Cookie cutters are some of the most versatile and underrated baking tools in your kitchen. When you aren't using them for cookies, you can cut biscuits and scones, or doughnuts, or rolled fondant, make decorations for your pie crusts, or cut out clay and Play-Do with the kids. They're even educational, if you choose alphabet or number shapes. So what are the best cookie cutters to buy? We have some suggestions.
Your Usage: Are you looking for a set to use all year 'round, for anything and everything? Something inexpensive that the kids can play with to their hearts' content? Seasonal or specialty shapes? The answers to all of those questions play into your decisions over price, shape and quality of construction.
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Materials: You'll find cookie cutters mainly in four different materials: lightweight metal (usually tin or aluminum), plastic, stainless steel or copper. Lightweight metal cutters are inexpensive and available in a remarkable variety of shapes, but can easily be bent out of shape. Plastic cutters aren't as sharp or durable as metal, but they're inexpensive and hold their shape. Heavy duty stainless steel is the everyday choice of working professionals and serious bakers, while copper—the priciest option—makes the most durable, heirloom-quality cutters. Each, in short, has its pros and cons.
Shape and Size: Geometric shapes are the most versatile, and everyone should own at least one cookie cutter set of plain or fluted round cutters in multiple sizes. After that, the sky's the limit! You'll find themed sets for all the major holidays and seasons, as well as all manner of animals, movie and cartoon characters, and kid-friendly alphabet and number cutters. Some makers will even fabricate or 3D-print custom cookie cutters to your specifications. Beware of fine details, which can be difficult to un-mold or lose their definition during baking.
Then there's size: Do you want tiny, jewel-like cookies for holiday gifting, or saucer-sized ones to make your kids squeal?
Quality of Construction: Here, you'll balance cost against quality. The best cutters have a sharp cutting edge, a comfortable handle or rolled upper edge for your hand to press against, and are durable for the price point. The sturdiest are copper and thick stainless steel, but those—of course—are also the priciest. A good rule of thumb is to go high-end for cutters you'll use a lot, and economize on special-purpose cutters that will see limited work.
Ateco is one of the leading makers of cookie and cake decorating tools to commercial kitchens, from rotating turntables to piping bags and tips, and—of course—cookie cutters. These stainless steel cookie cutters are intended to be workhorses in your kitchen, and they're made to stand up to a lot of use and abuse.
They're far sturdier than the lightweight metal cookie cutters you find at the department store, made of high quality steel with a rolled top edge that won't hurt your hand over hours of use. The cutters are dishwasher-safe, though you'll need to hand-dry them after washing to make sure they don't rust. Both sets of these round cookie cutters are versatile, and provide plain or fluted cutters in sizes starting at 3/4 inch and going to over 3 inches. They come nested in their own covered tin for easy storage, when they're not in use. You simply can't do better in a basic cookie cutter.
While Ateco doesn’t offer the range of fun shapes you’ll find from consumer-oriented manufacturers like Wilton or Ann Clark, their catalog includes sets of square, oval and teardrop-shaped cutters as well as several holiday-themed shapes and sets.
There's more to cookie baking and decorating than just the shapes you cut. You may also find yourself using cookie stamps, stencils or templates, and other secondary tools to help you create bright and beautiful designs. Many sets include some combination of these extras, and this set of plastic cookie cutters from Sweet Sugarbelle is a really good example.
Sitting at the top of Sweet Sugarbelle's "Shape Shifters" series, the set includes 18 cookie cutters and everything you need to make multiple designs from its group of basic, versatile shapes. That includes two edgers (tools for giving a custom twist to an existing shape), plus 40 templates for specific designs, 11 step-by-step guides for decorating your creations, and recipes for three kinds of decoration-friendly cookie dough. When you put them all together, you have the tools you'll need to create thousands of personalized designs.
While they probably weren't specifically designed with people's physical challenges in mind, Hulisen has created a set of five high-quality stainless steel cutters that nevertheless very ergonomic. They're made extra-deep for use in cutting biscuits, doughnuts and other big, fluffy doughs, and they work really well for that, but they're also excellent cookie cutters. More to the point, their oversized, high-arched handles are easy to grasp for young, old, arthritic or otherwise-challenged hands.
The main body of each cutter is a seamless ring of steel (you won't have to clean dough out of a welded joint), with the handle solidly welded into place. Each cutter also has its diameter inscribed on the surface in both inches and centimeters, so you'll know at a glance that you have the right one. They cut cleanly, they're dishwasher-safe and rustproof, and they even look downright stylish. Whether your hands are troublesome or not, they're all you could ask in a set of cutters.
Nobody loves cookies like a kid, whether that means baking them, decorating them or especially eating them! This over-the-top set of plastic cutters from Wilton is perfect for the little ones. Inside the big plastic pail, you'll find the full alphabet and all of the numerals, a set each of Christmas cookie cutters and Halloween cutters, and dozens of other fun shapes including hearts, animals and dinosaurs. They're sturdy and dishwasher-safe (though you may prefer to hand wash them, lest they tumble to the bottom of your dishwasher and be melted), and come in a range of bright colors. Your kids will treat them as toys, not just cookie cutters, and that's just fine: At a price that works out to just pennies per cutter, you can let them.
Mini cookie cutters are a surprisingly versatile addition to your arsenal. Aside from cutting miniature cookies (of course), you can use them to turn leftover pastry into pie decorations, cut fruit slices or vegetables into fun shapes for kid snacks, or even use them (appropriately oiled or buttered) as molds for pouring small candies.
These dainty cutters from Laxinis World include eight shapes (circles, squares, ovals, triangles, hexagons, hearts, flowers and stars) in three sizes each, starting at roughly 1/2 inch and going up to about 4/5 inch. They're made of durable, rust-resistant stainless steel, and come neatly nested in a compact tin for easy storage. They're not what you'll reach for when you're making big sugar cookies, but for dainty shortbreads or nut-based cookies, they're ideal.
Themed and seasonal cookie cutters are available individually and in sets from most of the major manufacturers, most notably Wilton and Ann Clark. It takes only a modest amount of online shopping to put together a personalized collection of shapes and sizes to fit your personal needs, and your holiday or season of choice (want to go for it on Valentine's Day, instead of Christmas? You do you!).
That being said, there's also a place for a well-curated set of cutters, and we've chosen two to get you started. The six-piece set from Ateco is manufactured to the same high standards as our top pick, with shapes including a Christmas tree and gingerbread man, as well as angel, star, shepherd and bell cutters. The more complete Ann Clark set replicates most of those, but adds snowman, candy cane, reindeer and two sizes of snowflake shapes. You'll get Christmas trees with and without star toppers, and—arguably the most fun of all—a sweater shape, so you can create your own personalized ugly-sweater cookies.