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Cookie Cutters: Not Just For Cookies Anymore! Post # 12: Cut-Out Cookies, Holiday or No Occasion At All & Make Your Own Cookie Cutters

Making fall cookies with MeMe. Bake these for all seasons: Valentine's, Mardi Gras, St. Pat's, Easter, and so on...

Cookie Cutters:  Not Just For Cookies Anymore! Post # 12: Cut-Out Cookies, Holiday or No Occasion At All & Make Your Own Cookie Cutters

by an invertebrate cookie cutter collector!

 The traditional cookies people think of when you mention Christmas Cookies are usually cut-out sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies.

This is a great project to do with your children – young and old.  I am including my family’s recipe for sugar cookies below with tips based on over 200 years of cumulative baking experience.  And check out my tips for improving store bought sugar cookie dough too!

Did you know cookie cutters can be handmade simply if you don’t have the cutter you want?

Handmade Cookie Cutters

 No one (Not even me and I have collected cutters for more than 20 years!) can have every cookie cutter they need on-hand when they need it.  Here are 2 simple ways to make that “cutter” yourself!


Cardboard Template: One quick and easy way is to use simply make and use a cardboard template.

  • Find a large, simple picture of the shape you would like (for example; in a coloring book) and cut it out.
  • Then trace the shape onto cardboard and cut that out too.
  • Place the cardboard on the rolled out cookie dough and trace around the shape using a knife, then lift carefully and place on a baking sheet to bake.

Disposable Aluminum Pan: To make a cookie cutters with a more complex shape use a disposable aluminum pan to make a temporary cutter.

  • Find an image that fits your need.  The more detailed the harder it will be to make this cutter.  Cut the image out.
  • On the bottom surface of the pan trace the shape desired and cut it out.
  • Smooth out the aluminum with the blunt side of the scissor’s blade.
  • Cut one half inch strips from the remaining part of the bottom of the aluminum pan.
  • Flatten out the strips with the blunt side of the scissor blade and then mold them around your shape. Caution, edges are sharp.
  • Glue the strips to the edge of the aluminum shape.  What glue you use is dependent on the use of the cutter.  TO cut clay then the type of glue does not matter.  If using them to cut cookie dough, then use something that has a  “food safe” claim (like Gorilla glue).
  • When properly dry, your cutter is ready to use.
  • Place your homemade cookie cutter on rolled out cookie dough and press down lightly to cut your shape out.  Then bake cookies per recipe.

Aluminum Flashing:  The web site below has a great tutorial by suganspyyce on Craftster.org about making your own cookie cutters from a roll of aluminum flashing found in the roofing section.  The tutorial is concise and very easy to follow.  It is definitely something I’d like to try.

Drinking Straws & Foil Pans:  Another great resource is this site on making miniatures for doll houses and other uses by Lesley Shepherd on About.com!  Meticulous attention to detail is paid in making these custom cutters.  The photo tutorial is great and really helps you to understand the steps to take.  Again a method to try out for the future!

Drinking Straws & Foil Pans:  Another great resource is this site on making miniatures for doll houses and other uses by Lesley Shepherd on About.com!  Meticulous attention to detail is paid in making these custom cutters.  The photo tutorial is great and really helps you to understand the steps to take.  Again a method to try out for the future!


Now, on to the main part of the show or:

 How to Make Cut-out Sugar Cookies:

A Recipe with Tips & Insights from Over 200 Years of Combined Baking Experience

as told to me by my Grandmother, Great-Aunt & Mother

Some of my earliest, and most treasured, memories are of us all girls gathered around the kitchen table cutting out and decorating sugar cookies with my mother, grandmother and my grandmother’s sister.  It just wasn’t Christmas (or any other holiday) without these wonderful sugar cookies.

The best tip I can give you to make cut-out sugar cookies successfully is to make them often with your children – borrow some if you have too.  No matter how the cookies turn out – – – lopsided, with enough decorations on each for twelve cookies, or slightly burnt – – – you will be baking memories that will last a lifetime!

Don’t forget to take lots of photos for your scrapbook.  While you have the cutters out trace them on acid free scrapbook paper or cardstock to make die cuts for your cookie baking scrapbook page!


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 TBS each of vanilla & one of almond flavoring (Add more, I usually do!)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 pounds of self-rising flour (Yes, FIVE pounds!)
  • Cookie decorations:  colored sugar, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, red hots, M&M’s, frosting, etc.

Also Needed

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Several cookie sheets
  • Pancake turner
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Mixing spoon



1)  Make the dough the day before & refrigerate it overnight (or for at least 2 hours).  It rolls out much better cold.  Take only half of the dough out of the refrigerator at one time.  This dough can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed zip lock bag for up to one week. Do not freeze.

a)    If you don’t have time to make the dough from scratch, you can dress up store-bought sugar cookie dough.  I have found store-bought sugar cookie dough is not stiff enough to make roll & cut out cookies on its own.  It just sticks to everything!  But with a couple of additions you can make some great “homemade cookies”.

b)   Let the dough come to room temperature. Then add 1 tsp. each of vanilla & almond flavoring. Mix the flavoring in with your CLEAN, floured hands.  Next add flour until the dough is stiff (see step 4).  Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and then prepare and bake per the instructions below.

2)  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees while allowing all the cold ingredients to come to room temperature.

a)    When all the ingredients are at room temperature; cream the shortening and the sugar.  Next add in eggs, milk, & flavoring.  Don’t skimp on the vanilla & almond flavoring, it’s the key to this cookie’s great taste.

b)   The ingredients will mix more evenly if at room temperature.

c)    Use Crisco sticks, they look like fat butter sticks & are found in the baking aisle.  These are so much easier & less messy to use than solid shortening in a can.

d)    If you use Crisco in a can fill the measuring cup with boiling water first & allow it to warm the cup.  Then drain & measure the solid Crisco.  The Crisco should slide right out of the warm cup.

3)  You can also tint the dough different colors by adding food coloring drops or paste to the mix before adding the flour.  Make green shamrocks for St. Pat’s Day or pink hearts for Valentine’s Day.

4)  Add flour slowly using your CLEAN hands to knead the dough into a smooth ball.  Do not over mix.  The dough is ready to roll when it is stiff.  You should be able to roll a pinch into a ball with your fingers without it sticking to your fingers.  If it does add more flour.  This recipe takes more flour than you would think.  Then divide it into two portions and refrigerate.

a)    These are crisp cookies. To make them soft-baked, add more milk & use less flour.  You may not be able to roll them out, but can drop them on the baking sheet by spoonful & then decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles.

5)  Take one portion of the dough out of the refrigerator when you are ready to bake. Take a softball size amount of dough and roll this out on a floured surface (or pastry cloth) to a 1/4 inch thickness.

6)  Cut cookies out with floured cookie cutters.  Place cutters carefully on the rolled out dough to get the most cookies out of one rolling as possible.  Re-rolling makes the dough tough.

a)    This dough also works great with cookie presses.  Cookie presses are very easy to use. My son & granddaughter easily made these at age 2.  Give your little ones a full soda can (flour it) & let them roll out their own dough & make memories.

b)   Take a bouncing ball size amount of the dough and roll it into a smooth ball.  Then press the floured stamp down on the ball “squishing” it to make semi-flat cookie with an impression on top.

7)  Place cookies carefully on a baking sheet sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  I like Air-Bake insulated baking sheets as the cookies will bake more evenly & not burn on the bottom.   It helps if you have 3 or 4 baking sheets so the sheets can cool before you place the raw dough cookies on it (if the sheets are hot the dough will “melt” slightly & the cookies will lose their shape).

8)  Sprinkle with colored sugar, cinnamon sugar or other cookie toppings before baking.  This is the fun part!  Sprinkle a reindeer shape with cinnamon sugar & add a red hot nose to make a cute Rudolph!  Let the kids use their imaginations.  Or plan to frost the cookies after baking & cooling.

a)    Make your own colored sugar:  Pour sugar in a glass bowl then add food coloring or paste drop by drop mixing it in the sugar thoroughly with a spoon.  Add tint slowly until you reach a shade slightly darker than the desired color.  Let dry thoroughly.  It will dry a lighter shade.  Make it darker than the shade you want as it is very easy to add more sugar when it’s dry and lighten the color.  Make this the day before so it will be very dry and sprinkle easier.

b)   Make your own cinnamon sugar:  Mix powdered cinnamon in sugar to desired taste (I like a lot of cinnamon, so my cinnamon sugar is dark.  But don’t add too much cinnamon as it won’t’ sprinkle well.).

c)    Store both in an airtight container.   I like to save my empty spice bottles for this as you can sprinkle from the container.

9)  Bake cookies 10 to 12 mins. or until lightly brown.  If you are using a dark cookie sheet, it will take less time.  On your first batch keep a close eye on the cookies & adjust the time for your oven.  Remove cookie sheets from oven & place cookies on a cooling rack

10) After cooling you can top plain cookies with icing or frosting.

a)    To make icing mix powdered sugar, food coloring & a few drops of water at a time until a smooth consistency is reached.  The icing will harden as it dries.

11) This recipe makes a LOT!  Third the ingredients to make fewer cookies.  These cookies freeze well.  I have kept them up over six months in an airtight container (so the cookies do not absorb odors) in the freezer. Freeze them unfrosted.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.  If you have any questions or something is not clear, please let me know so that I can improve the tutorial.   

Please take a moment to leave a comment and rate this post.

Thanks again. 

I love to decorate cookies!

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9 thoughts on “Cookie Cutters: Not Just For Cookies Anymore! Post # 12: Cut-Out Cookies, Holiday or No Occasion At All & Make Your Own Cookie Cutters

  1. Hello!

    Wonderful post! I have such good memories of cookie baking with my children as a tradition at Christmas and also as a child. You put so much time and effort to bring us this information – thank you! This is such a great way to spend time with anyone. Wishing you a happy day today!


    Barbara Diane

  2. Really neat ideas on making your own cutters. I’ve used templates before but can’t wait to try that aluminum pan trick! Thanks 🙂

    • Thanks so much! It is a lot of fun.

      Please take the time to share this link on your blog. I am trying to build up a following.

      I thinking about having a giveaway soon for some craft items where u enter by sharing one of my posts on your blog. What would u be intereted in – Christmas, Valentine or Mardi Gras? Those are the choices I am considering. I don’t know if it’d be better to just do misc supplies or to put together “kits” for one of my craft projects?

      I’d appreciate ur input in this. It will be my first giveaway. I just started my craft blog before Christmas.

      Thanks so much!

  3. Pingback: Cookie Cutters, Not Just For Cookies Anymore: Valentine Versions « buggalcrafts

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  6. Pingback: Cookie Cutters: Not Just For Cookies Anymore! Post # 26: More Cookie Cutter Ideas & Links Found On-The-Web « buggalcrafts

  7. Pingback: Cookie Cutters: Not Just For Cookies Anymore: The Series – Links to Posts « buggalcrafts

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