With only 6 ingredients, these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies are super easy to make! They come together in only 25 minutes and are made with whole-some ingredients. Instead of refined sugar, these cookies are naturally sweetened with dates. The recipes is also oil-free and can totally be made gluten-free.
Have you tried these vegan cookie recipes?
- Vegan Speculoos Cookies (refined-sugar-free, oil-free)
- Vegan Lebkuchen Cookies (oil-free, refined-sugar-free)
- Vegan Cinnamon Star Cookies (oil-free, refined-sugar-free, gluten-free)
What are thumbprint cookies?
Thumbprint cookies have a similar texture to shortbread cookies but they are filled in the middle. The dough is vanilla-flavored and usually made with butter, flour, sugar and vanilla. The most common filling is probably raspberry jam.
Fun fact: Did you know thumbprint cookies are called Hallongrotta (raspberry cave) in Swedish and they are a common Swedish pastry? In German, they are called Engelsaugen with translates to eyes of an angel.
What do you need to make these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies?
To make these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies, you'll need only 6 ingredients for the dough:
- dates: Instead of using refined sugar, we will use dates to naturally sweeten the cookies. Refined sugar can raise the blood sugar levels and result in blood sugar spikes. Dates on the other hand have a lower glycemic index and don't cause excessive blood sugar spikes.
- tahini: This "replaces" the butter in the traditional recipe. Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds. It's a good source for potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.
- plant milk: For this recipe, I used soy milk - but feel free to use whatever plant milk you have on hand.
- vanilla flavoring: I simply used some vanilla extract. You could also use a vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste but I find vanilla extract to be the more affordable option.
- ground almonds: Adds a nice texture and flavor to the cookies.
- whole-wheat flour (see below for gluten-free option): Instead of white flour, whole-wheat flour uses the whole grain. Therefore, whole-wheat flour has more vitamins and minerals than white flour. Minerals and vitamins are mainly found in the outer layers of the grain which are lost when white flour is made.
How to make gluten-free thumbprint cookies
If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, simply omit the whole-wheat flour and replace (in a 1-1 ratio) with:
- oat meal - you can buy this in the supermarket or make your own by adding oats to a food processor
- buckwheat flour
- your favorite gluten-free flour blend
Filling ideas for vegan thumbprint cookies
Of course, what would a thumbprint cookie be without a delicious filling? For these healthy vegan cookies, I went with berry chia jam and peanut butter. If you want to get creative, thumbprint cookies are a great choice to do that! Here are some more ideas for thumbprint cookie fillings:
- peanut butter caramel: Soak a few dates in water, then drain and mash with a fork to make a date paste. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter and a pinch of salt and mix until smooth.
- chocolate & sea salt: Make a delicious chocolate filling by combining melted dark chocolate and coconut milk/vegan cream. After baking, sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top.
- chocolate & orange: Same filling, but this time we add some orange zest on top after baking. You could even add a little bit of cocoa powder to the dough to make them more chocolate-y.
- chocolate & hazelnut: Either make your own chocolate hazelnut butter or use your favorite chocolate hazelnut spread.
- jams: raspberry jam, elderberry jam, blackberry jam, strawberry jam, apricot jam, fig jam, ...
When should you add the filling to thumbprint cookies?
When you make thumbprint cookies, you can add the filling either before baking, after baking, or during baking. I found that all three ways work, but the cookies turn out slightly differently each time. I think, in the end, it comes down to your personal preferences how you like your cookies.
Before baking: This has the advantage that the filling can set during baking. If you're using store-bought jams which tend to be more runny, this will be an advantage. However, if you are using chia jam like in this recipe, the chia seeds will help the jam set so it's not really necessary. Another difference I found is that the cookies need to be baked slightly longer (2-3 minutes) because the filling can cause the bottom to become a little soggy.
After baking: When you add the filling after baking, I found that the cookies get more crunchy on the outside and they also don't need to be baked as long. Depending on your filling, it won't dry out as much. However, the little "thumbprint" hole in the middle you make for the filling may loose its shape during baking. You can fix that by gently pressing it down again with a spoon directly after you take them out of the oven.
During baking: Another option is to add your filling half-way through baking. If you have the time, I would recommend doing that because it helps the cookies stay in shape but also they don't get too soggy and the filling won't dry out as much.
How to make these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
Place the dates and tahini in a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend for a minute or so until you get a sticky paste. It's okay if it is not super, super smooth and some little date chunks remain.
Next, add in the plant milk and vanilla essence and blend again until everything comes together nicely.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the ground almonds and whole-wheat flour. Use a spoon to combine everything and form a dough. It will be slightly on the stickier side. Add a little more flour if necessary so that you're able to work with the dough. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Microwave the frozen berries until they become soft and you can mash them with a fork/spoon. Add in the chia seeds and mix well. Set aside so the chia jam can set.
Take about a tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and repeat. The recipe makes roughly 12-15 cookies.
Use a small measuring spoon (like a teaspoon) and gently press down on each ball to form the hole in the middle. If your dough is too sticky, you can dip the spoon in water before and it should not stick anymore.
Add about a teaspoon of the filling to each cookie. Bake the thumbprint cookies in the oven for roughly 12 minutes. Check after 10 minutes to make sure they don't burn and take them out when they are firm and a little browned on the outside.
How to store these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies
These healthy vegan thumbprint cookies can be stored in an airtight container (like a metal cookie box) for up to a week. I would store in a rather cool place although storing them in the fridge is not necessary.
Tips for making vegan thumbprint cookies
Here are a few more tips for making the perfect vegan thumbprint cookies:
- Use a measuring spoon to make the indent instead of a regular spoon.
- If your measuring spoon sticks to the cookies, dip it in water to prevent sticking.
- When rolling the dough into little balls, make sure there are no cracks but it is a smooth ball. This prevents the cookies from cracking while baking.
- If your filling is too firm, lightly heat it up in the microwave so it is easier to spoon into the cookies. It shouldn't be super hot but just warm enough so it melts.
Can you make this recipe without a food processor?
While having a food processor or high-speed blender definitely helps with this recipe, you don't need to have one! While it may be a little more work, it is totally doable.
Soak the dates in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then drain the water. Now the dates should be soft enough so that you can mash them with a fork. They should come together nicely in a sticky date paste. Now you can add the tahini and plant milk and follow the rest of the recipe.
Healthy Vegan Thumbprint Cookies
for the dough
- 60 g dates ~ 10 small dates
- ¼ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup plant milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup ground almonds
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour see notes for gluten-free substitutions
for the berry chia jam filling (enough for 12 cookies)
- ½ cup frozen berries raspberry, blackberry, blueberry or mixed
- 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
for the peanut butter filling
- 3-4 tbsp peanut butter
to make the dough
- Place the dates and tahini in a food processor and blend until you have a sticky paste.
- Add the vanilla extract and plant milk and blend again until it comes together nicely.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the ground almonds and whole-wheat flour. Combine to form a dough. Add a little more flour if it is too sticky to work with (a little sticky is fine).
- Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
to make the berry chia jam filling
- Microwave the frozen berries until soft and mash with a fork/spoon. Add in the chia seeds and mix well. Let it sit for ~5 minutes and add more chia seeds if it is not firm enough.
to bake the cookies
- Take about 1 tbsp of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball. Place on a baking sheet and repeat.
- Using a small measuring spoon, gently press down on each dough ball to form the hole in the middle.
- Spoon about a teaspoon of the filling (either berry chia jam or peanut butter) into the middle.
- Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove when the cookies are slightly browned and let cool.
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Did you make these healthy vegan thumbprint cookies?
Please leave a comment below, share or rate this recipe. You can also tag me on instagram – I would love to see your creations!