Reader’s Recipes: Evelyn’s Christmas Cookies

Simple Jam thumprint cookies should be in everyone's holiday cookie assortment

Reader’s Recipes: Evelyn’s Christmas Cookies — buttery little jam thumbprint cookies perfect for the holidays and beyond! These easy shortbread cookies add a pop of color to your holiday collection.

Reader's Recipes: tender bite sized jam thumbprints

recipe boxWelcome to my Reader’s Recipes series of holiday cookies. I’m going to be sharing YOUR family recipes here every Saturday from now until the New Year. Thanks to all of you who’ve sent in recipes for me to try!

Evelyn’s Christmas Cookie recipe was sent to me by Joan, from Clawson, Michigan. Joan is 78 years young and has been making and enjoying these cookies for over 30 years. Once again, I chose to make these cookies because they’re unlike anything I’ve shared before on the blog, and yet they’re classics.

Bite sized jam thumbprint Christmas cookies

The best jam for thumbprint cookies

This is an utterly simple dough that takes just a few minutes to whip up, and a few more minutes to bake. I think the beauty of these cookies is that glistening dollop of jam in the center. As they bake, the jam sets and becomes a little chewy. I love to collect interesting jams and jellies, so this cookie is perfect for using them up.

  • Joan’s recipe calls for current jelly, but I used a beautiful Red Raspberry Jam from Stonewall Kitchens. The flavor is bright and tart and a perfect complement to the buttery cookie. I think it would also be fun to mix and match jams and jellies to make a colorful assortment.

Reader's Recipes: Bite sized jam thumbprint cookies

The only change I made to the recipe was to coat the little balls of dough in sugar before placing them on the baking sheet. I found that helped me make the little indents without any stickiness, and gave the finished cookies an extra glisten. Oh, and I used my favorite Vanilla Bean Paste instead of extract because I’m addicted to those little vanilla specks!

Don’t use your thumb for thumbprint cookies!

I found that the back of a little 1/8 (or 1/4) teaspoon worked better than my thumb to make the perfect indent on these tiny cookies. I mound the jam up just a bit in the pockets, but not to overflowing.

Simple Jam thumprint cookies should be in everyone's holiday cookie assortment

How long to bake thumbprint cookies

They bake up to an irresistible bite size in just 8 minutes, so that the cookie is still soft, the jam is set, and the bottoms are a light golden. The nice thing about these cookies is that, once baked, the jam is firm and not sticky, so they can be packed or stacked. A nice feature in a holiday cookie!

Reader's Recipes: Evelyn's Christmas Cookies are a bite sized shortbread cookie with a tart jam center

The story behind this reader’s recipe…

This recipe is wrapped up in the story of a lifelong friendship between Joan and Evelyn that began in 1936 when Joan and her family moved into a new house and were greeted by the neighbors, who happened to have a daughter of the same age, Evelyn. This is Evelyn’s recipe, which is originally from the 80’s era “Christmas Cookbook, by John Clancy. Joan and Evelyn have been baking and exchanging these cookies for over 30 years. I know you’re going to love them too.

Reader's Recipes: bite sized thumbprint jam cookies

These cookies have a very simple, old fashioned appeal. Every holiday assortment needs them! — thank you Joan for sending along the recipe!

Tips for making these thumbprint cookies

  • I halved the recipe and it worked perfectly.
  • I used my mini 1 inch cookie scoop to make the perfect sized balls of dough.
  • I rolled the balls of dough in granulated sugar before making the indentation and filling with jam. It just made them less sticky, and added a little glisten to the finished cookie.
  • These are small cookies, make sure your oven temperature is correct and don’t over bake them. They will be pale when done.
Simple Jam thumprint cookies should be in everyone's holiday cookie assortment
3.33 from 204 votes

Reader’s Recipes: Evelyn’s Christmas Cookies

Reader's Recipes: Evelyn's Christmas Cookies --- buttery little jam thumbprint cookies perfect for the holidays and beyond!  These easy shortbread cookies add a pop of color to your holiday collection.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Yield 48 cookies
Author Sue Moran


  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter, 2 sticks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract, I used vanilla paste because I love the little specks
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup currant jelly, use any jam or jelly you like


  • Set oven to 375F
  • Cream butter and sugar until very light in color.
  • Add the egg yolks and continue beating until mixture is fluffy.
  • Stir in vanilla; gradually add the flour.
  • To form cookies, pat 1 tablespoon dough at a time into a 1-inch diameter ball and place on lightly greased baking sheet. (I used a 1 inch diameter scoop to portion out the dough) With fingertip, make an indentation in the top of each cookie. Spoon currant jelly into each indentation.
  • Bake cookies on middle rack of oven for about 8 minutes, or until edges turn a light golden brown.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


Don’t forget to pin Evelyn’s Christmas Cookies!

Evelyn's Christmas cookies pin.

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    I’m sorry but isn’t one stick of butter = to 1/2 cup? So is it 1 cup that = 2 sticks or is it 1/2 cup which = 1 stick?

    • Reply
      June 5, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      It’s 1/2 pound butter, which is 2 sticks, or 1 cup.

  • Reply
    December 25, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Hi! I love these cookies! I have a question… I do all the creaming and stirring by hand, and it’s difficult. Can I use a small electric mixer and have the cookies come out just as well? Thanks for your help!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I just pulled a batch out of the oven and they have gone pretty flat and are falling apart. Could I have overmixed? I don’t really know the science of baking! The crumbs taste divine though!

    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Make sure your dough is well combined before rolling into balls, Peggy, and then you might try chilling the cookies before baking.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I baked these up today and they came out perfectly. They taste better than I thought they would.

    • Reply
      December 16, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      I had that same thought when I first tasted them Darren, I wasn’t expecting such a simple cookie to taste so great 🙂 Have a nice holiday week!

  • Reply
    Beverly Hanberry
    December 8, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Was disappointed because our cookies baked too thinly. They have a great taste! Would love some suggestions. Thank you

    • Reply
      December 8, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      I’m not sure what could have gone wrong Beverly, all I can think of is to make sure you measure the ingredients correctly, and make sure your oven is fully preheated. Hope you give them another try!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    These look so good .. thanks for sharing. My Mom loves these cookies, making some right now. Try making these with almond extract instead of vanilla. Very yummy too 🙂 I sometimes drizzle an almond glaze over top, because you can never have enough sugar on your cookie 😉

    • Reply
      December 17, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      I just made a batch of almond bars today because I crave almond extract, so I’ll definitely try these that way, too. I was also thinking just today that I should have photographed these with a drizzle, we’re on the same page, Jackie!

  • Reply
    sarah smith
    January 22, 2016 at 10:01 am

    What a wonderful cookies recipe. The raspberry jam is the great flavor in this recipe. I think this is what I want to try in this weekend

    • Reply
      January 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

      You’ll love these Sarah, and they were super easy too.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Ohmygoodness, these cookies look positively delicious! I’ve already got the butter out of the fridge! 😀

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    October 13, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    I love thumbprint cookies, these are just beauties!

  • Reply
    Amy (Savory Moments)
    October 12, 2015 at 11:31 am

    This is such a great idea for a recipe series! I’ll be coming back to check out more for sure. These cookies look great – similar to my great-grandmothers (except hers were rolled in walnuts).

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    love this idea and i love cookies. where do i find vanilla bean paste?


    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 8:20 am

      Vanilla bean paste is sometimes hard to source, but you can always get it on Amazon.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    What a lovely series…and since I love Christmas and learning about other people’s favorite family treats, this is really something to look forward to! I wish I had longstanding family recipes to share but we didn’t grow up eating Christmas cookies…but now I get to try different recipes and we are starting our own traditions and discovering our favorite things. These cookies look festive and the simple yet delicious sweet buttery flavor against that jam makes a great holiday treat.

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Sue, love this new segment you are doing for the holidays, I really need help in this department. These cookies look delicious!

  • Reply
    October 11, 2015 at 10:54 am

    These are so pretty and super cute too. I really like the contrast between the clean crisp white of the dough and the jewel coloured raspberry jam. What a lovely thing to do, to bake favourite cookies from around the web.

  • Reply
    Jean |
    October 11, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Sue, put the kettle on. I’ll be right over for tea and cookies! This is one of my very favorite cookies, a bit like my jam tarts but less fiddly to make.

    • Reply
      October 11, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Thanks Jean, these really are super simple!

  • Reply
    Mary Younkin
    October 11, 2015 at 6:07 am

    I love this series! What a great idea. And these cookies? Once again, why can’t we be neighbors?? Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, sweet friend!

    • Reply
      October 11, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Be careful what you wish for, I’m DYING to get out of LA!!

  • Reply
    [email protected] Baking in Pyjamas
    October 11, 2015 at 5:34 am

    I’ve always to make some of these when the holidays roll around but have never gotten around to it. I love your idea of miss matching different jams. I may give it a go with mincemeat. Another lovely recipe with a delightful story behind it.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I LOVE this series! My grandmother used to make these all the time, but nobody in the family kept her recipe. I’m definitely going to be making these this year THANK YOU!!!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    October 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

    These look so good Sue – I am really into all these wonderful holiday cookies – what a terrific series and wonderful treats. These just look like Christmas and I bet they melt in your mouth! Sharing!

    • Reply
      October 11, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for sharing Tricia – I love that all these cookies are already perfected by years of baking and sharing.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2015 at 11:08 am

    These look wonderful. I love the idea of sharing special recipes, Sue. Can’t wait to try ’em.

    • Reply
      October 10, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks Judith — I’m loving doing it, and I’m getting introduced to cookies that weren’t on my radar!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    October 10, 2015 at 10:21 am

    These might just be my favorite cookie of all time! I make something similar and know they are sweet, buttery and totally addictive. I love seeing your vanilla beans in the cookie dough – I’m crazy for that vanilla bean paste too! Gorgeous pics (as usual)!

    • Reply
      October 10, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Thanks Chris — it’s funny that I haven’t made a lot of the classic cookies I’m getting from readers as part of this series — it’s starting to get me in the holiday mood 🙂

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