Thursday, December 10, 2015

Favorite cut-out Christmas cookies

2009 vignette on my kitchen island
"When lights and decorations go up along main streets across the country, rolling pins and cookie cutters of many shapes soon come to light in the kitchen. Then, more than at any other season, rolled cookies have top popularity. By the time Christmas arrives, cookie stars, hearts, crescents, jaunty gingerbread boys and animals dangle from the branches of twinkling Christmas trees."
~ Nell Nicholson, in Farm Journal's Homemade Cookies.

Oh, how I loved that book, which my mother had in her cookbook library when I was growing up (and which I eventually got my own copy of).  Nell Nicholson wrote so evocatively of country-style food -- and really, of an entire way of life.   Her words still ring true. For a good many people, the best Christmas cookies are the kind you cut out with holiday cutters and sprinkle with colored sugars and sprinkles before baking -- or, alternatively, bake first and then frost and add the trimmings. I have made plenty of cut-out cookies in my day -- by myself, with my own kids, and now with grandkids -- and thought I would share a few of my favorites here. There are other cut-out cookies over in my Christmas blog as well, and I have labeled them as such so they can easily be found.

Here's the first one:


1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with milk. If the dough is sticky, add flour if necessary to make the dough easier to handle.

Roll dough 1/4-inch thick on a well-floured surface, and cut with cookie cutters of your choice. Sprinkle with colored sugars or sprinkles.

Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375° for 8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes about 100 cookies.

This recipe came from a Farm Journal Christmas magazine from the early 1960s. It was supposed to be a very easy dough for children to roll and cut, and I remember helping to make these as a child. Later, I used this recipe for my own kids to make and decorate cut-out cookies when they were young.  It's not my favorite sugar cookie recipe, but it is great to use with kids.

No list of cut-out Christmas cookies could really be complete without gingerbread men.  The following recipe is slightly adapted from Cook & Tell, and is my favorite recipe for ginger guys. Note that it is easily made in a saucepan!


1/2 cup shortening (or use real margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 egg, beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, place shortening, sugar, molasses, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat and cool mixture to room temperature.

Add beaten egg to cooled mixture in saucepan. Sift together remaining ingredients and stir into molasses mixture using a wooden spoon. Mix well. Form mixture into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap and chill for several hours.

Working with a small amount of dough at a time, and leaving the remainder of dough in the fridge, roll out dough 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick and cut with desired cookie cutters.

Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 375º for 8-12 minutes. Mine took about 8 minutes or even a little less. Makes a bunch of gingerbread men.

This next recipe is a newer favorite of mine, although I suspect the recipe itself is quite old.


2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter flavor Crisco® (I use the sticks -- so, 1 stick for this recipe)
2 eggs
3 Tblsp. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

Cream sugar and Crisco® until fluffy, using an electric mixer. Add the eggs, water, and vanilla and combine well. Sift the dry ingredients together. Work them into the sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or your hands, if necessary. When well blended, form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap to chill for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, roll the dough very thin on a floured surface. Cut out shapes and decorate with colored sugars and sprinkles, pressing down lightly. Using a floured spatula, transfer the decorated cookies to a foil-or-parchment-covered cookie sheet. Re-roll the scraps to make more cookies. Repeat the cutting and sprinkling process.

Bake at 350º for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove to cooling racks.

Yields a lot of cookies; I have never counted to determine how many, and the original recipe, which I found in Cook & Tell, didn't say.
Have you ever made a chocolate cut-out cookie?  I have two recipes for those and they are very good.  Different!


1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup melted shortening (for example, one Crisco® stick, melted)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup warm water or coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp. cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt

Beat the egg; add sugar and molasses and beat 1 minute more.  Dissolve the cocoa in the melted shortening, cool slightly; then add to batter and beat again.  Dissolve the soda in the warm water or coffee and vanilla.  Sift together the flour, salt, and spices if using.  Add soda mixture to the batter alternately with the sifted dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Chill dough for 1 hour before using.

Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface; cut into shapes.  Bake about 8 minutes at 350º; do not overbake; you want them to be fudgy, so watch carefully.  Remove to racks to cool.

When cool, frost generously with a vanilla butter frosting.  If you need a recipe, try this:  3 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tblsp. softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla, and up to 5 Tblsp. milk -- start with half that amount and stir in more milk as needed until smooth and spreadable.  Makes a good amount of cookies!

The second one is a little bit less fudgy and more molasses-y, but very good:


1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
Vanilla glaze, optional

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses, egg and vanilla to mix well.  Sift together flour, cocoa and salt; stir into creamed mixture.  Chill dough.

 Roll dough rather thick, about 1/4”, and cut into rectangles with a clean empty luncheon meat can, or use cookie cutters of your choice.  Place cookies 1/2” apart on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350° about 10 minutes.  Remove from sheets and cool on racks, then frost with vanilla glaze if desired.  Makes about 3 dozen.

 A little side story concerning these Cocoa-Molasses Cookies:  Years ago I read the Trixie Belden serieÏs to the kids, then they enjoyed them on their own as well.  In one of the books a Dutch lady named Mrs. Vanderpoel served Trixie and her friends some cookies, and I’ve always wondered if these were the ones.  The recipe says that these cocoa-molasses cookies are ”long-time favorites in Dutch neighborhoods in the Hudson River Valley.”   These are yummy with a vanilla glaze but just as tasty without it.  Moose and pine trees cut from this dough are really good!

  And this last one, which may be my personal favorite sugar cookie, is from my dear friend Marilyn's mother. Love the festive combination of flavors in this one!


1 cup shortening (may use half margarine)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. orange extract
2 unbeaten eggs
2 1/2 cups flour

Combine all but the flour and beat thoroughly. Add flour and mix well. Chill dough thoroughly.

Roll small portions of dough 1/4-inch thick and cut out. [Edited to add: decorate cookies before baking with sprinkles and colored sugars; or, bake the cookies plain and frost when cool.]

Bake for 8-10 minutes in 375º oven.

The yield is unspecified on this one, too. You really do get a lot of cookies from cut-out recipes, especially if you re-roll the scraps, a process that sometimes seems interminable. But I always do it.

Whichever recipe you choose, have fun.  Happy Baking!

I am linking up today with Gooseberry Patch's Christmas Cookies and Candy Recipe Roundup, where you will find loads of inspiration for your Christmas kitchen gifts and treats.


  1. My days of rolled cookies are done, I think. Loved seeing your adorable helpers and those beautiful blue eyes! I did bake date drop cookies this evening after supper. The aroma is still wafting about. Now I am looking for your mint cookies as I just picked up some Andes mints yesterday.

  2. OOh, all these recipes sound wonderful! We have a favorite sugar cookie recipe that we make every year, and I need to make it soon! I also like the molasses cookie recipe, sounds pretty awesome! Thanks for sharing the yummy inspiration!

  3. Oh how adorable these darling fabric yo-yo ornaments and other fabric crafts are that you have created! Yes, I have a stash of Christmas craft stuff but don't do as much crafting as I used to. Your Christmas cookie recipes sound yummy and those are some little cuties there helping you! Enjoy your weekend :)

  4. Hi ladies!

    Vee -- hope you found the chocolate mint cookie recipe and that you enjoyed it. The "helper" pictures are actually quite a few years old, and were taken by my daughter at her home. But they are still cute and seemed to fit perfectly with a cut-out cookie post! I do still bake cut-out cookies, maybe not every year, but every year or two. I'll probably make either the pepparkakor (picked up an orange today!) or gingerbread men.

    Spicing -- hope you enjoy any of these recipes that you try. They've all been tried-and-true favorites for us. Happy baking!

    Debby -- I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the fabric projects. I truly love using my God-given creativity, it seems pretty much a necessity for me. But right now I'm just too busy to do as much crafting as I'd like. Lord willing I will fit some sewing in this afternoon. Thanks for the visit!


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