Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt
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Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt – This easy thumbprint cookie recipe includes creamy caramel and Nutella, with a sprinkle of sea salt for the perfect sweet and salty treat. You’ll love making these cookies for the holidays!
I’m that girl. The one who can barely wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to crank UP the Christmas music. The one who pulls out the Christmas boxes the moment the Thanksgiving dishes are put away. The one who allows the kids to decorate the tree, then rearranges it after they’ve gone to bed.
I can’t help myself.
As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! How can anyone argue with such a classic song? It’s a season of hope and new life. A season of forgiveness and peace. A season of thinking beyond yourself!
Thumbprint Cookies for the Holidays
In effort to share this brimming holiday joy, I make batches, and BATCHES…and batches of cookies to share with our neighbors, friends, and family. This year I hope to share them all with you as well! I always stick with a few tried-and-true recipes, then branch out and experiment a little!
These Dulce De Le Thumbprint Cookie with Sea Salt are one of my favorites.
You just can’t beat the delicate buttery texture of good shortbread cookies. In fact, I’m often tempted to think EVERY cookie should start as a shortbread cookie! Make a batch with caramel and a batch with chocolate-hazelnut Nutella, top them all with sea salt…and you have something utterly addictive, a swear-worthy cookie!
What Ingredients You Need to Make Thumbprint Cookies with Dulce De Leche and Nutella
- Unsalted butter – at room temperature
- All-purpose flour
- Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche – caramel
- Sea salt
You can find canned Dulce de Leche at most large supermarkets (either in the international section or baking aisle) or at a Latin market.
How to Make Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt
Thumbprint cookies are easy to make. Your kids will have a marvelous time rolling the balls and making the thumbprints themselves. Yet make sure an adult adds the hot caramel and chocolate!
Here’s how you make these perfectly sweet and salty cookies…
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined. Don’t over mix!
2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1 oz. balls—about 1 ½ tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indention in each cookie, with your thumb. This is typically where the kids have the most fun!
Give each cookie a bit of space on the baking sheets, and be sure to press any cracks that might form from your thumbprint back into place.
This thumbprint cookie recipe yields 48 cookies. I can fit 12 cookies per baking sheet, so I tend to do one set of 24 cookies at a time across two different baking sheets. Just keep the remaining dough in the mixer until you’re ready to use for the next batch.
See the Full Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt Recipe Below!
3. Bake the thumbprint cookies for approximately 20 minutes, until soft but no longer doughy. You don’t want these cookies to brown.
It will look like the thumbprint craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they will be back!
4. While the cookies are cooling slightly on the baking sheets, scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal closed. Microwave the bag for 30-60 seconds until thin, almost like melted peanut butter. The bag may be hot, so wrap it in a small towel. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze about 1 ½ tsp. of caramel into the centers of 24 cookies, until they are just barely filled. Tap the caramel thumbprint cookies gently to help fill in the entire indention.
5. While the caramel is still a little bit tacky, lightly sprinkle each cookie with some of the course sea salt. You want to add just a nice little salty crunch to balance the sweetness of the caramel, but not so much that the salt overwhelms the cookies.
Repeat this piping and salting process with the melted Nutella and the remaining 24 cookies.
Allow the caramel thumbprint cookies and Nutella thumbprint cookies to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set. You could put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes to speed this up!
Can These Caramel and Nutella Thumbprint Cookies Be Made in Advance?
Oh yes! Thumbprint cookies with Dulce de Leche and Nutella fillings can be made a few days ahead of enjoying, and will keep well in an airtight container at room temp for 4-5 days.
Are Dulce De Leche Thumbprint Cookies Freezer-Friendly?
Absolutely. Both the caramel and Nutella thumbprint cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months if properly stored. You’ll want to first cool the cookies completely, and then keep in an airtight container in a single layer so that the fillings don’t get disturbed.
Looking for More Cookie Recipes for the Holidays?
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies
- Snickerdoodle Cookie Whoopie Pies
- Mexican Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
- Pistachio Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 3D Christmas Trees Cookies
Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies with Sea Salt
- 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 13 ounces Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche (caramel)
- 1 jar Nutella small
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Scrape the bowl with a spatula. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour a little at a time, until it is just combined.
- Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-ounce balls—about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Place them on the cookie sheets and make a deep indentation in each cookie, with your thumb. Press any cracks back into place.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes. It will look like the craters have disappeared, but when the cookies cool, they’ll be back!
- Scoop the Dulce de Leche into a quart-size freezer bag. Microwave it for 30-60 seconds until thin, like melted peanut butter. The bag may be hot, so wrap it in a small towel. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze about 1 1/2 teaspoons of caramel into the centers of 24 cookies. Tap the cookies gently to help the caramel fill in the entire indention.
- While the caramel is still a little tacky, sprinkle each cookie with course sea salt. Repeat this process with melted Nutella and the remaining 24 cookies.
- Allow the Dulce de Leche and Nutella to cool for a little while before serving, so the centers can set.
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These look great! I can’t wait to make them! Is there a reason we need to heat the nutella? Could I just pipe it into the well in the center of the cookies? Thanks!
You do not have to warm it if it is soft enough. Happy Baking! :)
These were delicious but didn’t come together into a rollable dough. I added a little milk and they were perfect.
Just made these again yesterday. This time I filled some with chocolate ganache and Biscoff spread. They were so good. I’ve been trying to put Biscoff in as many desserts as I can since I learned of this tasty spread. I’ve made and left a comment about these already but yesterday I ran into a small issue. Because the recipe doesn’t state if we should do the fluff, spoon then level off the flour into our cups like you would do if you were making a sponge/ cupcakes I decided to use the metric system amount just for the flour. After looking at the amount it didn’t look like it was going to be enough. I was right. I was close to 1/2 cup off. When I went to add the flour I decided to do the fluff, spoon and level method after all. For some reason my dough made more cracks than usual when I went to do the thumbprint. Can you please tell me if we’re supposed to fill our cups using the fluff, spoon then level or are we supposed to just pack the cups with the flour? Thanks for your time…
Holy smokes! These are a major upgrade to my usual thumbprint cookies I make at this time of the year. My treat trays are going to be so good with these on them.
Can anything really compete with the rich, delicious taste of dulce de leche? Oh, man, these are incredible! Thanks for the head’s up on the thumbprint craters coming back. I would have been a little concerned otherwise.
These thumbprint cookies are the BEST cookies for Christmas time!
These cookies were amazing!! Instead of using the Dulce De Leche I used my own homemade salted caramel sauce. I’d say they were a hit. My husband and I couldn’t stop eating them, even when they weren’t filled with the caramel, lol. My nephew by marriage said to me on his way out that he wouldn’t mind me making just him a batch. 😊 I did get a little worried as I was mixing towards the end because it felt like my brand new stand mixer was about to give out. It’s fine though. Since making the cookie dough I’ve made 3 Pavlova’s, a buttercream frosting and some homemade whipping cream for those Pavlova’s. I only did one thing different. I did have to add a few tsps of milk to the dough. On a sad note… I landed out burning two baking sheets of cookies because I placed two of them in at once. I was able to save a few of them but sadly at least 15 of them were what I would consider goners. My saving grace to that mishap was my hubby. He had no problem with eating the burnt ones, lol. I’m about to make these again but this time I now have a new stove that has two ovens so a burning repeat won’t happen again. 😁 Thanks so much for this recipe. These cookies tasted just like the ones you buy in a round tin during the holidays but even better. I LOVE those cookies. And adding the caramel to them just takes them to another level. Give them a try. Promise. You will not be dissapointed…. Happy Baking!!
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Hi – I am planning to make these tonight for a cookie party, but suddenly it occurs to me these are cookies without flour, baking powder or eggs? How do they rise?
There is flour listed in the recipe, but you are right about the baking powder and eggs. This is a strict “butter cookie” recipe so it doesn’t need them to achieve the desired texture. Happy Baking!! :)
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Would you keep these in the refrigerator or outside? I am going to give them away in a couple of days and want to make sure they stay fresh. Thanks
Hi Lillian! I would make them ahead, then fill them the day you plan to give them away. They can stay out at room temperature if they are wrapped well.
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I was wondering if this can be cut in half without any flavor change. I know some recipes you can’t halve. I wanna try these as a replacement for the girl scout dulce de leche that they just discontinued and don’t think I need 4 dozen just for myself. Lol. Thanks.
Hi Missy, Yes! Cut away. ;)
These are soooo good! I used Salted Caramel Nutella only but have gotten several compliments already! I added one T. of milk because they were a little dry and wouldn’t hold shape but that was the only change I made and they are sooooo yummy! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
How far ahead before christmas can I make these? Also do you cool the cookies before filling them? Thanks!
Hi there! It’s ok to make them 3-5 days before Christmas, and you can fill them while they are still warm. :)
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How far ahead can these be made? I’m attending a cookie exchange on dec. 17 and I wanted to make them on the 15th. Also, how long will they keep?
Hi Maria, That should be fine. :)
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I made these and after about 12 minutes i smelled something burning. it was my cookies :( oven was on 350 and i used it earlier without any hiccups. I’m upset because i never burn anything :( what did i do wrong?
Bummer! Any chance you mis-measured the sugar? I did that once with this recipe and they went flat and burnt to a crisp. Just a thought… Hope you give them another go, this is one of my favorites!
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Sound super yummy…but just for clarification…recipe makes 48 cookies? 2 dozen with Nutella and 2 dozen with Dulce de Leche? You are not adding Nutella on top of Dulce de Leche-correct?
Hi Mo, You got it!
Am I correct in assuming you melt the caramel, sprinkle with salt, melt the Nutella and sprinkle more salt?
Yep! I fill 2 dozen cookies with Nutella and 2 dozen with Dulce de Leche. :)
These look so good. I’m wondering if you have any experience with freezing them. I’d love to make them ahead of time for Christmas, but I’m wondering how well the caramel and salt would freeze.
You know, I wouldn’t chance freezing the filling. What you could do, is make the cookie-bases early and freeze them. Then thaw and fill the centers the day you want to serve them.
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I love a little sea salt on cookies – it tames the sweetness and makes them so much better!
Love it! Dulce de Leche & Nutella oh my.
Now this taking thumbprint cookies up a level. These are on the Christmas rotation for this year!
These look outrageously good!! I’m a Nutella addict, so I really want to try these! No electric mixer though…
You had me at Nutella.
Gorgeous. I will grab this recipe and bribe someone to make them for me. Yeah, I am not a good cook, to put it mildly!
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Mmmm. This is not helping my close-to-midnight sweets craving one bit. :)
As if these cookies weren’t all ready awesome. The sea salt puts ’em over. LOVE this!
Well that is pretty brilliant, I must say–really amps up the whole thumbprint idea…
Jen made these last night. Mmmmmmmm. Almost as good as when you made them at thanksgiving sis!
Oh my – these look so amazing.
Susan You Go Girl! http://www.ugogrrl.com
Hey now…these look awesome. I think my son will go for these.
4 sticks of butter? FOUR? That's a stick per dozen. That's 3/4 of a tablespoon per cookie. Or something like that. Wow. These must be absolutely amazing. (They sure do look it.)
I love these…and love the flavor! Too funny with the Holidays, I'm good as long as the Christmas music comes the day after Thanksgiving. I hate that they try and squeeze them ;0
These are delightful!