These poppy seed thumbprint cookies are all-year-round cookies that get all the attention during the holiday season.

It could be because of the bright, colorful display of the jam against the sparks of poppy seeds. Or it may be thanks to their small bite-size that makes them perfectly snackable at holiday parties.

Poppy Seed Thumbprint Cookies

I have made those little delights every holiday season as far back as I can remember. One thing is for sure — they are absolutely addictive.

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The best part about these pretty, sweet cookies is they take nearly no time to make. 

They’re excellent for afternoon tea or morning coffee. Or, serve them with a cup of hot chocolate for the little one? 

Just set up a nice table, and you’ll feel like you’re at a fun tea party in no time.

I remember first enjoying one of these delicious cookies fresh out of the oven. It was love at first bite. The buttery dough is soft, chewy, and just plain delicious paired with the bright fruit flavor, who can resist that?

In this Article

Why You’ll Love Poppy Seed Thumbprint Cookies

Easy – This cookie recipe is simple and straightforward. It also called for ingredients that are easy to find at the grocery store. 

Quick – Thumbprint cookies don’t take long to prepare or to bake. They’re perfect when you need a last-minute sweet treat for guests or to take to a party. 

Eye-catching – These cookies will stand out on any dessert spread. 

poppy seed thumbprints

Here are a few helpful tips for the ingredients needed

Poppy seeds: Because of the oil content, poppy seeds can go rancid. Taste yours before making this recipe. You are ready to go if they have retained their nutty flavor. 

Toss them if you detect bitterness or an off flavor. My rule of thumb is to buy small amounts of ingredients for baking if you don’t use them often in your cooking.

All-purpose flour: Be sure to sift the flour before using it. This will help eliminate any clumps from forming.

Salt:  Fine sea salt is the best for baking. It melts and imparts such a wonderful flavor.

Unsalted butter: Make sure you are using sweet or unsalted butter. They will taste so much better than salted — plus, you’re already including fine sea salt.

Sugar: Use granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar. Confectioner’s sugar, also known as powdered sugar, is finer.

Eggs: Always use large eggs and have them at room temperature before beginning.

Vanilla extract: Use a good quality extract. The flavor is unquestionably better.

Raspberry preserve: I have a soft spot for raspberry preserves. Of course, you can choose your favorite instead.

poppy seed thumbrint cookies in a plate surrounded by holiday holly

An important tip about the butter and dough-making

As you will read in the instructions, make sure your butter is slightly softened. It’s worth mentioning more than once because it will make a massive difference in the success of your cookie’s texture.

The butter should be soft when you touch it, but not so soft that your finger will leave a big dent. To prevent flat cookies, let butter soften at room temperature instead of risking melting it too much in the microwave.

Working the butter with the paddle attachment will give the butter a creamy texture. Then add the remaining ingredients and beat until the dough becomes an almost sticky ball.

Chill the dough if it becomes too soft and sticks to your hands at the touch.

What jam or preserve shall I use?

Use a high-quality variety with actual fruit preserves or jam. By using real fruit jam, you can make sure the filling is thick and easy to put in the thumbprint cookie.

Thin jams or spreads with high sugar content melt quickly when baked. This causes the filling to become runny. As a result, it overflows from the cavity.

I love the pretty presentation of the dark raspberry, but they taste good with peach and apricot preserves. 

Poppy Seed Thumbprints Cookies

Baking tips and step-by-step instructions to make those beautiful poppy seed thumbprint cookies:

This recipe makes a lot of cookies. You must bake in 2 to 3 batches unless you have a double oven. 

To freeze a small amount of leftover cookie dough, shape it into logs and wrap them tightly. You can store them in the freezer for up to a month. This way, you can enjoy them when the craving strikes.

  • Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the poppy seeds. Set aside.
  • Ensure the butter is at room temperature to mix easily with the sugar. Then, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Start by working the butter until smooth, and slowly add the sugar. Mix the sugar with the butter at medium speed in your mixer (or use a handheld electric mixer) until well incorporated.
  • Add one egg at a time and then the vanilla extract.
  • While adding, pause the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl’s sides, ensuring all ingredients are mixed.
  • Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix at low speed. Do not overmix.
  • Then, shape dough so that all the small dough balls are the same size. This will ensure even baking. A small ice cream scooper or cookie scoop will work wonderfully here.
  • Using the end of a wooden spoon will give you the perfect indentation in the center of each cookie. I tried the back of the spoon, and that was a disaster.
  • Re-press each indentation if needed before adding the preserve to your half-baked cookies. Then fill with the preserve and do not overfill. The preserve will rise as it bakes, and it might overflow.
  • I love raspberry preserves. However, do use whichever preserve you have on hand.
  • Once the cookies are lightly browned (about 10-12 minutes), remove them from the oven. Allow a few minutes before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool. 
  • Please wait until the cookie sheet cools off to room temperature before adding the next batch of cookies. This step will prevent your butter from melting and the cookies from spreading.
Poppy Seed Thumbprints Cookies

Parchment paper

I cannot live without using this handy product. Parchment paper is convenient in case of jam spillage or in the unfortunate event that a baked good burns.

It also prevents sticking to your baking sheets, translating to less mess to clean after baking.

What to Serve With Poppy Seed Thumbprints

Serve these pretty poppy seed cookies alongside a spread of other holiday favorites like peanut butter cookiescardamom snickerdoodle cookies, or dried cranberry chocolate cookies. You can also use them to garnish desserts like affogato al caffee or fruit-topped vanilla ice cream

Variations 

  • Gluten-free – For a gluten-free version, try using an alternative flour that has xanthan gum. 
  • Preserves – Use any type of preserves you prefer. 
  • Citrus – Try incorporating lemon zest or orange zest. Or, add just a bit of fresh lemon juice or extract for a bright lemon flavor.
  • Coconut – Add coconut flakes for a fun twist on the flavor profile. 
  • Almond extract – Substitute almond extract for some of the vanilla for a slightly nutty flavor.
  • Powdered sugar – For an even prettier presentation, try dusting the tops of these with some confectioners’ sugar.
  • Seeds – Swap out the poppy seeds for chia seeds or flax seeds.
poppy see thumbprint cookies on a white plate with poinsettas flowers around it

Other Irresistible Cookies

Butter Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookies

Oatmeal Forest Berry Cookies

Canestreletti or Canestrelli

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my thumbprint cookies falling apart? 

Making a really deep indentation in the cookies can cause them to break. Make a gentle indentation that still allows the cookie to maintain its structure. 

Why are my thumbprint cookies cracking when putting thumbprint? 

If the dough is not soft enough, the cookies will crack. Chilling the dough in the refrigerator will help to eliminate cracking. 

What nationality are thumbprint cookies? 

Thumbprint cookies are a Swedish creation. Their original name, Hallongratta, translates to “raspberry cave,” an apt description for the preserve-filled cookies.

Storage instructions

Once the cookies have cooled to room temperature, store them in an airtight glass jar layered between pieces of parchment paper. They will last for up to 1 week.

Make-Ahead – You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before forming and baking the cookies. 

Refrigerato– While these cookies can be stored at room temperature, you can also store them in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. You can also wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Freezer: Freeze cookies for up to 3 months.

poppy seed thumbprint cookies

If you enjoy these poppy seed thumbprint cookies, look at some of my other recipes!

Dried Cranberry Chocolate Cookies – The Best Recipe Ever

Brown Sugar Cookies

Oatmeal Forest Berries Thumbprints Cookies

Butter Cookies

You will enjoy those adorably cute festive cookies that are much better than anything at your store.

Perfect for bringing to your friend’s party, for the cookie exchange at the office, or just for your family and you to enjoy with a hot cup of tea, coffee, or hot cocoa.

Equipment and ingredients used to create this recipe.

A Chef Giangi Pick
KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
$249.99
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02/18/2024 06:55 am GMT

Poppy Seed Thumbprints

5 from 8 votes
poppy seed thumbprints
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Soft and chewy all at once. Buttery, soft, and just plain delicious, who can resist that?

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, lightly softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • raspberry preserve

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a large bowl sift together the flour and the salt. Whisk in the poppy seeds and set aside.
  • In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter until smooth. Pour in the sugar and mix until well incorporated. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix well. 
  • With the electric mixer speed at low, add the dry ingredients until well combined together. Do not overmix.
  • Roll the dough into small balls and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment line cookie sheet. Using a wooden spoon with a rounded handle no wider than ½ inch, make a deep indentation with the tip of the handle in the center of the cookie.
  • Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and re-press each indentation if needed it. Then fill the center with the raspberry preserve using a small spoon. Do not overfill it as it will run over.
  • Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. 

Notes

Storage 
Once the cookies have cooled to room temperature, store them in an airtight glass jar layered between pieces of parchment paper. They will last for up to 1 week.
Make-Ahead – You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before forming and baking the cookies. 
Refrigerato– While these cookies can be stored at room temperature, you can also store them in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container. You can also wrap them individually in plastic wrap.
Freezer: Freeze cookies for up to 3 months.

 

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 25mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 255IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.6mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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Originally published on December 13, 2020. Updated on November 25, 2022.