It all starts with a buttery shortbread cookie that is rolled in coconut and filled with jam. The result is delicious gluten-free thumbprint cookies perfect for Christmas cookie trays!
This thumbprint cookie recipe has been in my family for generations. I have a handwritten recipe from my Great Grandma Sparks that is many, many years old. She actually titled these cookies Italian Coconut Cookies, but my family calls them thumbprints! I'm not exactly sure which is the correct title. The coconut on the outside definitely reminds me of an Italian cookie while the jam-filled thumbprint is hard to deny! No matter what you call them, you better call them delicious as well!
This recipe is so awesome in that it comes together with just a handful of ingredients, eight to be exact, most of which you already have on hand.
When I make these cookies, with its simple list of ingredients, I'm reminded that sometimes simplicity leads to amazing results. With just a little flour, butter, sugar, salt, and an egg yolk, you can create the most delightful buttery shortbread! Add to that coconut and your favorite jam or preserves, well you've taken a simple cookie and created something quite beautiful.
- Flour: I use my go-to Pamela's artisan blend all-purpose flour. Use a 1:1 gluten-free baking flour with xanthan gum or guar gum already added.
- Egg: Be sure to separate the egg! The yolk is for the cookie, the white is for helping the coconut stick.
- Coconut: Sweetened flaked coconut found in the baking aisle is what you want here.
- Apricot Jam or Raspberry Fruit Preserves: The original recipe calls for apricot jam but my family preferred the batch I made with raspberry preserves.
- Vanilla Extract: I used vanilla but you could substitute for half almond extract and half vanilla extract and it would be delicious.
Step 1: After creaming the butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla, blend in the flour mixture. At first, the mixture seems dry and shaggy, but keep mixing and the dough will come together.
Step 2: It's time to portion out 1 tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Use a small cookie scoop for uniformly sized cookies. Roll the dough in egg white, then coconut, and then between the palms of your hands to form a nice round ball.
Step 3: Make indentations in each cookie. Use your thumb or a tool, like this honey-dipper!
Step 4: Fill each indentation with a spot of your favorite jam! Here I made half with apricot jam and half with raspberry!
Step 5: Bake them up!
- How should I store these cookies? Store the cookies at room temperature or freeze them, tightly wrapped.
- What if I don't like coconut? Roll the cookies in sugar instead of the egg white and coconut... let me tell you they turn out just as delicious!
- Can I use any flavor of jam/preserves? Yes, I think so! This is all a matter of preference, so use your favorite flavor. My family definitely preferred the raspberry to the apricot. A cherry preserve would probably be divine in these cookies!
- Can I refrigerate the dough? While the dough does not require a refrigeration step, feel free to refrigerate the dough if needed!
- When should I add the jam? My original recipe calls for adding the jam after the cookies are baked, but I found that adding the jam before baking the cookies gave better results. The jam sets and is less messy to handle when baked into the cookie.
- What if I'm not gluten-free? Just replace gluten-free flour with regular flour in the recipe. This recipe was a really easy conversion as I was able to swap gluten-free flour 1:1 with the original recipe.
Gluten-free Thumbprint Cookies
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 egg, separated
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup gluten-free baking flour, with xanthan or guar gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- ½ cup apricot preserves or raspberry preserves, or a combination
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment or lightly grease non-stick pans.
- Cream butter and sugar together. Blend in egg yolk and vanilla.
- Whisk the flour and salt together then add to the creamed mixture. Blend until well combined.
- Roll 1 tablespoon-size portions of dough in lightly beaten egg white, then in coconut. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to form a round ball.
- Make indents in each cookie with thumb. Fill each indent with ¼-1/2 teaspoon of jam.
- Bake 17-19 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet.
- Store cookies at room temperature or freeze tightly wrapped.
- Roll cookies in sugar instead of egg white and coconut if desired.
- Use your favorite flavor of jam or fruit preserves.
- Dough can be refrigerated before baking but is not required.
- Cookies can be filled with jam before or after baking. Filling before baking results in jam that is more set up and less messy.
More Holiday cookie Recipes
These cookies are a classic. They are perfect for cookie platters and cookie exchanges around the holidays! I have other great cookie recipes for your holiday baking, too!
- Gluten-free sugar cookies are a fun Christmas tradition. Kids love to help to frost and decorate these!
- Gluten-free peanut butter blossoms are a classic as well, the combination of chocolate and peanut butter can't be beaten!
- Crockpot candy is basically my version of chocolate nut clusters and they are delicious!
- Guten-free Oatmeal cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies are always a favorite.
- Don't forget about Snickerdoodles with all their warm cinnamon spice!
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