These soft and chewy vegan thumbprint cookies are lightly sweet with the brightness of lemon zest. You can use strawberry jelly for the centers like I did here, or use whatever kind of fruit jam you have on hand. They are super easy to make, about 5 minutes to mix everything together and between 8 and 10 minutes to bake. You don’t need egg or any kind of replacer; we use syrup to bind these cookies which also helps to sweeten. Click here for the printable recipe.
I came up with these cookies after yet another failed batch of Christmas ginger cookies. I had been testing ginger cookies for a week and I was little sick of them to be honest. This latest batch of ginger cookies turned out to be too “dark” tasting as I used too much blackstrap molasses but I noted that the syrup helped to bind the cookies. I started to make a “light” version of the same recipe but then got the idea to make strawberry jelly cookies instead.
Video Tutorial for Vegan Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies for Christmas
I was so glad I did! They turned out to be soft but chewy and a little crispy at the edges. I loved that they weren’t too sweet; I often find sweets too sweet for me. The strawberry jelly in the center kept that part of the cookie soft and gave it the perfect amount of fruity sweetness.
I used coconut oil in this dairy-free cookie recipe, but you can also use vegan margarine. If you use Becel vegan margarine*, they tend to spread out a bit more while Earth Balance creates a puffier cookie like with coconut oil. Use whatever solid vegetable fat you prefer but make sure it is at room temperature or just slightly warmer depending on the one you choose. You want it so be solid but soft; not liquid. The rest of your ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin.
Mix the dry ingredients first. Or do the wet ingredients first. It doesn’t matter; just do them separately. You want to make sure that the leavening ingredients (the baking powder and baking soda) are well distributed throughout the flour. Can you use whole wheat flour for these cookies? Short answer is I don’t know. I haven’t tested with that. But you should be able to substitute with whole wheat flour. You have to keep in mind that whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than white flour does, you will need about a quarterless flour if you choose whole wheat.
Can you use gluten-free flour? Short answer again is I don’t know. I’m on a pretty strict food budget which doesn’t give me the flexibility to buy gluten-free flours that I wouldn’t otherwise use. However, I have heard from multiple readers and viewers that store-bought gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes work well in all sorts of baking. Cookies don’t require the stretchiness of gluten so I think it is an experiment worth trying.
Mix the wet ingredients together. I really recommend using an electric mixer for the wet ingredients if you can. I used a little electric hand mixer that I bought for less than $10, but in the past I have used my immersion blender for the same purpose. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous. It will look a bit like smooth cake batter.
Then, mix the wet and dry ingredients together. I tend to add the wet to the dry and mix a little bit of the dry into the puddle of wet ingredients first, continuing to stir until all of the dry mixture is incorporated.
The dough will be coarse and resemble pie crust dough but will stick together if you pinch it. With a small cookie dough scoop or just a round tablespoon, spoon out small rounds of dough and place on to a prepared baking sheet. I use parchment paper to line my baking pans for that nonstick surface and to make clean up easier. Then make a small indentation with your thumb in the middle of each dough ball. The edges may crack so hold the sides with your thumb and forefinger to keep the cookie from breaking up.
Then bake in a preheated oven at 350°F or 177°C for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake, otherwise you’ll get a very hard cookies rather than soft and chewy ones.
Printable recipe for vegan strawberry thumbprint cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegan margarine) at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons corn syrup (or any other thick syrup such as brown rice or agave)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 - 3 tablespoons strawberry jam (or use your favourite kind)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F or 177°C. Prepare a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Mix the wet ingredients together (coconut oil or margarine, sugar, water, vanilla extract, water and lemon zest) until smooth. For best results, use an electric mixer (such as a stand mixer, hand mixer, or immersion blender.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, whisking so that all the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry. Make sure to scrape every bit of the wet mixture into the bowl.
- Stir the dry mixture into the puddle of wet ingredients, a bit at a time until everything is well incorporated. The resulting dough will resemble coarse crumbs with some larger lumps. The dough should hold together when pinched.
- Use a cookie scoop or a rounded spoon, scoop generous tablespoon sized dough balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Press your thumb into the middle of each cookie to make and indentation. The dough may start to crack around the edges, so use your other hand to form a ring around the base of the cookie to prevent the dough from breaking up.
- Fill the indentations with a little bit of strawberry jelly.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake.
- Cool on a rack before serving or storing.
- You can use any solid-at-room-temperature vegetable oil or margarine in this recipe. Coconut oil is great because it doesn't leave any oily mouthfeel. Vegan Becel and Earth Balance Buttery Spread both work well. Do not use Crisco.
- If your coconut oil is hard at room temperature, warm it slightly so that it is still solid but soft before using.
- To make cookies that spread out a little more, add 1 tablespoon of corn syrup and 1/2 tablespoon extra water to the wet ingredients.
*I’m on the fence about using Becel vegan margarine. While I am ecstatic that such a mainstream company has produced a plant-based product and placed a big Vegan label on it, I’m conflicted because Becel is owned by Unilever, a large corporation that tests other products on animals. Unilever has also been in the news lately for suing Hampton Creek foods for not having egg in their mayo; an action I feel is distasteful, anti-competitive and in bad faith.
At the same time, I feel it’s important to remember that corporations are not a single person; they are made up of many employees, managers, and shareholders. All of these individuals have different thoughts, opinions and motivations and because of this, even giant multinational corporations can be capable of incredible good as well as harm. Can we make a difference for the animals by encouraging companies like these to produce more vegan products by buying the vegan labelled ones to demonstrate demand? I think this is a judgement call for you as compassionate individuals to make. This world isn’t perfect and there is always something more we can do. But at the end of the day, what helps you stay vegan? A sense of purity or just trying to do the best you can without becoming overwhelmed?