These Cranberry Chai Thumbprint Cookies will be a staple for your holiday cookie table. They're made with cranberries and cinnamon and are a fun spin on traditional thumbprints.
Can you ever have too many cookie recipes? I think not! These cranberry chai thumbprint cookies are a fun spin on my thumbprint cookies with icing.
They're sweet and filled with cinnamon, but a little tart thanks to the cranberry filling. Oh, and did I mention they're ridiculously easy to make? Yep!
All purpose flour - Haven't tested with any other flours, though gluten free 1:1 baking flour would probably work.
Brown sugar - Must use LIGHT brown sugar!
Egg - Can sub 1 flax egg to keep these egg-free (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2.5 tablespoon water)
Spices - cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg (these are chai spice cookies after all)
Cranberries - these are called cranberry thumbprints, but you can certainly sub your favorite frozen fruit (think: strawberries or pomegranate)
First: Mix the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt then set it aside.
Second: Cream the butter and sugar, then combine. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for 30-60 seconds. Then, add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine, then pour the dry ingredients in that bowl and stir until the batter comes together.
*NOTE: The batter might seem dry at first -- you'll have to mix the wet and dry ingredients for at least 1 minute before it comes together.
Third: Form into balls. Use your hands to form the cookie dough into balls, then roll the balls into sugar and place them on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Fourth: Make a thumbprint. Use your thumb to make a thumbprint indent in the center of each cookie, then bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
Fifth: Make the filling. While the cookies are baking, prep the cranberry chai filling by simmering all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Once the cookies are done, use your thumb to press back into the thumbprint hole. Then, scoop the filling into the center of each cookie and bake for 2-3 more minutes.
- Wait 1-2 minutes after cookies come out of the oven before transferring them onto a cooling rack.
- Make sure not to add too much filling into the center; otherwise, it could spill over.
Help! My cookies spread too thin.
You might have made the balls of dough a little too big. The cookies will spread a little after baking for the first time, but they certainly shouldn't be thin. The balls of dough should be slightly smaller than golf ball size.
How should I store these?
Store cookies in an air-tight container either at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, though cookies are best when consumed within 48 hours.
Can these be frozen?
Yep! Wait for the cookies to completely cool, then place them in a freezer-safe bag and freeze them for up to 3 months.
More holiday desserts
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Cranberry Chai Thumbprint Cookies
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk optional, if needed
for the filling:
- 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
- 1 orange peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup cane sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger or more to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together for 30-60 seconds. Next, add the egg and vanilla to that bowl and stir to combine.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients into the same bowl and stir.
- Next, pour cane sugar out onto a plate and set aside.
- Using your hands, form cookie dough into balls (slightly smaller than golf-ball size) then roll the balls into the cane sugar, then place them on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, gently press down into the center of each cookie, forming the thumbprint cookie.
- Place baking sheet in the oven and bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly golden on the bottom, but be careful not to over-bake.
- As soon as you put the cookies in the oven, start to make the filling.
- Add all filling ingredients to a saucepan over the stovetop on medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to break down the orange and cranberries. Once mixture comes to a low boil, reduce heat to a simmer until the mixture thickens and a compote or jam forms.
- Once cookies are done, remove them from the oven and wait a couple minutes before using your thumb to press down on them again, making sure there's enough room in each cookie to fill them with the jam.
- Next, spoon a small amount--approx. 1 tbsp--of jam into each cookie, and then place the cookies back into the oven and bake them for an additional 3 minutes.
- Remove cookies from the oven and onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in November 2017. It was updated with new text and photos in December 2020.