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Thumbprint Cookies with Icing

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Rebecca


  • 1/3 cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped, or 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 sticks (8 oz., 228 g) butter, salted or unsalted (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/41/2 tsp. salt (see notes)
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour


Mixing the Dough

Begin by preheating the oven to 350°F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and make sure it’s the correct consistency. You want it to be soft, but not melted or very oily. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the granulated sugar with the vanilla bean paste.

Note: If you’re using a whole vanilla bean, use a sharp-tipped knife (like a paring knife) and split it lengthwise down the center. Use the sharp edge of the knife to scrape the inside of the vanilla bean pod. There will be clusters of the vanilla beans on the knife. Rub those into the sugar until they’re no longer clumpy.

Add the vanilla sugar and powdered sugar to the butter and mix until well-combined and slightly fluffy. This will take about 2 minutes with an electric hand mixer and 3-4 minutes by hand.

Next, stir in the egg yolk until it’s completely mixed into the butter mixture.

Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix until it’s all worked into the dough. You don’t want any stray streaks or clumps of flour, but you also don’t want to over mix as that can make the cookies a bit tougher.

Baking the Cookies

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-2 tablespoon sized balls. This portion scoop makes the job super easy! Roll each scoop of cookie dough into a round ball (this makes them nice and smooth and helps prevent cracking edges).

Place them about 2-3″ apart on the cookie sheet. They don’t spread much when baking, so you can put them fairly close together.

Use a rounded teaspoon to press down into the center and create a well in each cookie. If you’re filling the cookies with icing, leave the center empty. 

If you’re using jam (or another option like a fruit curd or nut spread), place some in the center of each cookie. Fill them generously, but don’t over fill or it will spill out over the sides and create messy cookies.

Bake the cookie for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are set. They won’t really be golden brown except for perhaps the very bottom edge. But you don’t want the cookie part to look at all doughy or wet.

If you left the centers unfilled, they may have puffed up during baking. Use the back of the teaspoon to press them down again. Now they’re ready to fill with icing!

Remove the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before icing.

Making the Icing for the Cookies

In a small bowl, sift the 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to remove any lumps. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and 2 tablespoons of milk. Stir until the powdered sugar has all been combined.

Add more milk as needed until the frosting is a good consistency. You don’t want it to be thin, but it should not be dough-like. If the icing runs off of a spoon in a thick ribbon, it’s a good viscosity.

Use a small spoon or piping bag to fill the center of each cookie. Allow them to sit flat for an hour or two so that the frosting has a chance to dry a bit and doesn’t run off the edges.

After filling the cookies, add more milk, a tiny bit at a time, to the remaining icing until it is thin enough to drizzle.

Note: If you’re filling your cookies with jam, and only using the icing for a drizzle, you may want to make a half batch of icing.