Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Make your own cookie cutter from clip-art and a foil pan

I wanted to make camel-shaped cookies this week, but couldn't find a camel-shaped cookie cutter in time. So I made my own.

If you're making a small batch of cookies, it is faster and easier to make a tape-covered/laminated template, and trace it with a knife. For larger batches, however, this method is very satisfying and worth the effort.

On Monday, while waiting to use the school's photocopy machine, I noticed one of my daughter's teachers making copies of a simple camel graphic. It was meant to be! She gave me a couple of copies of it so I could make a camel cookie cutter.

To measure the length of the outline's perimeter, I took a few pipe cleaners/chenille stems and outlined the shape.

After completing the shape in pipe cleaners, I straightened them to get the measurements.

My camel needed 31" of cutter material.

I used the bottom of a pair of half-size steam table pans for the template, and the sides as the cutter edge. .

It's best to have at least one spare pan, to avoid the stress of limited materials. I get these pans in bulk from either the restaurant supply store or Costco. They cost about 30 cents each. I used two pans, a few staples, a pair of printouts and glue from the glue gun.

This method resulted in a custom, detailed 5.5" x 4.5" cookie cutter for under $1. It's not a copper heirloom, but it held up well and I've saved it for future reuse.

To make the template, trim the printout, leaving a border of about 1" around the shape. Fold the bottom of the foil pan in half, and staple it to the rough-cut shape in multiple places, well inside the border of the desired shape.

Trim away the rounded corners of the sides and discard them. The flat parts become the cutting edges of the cookie cutter. Cut enough to have about 10% more than the perimeter needs. (I needed 31", so I cut about 3 feet of edges.)

For each edge section, fold the top half twice to make a handle. Be careful, the foil can be sharp.

Using the roughly outlined stapled printout, cut through the two layers of foil and the printout together, (three layers total). Make this as accurate as possible.

When done with this step, you'll have a template that is paper on the top, and two layers of foil on the bottom. I'm going to call this the First Foil Sandwich. This is the view of the bottom:

This is the top:

Make the Second Foil Sandwich. Fold the second foil pan's bottom and staple the First Foil Sandwich to the folded foil bottom. Staple inside the shape's outline through all the layers, keeping the staples well inside the shape.

Cover the paper part of the Second Foil Sandwich with packing tape to protect it from the cookie dough, and to allow it to be washed.

Cut through the bottom/new two layers of foil to create the completed template. It will be five layers thick: One "laminated" paper layer, and four foil layers.

Use a glue gun and a stapler to secure all the edges together. It should be firm and solid.

Holding the prepared sides carefully by their folded edges, bend them around the template. The foil will be shaped a bit differently on the top folded edge than the bottom sharp edge. Concentrate on getting the bottom edge to follow the template accurately at the expense of the folded edge's shape. The part that cuts is what really matters.

When it's time to join two sections of foil, line up the cutting edges and overlap the side pieces with a glue gun. I like to have at least an inch of overlap.

If the tops don't align, don't worry. It is critical that the bottom cutting edges are aligned, but the tops can be folded to meet.

When the last piece is bent, leave it unattached. Do not complete the loop.

Once the shape is complete, insert the template in the bent cutter. Using a glue gun, attach the inside edge of the cutter to the outside edge of the template, about 1" or less from the cutting edge.

The template will help keep the shape accurate, and give it strength to last through multiple uses without distorting its shape.

When the entire perimeter of the template is glued to the inside of the cutter shape, you will be left with the overlap of the incomplete circuit/loop of cutter edge. These can now be secured together with the glue gun.

Make your favorite recipe for rolled cookies. We made sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies.

Most rolled doughs require some chilling. If you have a large shape, a pair of long, flat spatulas are helpful.

Most cookies do well with parchment paper. I use my metal kitchen chairs as cooling racks.

I didn't get to the gingerbread cookies in time to frost them, because the kids came home and "tested" half of them, then put the rest away for their lunchboxes.

Gingerbread tends to spread, so some of the details of the cookies' shapes are lost. This can be an advantage, if the shape has defects. The sugar cookies have a more controlled rise, retaining all the shape's contours and details.

Here is one of the lunchbox-ready gingerbread cookies. If it were any bigger, it would be a tight fit for a sandwich bag.

This is the cookie cutter, after it made about 90 cookies and was washed well with warm water and soap.

And this is the same cookie cutter, seen from the bottom.

37 comments, so far. Add yours now!

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Jeanne Tuthill said...

Wow. You never cease to amaze me with your craftiness and ingenuity!!!

I just made ghost cookies for R's class for Halloween but I used a commercial cookie cutter since they are in abundance this time of year. Nice to know I have an alternative plan if I can't find a particular shape in the future!!! Thanks!

Jendeis said...

As always, an amazing craft! Will the real Martha Stewart please stand up? :)

Orthonomics said...

I am always amazed with your projects. What lovely cookies. And finally a use for disposable pans. :)

Juggling Frogs said...

Thanks everyone!

Sephardi Lady, nobody said it had to be a NEW foil pan!

Orthonomics said...

Can't remember the last time I had a foil pan on hand. But next time someone brings something in foil, I will store it away.

BTW, do you have to toivel the "disposable" cookie cutter before reusing?

Juggling Frogs said...

Sephardi Lady,

Now that is an interesting question. I'll have to ask.

I hadn't thought of it. I guess, on one hand, it is like any other cookie cutter, and would need to be toveled. But on the other hand, it is something fashioned by me, so it might be exempt.

Thank you for bringing this up! I'll let you know what I learn.

Ayelet said...

Okay, THIS is beyond normal. It's totally crazy! How long does this project take, may I ask?

Phyllis Sommer said...

that is just amazing. wow.

the apple said...

How clever!! Seems like it would take a while to make though.

Juggling Frogs said...

Sephardi Lady,

Thanks to RWAC, I've had confirmation that since it was fashioned by a Jew, toveling isn't necessary.


Ha. If you think this is "totally crazy", then I'm glad I didn't post the rest of the stuff I did this week. LOL!

It took about half an hour to make, including taking the pictures. I *really* wanted to make camel cookies.

I'll bet it saved me over half an hour over the laminated-template technique. And I got a blog post out of it!

Rabbi Phyllis and Apple,

Thank you! "Necessity is the mother of invention", and this mother NEEDED a camel shaped cookie cutter.

Shabbat Shalom.

Fosi said...


Carla said...

I couldn't have been happier to stumble across your blog. I have searching hihg and low for a #7 cookie cutter that was bigger than what seems to be the standard 3inches. I gave up looking and figured it was time to look into making my own. I had no clue where to begin until I found your instructions...thank you for sharing your creativeness. My daughter is going to be thrilled when I tell her she can take #7 coookies to school on her birthday :)

meggiecat said...


You are so very creative, funny and interesting. This cookie cutter project is one of my favorites. said...

WOW! This is straight up genius! I'll be linking to this.

Snippety Gibbet said...

That is just the coolest thing!

Bridget said...

Brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! Needed a Mickey Cutout for Jello Jigglers for my 1 yr old's birthday party. Much easier than the camel. YOU SAVED THE DAY!

Ginger said...

Just brillant!!! Going to try it real soon thank you very much awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Such an awesome tutorial! Thank you so much. I'm going to use it to make some Lost fish biscuit cookies for the new season premiere. I made some last year, but with my custom cookie cutter it should be a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

We LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVE your tutorial!!! Brilliant!!!
May we please post it on our blog together with your link???

Byebye, Marjon and Saska.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much this helps a lot and love the pic now i cant screw it up thank you, thank you, thank you

velocibadgergirl said...

This is one of the best and coolest DIY posts I've ever seen! Thanks so much for the detailed instructions...I'm going to attempt my own cookie-cutter tonight, I think! :D

Anonymous said...


NoraJean said...

I am sharing your link with a polymer clay yahoo group, so if you see your hits spike it's the ClayMates. I just knew someone was using disposable roasting pans for custom made cookie cutters and there you are. How wonderful and the camels are FABOO. Thanks a million!


Kirschle said...

that is pretty neat! I like it. I live in CZECH and its hard to find big cookie cutters. so this will be a neat thing for me to try. :)

Anonymous said...

thank u so much!
i need a scull shaped cookie cutter but i couldnt find that shape here in buenos aires.

Rubina said...

Thank you very much for such nice recycled projects and wish best of luck.

Kori said...

WOW! That is awesome! I am the Science Club President at my school and we do a seatbelt check thingy "Arrive Alive" and we usually win and we get $250! I think I will throw a party this year if we win and I want to make seatbelt cookies and maybe cars! LOL! This does look challenging but I'll try it! AWESOME JOB!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the illustration .. it helped me a lot :)

Italy Cake Maker said...

We are stationed in Italy, so my weird needs are usually at the hands of amazon. I have my godson's 1st birthday arriving and I have been given creative freedom to make his cake as long as it stands within the Texas theme. After shipping, this saves me from buying $40 in cookie cutters for the fondant decorations!

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Unknown said...

merci beaucoup pour cette super idée!!!
quelle créativité...

many thanks for this wonderful idea!!

natalia said...

Wonderful ideas ! Thank you !

Tammy K. said...

Great idea! I recently saw a posting elsewhere about making cookie cutters from soda pop cans, but i figured that the cuts on my fingers aren't worth it...your instructions look safer and more flexible! (I found that post on my way to looking at an idea of making a soda pop chanukiah with the kids with a play on words of "pach shemen" and the cans, which in Hebrew is called "pachit" (we live in Israel)). Anyway, this is my way of hinting that we're looking forward to hearing your chanukah ideas!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I want to make an edible chess set, but the pieces are $10 each. You've saved me a lot of money :)

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