Apricot Thumbprints

Buttery shortbread cookies with sweet jam at the center.

Apricot Thumbprints

Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
20 cookies

If there’s one cookie in every cookie tin or at every holiday cookie exchange, it’s a thumbprint cookie. Easy to customize and a breeze to decorate, the combination of jam, nuts, and a shortbread-like cookie base can’t be beat.

While this recipe uses apricot preserves, feel free to use your favorite jam flavor instead, like raspberry or peach. And sure, pecans are the classic and also Southern choice for coating these cookies, but chopped almonds are another great option, or pistachios for a pop of green.

If there’s one secret to making beautiful thumbprint cookies, it’s to not overfill them. Although ¾ teaspoon of preserves may not seem like much filling, trust us when we say that it’s the right amount to fill these cookies just enough without spill over and in turn a huge mess to clean up.


  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg, separated

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with racks in top and bottom positions. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Beat shortening and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until just combined, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low; gradually add flour and salt, beating until combined, about 1 minute. Shape dough into 20 (1-tablespoon) balls.

  3. Place pecans in a bowl. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Dip dough balls in egg white; roll in chopped pecans to coat. Arrange 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

  4. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven; using a clean thimble or the end of a wooden spoon, make a 1/2-inch-deep indentation in the center of each ball. Place a heaping 3/4 teaspoon preserves in center of each cookie.

  5. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks halfway through baking time. Let cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

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