Italian Thumbprint Cookies

Published January 22, 2013. Updated February 1, 2019

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The flavors of classic Italian foods always inspire me. Italian dishes are often full of gorgeous colors and deliciously fresh, mouth watering appeal (I often think of reds – the tomato it’s a given, and greens – fresh herbs and pistachios). All it takes is one split second, longing glance and I want it, I suddenly must have it (or so my stubborn mind says).

I also love the classic Italian color combination of red, white and green and I wanted to use it to go with some of the flavors I think of when I think of Italian food (specifically gelato, yum!).

italian thumbprints

These cookies have become a weakness to me to say the least. Yes, it’s nearly midnight and even after two they are still calling my name. Their flavor combination is decadently dreamy.

The buttery cookie base is generously layered with vanilla bean seeds throughout and it’s rolled in a coating of silky pistachios, then they are given the classic thumbprint pressing and filled with sweet strawberry preserves.

And no it doesn’t end there, it is then drizzled with that ingredient we can never get enough of, melted chocolate, and to finish it’s topped with a glistening diamond studded crown, or at least I imagine it to be =). Cookie royalty, it exists in my book. Enjoy!

italian thumbprint cookies2

italian thumbprint cookies4

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5 from 4 votes

Italian Thumbprint Cookies

Tender buttery thumbprints rolled in nutty pistachios and filled with sweet strawberry jam.
Servings: 36
Prep35 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salted butter , firm but not cold
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean (1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract could be substituted)
  • 2 large eggs , yolks and whites divided
  • 1 cup unsalted pistachios , finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 4 oz white chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate* melted


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on medium-high speed, whip together butter, granulated sugar and vanilla bean seeds until mixture pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  •  Blend in egg yolks (setting egg whites aside in a small bowl). With mixer set on low speed, slowly pour in flour and mix until combine (mixture will seem dry at first but will start to come together). Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Whisk egg whites with 2 tsp water until frothy. Place chopped pistachios in a small bowl. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and scoop dough up 1 tbsp at a time and shape into balls. 
  • Drop each ball into egg white mixture and toss to evenly coat, then immediately transfer to bowl with chopped pistachios and roll to evenly coat sides and bottom with pistachios (I just left a circle on top uncoated for indenting). 
  • Transfer cookie dough balls to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets (fitting 15 per sheet). Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie and fill each indentation with a heaping 1/2 tsp of jam. Bake in preheated oven 14 - 16 minutes. 
  • Allow to rest on baking dish several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool cookies then fill a piping bag or small Ziploc bag with melted chocolate and cut a small tip off corner and drizzle with melted chocolate. Store cookies in an airtight container.
  • *White candy coating can also be used or semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed with 1 1/2 tsp shortening . To melt, place chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted or place in microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Thumbprint Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 141 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 23mg8%
Sodium 53mg2%
Potassium 60mg2%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 180IU4%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 15mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.


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  • Donna Bradshaw

    I made these cookies and won 1st place and Best in Class at a county fair. Great recipe!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      That should be fine. You may have to use a teaspoon to make indentation again after removing from the oven since it won’t hold that shape quite as well without the jam.

  • Melissa Pohl

    Can you use pecans instead if pistachios in this recipe?? This recipe looks exactly like my grandmother’s recipe but she used walnuts or pecans instead of pistachios.

  • Michelle

    Made 2 batches of them over the last few days! So delicious used apricot preserves in some of the thumbprints as well! My Italian step-dad approves n we made the first batch together ❤ These will be added to our Christmas baking tradition. Thank you for a great recipe the pistachios are the star!!

  • Liz

    I am always surprised when amazing recipes do not get the hype they deserve. These cookies were phenomenal and my neighbors LOVED them. I got so many compliments on the addition of the pistachios and the drizzled white chocolate. Those additions really enhance the flavor and texture of the cookies. Amazing recipe that I will be adding to my heirloom collection. THANK YOU!

  • Melissa Heiselt

    We LOVE this recipe. Living in cherry country, we make a spumoni version: Cherry jam, pistachios, and dark chocolate. It’s requested every year for my Christmas cookie box!