Pecan Thumbprint Cookies With Cream Cheese Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free)


One thing I have always looked forward to on Christmas when I was really little was the Christmas thumbprint cookies from the family cookbook. My grandma Jessie would make them and send them to me express shipping so I got them right on Christmas day even though we lived far. They would only be in transit for about a day so they were quite fresh, and the second you open the box you’re just overwhelmed with the scent of buttery, crumbly goodness. The distinct scent note that I really notice is the warm smell of velvety butter radiating off of the cookie, and then that hint of sweetness from the crumbly shortbread and then finished with the smell of toasted pecans that wrapped this beautiful cookie.


To me this cookie has always signified Christmas time, and a time of happiness and always brought a wide smile on my face and a fluttered heart beat. Now that the season is so close I started to fear that I wouldn’t be able to have them because of my commitment to eating healthy. So I though really hard for a while and realized that I could try to make them as close to the real thing as I possibly could but a much healthier version. After a lot of ingredient shoveling I managed to get a thumbprint cookie that tastes almost exactly the same. I’m not even kidding.


Not counting the frosting though because our family cookbook version calls for a standard icing, which I think we all know is not going to be possible. So I made a cream cheese frosting that actually accompanied this quite well and wasn’t overpowering to the taste  of the entire cookie. Which in my opinion, actually makes it work just like a regular frosting in my opinion, because you can hardly taste the cream cheese in the frosting. And even if you can taste the cream cheese it doesn’t really matter because cream cheese is delicious on something like this none the less.

But I was so happy when I got this recipe to work because it still brings that smile on my face and satiates that longing for these wonderful cookies even though its made with slightly different ingredients.


But I must give credit to the family for creating such great recipes. I think my moms side of the family may just be a group of secret culinary geniuses. We can call them..the Feland Gourmand Elites. Seriously though, way too good.

And this is a recipe that has been passed down my family for quite a while and has always been iconic, so messing with the recipe was a little bit scary. I was afraid I was going to get struck by lightning or something when I started messing with the ingredients. Luckily, I in fact did not get struck by lightning, but there were some strange noises radiating from outside which I cannot explain.


If I don’t get struck by lightning anytime soon then I might just test more recipes out of our family cookbook. And if you want it to be dairy free or don’t want the cream cheese frosting you can use my Raw Cacao And Roasted Hazelnut Butter, which I bet would be amazing. Maybe too amazing…. nope just a really good idea.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Pecan Thumbprint Cookies With Cream Cheese Frosting (Paleo, Gluten Free, Grain Free)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup butter (I used my favorite pasture raised butter because it is delicious)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 30 drops stevia or 1 Tablespoon honey ( I used Sweetleaf Steviaclear Stevia Drops)
  • 2½ oz chopped pecans *for rolling* (about a half a cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten *for rolling*
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 60g cream cheese (1/4 cup)
  • 30 drops of stevia or 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon almond milk
Thumbprint Cookies
  1. In a small bowl pour Almond flour and a pinch of salt and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl add egg, vanilla, and your choice of sweetness(stevia or honey) and whisk until egg is mixed then add softened butter and whisk until butter is thoroughly mixed as much as it can mix into the mixture.
  3. Once mixed thoroughly add the almond flour and pinch of salt you have on the side to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Once fully incorporated refrigerate dough for 15-20 minutes to harden.
  5. Now begin preheating your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. While the mixture is hardening place chopped nuts in small bowl for rolling. And in a separate bowl place lightly beaten egg white.
  7. Once the dough is done hardening pull it out and roll it in to small balls about ½ inch in diameter.
  8. Carefully drop each ball and quickly roll around in egg white and then drop in nut mixture and roll around quickly just enough to cover the surface and place on baking sheet lined with parchment.
  9. Once baking sheet is filled with balls evenly spaced a part with some room in between each of them place them in the oven for 5 minutes.
  10. After 5 minutes quickly pull them out and lightly press your thumb in each cookie to create a little impression for filling. (Be sure not to press to hard, just press enough to create a little impression but not enough to squish it all the way down)
  11. Once all of them have been pressed place them back in the oven for about 10-13 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. (Make sure your pecans don't burn)
  12. Pull them out and place them on a cooling rack to cool. (25 minutes to an hour but an hour is preferred)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix until thorougly combined.
  2. Place mixture in a small ziplock baggie and cut an end off for piping.
  3. If the cookies are fully cooled carefully pipe just enough filling to touch the rim of the top of the impression you made in the cookies.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
Both the frosting and the cookies can be made ahead of time and either kept separate or together. Once made these can also be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I'm not sure for how long they can stay in the fridge as they haven't lasted that long in the fridge seeing as everyone keeps eating them!





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    • Slim Palate says

      Thank you Ashley! And they are delicious. I bet even the pickiest of eaters would like them. Let me know if you try them and what you think. And tweet me some pics if you make them as well.

  1. Leilani says

    I love the changes you made. Great job Joshua! Our thumbprint cookies usually use a tart jam, like bing cherry or raspberry, instead of frosting.

    • Slim Palate says

      Thanks Leilani. Yeah a traditional thumbprint cookie usually has jam. But my family’s response to that was “well icing tastes better” so that’s why that was in our recipe. So I had to find a way around that. But I am oh so glad you like the recipe. Let me know if you try them.

  2. Ashley says

    Joshua…I made these cookies and they are fabulous ! I posted a picture on your Facebook page.

    I intended on having them as part of the Christmas meal I made, but I ran out of time. I actually made the dough and cream cheese mixture on 12/24. Put both in separate glass containers and refrigerated.
    On 12/26, I baked the cookies. I love pecans and intended on rolling the pecans into the dough, but my sweet 2 year old ( who loves to cook alongside me) was licking the dough and I got distracted and didn’t roll the cookies in the pecans.
    I baked them and they turned out so wonderful! Such a delicate taste !
    My cream cheese mixture was a nice touch to the cookies too.

    You are a genius —or your family sure is !

    • Slim Palate says

      That’s wonderful Ashley. I’m so glad that you enjoyed them, and yes my family definitely has some culinary genius but I’ll have to take some of the credit since I made some changes!

      Do try them with the pecans next time because they just aren’t the same without them. And that was smart of you to make them ahead of time like that, thanks for letting me know that works.

      And I cant find that picture, but I would love to see them, so if you get the chance post them again for me. Thanks again for trying my recipe and the wonderful words of praise I really appreciate it.

    • Slim Palate says

      I’m sorry, do my eyes deceive me? Did I seriously just get a comment from Erica from Comfy belly? Yep today is awesome. Sorry if I’m gushing, I love your blog. Anyway thank you, and yes honey should not change them too much if at all. They will just be slightly more moist. But they should still hold a good crumble. And if you’re using honey you can certainly reduce or increase the amount according to your taste but I wouldn’t recommend going too high as the cookie part is not supposed to be too sweet. You want most of your sweetness coming from the filling. Plus the cookie will already be ever so slightly sweet from those nicely toasted pecans coating the outside. Please let me know if you try them Erica.

    • Slim Palate says

      Oh woops! Thank you for commenting about this Jenn, I totally forgot to add how many cookies this made. It depends on the size that you make them. But If you make them the typical thumbprint cookie size which is about 1/2 wide once the thumbprint indention is made and they are spread out, it usually makes around 20-24 cookies. Hope this helps.

    • Slim Palate says

      Powdered Stevia will work just fine Miaja. To my knowledge their moisture shouldn’t change much at all. The only thing it may affect is the cream cheese frosting but that can be fixed by adding maybe a teaspoon or less of water if it dries up, which I doubt it will. As for the cookie part it shouldn’t affect the moisture of that much at all. I only used 30 drops of Stevia the cookie and that’s only like 1/4 teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon of extra liquid so that’s why I don’t think it will change the cookie much at all.

      As for the amount it depends on the brand and type of Stevia you have. My best guess would be about a 1/2 teaspoon to a teaspoon of Stevia for the entire batter of cookies and another 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon for the cream cheese frosting, assuming its pure Stevia extract. What kind/brand of Stevia is it?

  3. Susan says

    I am so excited to try this recipe! Christmas just isnt Christmas without thumbprints rolled in pecans, filled with red currant jelly. If this replicates those, I may start stalking you.

  4. Miechelle says

    Your pictures are amazing! What camera do you use? How were you able to take all these picture? Do you have photograhy experience or no experience? Thanks!!!

    • Slim Palate says

      This is actually an older recipe when I was using my older camera. I currently use a Canon 6D and I have no photography experience, this is all self taught.


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