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Easy Iced Thumbprint Cookies

Easy iced thumbprint cookies are an all-time favorite. With sweet icing and tender cookies, they are great for any occasion. 

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Iced Thumbprint Cookies with red and green icing on a cooling rack

Thumbprint cookies are classic, delicious, and versatile! Because the color of the icing can change with the season, you can make them for any holiday.

I like to make them at Christmas, or for occasions like a baby shower, or a family get together! 

This recipe makes a tender thumbprint cookie with an icing center. Icing flavors you can use include: buttercream icing, chocolate icing, and icing with sprinkles.  

With just a few ingredients you can make delicious shortbread thumbprint cookies! 

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Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post:

  • How to make iced thumbprint cookies 
  • How to keep them from cracking 
  • The best icing to use for thumbprint cookies 
  • How to ice the thumbprint cookies 

I’ll break the recipe down into simple steps. Plus I’ll cover several tips on how to make your cookies perfect every time. Let’s get started!

Ingredients needed to make Shortbread cookies with icing


A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Then cover the dough with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Collage of mixing wet and dry cookie ingredients together in a bowl

STEP TWO: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper so that the shortbread cookies don’t stick. 

STEP THREE: Form cookie dough balls. Place them on the baking sheet. Use your thumb or the back of a small measuring spoon to make a small hole in the center of each cookie.

Cookies being pressed down in the center on a baking sheet with a teaspoon

STEP FOUR: Bake for 10 minutes or until they are slightly firm. Take the back of a spoon, and press the indentions again.

Place the cookies back in the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Cool for 1 minute. Then place on a wire rack.

Collage of mixing green and red icing together and putting them in Ziploc bags

STEP FIVE: Combine the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together using a whisk. Half the icing into separate bowls. Add in a few drops of food coloring to each bowl and whisk. 

To thin the icing out, add more milk if needed. Place icing in a plastic bag, and cut off the corner. Fill the centers of the cookies. Let them sit overnight to set up.

Piping green icing onto the cooked cookies


To prevent the dough from cracking, check that the batter is consistently mixed up before you roll them. Be sure that the rolled dough ball is tightly packed and not falling apart. 

Lightly push down with your thumb or a spoon. Try not to push your thumb down too hard or quickly. Create a slight indentation and then stop. 

Holding a red iced thumbprint cookie in hand with a plate of cookies and milk in background


If you want to keep thumbprint cookies on hand, I recommend freezing the dough itself. You can make a double batch, and set aside some extra dough to freeze for later. 

Tightly seal dough into a freezer bag. The dough will stay good for up to 3 months. 

When you’re ready to eat them, take the dough out of the freezer. Let them thaw. Then bake as normal. 

White rectangle plate of red and green thumbprint cookies with icing


The icing should be added after baking, when the cookies have cooled. You can use a homemade cookie icing recipe or another frosting such as buttercream frosting or chocolate frosting. 

For best frosting results, apply the icing to the center, and let it set up overnight. If you don’t have time overnight, allow for at least ten minutes.  

Overhead shot of 2 plates of cookies and glasses of milk on a white background


You can’t have cookies without sprinkles right?!

These thumbprint cookies can be made with icing and sprinkles if you prefer. You can choose to apply the sprinkles in the icing center or on the outside of the cookie. 

If you choose to add sprinkles to the outside of the cookie, roll the raw dough in sprinkles, then place on the baking sheet to cook. 

If you want to add sprinkles to the icing center, simply sprinkle some onto the fresh icing after cooking, and let it dry. 

Cookies on a plate with a bite taken out of one


If you choose to use pre-made icing such as chocolate frosting or buttercream frosting, that’s fine too. 

You can easily apply pre-made icing in the center of the thumbprint cookie with an icing dispenser. 

Another way you can apply it is by placing the icing into the microwave for ten seconds at a time to melt.

Once it melts, you can pour the icing into the center of the shortbread cookie. Allow time for the frosting to set up again. 

Other Cookie Recipes You’ll Love:

Iced Thumbprint Cookies with red and green icing on a cooling rack

Easy Iced Thumbprint Cookies

Samantha Erb
Delicious shortbread cookies filled with icing to create an easy and sweet dessert.
4.50 from 100 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 26 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 36 cookies
Calories 90 kcal


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

For the Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Red or green food coloring optional


  • In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the flour and salt, mixing until incorporated.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Roll the dough into 1 ½-inch balls, and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use your thumb or the back of a round measuring spoon to press a small hole in the center of each ball.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, until slightly firm, then remove baking sheets from the oven. Use the spoon to press into the indentations in each cookie again, then return to the oven and bake for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl until smooth. Divide the icing in half and add a few drops of food coloring to each, whisking to incorporate. Add more milk if needed, but not so much it becomes runny. Pour icing into plastic zipper bags, snip off a corner, and fill the center of each cookie. Allow to dry and set overnight.



Serving: 1gCalories: 90kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 5mgSugar: 5g
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About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

6 thoughts on “Easy Iced Thumbprint Cookies”

  1. 5 stars
    I love shortbread and usually just bake them with a dusting of sparkling sugar. I love the thumbprint idea! Thanks for sharing!


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