These melt in your mouth Icing Thumbprint Cookies are delicious, buttery shortbread cookies that are filled with a simple homemade icing. These are topped with a little red candy heart for Grinch inspired Christmas cookies!
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Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies
The holiday season is here and cookie recipes for parties, bake sales, cookie swaps, and more are on our agenda this month. This classic thumbprint cookies recipe is one that you will want to make over and over again. The bright green icing truly captures the color of Christmas!
However, you can make these thumbprint cookies with icing for any occasion. They are fun for Easter with pastel colored icing, Valentine’s Day with pink icing or even a fall or Halloween treat with orange icing.
We even love whipping these up for a movie night at home because who doesn’t love tender cookies with that sweet icing!
Butter – Reach for softened unsalted butter for making these cookies. It will help give you that ultra creamy texture.
Granulated Sugar – You won’t use a ton of sugar for the cookies as the icing is going to sweeten the cookies quite a bit.
Salt – A must for making cookies as it really helps bring all the flavors together.
Egg Yolk – Make sure to use just the egg yolk for this cookie recipe.
Vanilla Extract – If you want you could do half vanilla half almond extract if you want to alter the flavor a bit.
Flour – All purpose flour worked great. Scoop the flour into the measuring cup and then level it off.
Powdered sugar – I used a powder sugar base to make my favorite cookies icing. It is simple and quick.
Milk – This is going to thin out the cookie icing.
Corn Syrup – Trust me on this, it is really going to transform the iced thumbprint cookies recipe to a a whole new level.
Food Coloring – I used green but you are welcome to color your cookies any way you want.
Candy Hearts – Since I made these a Grinch cookie I did the classic red candy heart. You can leave that off if you don’t want a Grinch theme.
1. For almond flavor add a few drops of almond extract into the dough.
2. Swap the corn syrup for honey or maple syrup.
3. Decorate the cookies any way you want. Add sprinkles, drizzle chocolate, make the festive cookie as you would like.
4. Mix in some sprinkles to the thumbprint cookie dough to add more color.
5. Change the color of the icing to fit any special occasion or holiday.
6. Use gluten-free flour flour if desired. (like Bob’s Red Mill one-to-one flour.)
How to Make these Thumbprint Cookies
This recipe will come together in “blank” steps OR this recipe takes some time but it’s well worth it
Keep steps simple and clear.
Step 1 – Preheat the oven and then prep your baking sheet and set it aside.
Step 2 – Add dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix and the set it aside.
Step 3 – In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. This takes a couple of minutes.
Step 4 – Add in the egg yolk and vanilla, and then mix to combine.
Step 5 – Add in the flour mixture making sure to not over-mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Step 6 – Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop with dough and roll into balls.
Step 7 – press a well into the center of each ball with a teaspoon sized measuring spoon, the handle of a wooden spoon or your finger or thumb and then bake as directed until the edges are golden brown.
Step 8 – Remove cookies and then carefully press in the center again and then finish baking. Once done allow the cookies to cool for about 30 minutes..
Step 9 – Next make the icing and once the cookies have cooled completely, spoon or pipe in the center with icing. Top with a sprinkle if desired.
- Use real butter to create that perfect buttery cookies that melt in your mouth.
- Use the back of a measuring spoon to create the thumbprint for the center of the cookies.
- A hand mixer is great for creaming the butter and sugar together. It is an easy way to use less elbow grease in mixing.
- Pour icing into a plastic zip closure bag or a piping bag and cut the tip off, to squirt the icing in the center of the cookies. This offers the best results for not spilling the frosting.
- If the confectioner’s sugar is clumping, run it through the sifter to help make it a creamy and smooth frosting.
These cookies can be stored an airtight container at room temperature. I do recommend if you are going to stack the cookies make sure that you use parchment or wax paper to place between layers to prevent the cookies from sticking together.
You can freeze these cookies. Just bake and allow them to cool as directed. Place in a freezer safe container or zip closure bag. Then freeze for 2-3 months. Once you are ready to eat some then thaw on the counter and then serve and enjoy like they were freshly made.
You can also flash freeze the dough balls for about 30 minutes (after pressing the well into the center of each cookie). Then thaw for a few minutes on a cookie sheet and bake as directed.
Icing Thumbprint Cookies
For the Cookies
- 1 cup butter unsalted, softened
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
For the icing filling
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-4 teaspoons milk
- 2 teaspoon corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Green food coloring optional for grinch cookies
- Red Heart Sprinkles optional for grinch cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the cookies:
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and whisk together.2 cups all purpose flour, ¼ teaspoon salt
- In medium mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and cream together with an electric mixer (you can also use the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment )1 cup butter, ¼ cup white sugar
- Add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue blending until well incorporated.1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing after each addition, until it is all blended in.
- Using a cookie scoop, scoop out tablespoon sized dough and roll into balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Using a teaspoon sized measuring spoon, your finger, or the handle of a wooden spoon, press a well into the center of each dough ball.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, gently press in the center of each cookie again.
- Place back in the oven and bake for an 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
- Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely .
Make the icing:
- In a medium bowl, add powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of milk.1 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoon corn syrup, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2-4 teaspoons milk
- Mix until well incorporated. Add a little green food coloring (a little goes a long way). Add additional ½ teaspoon of milk if the icing is too thick.Green food coloring
- After the cookies have cooled completely, fill each cookie with the icing and place a red heart sprinkle into the center of each cookie.Red Heart Sprinkles optional for grinch cookies
- Allow the icing to set for approximately 30 minutes.