butter- The butter should be at room temperature but not melty. Pull it out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking.
- Granulated sugar- This sweetens the cookies and helps them spread a little bit. Set aside some extra sugar to roll the cookie dough in.
- Egg yolk- The egg yolk binds the ingredients together and adds richness. Make sure it is at room temperature.
- Vanilla and almond extract- These enhance and add extra flavor to the cookies.
- Flour- All purpose flour gives the cookies structure.
- Salt- This balances the sweetness.
- Apricot jam- Homemade or store bought apricot jam, jelly, or preserves can be used. I used Bonne Maman. You could even blend fresh apricots or rehydrate and blend dried apricots to make a filling!
- Butter: Vegan buttery sticks can be used to make these dairy free.
- Almond extract: If you don't like almond, substitute with more vanilla extract.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
You'll need a stand mixer or electric hand mixer with a large bowl, measuring cups, measuring spoons, baking sheets, and parchment paper. A kitchen scale is helpful for measuring the flour.
Step by Step Instructions
Here are the steps to make the apricot cookies. Before you start, preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
STEP 1: Cream the butter and sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on high for 1-2 minutes until pale and fluffy.
STEP 2: Add the remaining ingredients. Mix in the egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract on low until fully combined. Then, gradually beat in the flour and salt. The mixture will look crumbly at first but comes together as it's mixed.
STEP 3: Roll into balls. Roll the cookie dough into balls with about 1 tablespoon of dough per ball. Then, roll in granulated sugar and place them 1-2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets.
STEP 4: Fill the cookies. Make a "thumbprint" on each cookie by pressing the back of a teaspoon into the center of each dough ball. You can also use your thumb or the bottom end of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to make the indentations. Fill each indentation with ½ teaspoon of apricot jam using a spoon or piping bag.
STEP 5: Bake. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until the tops appear set and the jam is bubbly. 13 minutes was perfect with my oven and 14 yielded a crunchier cookie. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the tray for a bit before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely, dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use a kitchen scale. For the most accurate measurements, use a food scale. This is especially important for measuring the flour! If you don't have a scale, spoon the flour into the measuring cup without packing it in and swipe the excess flour back into the bag.
- Don't overbake. The cookies will still look super soft and the jam won't appear set when you take them out of the oven. They will continue to bake a little as they cool and firm up.
- Bake time may vary. Depending on the size of your apricot cookies and the tendencies of your oven, bake time might vary. Be sure to keep an eye on them; I like to start checking around the 10 minute mark.
Additions and Variations
There are many different jams and fillings you can use instead of apricot. Some of my favorites are lemon curd, blueberry compote, chocolate ganache, buttercream, raspberry or strawberry jam, and cream cheese filling. If you choose ganache or buttercream, bake the cookies naked and fill them after they're completely cool.
You can also roll the dough in chopped nuts or shredded coconut instead of granulated sugar for extra crunch!
Storage and Freezing
Storage: Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Place baked cookies in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Cookie dough can also be frozen. After rolling the balls, freeze them on the baking tray for about 2 hours or until they're frozen solid. After that, transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to bake, let the frozen dough balls thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Roll them in sugar and fill with jam right before baking. The bake time will be the same, possibly requiring 1-2 more minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven't tried making this recipe gluten free, but feel free to give it a shot and let me know how it goes! Try using a measure-for-measure gluten free flour blend.
When you roll the dough balls, make sure they're super smooth with no lines or cracks. Gently make the thumbprint indentations right after rolling. If the cookie dough sits too long, the dough will begin to dry out and increase the risk of cracking.
The key to prevent spreading is making sure the dough isn't too warm. Try not to overwork the dough when rolling and make sure the baking trays are cool before placing the dough on them.
More Cookie Recipes to Try
Apricot Filled Thumbprint Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar + additional for rolling
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup apricot jam
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.1 cup unsalted butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Add egg yolk, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Gradually mix in the flour and salt ½ cup at a time on low speed until fully combined.2 ¼ cup all purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Roll the cookie dough into balls with about 1 tablespoon of dough per ball. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place 1-2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
- Make a "thumbprint" on each cookie by pressing the back of a teaspoon into the center of each dough ball. Fill each indentation with ½ teaspoon of apricot jam using a spoon or piping bag.½ cup apricot jam
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms are light brown and the jam is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely and enjoy!
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