So it’s time for cooking baking season!
Or you just really want to decorate some cookies.
What are the best cookies for cookie cutters?
And how do you know that a cookie is going to work with cookie cutters?
If you’re new to baking, you might not be aware of these cookie baking tips and that you can’t just take any cookie recipe you want and create cut-out shapes with it.
This goes for things like chocolate chip cookies, which are a type of “drop” cookie (drop cookies are cookies that you basically drop a ball onto a cookie sheet and bake – they don’t hold their shape, they spread).
On the other hand, there are cookie recipes that are specifically formulated to be the best cookies to work with cookie cutters, and we’re going to talk about some of the main types in this guide.
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What’s the Difference between a Drop Cookie and a Cut-Out Cookie Recipe?
The main difference between drop cookies and cut-out cookie recipes are going to be the fact that drop cookies are meant to puff up and spread during baking, while cut-out cookie doughs are not.
When you put a drop cookie, like a ball of chocolate chip cookie dough, in the oven, you expect it to spread out, puff up, and look pretty different than when it went into the oven.
A cut-out cookie recipe, on the other hand, will produce a dough that you cut into shapes and stick in the oven, expecting the shape to look exactly the same, just baked.
The reason using a drop cookie recipe doesn’t work for cookie cutters, even if you could cut them out (we’ll talk about that in a second), is because when the dough goes into the oven, your perfect little Christmas tree cut out is going to basically look like it exploded and become one blob of nothing due to the ingredients in that dough that are meant to help puff and spread.
The other difference between the types of doughs in particular is the stickiness.
Often, a drop cookie dough can be sticky to the point of needing a spoon or cookie scoop to go onto the baking tray.
A cut-out cookie dough, on the other hand, is going to need to be used with cookie cutters, so it is formulated to not be sticky (maybe slightly, but nothing major) and to be able to be actually worked with and rolled out.
If you’ve ever tried rolling out chocolate chip cookie dough, you’ll know that it doesn’t work!
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
How Can You Tell if a Cookie Recipe Can Work with Cookie Cutters?
If you’re not a cookie expert, it’s going to be hard for you to tell based on the actual ingredients in the recipe if a cookie is meant to be a cut-out cookie or a drop cookie.
The biggest tell is going to be the photos in the recipe.
If the cookies shown in the pictures are cut-out from cookie cutters (even if it’s something simple like square or hearts), then you’ll know that the dough can hold it’s shape.
What Will Happen if I Try to Use a Regular Cookie Recipe with Cookie Cutters?
If you try to use a regular cookie recipe with cookie cutters, if it’s not formulated for that,
Best Cookies for Cookie Cutters
Here are some of the best options for cookies to use with cookie cutters, including some unique options that you might not have thought of!
1. Cut-out Sugar Cookies
The holy grail of cookies that work with cookie cutters are cut-out sugar cookies.
They are actually known as “cut-out sugar cookie” recipes, and you can find plenty.
They will hold their shape, have a crisp edge instead of a soft one (better for definition on intricate designs), and won’t puff up so that you can frost them easily.
The frosting options are numerous, actually, including glaze and buttercream, but the most popular way to frost them is to use royal icing, which dries hard and means you can do beautiful designs and different colors.
2. Cut-out Chocolate Cookies
You can also make chocolate cut-out cookies, which are similar to the sugar cookie cut-outs, but are formulated with cocoa powder to give them a chocolatey flavor.
These can easily be used as bases for beautiful cookie designs or Christmas cookies, and are a fun way to mix it up a bit in your baking.
3. Cut-out Red Velvet Cookies
Here’s one of the more creative cut-out cookie options: red velvet cut-out cookies!
If you’re someone who wants to use cookie cutters with a cookie to make hearts for Valentine’s Day, this is your best option.
Use a heart cookie cutter with a red velvet cookie cut-out dough (NOT regular red velvet cookie dough, which will spread), and frost with a wonderful white and bright cream cheese frosting.
4. Cut-out Cinnamon & Sugar Cookies
Another cookie dough I’ve found works really well with cookie cutters is this recipe, which is a cinnamon and sugar cookie base.
These actually are some of the softest cut-out cookies I’ve ever tried, so while they do work perfectly with cookie cutters, they’re much more melt-in-your-mouth than other cookie options.
You also have that nice cinnamon spice to it, which makes it wonderful with a glazed icing.
5. Shortbread Cookies
While shortbread cookies in their traditional form aren’t very easy to use as cut-out cookies, there are a few recipes that have a more shortbread style texture instead of sugar cookies that can be used with cookie cutters.
6. Butter Cookies
Butter cookies are another great option to attempt to use with cookie cutters.
They hold together well enough for most non-intricate cookie shapes, and they don’t even need to be frosted if you don’t want to as they’re usually formulated to taste great without icing.
7. Gingerbread Cookies
The classic gingerbread cookie recipes obviously work great with cookie cutters, because how else are you going to get that traditional gingerbread man shape?
I love these for a holiday cookie to use with cookie cutters for that wonderful brown sugar and molasses taste.