Savory Thumbprint Cookies with Cheddar + Jalapeño Jelly

Savory Thumbprint Cookies are delicious appetizers bursting with sharp cheddar cheese and filled with sweet and spicy jalapeño jelly for a fun twist on classic thumbprint cookies!

Savory Thumbprint Cookies with cheddar jalapeño thumbprints text overlay.


No, you are not experiencing déjà vu. Yes, I have already posted a recipe for Thumbprint Cookies on the site. But I thought it might be fun to stick with the theme and show y'all that not only are sweet thumbprint treats perfectly delightful, but you can also make a cheesy, peppery, nutty variation that will knock your socks off...Savory Thumbprint Cookies with Cheddar + Jalapeño Jelly!

Savory Thumbprint Cookies with pepper jelly and fresh jalapeño.

What can I say...New Year's is right around the corner and I've got appetizers on the brain, people.

Savory Thumbprint Cookies on table with block of cheddar and jalapeños.

How to Make Them

These Savory Thumbprint Cookies involve a simple dough made from just a handful of ingredients:

  • Flour.
  • Butter.
  • Egg.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Salty Parmesan cheese.
  • Cayenne + salt.

After coming together in the food processor, the dough is chilled, formed into balls, rolled in finely minced pecans, and then imprinted and filled with flavorful dollops of jalapeño jelly (or your favorite pepper jelly).

Close-up of Savory Thumbprint Cookie recipe.

The resulting appetizers are salty and sweet with a smidgeon of heat.

With crunchy, toasty pecan exteriors and tender, cheese-infused interiors, the contrast of flavors and textures will pleasantly surprise anyone who bites into one of these yummy Savory Thumbprint Cookies!

Cheddar and fresh jalapeños.

Make-Ahead Option

If you're a make-ahead kind of gal/guy, you can prep your Savory Thumbprint Cookies on the cookie sheet ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate until close to serving time, at which point you can quickly bake them off.

These don't have to eaten warm, but I do recommend serving them the same day that you make them. The nuts will be nice and crunchy straight out of the oven, which makes for fresher tasting snacks.

Close-up of Savory Thumbprint Cookies with pepper jelly.

If you're a fan of traditional thumbprint cookies, I think you will love this savory twist on a classic!

If you've never had jalapeño jelly, pairing it with the flavor of sharp cheddar makes for an excellent introduction.

And if you're on the hunt for some new app ideas -- whether for New Year's Eve or any ol' finger food occasion -- these Savory Thumbprint Cookies with Cheddar + Jalapeño Jelly are sure to be a winner!

Aerial view of Savory Thumbprint Cookies.

More Yummy Appetizers

Savory Thumbprint Cookies with pepper jelly, cheddar, and nuts, plus a fresh jalapeño on the table.

Savory Thumbprint Cookies with Cheddar + Jalapeño Jelly

Savory Thumbprint Cookies are delicious appetizers bursting with sharp cheddar cheese and filled with sweet and spicy jalapeño jelly for a fun twist on classic thumbprint cookies!
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 18 to 24 appetizers
Calories: 184kcal
Print Pin Rate


  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, yellow or white cheddar
  • cup butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups toasted pecans, finely minced or ground
  • ¼ cup jalapeño jelly or pepper jelly


  • In the bowl of a large food processor, process grated cheddar, butter, Parmesan, and egg yolk until blended. Add flour, cayenne, and salt; pulse until dough forms a ball, scraping down sides as necessary. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a disc, tightly wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Pour finely minced nuts into a bowl. Place reserved egg white in another bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop to help portion it). Dip each ball in beaten egg white and then roll in nuts, gently pressing to coat. Space appetizers 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
  • Use your thumb or the tip of a spoon to make an indentation in the top of each dough ball. Use a ½-teaspoon measuring spoon to carefully fill each indentation with jelly. Bake appetizers for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


  • To toast pecans, spread on a sheet pan and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted.
  • I use a food processor (or blender) to grind my pecans into tiny pieces, since it's quicker and easier than chopping nuts finely with a knife.
  • These appetizers taste their best when they are fresh out of the oven. If you need to make them ahead of time, I recommend preparing the appetizers on your cookie sheets as directed (rolling the dough into balls, coating with nuts, filling with jelly), covering tightly with plastic wrap, and then refrigerating for a day or two until you plan to serve them. Up to a few hours before serving, take the cookie sheets out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake as directed until golden brown and serve on the same day. These are still good after a day or two, but the nuts are not as crunchy so they taste better fresh.


Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 305IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Made this recipe? I'd love to see on IG!Mention @FiveHeartHome or tag #FiveHeartHome!

Adapted from Southern Living Ultimate Christmas Cookbook. Post originally published on December 28, 2014, and updated on December 30, 2020, and December 21, 2023.

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Recipe Rating


  1. would bread crumbs or panko be a decent sub for the nuts? have some food allergies to think about with my guests. thank you.

    1. Hi Christine! I haven't tried it, but I don't think that breadcrumbs (regular or Panko) would work. Maybe it would end up tasting fine, but I'm having a hard time envisioning a dough coated with breadcrumbs. You could perhaps coat these with grated Parmesan, though? Alternatively, savory thumbprints should be just fine if you don't coat them at all. A lot of sweet thumbprint cookies are left uncoated. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Could the dough be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight in a log? Formed into balls and baked next day?
    I would like to make these for a party as they look delicious but don’t think I have time on day of event


    1. Hi Carolyn! I haven't personally tried that before, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Enjoy your party!

    1. Hi Rosemarie! Using your hands, just roll the dough into small balls that have a diameter of about 1 inch. Hope that makes sense! 🙂

  3. Hello all - I am not using a food processor and find my dough is not coming together I triple checked each ingredient and measure buttons seem to need moisture. Is it because I am hand stirring?

  4. I’m going to make these in 2 you start with 8 oz. grated cheddar, or do you start with a block of 8 oz. of cheddar?

    Many may thanks!

    1. I apologize for my delayed reply, Paula! 8 ounces grated cheddar is by weight. So yes, you can start with an 8-ounce block of cheddar, or 8 ounces of grated cheese should measure about 2 cups (packed). Hope that helps!

  5. 5 stars
    These are SO yummy and perfect for a Christmas potluck. I made them with a peach-jalapeno jelly and they were gone within minutes and many coworkers asked for the recipe. Thanks for a new potluck idea!

  6. These are brilliant!! I was so excited to stumble across these on Pinterest. I have a co-worker who does not like sweets at all (I know, weird!) and always complains when I bring cookies for everyone else. I can't wait to make these and bring them to work for her! You are a super genius!! 🙂

    1. You are too sweet, Jo and Sue! I hope your co-worker enjoys these if you have a chance to make them for her. Personally, I have a hard time comprehending the concept of 'not liking sweets,' but these little thumbprints are pretty tasty either way! 😉 Hope you have a great week!

  7. Wow! This is so incredibly creative! I think I would love to dig into these with a big bowl of chili! Pinned.

    1. Mmmmm, Kristen...that's a really good idea! These would be great with chili! Thanks so much for the pin. Hope you have a wonderful week! 🙂

  8. OMG!!! Thank you!!!! I have my BIG family DO on the first. Albeit there are some who are mighty sick right now. Anyway I have been looking at appetizers and changing my mind 15 times. Two are for sure
    and I have the ingredients bought. And I know I want one hot dip---well maybe. THIS is perfect.
    I didn't just pin it. I printed it, because I am going to the grocery store tonight. THANK YOU. What's cool is that I always make thumb print cookies for Xmas. This year I wasn't going to do it. Well now I am, but just a different version. I am chortling here.

    1. I'm so glad you're planning to try these, Carol, and that they're going to fill this year's thumbprint cookie deficit...but I'm so sorry to hear that some of your family members have been sick! 🙁 I hope that everyone is on the mend soon, that y'all had a wonderful Christmas, and that your 2015 holds nothing but the best! 🙂