So you’ve decided to take on your next baking challenge and make shaped cookies. The problem is, you don’t know where to start. Fear not! I have you covered. I have curated a cookie cutter guide that has everything you need to know about using these little kitchen gadgets. From demystifying what they are to a step-by-step guide, you can find it all here.
Cookies are a yummy snack, great for the holidays, and a really thoughtful gift. Making them into specific shapes and using cookie cutters elevates your cookie game, bringing a new level of fun and flair to your baking. For the Christmas holidays, you can even turn your shaped cookies into tree decorations (read below to find out how!)
It is worth mentioning that cookie cutters best work with sugar cookies rather than soft, chewy cookies (not to be confused with biscuits). So when I talk about cookies, I mean the harder, sugar cookies as they keep their shape better.
If you want to find out more on how to use cookie cutters, keep reading.
What is a Cookie Cutter?
A cookie cutter is essentially a piece of kitchen equipment that comes in various shapes, sizes, and materials and it is used to make a shape in a rolled-out sheet of cookie dough. They are a little piece of magic that transforms your sheet of flat dough into little pictures of deliciousness. We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths so the better they look, the tastier they become!
Nowadays, you can get a cookie cutter in any shape you can possibly imagine; animals, tools, superheroes, flowers, vegetables, etc. Literally, anything you can think of now exists in the form of a cookie cutter!
You can also buy themed sets of cutters for Christmas, birthdays, Easter, or children’s parties – these can be really handy if you are just starting your cookie cutter collection. Yes, it will become a collection! Once you buy one, it’s hard to stop…
Plastic and metal are the most common types of cookie cutters available. These are great options because they are long-lasting, durable, and easy to clean. Metal or stainless steel ones are particularly good as they give a sharper cut through the dough, removing the need for twisting or shaking.
Using Cookie Cutters
Now that you know what these little gems can do, it’s time to learn how to cut out cookies to get the best results every time. The good news is that they are very easy to use, even the most intricate ones.
It is worth noting that most cookie cutters have a cutting edge and a handling edge. The cutting edge is usually thinner and slightly sharper. The handling or top edge usually has a lip, a flat top, or a handle that you use when pushing down on the dough.
First off, you need yummy cookie dough so whip up a batch of your favorite. It’s best to use stiff rather than wet dough for cookie cutters as it’s easier to handle and gives the best results. You can use both a stand mixer and a hand mixer to get this done. Once you have your dough made and you have your cookie cutters to hand, it’s time to get stamping! My easy-to-follow method works every time;
- Lightly flour your countertop
- Roll out your dough to the desired thickness
- Pour a small mound of flour onto a plate or directly onto the countertop
- Take your cookie cutter and dip it into the mound of flour so that the cutting edge is very lightly covered. This will help prevent the cutter from sticking to the dough
- Press the cutter into your rolled-out dough and evenly press down so the cutter goes right through the dough onto your countertop
- Lift the cookie cutter straight back up
- Ta-dah! You have a lovely-shaped cookie
- Repeat steps 5 – 7 on the rest of your rolled-out dough. Repeat step 4 only as you need to
- When you have cut as many shapes as you can from your rolled-out dough, carefully lift the offcuts away from the cookies. You will be left with all your cut cookies on your countertop
- Transfer these to a baking sheet
- Re-knead and re-roll the offcuts
- Repeat steps 5 – 11 until all of your dough is used up.
Take a look at how to make the best Christmas-themed sugar cookies!
Tips and Tricks for Using Cookie Cutters
While the above process is pretty easy, I have put together a list of tips and tricks to make it even easier;
- When flouring your countertop, use your flour sparingly. Your dough may become too dry as it gathers flour from the countertop
- When rolling out your dough, be aware that the thickness will determine the cooking time. Check your recipe for the suggested depth
- Avoid shaking and twisting the cutter as that will affect the final shape of your cookie
- When re-using the offcuts, do so as carefully as possible. Avoid handling them too much as this will result in tough cookies
- If you want to make cookie Christmas tree decorations, use the end of a straw to punch a hole near the top of your cookie shape (before you bake them). Once cooked and cooled, thread some ribbon through the hole and you have a cute and delicious tree decoration or Christmas gift.
Can I Use Cookie Cutters with Cookies That Have Chocolate Chips?
Chocolate, nuts, fruit – we all love a good chip or chunk in a cookie. The good news is, chocolate chip cookies with cookie cutters work! You can use dough that has chunks or chips.
The process is exactly the same as above but you might come across some resistance as you press the cutter down into a chip or chunk. Don’t worry though, many metal cookie cutters will slice through it. If not, you can either cut part of the chip off with a knife, remove it from the cookie altogether or leave it uncut for a more rustic finish.
Do You Use Cookie Cutters Before or After Baking?
Theoretically, you can do both. You can cook a sheet of cookie dough and then stamp out the shapes while it is still warm and slightly soft. However, I recommend you cut out your cookies before you bake as doing it after when the cookie sheet is still warm makes it more prone to error and results in an inferior end product.
Similarly to cutting a hot cake, stamping out cookies on cooked dough has a higher chance of cracking or breaking the cookies. If you have included chocolate chips, you also have to contend with melted chocolate, which is not as fun as it sounds.
That said, there are occasions when you may want to neaten up the edges of your cookies. Carefully using the same cookie cutter on warm, cooked cookies can be a quick and easy way to do this. Proceed with caution though!
Can Cookie Cutters Go In The Oven?
There is no need to put a cookie cutter in the oven. If used properly and with good dough, your cookies will hold their shape when cooking. Most cutters aren’t oven safe either. Plastic will likely melt in the heat, and no one wants a plastic-flavoured cookie!
If you want to make a curved, C-Shaped, or domed cookie, a ball or cylinder of aluminum foil is a great way to help keep the desired shape. Simply grab a roll of aluminum foil and crunch it up into the desired shape. Lay your cookie dough over it and bake in the oven.
I Don’t Have a Cookie Cutter, Is There Anything Else I Can Use?
While a purpose-made cookie cutter is the recommended way to go, there are times when you might be stuck without them. Thankfully there are many other household items that work just as well for cutting out cookies. Just be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize them before and after use.
My suggestions for a makeshift cookie cutter;
- A glass, mug, or plastic cup
- A small bowl/ramekin
- An egg cup
- Mini pie dishes/tartlet cases
- A bottle with a wide opening top
- Cut your desired shape out of cardboard and cover it in foil. Place it on your dough and cut around it with the tip of a sharp knife
- Freestyle it with a knife or pizza slicer
So there you have it, a foolproof and easy way to use cookie cutters, even when you don’t have one. Whether you’re baking a batch for yourself, as a gift, or as a decoration, neatly shaped cookies take your batch to the next level. With a shape and material for every occasion, cookies are super easy to personalize. What will you choose? I personally think unicorn-shaped cookies taste the best!