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As we continue to spend more time at home, we can also help bring winter indoors by whipping up freshly-baked holiday cookies during the remainder of December. Cookie cutters are an easy way to bring your personality into the kitchen, if you’re looking for something that goes beyond the round shape of most cookies this holiday season. “There are shapes for literally everything,” said cookbook author Sally McKenney. You can find cookie cutters inspired by the winter season, including snowflakes, Christmas ornaments, menorahs among others.
“I use cookie cutters all year round,” added McKenney, author of the highly-rated “Sally’s Cookie Addiction.” Cookie cutters are convenient to find, too. They are readily available at Shopping reader-favorite retailers, including Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy's and even Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also find cookie cutters at specialty stores like Williams Sonoma, Uncommon Goods, Sur La Table, Crate & Barrel and even craft stores such as Michael's. We consulted McKenney on cookie dough tricks to set you up for success, and how to find the right cookie cutter for you, whether you’re celebrating a religious holiday or just another Tuesday.
When cookie cutters are too intricate, the probability that your sugar cookie dough will hold its shape is unlikely, unless you have some magical cookie dough.
How to shop for cookie cutters
Cookie cutters are made from a wide variety of different materials, each with benefits and potential drawbacks. Plastic cookie cutters are inexpensive and easier for kids to use safely but they are also less durable and can have trouble cutting through soft dough cleanly.
“I like metal cookie cutters over plastic cookie cutters,” McKenney says. “The metal cuts through the dough a lot easier without having to twist and turn the cutter, which ruins the shape of the cookie.”
- Aluminum cookie cutters are the least expensive — and least durable
- Stainless steel cookie cutters are a little more costly and sturdier — they can rust if you don’t completely dry them after cleaning.
- Copper cookie cutters carry the highest price tag — they’re rust-resistant and durable enough you might pass them onto your kids.
The world of cookie cutters has evolved with geek culture. You can sculpt intricate dinosaur skeletons with a cutter and stamper set, make dessert in a galaxy far, far away with a Star Wars 8-piece cookie cutter set and bake an adorable tribute to Pusheen.
While cookie cutters with lots of details may look good, getting dough into and out of tiny spaces can prove frustrating. Simple geometric shapes are often more forgiving. “When cookie cutters are too intricate, the probability that your sugar cookie dough will hold its shape is unlikely, unless you have some magical cookie dough,” says McKenney. “Simple cutters are best. They are easy to decorate and that’s where you can make them come to life a bit.”
If you need to add a lot of detail, opt for piping tips and a pastry bag. But if you’re looking for a simple icing hack, McKenney recommends plastic squeeze bottles, the kind that typically hold ketchup or mustard in a diner.
Cookie cutters can also be used for more than cookies. McKenney uses star-shaped cutters to slice watermelon for fruit salad and circle shapes to make sure her biscuits are all the same size. I’ve used circular and square cutters to form egg patties for breakfast sandwiches.
Best cookie cutters to shop
“My favorite brand is Ann Clark. They’re very high quality — but inexpensive,” recommended McKenney. “They make thousands of different shapes, but I like to make hearts.” One option worth considering is a trio of highly-rated dinosaurs if Valentine's Day-inspired cookies aren't quite your thing.
If you bake often with kids and don’t care about shapes being absolutely perfect, the value for a tub of 101 plastic cookie cutters is hard to beat. The set includes letters, numbers and shapes, each with a plastic outline on top that makes it easier to grip and press down.
This stainless steel set of 11 circular cutters works for more than just cookies. You can use the cutters to mold eggs and punch out dumpling dough circles. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly to avoid rust.
Copper cookie cutters come with a higher price tag, but they also come with some unique benefits. Copper cutters are durable, hold their shape well and won’t rust. In fact, they might be the only cookie cutters you want to keep on display.
Hanukkah celebrations kick off tonight (Dec. 10), but with a handy Amazon Prime account, you can receive these dreidel cookie cutters within two days. If you want to switch things up, you can create fun dreidel-shaped brownies, biscuits for eggs sandwiches and more baked and savory treats. If you prefer variety, opt for a three-pack that also includes cookie cutters shaped like the Star of David and a menorah.
If you love to bake or looking for a gift idea for a loved one who loves to bake and are looking to spend under $20, then be sure to add this 18-piece stainless steel cookie cutter set to your shopping cart. The pack features eight large cookie cutters and 10 small cookie cutters shaped like angels, candy canes, reindeer, bells, snowflakes and other winter-themed designs.
Cookie cutter prep: Best dough to use
The most common dough used with cookie cutters is sugar cookie dough.
- Personalize. McKenney likes to add spices (pumpkin pie spice in the fall, for example), lemon zest or cocoa to a typical sugar cookie recipe that calls for creaming (mixing) butter and sugar together.
- Cool down. She recommends you chill your cookie dough to help keep the dough from spreading in the oven. McKenney rolls the dough out before chilling it — it’s easier to work with while it’s still soft — and then waits for at least an hour, if not overnight, before cutting out shapes.
- Slice. Place the cutter on top of the dough and press down evenly and slowly. Use a spatula to transfer the cut-out cookie shapes to the baking pan to keep the dough from stretching or cracking.
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