These gluten-free buttercream thumbprint cookies are the perfect bite! Buttery shortbread cookies are rolled in pecans and topped with delicious buttercream frosting. This thumbprint cookie recipe is so easy to make, uses just a few ingredients, and freezes really well! The perfect addition to your Christmas cookie trays!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Thumbprints are a classic holiday cookie. This Christmas cookie is a must-have for any holiday cookie tray. These gluten-free cookies are always one of the first to be eaten because it's the perfect bite to satisfy any sweet tooth. They not too sweet and full of great texture! Even kids love these thumbprints, that little bit of icing on top is hard to resist!
I've converted the traditional cookie recipe into a gluten-free recipe and I know you'll love them too! They taste just as good as the originals and dare I say taste even better straight from the freezer! You can even make this cute gluten-free Easter thumbprint recipe!
The best part about thumbprints is that they are such a fancy looking cookie but require so few ingredients, no chilling, and are easy to make!
More Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes
I hope you enjoy this gluten-free thumbprint cookie recipe but be sure to check out some other reader favorite cookie recipes before you go!
- Gluten-free Jam Thumbprint Cookies are another delicious thumbprint cookie rolled in coconut and filled with your favorite jam. This was my great-grandmother's recipe!
- This is the best Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie recipe! They make the perfect cut-outs! Even gluten-eaters love them!
- Flourless Peanut Butter Blossoms are a twist on a classic, made without any flour at all!
- Want some chocolate? So many readers love these gluten-free double chocolate chip cookies, they're one of my most popular recipes!
- You can also check out all of my other gluten-free cookie recipes here!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Gluten-free Flour: I have made these with King Arthur Measure for Measure and Namaste perfect flour blend. Other quality gluten-free flour blends, like Bob's Red Mill, will likely work as well.
- Brown sugar: I swapped granulated sugar in the original recipe for brown sugar to add just the right amount of moisture to this buttery shortbread cookie.
- Room Temperature Butter: Substitute a vegan butter for dairy-free, such as Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.
- Egg: The egg yolk is used for the cookie and the egg whites for rolling. This will help your pecans stick to the outside.
- Vanilla Extract: You can also use a tiny bit of almond extract if you enjoy that flavor.
- Salt: Just a pinch of salt will enhance the flavor of your cookies.
- Pecans: If you are nut free, you can roll the cookies in sprinkles or granulated sugar.
- Buttercream icing: A basic buttercream consists of butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and gel food colors (optional). See below for some filling variations!
Thumbprint Cookie Variations
You can customize these thumbprint cookies in just about as many ways as you can imagine. Here are a few popular variations:
- Fill with jam: Whether apricot preserves, raspberry jam, or even orange marmalade. Use your favorite fruit jam!
- Fill with regular icing: You can make a simple icing of just powdered sugar and water. Tint the icing with festive food coloring.
- Make them Lemon: Instead of icing, fill the cookies with lemon curd. Add a little lemon zest to the dough for an extra punch of lemon!
- Swap the pecans: If you don't like pecans, try walnuts or coconut. You can also roll the cookies in sprinkles or granulated sugar.
You don't need a lot of special equipment to make these cookies.
- A hand mixer or stand mixer is helpful for mixing the dough.
- A mixing bowl, measuring cups, and spoons are also needed.
- You'll want a baking sheet and parchment paper as well.
How To Make Thumbprints
- To make thumbprints, you'll start by making the shortbread cookie dough in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
- You'll then use a small cookie scoop to get about 1 tablespoon of dough. Roll that dough into small balls and then dip them in the egg whites and chopped pecans. Place each cookie dough ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Next, you'll use your thumb to make an indent in the center of each cookie dough ball, hence the name thumbprints! The dough doesn't require any chilling and can be baked straight away.
- Once the cookies have baked, remove them to a wire rack and cool completely. Then fill the thumbprints with a small amount of buttercream icing. I used a piping bag and 1M tip to fill these cookies with a cute swirl of frosting.
These cookies will stay fresh up to 3 days at room temperature if kept in an airtight container. They also freeze really well when tightly wrapped.
To freeze these cookies, place the cooled and iced cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid. Once the cookies are frozen, you can place them in layers in a ziploc freezer bag or another freezer-safe container. They can be frozen for several months.
To thaw the cookies, simply remove them from the freezer and thaw overnight at room temperature. Be sure to thaw them in a single layer so the icing doesn't get smushed!
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I hope you add these festive cookies to your gluten-free baking list this holiday season! These buttery cookies are always someone's favorite cookie this time of year! These Christmas cookies are simple and so delicious, I know you'll be happy you made them!
Gluten-free Buttercream Thumbprint Cookies
- 2 cup 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, King Arthur Measure for Measure or Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 cups pecans, finely chopped
- ½ cup butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar, ½ pound
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1-3 tablespoons cream, or milk
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the gluten-free flour blend and salt.
- Cream the butter, brown sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until creamy.
- Blend the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until well blended.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another small bowl.
- Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball.
- Roll the cookie dough ball in the egg whites and then the pecans. Roll again between your hands to press the pecans into the dough.
- Place the cookie dough balls on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Make an indent in the center of each cookie dough ball with your thumb.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool completely before icing.
Make Buttercream Frosting
- In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and powdered sugar together on medium speed until well combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and blend.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cream at a time until buttercream is of piping consistency.
- Tint the icing with desired colors.
- Use a 1M tip to pipe a dollop of icing on the center of each cookie.