Skip to main content

Julia's Cutout Cookie Gingerbread


High on spice yet relatively delicate in texture, this dough is perfect for 2-D cookies and small-scale 3-D construction projects, like my sandwiched baskets and FabergÉ egg cookies shown in the attachments. It also spreads less than my Signature Sugar Cookie Dough (recipe in my books), making it more suitable for tight-fitting angular constructions, such as boxes, cornets, blocks . . . basically any cookie creation with corners! And how does it do with contouring?! Yep, it's great for that too - minimal, if any, cracking, even when flexed into highly curvy shapes, such as these cookie basket sides (pictured left).


Yield: About 3 pounds dough or 6 1/2 to 7 dozen (2 1/2-inch) round cookies


Prep Talk: For easiest handling, the dough should be chilled about 3 hours before rolling and cutting. The dough can be frozen for 1 month or more with minimal loss of flavor if wrapped tightly in plastic and then foil. For best eating, store baked cookies in airtight containers at room temperature and enjoy within 1 to 1 1/2 weeks.



  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (1 stick) shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup mild molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar


1 | Stir the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside for use in Step 4.


2 | Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed, to ensure even mixing.


3 | Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the molasses and vinegar. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.


4 | Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix just to combine; however, make sure there are no dry spots.


5 | Flatten the dough into a disk (or two disks for easier handling). Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate about 3 hours, or until firm enough to roll without sticking.


6 | Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper (or silicone baking mats) and set aside.


7 | Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8- to 3/16-inch thickness. (Note: It’s best to roll these cookies no thicker than 3/16 inch in order to keep them their flattest for decorating.) Cut out assorted shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets with an offset spatula, leaving no less than 3/4 inch between each cutout.


8 | Baking time will vary considerably with cookie size and thickness. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch and lightly browned around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes for 2 1/2-inch round cookies. Let particularly long or delicately shaped cookies cool 1 to 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks. Otherwise, immediately transfer the cookies. Cool completely before frosting and/or assembling with Royal Icing or storing.


Coriander Seed Variation:

Since I’ve forever been infatuated with my mom’s Anise Seed Variation of Signature Sugar Cookie Dough (in my books), a similar whole seed spin on this gingerbread seemed like the next most logical twist!


Follow the steps above, except sprinkle each cookie sheet with 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed or coarsely ground coriander seeds before placing and baking the cookies in Step 7. (Note: I typically don't use this variation when contouring cookie dough, as the seeds can tear the dough as it's shaped.)


Images (4)
  • Contoured Cookie Basket Sides: Using Cutout Cookie Gingerbread
  • Sandwiched Basket Cookies: A Simple 3-D Construction Using the Same Dough
  • Fabergé Egg Cookies: Also Using This Dough!
  • Contoured Cookie Baskets: Complete!

Add Comment

Comments (24)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Is this a recipe that is more for construction than eating?  I mean does it taste really good or is it mainly geared towards making fancier shaped cookies?  I only ask after noting that it has no butter and I have found that shortening based cookies don't tend to be quite as tasty.  I will definitely use this recipe for a gingerbread house this year - thanks for posting!

It's great for eating too - very flavorful. The shortening makes the cookie crispier and hold its shape better. For a butter-based cookie to hold its shape to the same extent, you'd have to use a lot more flour, which I find detracts from cookie flavor and texture as well. Too much flour can make cookies pasty and dense.

I will definitely be trying this recipe.  I just recently had to do a switch-up with my cookie recipe after ending up with two batches that had that pasty denseness.  I cut back on the flour and they were wonderful again.  Have you ever experimented with 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening?  

Nancy, for a solid like butter or shortening, one cup weighs about 8 ounces. There are 28.35 ounces per gram, so 8 ounces is about 226.8 grams.


In the US, sticks of butter are 4 ounces or 1/2 cup each, whereas sticks of vegetable shortening are usually twice as large or 8 ounces/1 cup each.

Ive used tis recipe since Julias first book came out;  A wonderful recipe which is easy to roll out and cut with perfect results.  I have used it for plaques, houses,

vases.  anything that needs that extra strength.

Thank you for sharing this recipe and explaining how to make shaped items. Both my mom and I immediately bought your awesome Ultimate Cookies as soon as it was published. Your work is so inspiring!  And I'm really impressed that you aren't just about the decoration; each recipe we've tried tastes truly delicious.

Originally Posted by Likedudo:

dear Julia, I don't have shortening at home. Can I use butter instead?

Butter and shortening do not substitute well for one another. The cookies will spread a lot more if you use butter and don't make any other recipe adjustments.

Originally Posted by CHELY Morales:

Una pregunta, es manteca de cerdo o manteca vegetal para hacer estas galletas? Gracias de antemano?


"Shortening" in the US is 100 percent hydrogenated vegetable oil, such as Crisco brand.

As a new member I just came across this awesome recipe. I would just have a question, it is stated that the cookies/ 3-D cookie should be eaten within 1- 1 1/2 weeks but do they stay tasty for longer?

I thought about making this dough for some Christmas cookies but they only get to their destination right on Christmas.

Last edited by Julia M. Usher
Snowdrop posted:

As a new member I just came across this awesome recipe. I would just have a question, it is stated that the cookies/ 3-D cookie should be eaten within 1- 1 1/2 weeks but do they stay tasty for longer?

I thought about making this dough for some Christmas cookies but they only get to their destination right on Christmas.

This is my recipe, and they can definitely be pushed longer - up to two weeks or so. But the flavor of any spice cookie will dissipate with time, so I prefer to eat them at their very freshest.

Link copied to your clipboard.