Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies have all the goodness of pecan pie in cookie form. The most perfect buttery shortbread cookie dough is filled with a gooey pecan filling to create these festive cookies.
The idea for pecan pie cookies struck me years ago as I mixed together the pecan pie filling for my Thanksgiving pies. I decided there should be a way to extend my love for this divine pie into a Christmas treat. And, honestly, after a marathon of holiday pie baking, I’d had my fill of pie baking.
So, I mixed up a batch of what I think is the best darned thumbprint dough this side of the Mississippi, then filled the cookies with a gooey pecan filling and ding, ding, ding – we have a winner!
Table of contents
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- BEST Thumbprint Dough – This thumbprint cookie dough is easy to work with immediately without any chilling. It holds it’s shape while baking and it is absolutely delicious.
- Easier Than Pie – Pecan Pie Thumbprints are an easy way to add the flavor of pecan pie to your holiday dessert menu.
- Freezer-Friendly – The dough can made in advance and frozen to save time. The baked cookies will also freeze well.
I’m in love with these cookies. They have earned a well deserved spot on my Christmas cookie trays.
- Butter – Salted butter softened at room temperature.
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar – Adding a little brown sugar helps cookie dough stay moist and chewy.
- Pure vanilla extract – Be sure you are using pure vanilla extract, not imitation. This is especially important in this recipe since vanilla is the primary flavor.
- All-purpose flour – Spooned and leveled. See more on this in the FAQ section below.
- Pecan pie filling – A gooey base of light corn syrup, light brown sugar, and a little heavy cream is flavored with pure vanilla extract and chopped pecans.
How to Make Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
This is a quick overview of how to make this recipe. You’ll find detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Add the softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix until creamy. Crack an egg and throw it in along with a teaspoon of vanilla. Mix again until welll combined.
- Next, combine your flour and a bit of salt in a separate bowl and add it to the wet mixture.
- Mix again until the mixture is crumbly.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until it holds together. Using a spoon to finish the dough helps to ensure you don’t overwork it.
- Shape the dough into small balls and place them a couple of inches apart on the baking sheet. You can do this by hand or using a small cookie scoop to ensure they are even sized.
- Press your thumb or index finger into the center of each ball of cookie dough to create an indentation for the filling. Use your hands to shape them up around the edges, if necessary, so they’ll be nice and pretty.
- Mix the filling together in a separate small bowl. Use a small spoon to fill each thumbprint with the filling. Pop them in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
I like to line my baking sheets with parchment paper but if you don’t want to bother, just bake the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
FAQ and Valerie’s Tips
To freeze, place the cooled cookies on baking sheets lined with wax or parchment paper and freeze for an hour or two, until form. Transfer the frozen cookies to a freezer bag or other airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw, remove them from their packaging and allow them to thaw in a single layer at room temperature.
Yes! Freezing cookie dough it is a great way to save time during the holidays. Once you form the balls of dough, place them on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and freeze them until firm. Transfer the cookie balls to a freezer bag or other airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to bake, thaw the dough completely in the refrigerator. Once thawed, form the indentations and continue with the recipe as directed to fill and bake.
First, be sure you are measuring your flour correctly by using the spoon and level method. If you use your measuring cup to scoop flour directly from the container, it is likely you’ll add too much, resulting in dry cookie dough that will be more likely to crack
Another tip, once you form the indentation in the middle of your cookie balls, use your hands to reshape them and smooth out any cracks.
And lastly, a few cracks never hurt anyone! Even with the best of intentions, you’re bound to get a few cookies that will have cracks (see image above). But guess what? They will still be delicious!
Store the completely cooled Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies between sheets of wax or parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, refrigerate for up to a week.
More Holiday Cookie Recipes
- Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
- Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies
- Mom’s Pecan Sandies
- Chewy Iced Molasses Cookies
Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies
For the Thumbprint Dough
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Filling
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Beat the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture until slightly combined and crumbly. Finish by mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.
- Roll or scoop the dough into 1-inch balls (you should have about 28), and place them 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Make an indention in the center of each cookie by gently pressing your thumb in the center.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Add about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the indentation of each cookie.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This recipe was originally published on December 4, 2014. It has been updated with new text and images.