How to Keep the Shape of Cut Out Cookies

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Things You'll Need

  • Rolled cookie recipe

  • Butter or shortening

  • Parchment paper

  • Plastic wrap

  • Cookie cutters

  • 2 or more cookie sheets

Image Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Cut-out cookies are fun and festive treats any time of the year but their intricate designs are easily spoiled during the cutting and baking process. Cutting the dough carelessly can destroy a cookie's delicate details while baking them improperly can cause cookies to spread too much and lose their shape. Taking a few simple steps will preserve all the sharp details of your favorite cookie cutters, leaving you with flawless cut-out cookies.


Step 1

Use room-temperature shortening or butter instead of oil in your recipe; solid fats like butter and shortening will minimize the spread of the cut cookies as they bake.

Step 2

Separate dough into small, one-batch sections and place on parchment paper before rolling out to the desired thickness.

Step 3

Wrap each rolled section of cookie dough in plastic wrap and place each one in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.


Step 4

Take out one section of dough at a time and unwrap.

Step 5

Dip cookie cutters in flour before pressing into the dough to prevent them from pulling at the fragile edges of the cookie dough.

Step 6

Pull away the uncut sections of the dough, leaving the cut cookies on the parchment paper.

Step 7

Transfer the parchment paper directly onto a cookie sheet; this will minimize the amount of handling the cut cookies receive.


Step 8

Bake cookies according to your recipe, alternating cookie sheets with every batch; allow each sheet to cool completely before using it to bake a batch of cookies because an already-warm cookie sheet will cause cookies to begin spreading before they even make it into the oven.

Step 9

Allow cookies to cool completely before handling them; their edges are fragile and susceptible to damage when warm.


If your cookies still spread too much, try putting the cut-out dough in the freezer for five minutes immediately before baking in the oven. Always use a cookie recipe that’s designed for cut-out shapes; these recipes often contain more flour and less butter than drop cookie recipes since greater amounts of butter will increase the spread of cookies as they bake. If your cut cookies continue to lose their shape, try a new cookie recipe that has a greater flour-to-butter ratio.


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