Nut-Free Italian Thumbprint Cookies

‘Tis the season for eating cookies, fa la la la la, la la la la. Along with the traditional and ultra-delicious chocolate chip cookies that are meant to be devoured on Christmas, there’s a new cookie that has entered the picture for my last two Christmases. My beau is half Italian, so every year on Christmas his mother would make traditional Italian thumbprint cookies filled with raspberry jam and crushed pecans. He continued this tradition in his own home and looks forward to making them every year (it’s his favorite cookie). There’s one problem though – I’m allergic to nuts.

Last year, my beau was determined to make me an altered version of Italian thumbprint cookies so I could get to enjoy some on Christmas. He made his usual batch with crushed pecans, but then I helped him find something else for another batch to replace the nuts with. It took some trial and error, but eventually we found the perfect substitute – graham cracker crumbs (which also happens to be my secret ingredient in my chocolate chip cookies). It’s easy to roll the cookies in and gives the cookie a nice crumble paired with the raspberry jam. It’s worth it, but be prepared to get a little messy!

Nut-Free Thumbprint Cookies


– 1/2 cup butter (room temperature, softened)
– 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 1 egg
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (can buy box of graham cracker crumbs or crush full sized graham crackers)
– 1 jar of flavor fruit jam


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with baking/parchment paper. In a small bowl, crack the egg and set aside the yolk. Pour the yolk into a mixing bowl and reserve the egg white in a separate bowl. Prepare another small bowl of the graham cracker crumbs. Sprinkle a bit of cracked salt and mix with the graham cracker crumbs.

In the same mixing bowl as the egg yolk, with a hand mixer or mixing stand, cream together the butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Once texture is creamy, add vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour and salt, and mix well.

Take the dough in your hands (a small amount) and roll the dough into small balls. Take each ball and roll it in the egg white. Now roll the egg white-covered dough ball into the bowl of graham cracker crumbs until completely covered. Place each finished ball onto the lined cookie sheet. Repeat until the cookie sheet is full. Place the cookie sheet in the over for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the cookies from the oven. Be careful because the cookies will be a bit hot. Take your thumb and press into the center of each cookie. Take a small spoon and fill each thumbprint with your flavor jam. Return the cookie sheet to the oven to continue baking for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool.

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