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Cookie cutters are the jewelry of the baking world since they bring art to all into the kitchen. And it really doesn’t matter whether they’re made of copper, stainless steel, or brightly colored plastics, each is a thing of beauty all on its own.
Cutting cookies into shapes isn’t new, however—it goes back centuries, and it wasn’t just about making something pretty. Imprinted cookies in shapes were used to show religious scenes or to portray fairy tales with a moral message. Today, we have celebratory cookie exchanges at holidays and shaped cookies for every kind of celebration.
Before picking up a new set of cutters, there are a few things to consider. How does each one perform under the pressure of a massive holiday baking spree? Are they comfortable to use, or will they make your hand ache? Do you need to have extra storage space for them? Do they have the power to inspire you to bake?
"I have close to a thousand cookie cutters," says Luna Ellis, teacher of cookie workshops and cookie creator at Arlo’s Cookies. "Some were designed by me, which I just love. They’re all organized on my DIY peg wall by categories so I can easily find what I need. I have a background in design and I’ve always been creative, so being able to use my hands and create little pieces of edible art is really what attracted me to the dialed in cookie decorating work that I’m known for."
"Find a great quality cookie cutter!" advises Ellis. "One of the most frustrating things when using cookie cutters is having your dough get stuck in the cutter, and with a great-designed cutter, that’s avoidable. If you’re still having trouble with sticky dough, you can dip your cutter cutters in flour before cutting out your shapes."
Chilling the dough can also help as we did when creating our sugar cookie recipe (secret ingredient: cream cheese!) and this great vegan gingerbread person recipe. Also, if mailing your final cookies as a gift, be sure to package them carefully. Broken cookies are still very edible, but we want your recipient to get the full effect!
I focused on the top sets of cookie cutters since there’s nothing that can come close to an inspired batch of differently shaped cookies, all dolled up and decorated. It’s all about the bling, and there’s no reason to hold back when getting into the cookie-making swing of things.
Best Overall: Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
What We Love: Kids can make words or messages out of the numbers and letters
What We Don’t Love: The small size can be a challenge for larger hands
This set is amazing for kids! And if you're an adult cutting out sugar cookies for fun, this Wilton set will be fun for you too. The first thing I love about this set is the sheer amount of cutters. There are 101 reasons to just find a surface, pour these out, and begin to choose whatever shape you want. It’s sheer joy!
Add in the bright primary colors, the easy way these cut, and the size (perfect for smaller hands). When you have kids to entertain, there's the extra learning bonus of having numbers and letters to help them build words or messages. Afterward, run them clean through the dishwasher and pop them back into the bucket for storage!
Material: Plastic | Shapes: 101 including assorted letters and numbers | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Budget: Wilton 4-Piece Comfort Grip Cookie Cutter Set
What We Love: Comfortable grip, great price, versatile
What We Don’t Love: Fairly large for a cookie
What a neat little set, and so comfortable to use! This set of 4 basic shapes—circle, star, butterfly, and flower—have cutters that are made of hard plastic for firm cutting. Each is topped with a different color softer plastic that encases the entire top surface for an easy grip that makes cookie cutting go fast and easy.
One thing to keep in mind is that these cutters may make cookies on the larger side with each about 3.5 to 4 inches across. It's great if you want to focus on decorating your cookies, but this also means that these can be used to help with decorating cakes or simply cutting out sandwich shapes for lunchtime fun.
Material: Plastic | Shapes: 4 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Decorating Kit: Williams Sonoma 23-Piece Cookie of the Month Storybox Cookie Cutter Set
What We Love: High level of inspiration, durable stainless steel
What We Don’t Love: Fairly lightweight, could be sturdier
A problem with many cookie-cutter sets is that they're usually themed for one specific holiday. This Williams Sonoma set overcomes that issue by having a focus on the entire calendar year, literally a new cookie to make every month.
There’s a cookie-cutter designed for each month’s major holiday, which means we can all pull out to make something cute! From January's snowflake to May's flower to the autumnal apple and pumpkin, there's enough for new cookies, and of course, you can mix and match. It also includes 10 icing bags, a coupler, and 4 decorating tips so you can practice your royal icing skills.
Material: Stainless steel | Shapes: 4 | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Cookie Presses
Best Copper Set: Farberware 4-Piece Classic Copper Cookie Cutter Set
What We Love: Vintage vibe, made from durable copper
What We Don’t Love: Lacks the top handle common in truly vintage copper cutters
Copper cookie cutters have a vintage feel, even though very old cookie cutters were mainly made of tin. Copper versions are still made today as much as they were in the past, so if you’re into the cottage-core look, or if you just love the idea of a durable metallic cutter, this set from Farberware should be in your cart.
The set of four comes in classic shapes to allow for a good variety of cookies! There's a star, a crescent moon, a butterfly, and a flower, with each 4.5 inches to 5 inches across. Yes, this will make big cookies, but this does make the set versatile. Since this is copper, which can tarnish, it's recommended you wash them by hand and dry them immediately.
Material: Copper | Shapes: 4 | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Measuring Spoons
Best 3D Set: Yaku Cookie 5-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
What We Love: Incredible detail with a single cut, multitude of shapes available
What We Don’t Love: Fairly lightweight
"For me, 3D printed cookie cutters are everything," says Ellis. "They’re sturdy and don’t bend out of shape and I’m able to customize them to any shape I can dream."
This 5-piece set demonstrates the best of what 3D-printed cookie cutters have to offer. That includes one very interesting thing: the ability to easily have detailed work included in the cutting by the use of imprints inherent to the cutters. This really creates a different kind of “look” in cookies and is fantastic as an inspiration for further decorating.
These blue cutters are printed using food-safe PLA plastic, with a height of about a half-inch. The flower set includes shapes of a lily, a hibiscus, a rose, a daisy, and a sunflower, each with a wonderful amount of detail for beautiful decoration. The shop can produce almost any shape possible, another bonus of 3D printing. The maker makes shapes for baby showers and kids' parties, plus unicorns, rainbows, and sneakers. Since the plastic can warp, it's recommended that you hand wash these in soapy water.
Material: Plastic | Shapes: 3 or 5 | Dishwasher Safe: No
Related: The Best Baking Sheets
If you’re looking for a set of colorful cookie cutters for a fun selection of cookies, the Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set (view at Amazon) will work beautifully. If you're moving into the realm of detailed 3D cookie making, the Yaku Cookie 5 piece Cookie Cutter set (view at Etsy) is perfect.
What to Look for When Buying Cookie Cutters
Shapes and Material
Cookie cutters come in all shapes and sizes nowadays with many themed for holiday use. First, consider whether you intend to only make cookies for those occasions, or if you are looking for something that will work year-round. Another important factor is size, with bigger cookie cutters being preferable if you like to decorate your baked goods. Larger cookies might also work better if you're frequently in the kitchen prepping for bake sales or school functions.
Cookie cutters are also now made of various metals and plastic. Metal cutters are sturdier, have sharper edges, and, if treated well, can last for decades. Some metal cookie cutters can even go in the oven if you want a dessert to bake up in a certain shape. Metal cutters though are usually more expensive than plastic ones. Plastic cutters can be sturdy but will have duller edges. They also can never go in the oven or they will melt.
Every cookie cutter you have gives you the chance to make a different design, but each one needs to be cleaned and stored post-baking. Plastic cookie cutters can generally go in the dishwasher. Metal cutters, though, will need to be hand-washed and dried thoroughly, especially if it's made from copper or tin. If rust does occur, soak overnight in vinegar, then wash and dry thoroughly, making sure to get into the crevices and corners.
What else can you use a cookie cutter on?
You can use your cookie cutters on anything that’s soft enough to cut and not taller than the top of the cutter. Sandwiches, toast, pie crust, slices of fruit, slices of meat, rolled-out fondant, rolled-out marzipan, and biscuit dough can all be cut into fun shapes. Cutters can also be used as stencils when decorating other baked goods like cakes and pies.
Are there easy ways to store cookie cutters?
"I hang all of my cookie cutters," says Ellis. "I created a DIY peg wall and each cutter is organized by theme/shape." Take her advice: the best way to keep cookie cutters in good shape is on a pegboard. They can also be stored in clear plastic bins, on a paper towel holder, or in a tall wide glass vase as decoration. With metal cutters, it's recommended that you have some airflow to ensure it's dry and to avoid moisture so it doesn't rust.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Karen Resta is a NYC-based writer specializing in food culture and history, cooking, pastries and restaurants. A former executive chef who began her professional journey as a pastry chef, she travels around the globe as a photographer and writer, finding the best authentic food and pastries along the way. Her cookie cutter collection includes unicorns, stars, moons and letters of the alphabet. She’s passionate about finding quality ingredients within your given budget and believes that having the right tools and knowing how to use them makes all the difference in the kitchen. She curated this list with that in mind.
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