Pittsburgh-Style Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

Pittsburgh Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies Cover

So – we have already discussed that we Pittsburghers do cookies for weddings.  Right?

Massive cookie tables that serve as appetizers, desserts (along with cake!), and take-home treats/gifts/doggie bags.

Pittsburgh is also kinda famous for our twist on the traditional thumbprint cookie, which is typically filled with jam or fruit preserves and rolled in nuts.

Nope – in the Burgh, we do sprinkles and icing on our thumbprints!

blue sprinkle thumbprint cookie stack top down

Many of the local bakeries as well as our large grocery store chain, Giant Eagle, make and sell these by the hundreds of dozens.  They come in a variety of colors of icing and sprinkles and there is also a chocolate icing version.

The ones I made this week are blue because, well – they are for an upcoming wedding (WOOHOO Jackie and Matt – only a little over a week to go!) – and I wanted to match the wedding color theme (as close as possible with sprinkles and icing – there are only so many shades of blue sprinkles available….)

blue sprinkle thumbprint cookie stack1

Here are the ones I made last year for Jake and Colleen’s wedding in yellow.

yellow sprinkle thumbprints

I must give credit to two great baking bloggers for this recipeMichelle – Brown Eyed Baker and Chelsea – Chelsea Bakes.

Pittsburgh-Style Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies:

2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sprinkles of your color choice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and salt. Once it is mostly incorporated, slowly increase the speed back to medium-high and beat for another minute or so until a dough forms.

3. Form tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in the sprinkles.  If dough is a bit dry, you can add a little bit of milk or cream or put on your hands when rolling the balls to allow sprinkles to stick.

4.  Place on baking stone about 1 – 1/2  inches apart. Make a slight indentation with your thumb or finger on the tops of all the cookies.

5. Bake for 8 minutes, then make a deeper indentation in the middle, and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes. The cookies should not brown much at all around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons milk or cream
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter, room temperature
food color of your choice

Stir together all ingredients until smooth, then drop a spoonful into each cooled cookie.

pittsburgh sprinkle thumbprint cookies

I liken the taste of this buttery cookie to that of shortbread.  It is thick and moist and dense and tender flaky all at once.

You need to allow these cookies to cool for quite a long time for the icing to “set.”  I leave mine on racks overnight and then place in Ziploc Freezer bags.

To make the chocolate frosting version, see Michelle’s recipe on her Brown Eyed Baker Blog here.

Enjoy these Burgh style cookies.

Cheers & Hugs,


19 thoughts on “Pittsburgh-Style Sprinkle Thumbprint Cookies

  1. Those look scrumptious !
    Have you ever checked out the FB page, Youngstown Cookie Table? Great cookie recipes, it was created because of the tradition of the famous cookie table that is a great tradition in our area as well!!!
    Have a great day,


    • How fun, Char! Just checked it out. I think Youngstown is so close we share similar cultural traditions. There are places that have never heard of wedding cookie tables – can you believe it?! 🙂 Happy day my friend!


  2. Pingback: Dear Kitchen Table | life in between

  3. Pingback: Apricot Kolaches & Christmas Cookie Baking | life in between

  4. Oh my goodness, your thumbprints look purely perfect. I am a Pittsburgher and love thumbprint cookies with jimmies and icing. I usually like the colored ones but just got a pack of the chocolate ones and they’re good too. I usually make sugar cookies but never ventured out to make my own thumbprints. You are the perfect person to bake with. I am so proud of you for your culinary talents.


  5. Hi there I am so delighted I found your site, I really found you by mistake,
    while I was browsing on Bing for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I
    also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it
    all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the superb


  6. Pingback: Wedding Day for a Perfect Pair | life in between

  7. Pingback: Christmas Pittsburgh-Style Thumbprint Cookies | life in between

  8. Pingback: Creative Inspiration in Food, Watercolor, Photography, Writing and Life in Between.

  9. Thank you very much for posting this recipe. I miss all my Pittsburgh traditions especially at Easter.
    I made my first batch of pastel colored thumb prints (robin blue, pink, yellow, green, and purple). I couldn’t have done it without your help!

    Liked by 1 person

I love hearing from you - hope you'll drop me a line

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s