These festive Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies are a simple way to enjoy the amazing flavors of a classic pecan pie without all the effort. Buttery dark brown sugar cookies are filled with a mixture of pecans, brown sugar, and heavy cream!

These Pecan Cookies are kicked up a notch or two, with a pie-like filling nestled in the middle of each cookie! Every chewy bite will have you wanting another!

Pecan pie thumbprint cookies in a white bowl.

Why You’ll Love these Pecan Cookies

  • These have the flavors of pecan pie but in a bite-sized treat!
  • If not everyone shares your love of pecan pie, this is an easy way to indulge.
  • They’re unique enough for your cookie exchanges or hostess/holiday gifts!

This simple thumbprint cookie recipe was the surprise hit of my book club gathering last week. As a lover of pecan pie and the wife of a picky dude who would never take a bite of any nut-laden dish, I thought these pecan pie cookies would let me get my fix.

After one bite, a dear friend quickly asked if the recipe was on my blog. Then another friend inquired as well. I shared them with my knitting group and they were given high praise once again! So if you’re on the fence about making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving this year, consider taking the easy route and making these wonderful pecan pie thumbprint cookies!

Expert Tips

Even if you’ve never made thumbprint cookies before, I guarantee these cookies are super easy to prepare! Here are some tips to guide you.

  • Use good quality butter as generic brands often have water added and your cookies may spread more. If your cookies end up flatter than you’d like, just add a couple more tablespoons of flour to thicken up the dough.
  • Use a cookie disher to make even-sized dough balls. I used a medium OXO scoop.
  • Roll the dough balls between your palms until they are nice spheres.
  • Use a teaspoon measuring spoon to make an indentation in each dough ball. Greasing the rounded bottom side with Pam or another non-stick cooking spray prevents the dough from attaching to your spoon. You can also use your thumb! That’s where the name “thumbprint” cookies originated.
  • Remember that the “well” in each dough ball should be able to hold about 1 rounded teaspoon of the pecan filling. Make sure your well or thumbprint is deep enough to hold a decent amount of filling.
  • Using parchment paper on your baking sheets makes for super easy cleanup and prevents sticking if some of the filling oozes over the side of a cookie or two. It also minimizes spreading.
  • If you only have one baking sheet, make sure it’s cool before making a second batch. A warm cookie sheet will cause the cookie dough to warm up before it even hits the oven, and the resulting cookies could be flatter and possibly misshapen.
  • And if your dough gets too warm, your cookies will spread. So pop your dough in the refrigerator if you notice it getting soft.
  • PRO-Tip: If some of your cookies don’t bake up into perfect spheres, you can use a spatula to tap the sides into shape while they are hot and fresh out of the oven.
3 pecan pie thumbprint cookies on an oval plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Thumbprint Cookies?

Thumbprint cookies are drop cookies, meaning dough is scooped, sometimes rolled, and dropped onto a baking sheet. Then, with a finger, thumb, or the back of a spoon, a well is made for filling.
Jam or jelly is a common filling, but other mixtures can be used. Thumbprint cookies can also be filled with frosting, etc. after they’re baked.

How Do You Fill Thumbprint Cookies?

The filling can be spooned or piped into the wells in the middle of each round of indented dough, then baked.
Fillings like frosting and jam can be added after the cookies are baked, but you may need to re-indent the well before filling. Frosting looks pretty when it’s piped onto the cookies. How and when you add the filling all depends on the recipe.

How Do You Prevent Thumbprints from Spreading?

Chill your dough before rolling it into balls. This will help the butter resolidify and minimize spreading. Also, use parchment paper or a Silpat on your baking sheet as it gives the cookie bottoms a surface to grip.

Make sure you have enough flour in your dough by measuring properly. Use the method Ina Garten always demonstrates: scoop the flour out of a bin with a measuring cup, the level the top by sweeping it with an offset spatula or finger.

Can You Freeze Thumbprint Cookies?

Generally, thumbprint cookies freeze well. It does depend on the recipe and if the filling will retain its quality after freezing and defrosting.

Cookies will keep their quality for up to 3 months as long as they’re stored in an airtight container. Just defrost overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

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3 pecan pie thumbprint cookies on an oval plate

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Yield 36 cookies

Brown sugar thumbprint cookies filled with a mixture of chopped pecans, brown sugar and cream to mimic the flavors of pecan pie!



  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cream brown sugar and butter until well combined. Mix in egg, then vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and mix until incorporated.
  3. Using a medium-sized cookie disher, scoop out rounds of dough and roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, and set aside to make the filling.
  4. Mix together filling ingredients in a small bowl. Fill each cookie with a rounded teaspoon of filling.
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


Chill your dough to minimize spreading. You may also want to add 2 tablespoons of additional flour if needed.

Adapted from Land o' Lakes.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 49mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 1g


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