Holiday Pecan Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

Dessert Recipes

If you're looking for an easy Christmas cookie recipe, these Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies are one of my favorites. Make these delicious pecan cookies today.

If you’re looking for an easy Christmas cookie recipe, these Pecan Thumbprint Cookies are one of my favorites. Make these delicious pecan cookies today.

We make these cookies at least a few times each year.

They’re a perfect bake sale cookie, or a cookie to enjoy during the Christmas holiday season.

The slight crunch of the sugar cookie with a delicious soft center and pecan pie thumbprint filling is everything you could want in a cookie!

Thumbprint cookies with pecan pie filling, pecan filled cookies on a cooling rack

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

These classic Christmas cookies start with a basic sugar cookie dough.

Then, each cookie is topped with a sweet mixture of brown sugar, honey, and chopped pecans.

These are some of our favorite Christmas treats each year.

Of course, there is no reason you can’t make these delicious treats any time of the year. We just love making them at Christmas time.

Thumbprint cookies recipe filled with pecan pie filling, all homemade, cookies in rows on cookie rack

Tools/Equipment needed

How to make pecan thumbprint cookies

It really doesn’t get much easier than this.

So, find the complete pecan pie thumbprint cookie recipe at the end of this page.

First, Make the Cookie Dough

This is what it should look like; quite crumbly looking. It should be crumbly, but not powdery.

It will hold its shape and be able to roll into balls when worked with your hands.

Thumbprint cookie dough in a white bowl

Second, Roll the Dough into Balls

Roll the dough into 1″ balls and roll them in sugar.

Then, place the dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Next, Press a Thumbprint into the Cookie Dough

Press your thumb in the center of each ball.

Holiday Pecan Thumbprint Cookies Recipe, Putting thumbprint sugar cookie dough onto a sheet pan

Next, Bake the Cookies

Bake the cookies in the oven.

After it’s done baking, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool (move to cookie sheet after 5 minutes out of the oven).

Holiday Pecan Thumbprint Cookies Recipe, Pecan thumbprint cookies fresh out of the oven before the pecan pie filling goes into them

Finally, Make the Pecan Filling

While the cookies are baking, make the pecan pie filling.

Then, add the pecan pie filling to the cookies after they’ve cooled.

Holiday Pecan Thumbprint Cookies Recipe, Pecan thumbprint cookies recipe with pecan pie filling

Enjoy the cookies!

Continue down to the recipe card for complete instructions for making this delicious pecan filled cookie recipe!

Variations of this pecan thumbprint cookie recipe

To add a little color to your cookies, you can roll them in red or green sprinkles.

Add a glaze to the top by mixing heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar.

Just do a little zig-zag for decoration. Thumbprint cookies with icing look very festive.

Or, instead of sugar cookie dough, you can use peanut butter cookie dough instead.

You might want to use chopped peanuts rather than chopped pecans if you make them this way.

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Other filling options

When it comes to making thumbprint cookies or pecan cookies, a sweet nut filling is traditional.

But, if you want to try a few different variations, you certainly can.

  • Melted chocolate
  • Jam, jelly, or preserves
  • Maraschino cherry
  • M&M’S
  • Lemon or lime curd
  • Cherry pie filling
  • Frosting (add after you remove them from the oven)

Tips for making the perfect pecan thumbprint cookie

This recipe for pecan pie thumbprint cookies is very easy to make.

But, here are a few simple tips to make the process as easy as possible.e

  • When measuring your ingredients, be sure to weigh them. A kitchen scale will help you get the exact amount of each ingredient.
  • Roll the dough between your hands until there are no cracks. You want it to be completely smooth. If there are cracks, there will be cracks in your cookies.
  • If your dough is too sticky, refrigerate it for a few minutes and start rolling again.
  • Always put the cookies on a cold cookie sheet to bake them. If you put them on a hot cookie sheet, they are more likely to spread.

Can I freeze the pecan thumbprint cookie dough?

Yes, you can make the dough, roll it into a large ball and freeze it.

This way, you can save time when you want to bake the cookies.

Freeze the cookie dough for up to six months. Whenever you want to use the dough, allow it to defrost overnight in the refrigerator the night before you want to bake.

Do I need to refrigerate pecan thumbprint cookies?

No, you can keep these cookies at room temperature unless it’s very hot.

However, if you use jam instead of pecan filling, you may want to refrigerate them to keep the jam firm.

The cookies should last for 5-7 days at room temperature.

If you want them to last longer than that, you can freeze the cookies for up to six months.

Just let them defrost for a few minutes on the counter before eating.

More cookie recipes

These spicy ginger molasses cookies are soft, chewy, and have just the right amount of heat to give you everything you desire in a cookie FLAVOR! Perfect for Christmas, New Years, or any other special occasion. 

Mint chocolate chip cookies around the holiday are always welcomed at our house, especially when they’re chock full of M&M™s!

Try this festive mint Christmas cookie recipe today and you’ll see why.

These easy 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies take 30 minutes or less to make!

Three ingredient peanut butter cookies are delicious and you likely already have the ingredients in your pantry.  

Or, here’s a slightly different idea that everyone will love. Do you need Christmas cake ideas? This fun frosting filled Christmas cake recipe fits perfectly in your hand.

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Related Recipes

5 from 6 votes

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Pecan thumbprint cookies. Sugar thumbprint cookies filled with easy homemade pecan pie filling.
Servings 28 cookies
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins



  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1/2 cup pecans finely chopped


  • 3/4 cup sugar + sugar for rolling the dough in
  • 1 cup butter; softened to room temp (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups all-purpose flour



  • Combine butter, brown sugar and honey in a sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until you’ve just reach a boil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the pecans and set aside to cool while you prepare your cookies.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare a baking sheet with parchment or non-stick liner (butter + flour works too!)
  • In a bowl, mix the butter and the 3/4 cup sugar on low speed until smooth (about 60 seconds)
  • Add 1 1/2 cups flour and continue beating on medium-low until just blended (about 60 seconds), add additional flour as needed to make a crumply dough you can press together with your fingers to create balls
  • Using your hands, knead and roll 1 inch balls of dough. Roll each ball in the sugar we set aside
  • Place dough balls on the prepared baking sheet (I like these parchment paper sheets), about 1 to 2 inches apart. Use your thumb or finger to create wells in the middle of the cookies. Pinch edges back together if there are too many cracks
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the top of the cookies look dry, remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
  • Once cool, repress the wells if needed and add 1/4-1/2 tsp of pecan filling
  • Serve and enjoy!



Do not overmix the dough. Overmixing cookie dough will result in the cookies spreading too thin in the oven.
The dough should be very flaky looking, but not powdery in the mixing bowl after incorporating the flour. Stop mixing once the flour is just incorporated. 
If your dough is too powdery and unable to hold a ball form, add 2-3 tablespoons softened butter.
Author: Scrappy Geek
Cost: $8
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Ida,
    I think it would be ok to use maple syrup in place of the honey.
    Although, when using maple syrup instead of honey, you’ll need to add extra sugar to the mixture because of the way it will break down while cooking. I would suggest trying an additional tablespoon of brown sugar.
    If you try it, let us know how it comes together!

  2. I wonder, could you use maple syrup instead? Just curious.

    Ida C.

  3. It sounds like you may have over mixed the dough? When you over mix dough, it will spread out in the oven. The dough should be very flaky looking in the bowl, when mixing in the flour, it should be just incorporated; not mixed into a wet smooth dough.

  4. Made these and they came out totally flat from the oven☹️

  5. Hi Debra, I used all purpose flour. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Debra wolfe says:

    Plain flour or self rising

  7. 5 stars
    Reminder! Re-dimple the centers of the cookies when you pull the cookies out of the oven, then add only a 1/4 teaspoon of filling to each cookie. Otherwise you’ll risk the filling overflowing the cookies. Thank you all for the awesome comments, shares and love on this recipe. We really enjoy it!

  8. I think if you’d prefer walnuts that would be just fine, but we’ve never tried it. If you do use walnuts instead of pecans, please let us know how it turns out 🙂

  9. Can I replace pecans with walnuts?

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Ladyj! Yay! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the pecan thumbprint cookies and that’s GREAT to know about the gluten free flour option, thanks for sharing that info!

  11. 5 stars
    These were sooooo GOOD! I made them with gluten free flour and they came out perfectly! They were so tasty, even people who don’t need to eat GF were eating them and exclaimed how good they are. Just like a little mini pecan pie!

  12. 5 stars
    Hi Stephanie! Though I have not tried it, I very much think you can replace the honey with corn syrup! 🙂

  13. Can I replace the honey with corn syrup?

  14. Hi Susan! You know, we’ve never tried freezing them. They’re usually long gone before that thought ever crossed my mind. So, I don’t know! I assume they would be fine to freeze, much like other cookies. Sorry I don’t have a definitive answer for you. If you do end up freezing them, please come back and tell us your experience! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    Can you freeze these cookies?

Comments are closed.

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