It would be hard to find people who haven’t used or at least heard of a cookie cutter. It’s a tool widely used for shaping cookie dough into desired forms. The tool is commonly used for home baking, most often for festive occasions, or for large production retail baking, where uniform look and form is needed. Cookie cutters are also popular for shaping sandwiches and party snacks.
Cookie cutter types:
Cutout - usually made of plastic, tin, copper, aluminum, tin, or stainless steel. It is used for cutting the cookie out of the flat dough and produces the outline shape of the cutter. The cookie cutter is often sprinkled with sugar or flour to prevent sticking. Warming up the cutter also helps with that.
Detail imprint – most often made from the same materials as the cutout and is used for small detail imprint on the surface of the dough.
Cookie mold – made of wood, ceramic or plastic and is used for old style baking because of its ornate design. The mold is pressed onto the surface of the dough to make an embossed design. Cookie molds can create various designs – from simple flat disks to rolling pins and more.
Cookie press – can be automated or a simpler hand operated tool. Some people call it cookie gun and use it for mass production when larger quantities are needed and time is of essence. The cookie dough is extruded into the baking sheet in much faster manner, which would be impossible to achieve by hand.
Cookie cutting sheet – it is used for a large scale production. It is essentially a full plastic cooking sheet with cookie cutters imprinted or mounted on it. Instead of pressing the single cutter one by one on top of the dough, in this case the dough is placed on top of this sheet and cookies are cut this way. The rolling pin is used to press down the prepared dough onto the sharp shape edges, the cookies then fall through the holes directly into the sheet perfectly spaced and ready for baking. The leftover dough is then collected, the cookie cutting sheet removed, and the cookies are placed in the oven. This method allows for large quantities be prepared and baked in a timely fashion and uniform design.
While there is an overwhelming amount of cookie cutters offered online, a couple of brands stand out from the rest of them and should be covered more in depth.
Ateco Stainless Steel Christmas Cookie Cutters - $17 from Amazon
Regardless of the size of the cooking project at hand, it always makes sense to buy a set versus investing a lot of time into individual cookie cutter search. For your holiday baking there is Ateco Stainless Steel Christmas Cookie Cutters or Ateco Stainless Steel Snowflake Cutter set, and both are amazing. The shapes are beautiful, clear, and elegant. But most importantly, they make the cleanest cookies.
The cutters were tested vigorously and cut sharp through sticky soft rolled dough just as good as through frozen hard dough. The cutters were squeezed, washed multiple times, and given to a child to see if they were easy to handle for small hands. In all case, those cookie cutters passed the tests.
When comparing various cookie cutters, stainless steel won over plastic shapes because they felt sturdier and always cut cleaner cookie lines. There are a few advantages to plastic too – they don’t bend, don’t ever rust, and are safer for kids to handle. However, most experts agree that they feel kind of insubstantial and can easily snap. So with proper care the stainless steel set will serve a baker long and will be problem free.
The Ateco cutters are made of the heaviest-gauge metal and the difference is noticeable right away. Many cookie cutters are made of tin or tin-plated steel and can be easily bent out of shape. This is the case with Wilton Holiday 18-Pc. Metal Cookie Cutter Set and the R & M Holiday Classics 12-Piece Cookie Cutter Tub. Both of those brands are easy to bend out of shape, while the Ateco set is a lot studier and requires significant force to bend. The attention to detail is always important – the seam where the cutter’s loop closes is welded in many places and thus it is very hard to break.
Tin made cutters are susceptible to rust and thus last a lot less. R & M cutters became rusty after just one test while Ateco passed a few washes undamaged.
Copper cookie cutters are beautiful, long lasting, rust resistant, and virtually impossible to break, as noted by Gail Dosik of New York’s One Tough Cookie and Matt Lewis of Baked. While they last a lifetime, each shape is $10 to $15 – the price of the entire Ateco set, so not every pocket can afford them.
Another problem with copper cutters is that it’s a challenge to find a set. One relatively affordable set called Old River Road Holiday Cookie Cutter Set was tested and found to be difficult to use with little details not cutting sharp and cutters not lying flat and thus not cutting clean lines. The only way it makes sense to buy cooper is if a baker wants to make one figure religiously and might justify investing in high quality single cookie cutter. But if you are a once a year holiday kind of baker, stainless steel Ateco cutters will be wonderful.
Ateco Christmas cutters are on a smaller side, measuring only 2 ½ inches on average, but most people are not interested in making cookies as big as their palm. If such desire arises, Ateco Snowflake or Stainless Steel 10-ps. Star Set would work for that. Some of the cutters in those sets are up to 7 ½ inches long.
Wilton 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set - $13 from Amazon, $10 from Walmart
For baking projects that involve children, Wilton cutters are one of the greatest. Plastic cutters are safer and easier to handle for little hands. This set is a great deal price wise and offers a huge variety with 101 shapes to choose from. Your child can make letters, animals, and holiday images. They can also be used for tracing or playdough projects, as long as they get a good wash afterwards. The shapes are big and simple, so it’s easy to push the stuck dough out without damaging the cookie. The cutters are grouped by color, so it’s not that difficult to find a desired group of cutters. These plastic cutters are not as sharp as metal ones, but the rounded upper lip makes it not painful for a child to push harder on, so it accomplishes the same purpose safely. The Wilton cutters are not very deep, so might not be the best at cutting something thick, like a sandwich.
If your kitchen does not have unlimited space, the 101 piece set might seem a little extensive. In that case Wilton Grippy Cookie Cutters are also a great option for cooking with kids. They have silicone grip, which makes them easy to use, and feel sturdy. The holiday shapes are the same as in 101 set, but the variety overall id a lot smaller. Besides Christmas-themed cutters, Wilton makes Halloween Set and everyday most basic 4 shapes set in the Comfort Grip model.
Stately Kitchen Soft Grip large 3-inch cookie cutter set seems like a good kid friendly option because of big and bold shapes with silicone edge. However, those cutters have a metal blade and removable silicone edge, so often times the shape is left stuck in the dough while the silicone part stays in the young baker’s hand.
One universal problem that all the cutters have is storage. They are like 3D puzzle pieces and are incredibly hard to fit back into their original containers. The better option is to store them in a plastic container with a lid. Only the Ateco snowflakes easily fit back into their tub. The option of storing them in a plastic bag comes with a danger of bending the shapes if they get shoved into a drawer.