Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

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Celebrate the Sweetest Season with Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies—buttery shortbread with a creamy caramel center topped with toasted pecans.

The Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange is celebrating its SIXTH year of spreading holiday cheer through a virtual cookie exchange!

Follow along all week to get delicious cookie recipes from a great group of bloggers who are spreading the word and raising money for a good cause.

The recipe I’ve chosen to “swap” is for Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies, a buttery shortbread cookie with a creamy caramel center topped with toasted pecans. These cookies have been hubby taste-tested and approved!

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Since Christmas is the season of giving as well as a magical time for children of all ages, we’re partnering with the children’s charity, Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, to raise money throughout the entire month of December.

Did you know that cancer is the #1 cause of death of children by disease in the U.S.? There are 40,000 U.S. children actively battling cancer right now. With less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget going to all childhood cancer combined, I knew it was important for me to get involved.

Won’t you help us make a difference by donating to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer?

a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with unbaked cookie dough with thumb imprints

Shortbread Cookies

Other than chocolate chip, shortbread cookies are one of my all-time favorites and I’m totally in love with this creamy caramel filling! Shortbread originated in Scotland and is traditionally made from one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.

When baked, shortbread will appear to be almost white, so don’t fret about cooking until lightly browned. These cookies are done when they appear dry and are firm to the touch.

More About Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer.

Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $15 million to pediatric cancer research in the form of 100 research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers across the country.

From these 100 grants have stemmed 37 treatments available to kids battling cancer TODAY.

When 2-year-old Liam Witt was diagnosed with childhood cancer in 2007, his parents Larry and Gretchen were shocked to learn of the lack of effective treatments for pediatric cancers due to lack of funding.

They pledged to support the funding of research for safer, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.

With the help of 250 volunteers, his mom Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies, raising more than $400,000 for research. Word spread, and people nationwide began asking, “How can I help?” From that giant cookie bake, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was born.

 Please help us make a difference by donating to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  Merry Christmas!

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies | Life, Love, and Good Food

Baking cookies to give away to friends and neighbors is one of our Christmas traditions. Every year, I have a really difficult time deciding what cookies to make — here are a few cookie recipes that are always a hit!

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

One tip to remember when baking Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies is to be sure the cookies cool completely before filling with the caramel. This is because shortbread cookies tend to be crumbly when still warm. The cookies will firm up a bit as they cool and it will be much easier to fill them with the caramel.

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies | Life, Love, and Good Food

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies—buttery shortbread with a creamy caramel center topped with toasted pecans
4.47 from 13 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Cookies & Bars
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozen
Calories 141 kcal



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter room temperature, (16 tablespoons)
  • cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Caramel Filling

  • 6 ounces individually wrapped Kraft caramels about 22 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • cup finely chopped pecans toasted



  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered’ sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until well blended and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  • Scrape down the bowl and beaters and add flour. Mix on low speed until a soft dough forms, about 1 minute.
  • Form the cookies by using your palms to roll our 24 smooth balls approximately 1 to 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Place about 1-1/2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. 
  • Dip the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measure into flour, then press down into the middle of each cookie almost as deep as the dough ball. Reform any cookies that crack or break. 
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops look dry and the edges are lightly browned. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time if both sheets will not fit on the same middle rack. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Filling

  • Unwrap the caramels and place in a small saucepan with the heavy cream. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is smooth, about 4 to 6 minutes. 
  • While the caramel is still warm, use a small spoon to fill each cookie indentation, filling to the rim but not overflowing. Sprinkle pecans on top of each cookie and press lightly into the caramel. Cool completely before storing.


Original recipe found in the Fine Cooking 2017 Christmas Guide.


Serving: 1gCalories: 141kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 2gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 47mgSugar: 3g

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword caramel, cookies, pecan, thumbprint cookies
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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  1. Pingback: Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies - The Monday Box
  2. I am SUCH a sucker for a good caramel cookie, and these look stunning. When we bake them, I guarantee they won’t last long because YUM. 😉

    It has been so much fun seeing everyone bring a cookie to the mix and help raise awareness and money and spread cheer. 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you for participating in this year’s Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange!

  3. My family would LOVE these! They always love pecan desserts and I always love caramel – win win!

  4. These look so delicious! Love this alternative to traditional thumbprints—these are definitely going on my cookie trays this year.

  5. These cookies look delicious! I love that you are raising funds for cancer research for children. Thank you for sharing the link!

  6. 5 stars
    Mmmm what a great flavor combo! I love the look of these. Definitely a must-try this Christmas season!

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