Cheddar Jalapeño Thumbprints are savory appetizers just bursting with sharp cheddar cheese and filled with sweet and spicy jalepeño jelly for a fun twist on classic thumbprint cookies.


  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, yellow or white cheddar
  • 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped or ground
  • 1/4 cup jalapeño 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Pour finely chopped 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.
  3. Use your thumb or the tip of a spoon to make an indentation in the top of each dough ball. Use a 1/2-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.