Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

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Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Pair buttery shortbread dough with decadent dulce de leche, and you get these dulce de leche thumbprint cookies. They’re basically everything a cookie should be – sweet, salty, rich and a little bit gooey.

If you aren’t familiar with dulce de leche, it’s just milk and sugar that’s been cooked down, until it’s reached the color and consistency of a thick, caramel or toffee-like sauce. You can buy it at the grocery store ready-made, or you can make it yourself from a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

I prefer to make my own dulce de leche, and I have a really easy recipe. It practically makes itself.

Shortbread cookies freeze really well. I’ve included freezing instructions below the recipe, in case you’re trying to get a head start on your holiday baking.

Closeup of Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

This recipe makes 25-26 2″ thumbprint cookies.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche -> Here’s how to make your own

If you’re looking for dulce de leche at the grocery store, it’ll either be on the baking aisle, next to the sweetened condensed milk or with the Mexican/international foods. Nestle La Lechera is the most common brand.

What You Do:

Beat Butter and Sugar

Beat the butter and sugar together, until fully incorporated.

Add Egg and Vanilla

Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract; beat to combine. Then, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Shortbread Cookie Dough for Thumbprint Cookies

Add the salt and flour in batches. Continue beating, until all the flour is mixed in, and a dough forms.

Roll Thumbprint Cookie Dough Into Balls

Divide your dough into 1″ balls. A small (Tablespoon-size) cookie scoop is really handy for this step. Space your dough balls 2″ apart on two baking sheets.

Use a 1/2 tsp Measuring Spoon to Make Indentions in Cookies

Then, use your thumb, or a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, to make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Press slowly and gently to keep the dough from cracking. If any cracks form, just smooth them out with your fingers. I usually just leave them.

Make a Thumbprint Indention in Each Cookie

Stick your cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, before you continue. Chilling the dough will keep it from spreading, when you bake your cookies.

Fill Thumbprint Cookies With Dulce de Leche

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While you wait for the oven to warm up, fill the center of each cookie with dulce de leche. Use slightly less than 1/2 tsp in each thumbprint. You don’t want to overfill the cookies, or the dulce de leche will bubble over, and run down the side of the cookies, when you bake them.

Bake your cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown. It takes 12 minutes in my oven.

How to Freeze Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

  • Freeze the Dough: Make a batch of cookie dough; flatten it into a disk; seal it in a freezer bag; and stick it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, thaw your dough in the fridge overnight, or just leave it on the counter for a couple hours.
  • Freeze Unbaked Cookies: Slide the baking sheets in the freezer, after you make your thumbprint indentations. Then, transfer the cookies to freezer bags, once they’re frozen. To bake your cookies: thaw them in fridge overnight; thaw them on the counter for a couple hours; or add 2-5 minutes to the bake time, and bake them while they’re still frozen. Fill the cookies with dulce de leche, just prior to baking.
  • Freeze Baked Cookies: Bake your cookies; let them cool; then, freeze them on their cookie sheets. Once the cookies are frozen, place them in freezer bags, in a single layer (dulce de leche thumbprint cookies are too sticky to stack). To enjoy your cookies, thaw them overnight in the fridge, or leave them on the counter for a couple hours, before serving.

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Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies

These buttery shortbread thumbprint cookies are filled with decadent dulce de leche.

  • Total Time: 28 minutes
  • Yield: 25-26 cookies 1x


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 21/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dulce de leche -> Here’s how to make your own


Beat butter and sugar together.

Add egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.

Gradually add salt and flour. Continue beating, until dough forms.

Roll dough into 1″ balls. Space 2″ apart on cookie sheets.

Use your thumb, or a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, to make an indention in the center of each cookie.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Then, fill thumbprints with dulce de leche (be careful not to overfill).

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown.


  • A small (Tablespoon) cookie scoop makes perfect 1″ scoops.
  • To avoid cracks in the dough, roll your balls, until smooth. Then, press your thumb, or measuring spoon, into the dough slowly. Use your thumb to smooth out any cracks.
  • Both the dough and cookies freeze well.

Keywords: dulce de leche thumbprint cookie recipe, dulce de leche thumbprint cookies

More Cookie Recipes to Try:

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Gingerbread Cookie Mix

Sugar Cookie Mix

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