Benne Seed Thumbprint Cookies


Thumbprint cookies get a sophisticated upgrade.

Benne Seed Thumbprint Cookies
Photo: Greg DuPree; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
30 mins
Chill Time:
45 mins
Bake Time:
25 mins
Cool Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
2 dozen

A twist on classic thumbprint cookies, Benne Seed Thumbprints are the addictive sweets that'll be gone before you know it. Luckily, these cookies come together in a flash, so you can whip up multiple batches when the first round disappears. Ditch the sprinkles: This recipe uses benne seeds to add texture and flavor to these simple cookies. Benne seeds are heirloom sesame seeds—you can dress these cookies up tuxedo-style by rolling them in a mix of black and white sesame seeds.

Powdered sugar makes this cookie dough super light—the cookies practically melt when you bite into them. Chilling the dough before rolling it into balls makes it less likely to stick to your hands. These thumbprints are made to be adaptable: Use any flavor of jam you have on hand (or make some yourself). To make it easier to fill these with jam, press a teaspoon into the center of each cookie again right after they come out of the oven.

This recipe makes around 2 dozen cookies, leaving you with plenty to fill your cookie tins and deliver to friends. Enjoy a few yourself, too, with a mug of coffee or hot cocoa.


  • 1 cup unsifted powdered sugar

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup benne seeds (sesame seeds)

  • ½ cup seedless jam of choice


  1. Beat powdered sugar and butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg and vanilla; continue beating until combined, about 20 seconds. Add flour; beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 45 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place benne seeds in a small, shallow bowl. Using a 1 ½-inch cookie scoop (about 1 ½ tablespoons), scoop cookie dough into rounds, and roll each into a smooth ball. (You should have about 24 balls.) Roll balls in benne seeds to coat, and arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using your thumb or the back of a teaspoon, gently press the center of each ball to form a ½-inch-deep indentation.

  3. Bake in 2 batches in preheated oven until bottoms are golden and seeds are lightly toasted, 12 to 14 minutes per batch. Remove from oven; re-press the indentation of each cookie. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into indention of each cookie.

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