Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery, nutty, and perfectly balanced between salty and sweet. These pecan thumbprint cookies are simple but so delicious! They have a nice snap but a soft interior. The crunch of the pecans adds a nice contrast to the creamy icing, making it a perfectly satisfying little cookie!

Red and White pecan thumbprint cookies on a vintage French cooling rack

What are Thumbprint Cookies?

To put it simply, pecan thumbprint cookies consist of a shortbread cookie that is rolled into a ball. The cookie then gets a “thumbprint” indentation and is baked. We finish them off with a delicious icing that is soft, but it firms up nicely after a few hours, making it easier to bit through cohesively with the cookie.

Thumbprint have many edge garnishing options, including pecans, almonds, walnuts, festive sprinkles, or chocolate Jimmies. This little treat is perfect for a small sweet tooth craving, and they are great for parties and entertaining.

red thumbprint cookie with bite taken out

About this Recipe

Cookies are one of my many weaknesses, and these pecan thumbprints are no exception. I created this recipe in memory of a little bakery where I grew up called Sutton’s.

It’s no longer there anymore, so I had to come up with my own version to share with all of you. They are too good not to share, and they are so easy to make.

red and white pecan thumbprint cookies with scattered pecans on a white backdrop

How to Make Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

  • Use butter that is still cool but softer to the touch.
  • Chop nuts with a knife. Do not use a food processor for this step. The oils in the nuts tend to make the nuts somewhat sticky when they process in a food processor. So while chopping by hand takes longer, it is worth the effort.
  • When you make the thumbprints in the cookies, the dough will crack some on the sides. Gently push the dough back together on the sides, but don’t worry too much. A little imperfection is just fine!
  • These cookies will look slightly oozy when they start to bake, but then the cookies absorb the butter back in and they look baked and slightly dry on top when they are finished.
  • Don’t let them brown on top, or the cookies will be really hard. These cookies should be mostly soft with a gently snap when broken in half.
  • Don’t be alarmed if your dough seems a little dry or crumbly at the beginning. They are supposed to be slightly crumbly, but squeeze the dough together and the dough will form into a ball.
close up of bitten cookie with other red and white thumbprint cookies
Print

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

red thumbprint cookie with bite taken out
  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: dessert

Ingredients

Scale

Cookie dough

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans, finely chopped

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 34 Tbs milk
  • Food coloring if desired

Instructions

The Cookie

  1. Remove butter from refrigerator 45 minutes before making cookies so it is still cold but not hard.
  2. Cream butter in a stand mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix on medium low until fully combined.
  3. Mix in vanilla and salt. 
  4. Add flour and cornstarch; mix on medium low. The dough will start to come together but will still be crumbly. After mixing for about a minute, remove dough from mixer. Bring the dough together with your hands.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place finely chopped pecans on a plate or in a bowl. Next, scoop cookies from the dough block with a tablespoon cookie scoop until all cookies have been scooped. 
  6. Take one cookie mound and press in your hands to bring dough together so it doesn’t crumble. You may have to work with the dough a little since this is a drier dough, but it will still come together to form a ball.
  7. Roll the cookie dough balls in pecans and place cookies on a rimmed half sheet pan lined with parchment.
  8. With the back of the cookie scoop or your thumb, make noticeable thumbprint indentations in the tops of the cookies. If the dough cracks along the edges when being indented, gently press back together. 
  9. Bake cookies on middle oven rack for 11-13 minutes, being sure that the cookies do not brown on top. They will be lightly golden on bottom when finished.
  10. The tops of the cookies will puff up slightly during baking, so when they come out of the oven, use the back of the cookie scoop to make the indentation deeper again.

Icing

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk butter, vanilla, and salt. Add powdered sugar and begin whisking. Add milk a tablespoon at a time. A little milk goes a long way, so don’t add too much! Icing should be thin enough so that it is easy to pipe into each cookie. 
  2. Add the food coloring of your choice. Put icing into a sandwich bag, snip a small corner, and pipe into the centers of the cookies once cookies are cool.
  3. These cookies can be eaten right away, but if you want the icing to set up, put them in the fridge for an hour or let the icing set up and harden some for a few hours on a cooling tray. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, no refrigeration needed.

Notes

This is a Baker Street Society original recipe.

Keywords: Thumbprint cookies, Basic Thumbprint Cookies, pecan cookies

 

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