Cut-Out Spice Cookies

My Favorite Recipe for Roll-Out Cookie Dough for Thirty (yikes) Years

Roll-out cookies are too pretty to save for Christmas! This is my all-time year-round favorite cut-out cookie dough recipe, for easy-easy handling, yes, but also for flavor, think lively gingerbread spices kissed (but just on the cheek!) by a little chocolate, a little lemon.

Cut-Out Spice Cookies ♥, easy roll-out cookies with gingerbread spices for year-round occasions.

Cut-Out Cookies Made from Scratch. Festive for Year-Round Holidays, Not Just at Christmas. Easy to Handle Dough. A Signature Recipe for Years and Years. Great for Food Gifts, Cookie Swaps and After-School Treats.

The Goal: Cut-Out Cookies That Look Pretty and Taste Good

Mix butter, flour and sugar for cookies and what do you get?

Cookies that taste like butter, flour and sugar – not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you, if traditional English shortbread is the object.

Too often though, sugar cookies are all about their good looks. Aii, aren't they just so pretty? The colors! The squiggles! The sprinkles! The sparkles!

But call me crazy, I want cookies to taste good, frosted or unfrosted, otherwise, they might as well come from Sam's Club.

No question, cut-out cookies take extra time and effort. If bakers are going to the trouble to make, bake and decorate cut-out cookies, they should taste as good as they look.

And Cut-Out Spice Cookies do!

There's no missing the gingerbread-style spices nor the underlying chocolate. The cookies are slightly soft but hold up well under the icing. With a little extract added to the frosting? These cookies pack a flavor punch!

The Goal: Cut-Out Cookies for Year-Round Occasions

This dough is so easy to roll out and cut into shapes with cookie cutters, it deserves a place in year-round occasions.

The holiday ideas for roll-out cut-out cookies are endless!

  • Heart-shaped cutouts for Valentines, engagement and anniversary parties? Say yes, then I do!
  • Football cut-out cookies for Superbowl parties? Score.
  • Shamrock-shaped cookies for St. Patrick's Day? Lucky!
  • Cut-out Easter eggs and bunny shapes for Easter-egg hunts? A find!
  • For Halloween, how about pumpkin shapes with orange icing and black-cat shapes with black icing?
  • For fall parties, maple leaves?
  • For Thanksgiving open houses, turkey shapes with multi-colored tail feathers?
  • For Christmas, dancing Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Women and the lovely Frosty Christmas Trees, the first way I used this dough, back in 1980, I think it was.
Cut-Out Spice Cookies ♥, easy roll-out cookies with gingerbread spices for year-round occasions.

About This Recipe

Cut-Out Spice Cookies are cut-out cookies rich with gingerbread spices.

They're made with a classic cookie dough that's easy to mix, chill, roll out, cut into shapes with cookie cutters, bake, cool and if you like, decorate with a lemon-flavored icing. The dough is extremely easy to manage, not too stiff, not too soft, really just super-easy to work with.

The distinctive ingredients are the molasses and the mix of ground gingerbread-style spices, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

It takes just 15 minutes to mix the dough but do allow several hours for the dough to chill, preferably overnight.

The cookies bake to a beautiful brown color and can be baked for shorter or longer times for softer or crisper cookies. The edges keep their shape, but simple cookie cutter shapes always seem to turn out better.

The cookies stay fresh for several weeks and may be frozen.

Cut-Out Spice Cookies ♥, easy roll-out cookies with gingerbread spices for year-round occasions.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their recipes. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

SALTED BUTTER I know, I know, so many American recipe writers specify unsalted butter so that you can control the saltiness yourself. But here's the thing. Salted butter just makes cookies, especially, taste better. I also recommend using good butter, I've been a fan of Land O' Lakes butter my entire life. I do occasionally experiment with European butters but Land O' Lakes is easier to find and less expensive. It does pay to watch for a good price on Land O' Lakes and stock up. Did you know that butter freezes? Yep! At Christmas, both Walmart and Target sell butter at half the price found in regular grocery stores. Do let the butter soften to room temperature naturally, no rushing things in the microwave, please. For a head start, cut the sticks of butter into small bits, it'll soften in about half the time as sticks.

CANE SUGAR Cane sugar is preferable to other sugars, just check the label. C&H is the house brand here.

MOLASSES No blackstrap molasses here, please. Instead choose a mild molasses, some times called a "fancy" molasses. I like the Grandma's brand.

FLOUR Give your flour a sniff. Does it smell a little dusty or just off? Toss it and buy a fresh bag. I use Pillsbury all-purpose flour, General Mills would be fine too. If you have a kitchen scale, it makes such a difference when measuring flour. I pull out this Escali kitchen scale (affiliate link) multiple times a day. The bonus? No measuring cups to wash, dry and put away!

POWDERED SUGAR Roll the dough in powdered sugar, not flour. This adds a little sheen to the cookies and the sugar melts in the oven, so no floury bits after baking. I recommend substituting powdered sugar for flour when rolling all cut-out cookies, not just this recipe.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Would this dough work for gingerbread men and women? Yes!

  • Would this dough work for a gingerbread house? I think so, yes.

  • How many cookies does this dough make? It depends. The smaller the cookie cutters, the more cookies. The larger the cookie cutters, the fewer cookies. But I regularly make what I think of as "medium" size cookies and get six dozen.

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • Quick to mix, extra-easy to roll out and cut into cookie cutter shapes
  • Warm gingerbread spices that don't "shout" Christmas
  • Dramatic color on a cookie plate
  • Easy to adapt for year-round holidays
  • The cookies keep well and freeze well
  • In fact, the flavors seem to develop over time, even weeks

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for cut-out cookies with gingerbread spices hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Cut-Out Spice Cookies ♥, easy roll-out cookies with gingerbread spices for year-round occasions.


Mixing time: 15 minutes then chill overnight
Baking time: 1 hour
Decorating time: how many helpers can you recruit?
Makes 6 dozen medium cookies
  • Powdered sugar, lumps pressed out, for the work surface
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or another extract
  • Food coloring, optional
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (360 grams), sifted to break up lumps if needed
  • More water as needed

MIX THE COOKIE DOUGH Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses, mix until light and fluffy.

Separately, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and spices), then mix into the butter mixture until well blended.

CHILL THE DOUGH Gather the dough together to form a compact ball. Break into three roughly equal pieces, form each one into a flat disk with smoothed edges, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

ROLL OUT THE DOUGH & CUT WITH COOKIE CUTTERS Heat the oven to 350F/180C. Work with one dough disk at a time. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar. Roll the dough with a rolling pin, working from the center out with a light but firm touch, smoothing the edges as the dough spreads, aiming for dough about 1/4 inch thick throughout. Cut out with cookie cutters, lifting from the work surface with a thin knife to transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Set aside the scraps.

BAKE each cookie tray for about 8 minutes until the edges are light brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, then transfer to a cooling rack or paper towels to finish cooling.

REPEAT Repeat with the remaining two disks.

ROLL OUT THE SCRAPS Gather together the scraps from all three disks into a compact disk, you might need to refrigerate to be able to roll out again. Roll and cut in similar fashion until all the dough is used.

MIX THE FROSTING Makes 1 cup, good for one or two colors. For more colors, a second batch of frosting helps. To make, combine the extract, food coloring and water in a medium bowl, stir in the powdered sugar until smooth. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting reaches a good consistency for frosting. Transfer to a zip lock bag and seal.

FROST THE COOKIES To frost the cookies, snip a very small piece off the corner of the bag and gently squeeze to apply. Arrange the cookies in a single layer, let the frosting dry overnight.

ALANNA'S TIPS For crisper cookies, roll slightly thinner. For softer cookies that "poof" just a bit, roll slightly thicker. On any single baking sheet, however, bake cookies of the same thickness. The cookies don't spread during baking so can be placed quite close together on a baking sheet. Leave a few cookies unfrosted, they'll appeal to cookie lovers who limit their sugar intake. To my taste, they're just as good unfrosted as frosted! Be sure to let frosted cookies dry thoroughly, several hours at minimum, overnight is better still. I love the brightness of lemon extract that works so beautifully with the ginger-cinnamon-clove spices but others work too. At Christmas, I've used peppermint and anise, I've also seen fruity extracts in international groceries that might be lovely at Easter, say.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Small Cookes (assumes 6 dozen): 76 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 9mg Cholesterol; 55mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 0g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 3 & blue 3 & purple 3 & future WW points
Adapted from a recipe published in a 1980 women's magazine, Woman's Day or Family Circle maybe? First published here way back in 2002 as Frosty Christmas Trees, Kitchen Parade's very first cookie recipe!

More Festive Cut-Out Cookies

~ holiday baking recipes ~
No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies ♥, just mix and roll, no need to wait. Mix and bake in under an hour.

Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies ♥, an easy-to-work-with recipe for roll-out sugar cookies, here in Christmas Stars. No icing!

Frosty Christmas Trees ♥, my long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough, lovely gingerbread flavor and just a touch of chocolate.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2010 & 20222

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. This recipe is a keeper, Alanna. One can never have too many satisfying recipes for roll-out cookie dough, and this will be the first I have that combines gingerbread w/ chocolate. I can only thank you for that!

  2. I still make these too. I'd call them a favorite and for the same number of years. If I remember right we both made these the year that we found the recipe, without discussion. Mine were crisper, yours softer, but we discovered we had used the same recipe!

    It is a great recipe. These cookies taste good and keep well, the flavor developing a little with time. Thanks for the reminder that they don't have to be just for Christmas.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna