How to Cut Cookies Without a Cookie Cutter

combine the leftover dough and roll it out

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

Cookie cutters make it easy to cut cookie dough into fun shapes, but they're not always around when you're baking cookies. Don't worry if you don't have any cookie cutters (or the right one), because there are plenty of other things that you can use instead. Look around your kitchen and you are bound to find a few objects and tools that will work as a cookie cutter substitute.

The shapes can be as simple or complex as you like and customized to fit a party, holiday, or any occasion. If you try one of these methods and it doesn't work out, simply ball up the dough, roll it out, and try again!

Drinking Glass

An ordinary drinking glass is one of the most common solutions, and it works very well. You can use different sized glasses to create cookies of various sizes. It's best to dip the rim in flour first, so the dough doesn't get stuck inside. Glasses with a thin rim work best because they cut through the dough easier.

Empty Tin Can

The one disadvantage to using glass is that there's no easy way to get the dough out if it gets stuck. If you remove both ends of a tin can, the problem is solved. When the dough sticks inside, push it out from the opposite end. Be sure to bend back any sharp pieces that can cut you or tear the dough.

Cut Freehand Shapes

Use a small, sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut any shape of cookie you like after rolling out the dough. If needed, use an aid to help cut specific shapes:

  • Create a stencil out of cardboard or parchment, wax, or plain paper for simple shapes like hearts, shamrocks, eggs, and flowers.
  • For complex shapes (or if you're not very good at drawing), use your computer and print an outline of the desired shape. Be sure it is the size you want for your cookies.
  • Cut basic geometric shapes like squares, diamonds, and triangles by rolling your dough into a square. Use a straight edge or ruler to guide your pizza cutter or knife and cut a shape out of the dough.

Cut Slices From a Log

Roll your dough into a log and slice off cookies with a knife. If your recipe recommends a thickness when rolling out the dough, try to cut slices as close to that as possible. Baking times may vary slightly, so keep an eye on the oven.

Cookie Cutter Substitutions
The Spruce / Jamie Knoth

Switch to Drop Cookies

Not every cookie recipe requires a cookie cutter. Drop cookies, such as classic chocolate chip cookies, simply require you to form balls of dough, place them on a cookie sheet and bake.

Cookie recipes that are designed to be cut out, such as sugar cookies, will not work with the drop cookie technique. The dough is not meant to flatten out in the same way. When all else fails, it may be best to simply switch recipes.