These thumbprint-style apricot cream cheese cookies include cream cheese in the dough, so they’re extra tender and soft. They’re flavored with almond extract and refreshing lemon zest, rolled in sliced almonds for a little crunch, and filled with apricot jam or preserves. Strawberry, peach, or raspberry are also delicious!
Tell Me About These Apricot Cream Cheese Cookies
- Texture: Have you ever tried lemon ricotta cookies before? These apricot cream cheese thumbprint cookies have a similar melt-in-your-mouth texture with the bonus of a jammy filling. Cream cheese makes the dough extra soft and creamy, which I love in so many cookie recipes, like maple walnut tassies and cream cheese sugar cookies. The almonds add a little crunch, so if you crave a little texture contrast, don’t skip them.
- Flavor: When I first tested this recipe, I kept the cookie dough plain. It’s sweet with a little tang, but benefits from extra flavor. In another test batch, I added lemon zest for a fresh zing and almond extract, both of which pair beautifully with the apricot center. If you enjoy soft and fruity cookies, you’ll enjoy biting into these!
- Ease: Mixing the cookie dough together is pretty easy, but assembly requires a little extra effort—rolling the dough balls, coating in almonds, making a thumbprint, and filling with jam. Take your time and don’t rush.
- Time: Set aside enough time to chill the cookie dough. We use enough cream cheese in the dough to make a uniquely tender cookie, but it also creates a very sticky creamy dough. This dough needs time in the refrigerator to thicken properly. As you wait—and if you need more cookies—bake some no chill cookies like these crunchy crisp lace cookies or shortbread cookies.
Overview: How to Make Cream Cheese Apricot Cookies
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through the recipe so you understand each step before you get started.
- Make the cookie dough. This is a pretty straightforward cookie dough, but includes the addition of extra creamy cream cheese. In step 2 below, cream cheese and butter should be thoroughly mixed together before adding the sugar. The two are different textures—cream cheese is much softer than butter. My tip is to beat the cream cheese in your mixer until very soft and smooth. Then add the softened butter and beat together until combined.
- Chill the cookie dough. After you combine the wet and dry ingredients as detailed in the recipe below, it’s imperative to let the dough set in the refrigerator.
- Roll dough into balls. Measure 1 Tablespoon of chilled cookie dough per cookie and roll into balls. Even after chilling, this dough is sticky. I find it’s helpful to lightly coat your hands in flour or confectioners’ sugar as you work—but only if dough seems wet. Roll each dough ball in sliced almonds, an optional addition but the crunch is delicious. Make an indent into each coated ball and fill with jam or preserves. My hack for thumbprint cookies? Use the end of a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. You can see how I do that in my caramel apple spice thumbprints recipe. Of course you can use your thumb, but this way isn’t as messy.
- Bake, then cool cookies.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Optional, but a snowy finishing touch is always pretty.
If you’re not into almond & apricot, here are some other suggestions:
- Strawberry Pecan: Skip the almond extract and lemon zest. Roll in finely chopped pecans and fill with strawberry jam.
- Blackberry Almond: Swap apricot jam or preserves for blackberry jam or preserves.
- Apple Butter Walnut: Skip the almond extract and lemon zest. Roll in finely chopped walnuts and fill with apple butter.
- Blueberry: Swap apricot jam or preserves with blueberry. (If you need a recommendation, I really like Bonne Maman wild blueberry preserves.)
Or try these lemon thumbprint cookies instead.
Sally’s Cookie Palooza
This recipe is part of my annual cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. It’s the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Browse dozens of cookie recipes over on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page including:
- Peanut Butter & Jam Thumbprints
- Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Spritz Cookies
And here are 75+ Christmas cookies with all my best success guides & tips.
These thumbprint-style apricot cream cheese cookies include cream cheese in the dough, so they’re extra tender and soft. They’re flavored with almond extract and refreshing lemon zest, rolled in sliced almonds for a little crunch, and filled with apricot jam.
- 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces (170g) full-fat brick cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Rolling & Filling
- 6–7 Tablespoons (120-140g) apricot jam or preserves*
- optional: 3/4 cup (95g) sliced almonds
- optional: 3 Tablespoons (23g) confectioners’ sugar for dusting
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the butter and beat until combined, scraping down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat on low until combined. Dough will be very creamy, sticky, and soft. Cover and chill the dough for at least 3 hours (and up to 4 days) in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll into balls, 1 Tablespoon of dough each. Dough gets sticky as you roll, so feel free to lightly dust your hands with all-purpose flour or confectioners’ sugar as you work. Roll each ball into sliced almonds. Arrange 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Indent your thumb or the bottom end of a silicone spatula or wooden spoon into the center of each dough ball to make a crevice. Spoon a heaping 1/2 teaspoon jam/preserves into each indent. *These cookies do have the tendency to spread especially if the dough has been sitting out and handled long enough before baking. Placing the shaped thumbprints in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before baking helps. You can place the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator, then place in the oven to bake.*
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The jam won’t look completely set, but will set as the cookies cool.
- Remove from the oven. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar. Sugar usually melts into the jam centers, but remains on the cookie edges.
- Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (see step 3). You can also freeze the unbaked cookie dough balls for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then roll in almonds, make an indent into each, and fill with jam before baking. Baked cookies with jam filling and with or without confectioners’ sugar dusting, freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Silicone Spatula or Wooden Spoon | Cooling Rack | Fine Mesh Sieve
- Cream Cheese: Use 6 ounces (170g) of an 8-ounce brick of full-fat cream cheese. Do not use cream cheese spread or whipped cream cheese. Do not use the whole brick either—that’s too much and the cookies will over-spread. If using low fat or fat free, keep in mind that the texture of the cookies will be different. They won’t be as rich and could spread more. I recommend full-fat.
- Jam: Use any jam, jelly, or preserves you enjoy. Apricot and peach are two favorites with this dough. I usually use Bonne Maman apricot preserves.
- Lemon Zest, Almond Extract, and Sliced Almonds: Feel free to leave out the lemon zest or replace with orange zest. You can skip the almond extract. No need to replace with anything, but you could replace with 1 teaspoon lemon juice if desired. Rolling in sliced almonds is optional. Sliced almonds are best for rolling since they’re flat. Feel free to skip them or replace with chopped almonds, chopped pecans, or chopped hazelnuts.
Keywords: thumbprint cookies, apricot, cream cheese