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Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

These pepper jelly cornmeal thumbprints twinkle with spicy heat, in the jalapeño jelly centers and from a bit of cayenne in the dough. Honey sweetens these cookies, but it’s modest—all the better to keep them distinctively different. You’ll love the surprise in your first bite.

a bite of Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

Really, the heat doesn’t overwhelm. If you don’t tell them, the unsuspecting cookie muncher might not even figure it out—they’ll enjoy the unique flavor but they may not know why. Or they’ll ask, “What’s the spice in these cookies?” It’s not like they need a gulp of milk or beer to tone down the pepper.

Click here to PIN Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints!
Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

To appreciate their spicy zing, understated sweetness and cornmeal grain, serve these cookies separate from a crowd of sugar cookies—shining by themselves, instead of in an assortment.

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints

My pepper jelly cornmeal thumbprints using honey, cornmeal and whole wheat flour reflect Letty’s Kitchen’s focus on desserts made with whole grains and natural sweeteners. I’m posting this recipe as part of a virtual Christmas cookie exchange—a group of bloggers sharing cookie recipes all on the same day, today. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and check out the other recipes!

Happy baking! ‘Tis the season.

Pepper Jelly Cornmeal Thumbprints recipe details:

  • Avoid honey’s sticky mess by coating your measuring cup first with oil. I pour it from the bottle, swirl the oil around, and pour it right back into the bottle.
  • Save time forming the 1-inch balls, by using a small scoop, like this one—it’s much easier than dropping the dough from a spoon. I use my little scoop to portion lots of different batters, like gluten-free chocolate mint cookies and vegan chocolate to-die-for truffles.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with joy and peace. Be sure to get in the kitchen and bake some delicious cookies!

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PS If you make this recipe and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe.

Follow these links to a generous baker’s dozen of creative cookie recipes. I know you’ll find a cookie or three to tempt you into holiday baking!

Caramel Filled Chewy Ginger Cookies from 365 Days of Slow Cooking

Italian Anisette Cookies from A Family Feast

Cranberry Orange Nut Cookies from Apron Strings

Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Stuffed Cookies from Barbara Bakes

Soft Pumpkin Cookies + Pumpkin Spice Kisses from Bless this Mess

Soft Maple Sugar Cookies from Crumbs and Chaos

Graham Cracker Log from Hoosier Homemade

Rugelach Bars from Let’s Dish

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from Love from the Oven

Linzer Cookies from Mandy’s Recipe Box

Surprise-inside Christmas Stocking from Munchkin Munchies

Chocolate M&M Cookies from Oh, Sweet Basil

White Chocolate Pecan Snowball Cookies from Rose Bakes

Chocolate Toffee Cranberry Cookies from Taste and Tell

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars from Your Homebased Mom

Spiced Eggnog Cookies from Will Cook for Smiles


  • What a fantastic idea! My husband love pepper jelly and he’s going to love these cookies! Reply · 5 December, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Martha! The pepper jelly is fun for sure. I sometimes make them with red and green fillings both… Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • Judy

    Thanks, Letty. I loved these at Thanksgiving and will try them at home! Reply · 5 December, 2014

    • Letty

      thanks back to you Judy–enjoy every bite. Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • Everybody in my family LOVES pepper jelly but I’ve never thought to use it in a cookie!! Great idea!! Reply · 5 December, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Rose! btw–love your snowball cookies–and the hidden white chocolate filling idea! Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • Patricia Constable

    Hi Letty, I just made Ahbilashas’recipe for thumb cookies this Thanksgiving. Had one with tea this morning. They do look exactly the same though. . PC Reply · 5 December, 2014

    • letty

      Oh I do love Abhilasha’s thumbprints too. And they are made without butter…. Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • Such a fun better-for-you cookie you can feel good about eating. Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • letty

    Thanks Barbara. The recipe from Donna @ Apron Strings is up the “healthier” aisle too. I am mighty tempted with your stuffed cookie idea as well! Reply · 5 December, 2014

  • I love pepper jelly! These cookies looks so yummy, and I love that they are so unique too! Reply · 7 December, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Danelle. Fun to see all the different cookies. I love rugelach but the crescent rolling is a bit of labor. Not so with your bars! Reply · 7 December, 2014

  • Wow – I have been making thumbprint cookies since my junior high Home Ec days – but yours are such a fun twist! MUST make! Reply · 12 December, 2014

    • Letty

      thanks Donna–Did you receive my message that I made yours–the Orange Cranberry Nut ones? I made them with date sugar and some ww pastry flour. They are repeaters! Reply · 13 December, 2014

  • Merci

    Can these be frozen? With jelly? Reply · 6 December, 2019

    • Merci, yes. They bake up nicely after being frozen jelly-filled before baking. You can also freeze them after baking. Make sure your container is airtight in both instances. Reply · 7 December, 2019

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