Orange Spice Thumbprint Cookies

Orange spice thumbprint cookies with 2 types of jam.

These festive, citrusy thumbprint cookies are perfect for Christmas and holiday gatherings. Rolled in chopped pecans, the orange and spice scented biscuits are easy to make, but look fancy. Print the recipe because people will be asking how to make these orange spice thumbprint cookies.

I made these Orange Spice Thumbprint Cookies yesterday.  I had three of them while watching tv last night.  I went to bed. Scott stayed up. And ate damn near every one of the remaining cookies.  Seriously.

The inspiration for this orange spice thumbprint cookie recipe came from Nick Malgieri’s book, Cookies Unlimited.  His version are called Sonja Henies after the Norwegian champion skater of the 1930s. His simple recipe is a rich shortbread rolled in chopped walnuts.  This version steps up his standard recipe and yields sweet treats that don’t last a day in my house.

For my twist, I added fresh orange zest which you can really taste in the finished cookie. I also added cinnamon and cardamom to the short-bread like dough to amplify the floral notes and then rolled them in chopped pecans for a nutty crunch.  The method of flatting the dough into a rectangular form and slicing it into equal portions came from Nick.  The pizza cutter was MY IDEA – and it makes slicing a breeze.

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I tried to form the indentations with my thumb – but – it wasn’t pretty.  So the back end of a wooden spoon made just the right sized wells to hold the jam.

Incidentally, you don’t need a lot of jam — in fact, too much and it’ll just flow right over the side of the cookie.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes then let them cool before eating — because that jam is hot!  I would tell you to stack them between sheets of parchment paper and store them in a airtight container, but since they’ll only last the day, especially if my husband is in the vicinity, it’s really a moot point.

A plate of thumbprint cookies.

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Orange spice thumbprint cookies to be wrapped as a Christmas gift.
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4.25 from 4 votes

Orange Spice Thumbprint Cookies

Fresh orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom add a floral note to these cookies and a roll in chopped pecans add a nutty note!  Recipe can be doubled.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword christmas cookies, thumbprint cookies
Dietary Restrictions Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 20


For The Cookie Dough:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

For The Coating & Filling:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup apricot, raspberry or blackberry jam


  • In a mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.  Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes until very creamy and light.
  • Beat in the orange zest until completely combined.  
  • Separate the egg and place the white in a medium bowl.  Refrigerate.
  • Add the yolk and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.  Add the flour and mix to combine, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed.  
  • Spread a piece of plastic wrap on the counter.  Transfer the dough to the center of the plastic wrap and spread it to ½” thickness.  Wrap the dough and refrigerate 30-45 minutes or until firm, but not hard.
  • When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Whisk the egg white to a foamy froth.
  • In a mini prep food processor, pulse the pecans to finely chop them and transfer to a shallow bowl.
  • Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to score the dough into 20 equal sized squares.  Roll each square into a ball between your palms.  Repeat with all the dough.
  • Pick up a ball of dough and roll it first in the egg white, then in the chopped pecans.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet with cookies one inch apart. Continue with the rest of the cookie dough.
  • Turn a wooden spoon upside down and create a divot in the center of each dough ball that’s about half as deep as the dough.  Fill the center of the cookies with jam.  
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cookies are light brown and somewhat firm.


Store cookies in layers in an airtight container separated by parchment paper. Cookies can be kept at room temperature.


Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 35mg | Potassium: 34mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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  1. Oh my goodness ..these thumbprint cookies looks so scumpticous.. loved it’s coated with crushed pecans and the crunch it gives!

  2. 5 stars
    I love jam thumbprints, but you totally took these up a notch! I absolutely understand why your husband ate so many. I’d want to too! 😉

  3. These are absolutely perfect for the holidays, can’t wait to try them!

  4. kathryn clayton says:

    5 stars
    I don’t think I could resist either if I was left alone with these yummy looking cookies. I love the flavour of orange in a cookie.

  5. 5 stars
    These are the perfect cookie for my mom. She loves anything with orange and pecans!