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Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

February 14, 2024

Buttery coconut thumbprint cookies filled with salted caramel are pure heaven on earth, and are just at home on a holiday cookie plate as they are in a lunch box.


Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel on parchment paper

Shortbread + Coconut + Salted Caramel = A Really, Really Great Cookie

It’s as impossible to name all of the reasons we love this coconut-coated caramel-topped thumbprint cookie as it is to stop eating them. The play of the buttery cookie, nutty coconut and salty caramel is unbelievably good—never too sweet, they’re just exactly what we crave when we want a cookie. And even though they suit our grown up palates just fine, the kids love them too. Especially if your kid (or you!) likes those “Samoa” girl scout cookies, they’re sure to love these homemade caramel coconut cookies. They’ve become a holiday tradition in our homes—a reliable favorite on the cookie plates that we look forward to making for friends and neighbors every December. We know you’ll love them as much as we do!

Coconut Thumbprint Cookie dough on a baking sheet
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies dough on a baking sheet with shredded coconut

Salted Caramel 101

If you’ve ever watched the Great British Bake Off, you might think of making caramel sauce as super scary—those poor contestants always seem to burn it, right? Well, we’re here to make sure you can make salted caramel sauce like a pro! It requires just a little bit of technical know-how, but once you’ve got the hang of it, knowing how to make salted caramel is a pretty handy thing. You’ll use it to top these coconut caramel cookies, but it’s also a great thing to have in the fridge for when a sudden ice cream craving strikes, or for an easy dessert when company comes over—just drizzle your homemade caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream for an instant (partially) homemade dessert that everyone will go crazy for. OK, so here’s what you need to know to make the salted caramel sauce:

  • Have your butter and heavy cream at room temperature. If they’re too cold, it could cause your salted caramel to seize up.
  • Before you move the pot to the heat, stir the water into the sugar until it looks like wet sand.
  • Once the pot is on the heat, DO NOT stir the sugar-water mixture as the sugar melts and caramelizes. If you feel that you need to move it a bit, do so by gently swirling the pan.
hot caramel in a sauce pan for Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

How To Make Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

These aren’t the fastest cookies in the whole world, but they’re soooo worth the extra steps. Grab an afternoon, and a favorite person, and make a day of it. The only thing better than baking cookies with the people you love is getting to eat them, too! Here’s how to make these salty-sweet little bites of goodness:

  1. Make the cookie dough! Beat together butter, coconut oil and sugar in a stand mixer for ten whole minutes. Then add the vanilla, flour and salt.
  2. Roll the dough! We like to make them on the small side—1 1/4-inch balls.
  3. Dip the cookies! Dip each ball into egg, then roll it in coconut to coat.
  4. Thumbprint the cookies! Possibly the best part of the whole process.
  5. Bake the cookies! While the cookies bake, make the salted caramel.
  6. Fill the cookies! Use a spoon to drizzle the indentations of each cookie with caramel to fill. Finish with a little sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies fresh out of the oven
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies on a cooling rack with a pot of salted caramel next to it.
caramel being poured onto Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel sauce
caramel being poured onto Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel sauce

Tools You’ll Need

Round Out Your Cookie Plate

By the time we’re done, our Christmas cookie plates can get a little overloaded. Which is just the way we like them! Festive, pretty and delicious, here are a few holiday cookie recipes that we return to over and over:

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel sauce on a cooling rack
Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel sauce on a cooling rack

Holiday Cookies Or Anyday Cookies

These salted caramel coconut cookies are going to be a slam dunk, whenever you choose to serve them. And when you do, let us know how it all goes! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

For even more holiday cookie inspiration, check out the #calmandbrightcookienight. We encourage you to bake these thumbprint cookies, or try one of the 30 plus cookies on our virtual cookie party plate!

Wood and Spoon - Candied Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Floating Kitchen - Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Brewing Happiness - Mint Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

The Vintage Mixer - Ginger Creams with Browned Butter Icing

Wu Haus - Raw Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches

The Almond Eater - Homemade Almond Biscotti

Chocolate + Marrow - Brown Butter Gingerbread Madeleines

Hungry Girl Por Vida - Lemon Pistachio Linzer Cookies

Honestly YUM - Ricciarelli (Italian Almond Cookies)

Husbands That Cook - Chocolate Sugar Cookies

The Judy Lab - Sea Salt Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gather and Dine - Chocolate Almond Spelt Cookies

Betty S Liu- Cardamom Persimmon Cookies with Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Ganache

Harvest and Honey - Milk & Cookies

Bakerita - Chocolate Rugelach (gluten free + refined sugar free)

The Fauxmartha - Snowball cookies

The Kitchen Paper - Soft Toffee Cookies

Life Is But A Dish - Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cookies

Oh Honey Bakes - Pomegranate Pistachio and Almond Biscotti

The Brick Kitchen - Coconut Raspberry Wagon Wheels

Alexandra Cooks - Classic Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies

Hello My Dumpling - Ginger Viennese Whirl Cookies with Matcha Passion Fruit Filling

Snixy Kitchen - Peppermint Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

Milly’s Kitchen - Grapefruit Fennel Shortbread Cookies

PDX Food Love - Chocolate Bourbon Swirl Meringues

Lasting Ingredient - Lemon Lime Shortbread

Heart Beet Kitchen - Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

Carly Diaz - Dark Chocolate Pistachio Shortbread Cookie

Cloudy Kitchen - Early Grey Shortbread

Lena’s Kitchen Blog - Shortbread Cookies Three Ways

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Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

  • Serves: 24
  • Prep Time:  35 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 323


Coconut Shortbread Cookie

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Flaky sea salt, such as maldon

Salted Caramel Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. Make the cookies. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

  3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour and the salt and beat until combined.

  4. Using your hands, roll the dough into 1¼-inch balls. Add the eggs to a small bowl. Dip each dough ball into the beaten eggs, then roll in the coconut. Place on the prepared sheet about 1½-inches apart. Using your thumb, lightly press down the center of each ball to make an indent.

  5. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the cookie is firm and the coconut is lightly browned. Lightly press down the center of each ball to fix the indents if needed. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

  6. While the cookies cool, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with ⅓ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and butter. Return the mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until combined. Stir in salt, then let cool slightly.

  7. Using a spoon, fill the thumbprints with the caramel. Let cool until the caramel is set, then sprinkle with flaky salt.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories323
  • Protein3 g
  • Carbohydrates34 g
  • Total Fat20 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol200 mg
  • sodium202 mg
  • Total Sugars20 g

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • h

    Are you using brown sugar or regular cane/granulated sugar?

    Regular sugar. Hope you enjoy!

  • Beth

    My sugar/water mixture never turned brown. I just started to crystalize. What did I do wrong??

    The heat may have been too high. Try a lower temp on your stove and see if that works better.

  • Mel

    What would you recommend as a substitute for the coconut oil?

    Probably just replace it with more butter. We haven't tested it that way though.

  • Pamela

    can you freeze

    Yes! Enjoy!

  • Brooksms

    I know this is old but if you happen to see....what is the caramel texture like once set?

    We'd call it sticky-but-set (in a good way!), although it'll depend a bit on when you pull the caramel sauce off the heat. Happy cookie-ing!

  • jenn

    These were worth every moment of effort it took, these were my family's favorite cookie we tried this year!

    Thanks Jenn, we are so glad you loved it!