Cut Out Cookies For Santa


Throughout my childhood, this was our one must have cookie for Christmas. Mama would make a huge batch so we all had plenty to decorate. She cut them in shapes of trees, stars, and reindeer and each of us got our own platter full. She mixed up red, green, and yellow icing and always had plenty of sprinkles to go on top! They will be “wet” right after icing and decorating but if you wait an hour or so they will dry enough to be stacked in a cookie jar.

Mama used to clip coupons, send in rebates, and scrimp and save all year long to help Santa out with our Christmas. Quite often, our favorite toys were from send in offers and rebate checks. My favorite Christmas gift as a child was a little plastic baby doll who came with her very own tiny bar of Ivory soap! I’ll never forget how special that baby was or how much I enjoyed getting to give her a bath with her soap. I also remember coca cola flavored lip gloss, but my younger sister got a hold of mine and ate it, guess that flavor was convincing!  Note to Patti: You owe me Coca Cola lip gloss this year.

As much as I loved that doll, though, my best Christmas memories as a child were decorating these cookies and all of the other little arts and crafts that Mama did with us to help make the house festive. It seemed we were always busy, up to something, and having a wonderful time together.

What are your favorite Christmas memories as a young child?

We’d love to hear about them in the comments section!

You’ll need: Milk, Shortening, Baking Powder, Vanilla, Salt, Sugar, Flour and Eggs.

I am making a double recipe. One recipe will yield about two dozen average sized cookies. I tend to make  mine a bit larger though.

Combine sugar, shortening, milk, and vanilla in mixing bowl.

Cream together.

Add eggs and mix well.

until it looks like this!

In a separate bowl, place flour and add your baking powder…

And salt.

Whisk that together until combined. The recipe says to sift but I don’t like to have to deal with getting my sifter out so this is my way :)

Add the dry mixture to your creamed mixture.

Mix until well combined.

Divide dough and chill for at least one hour. I made a double recipe so I just put mine in three sandwich bags. If you are in a hurry, pop it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes and it will be just fine.

Whenever I make cut out cookies, I like to line my counter top with waxed paper for less mess. Dust waxed paper lined counter top with flour.

Place a portion of your chilled dough on top. Dust the top with flour again. With a little bit of flour in your hand, run it over your rolling pin to keep it from sticking to the dough.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8 of an inch (I prefer mine to be about 1/4 of an inch – I’m such a rebel!)

Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut out cookies…

Be careful not to tear them when you pick them up. I use this really thin cookie spatula I have.

Place on greased cookie sheet.

The dough scraps can be balled up together and rolled out again. I usually only do this once and after the second cutting I throw that dough away. If you keep balling it up and rolling it out, it will get “piece-y” and you’ll start having layered cookies. Just try it a few times and you’ll see what I mean!

Bake for 6-8 minutes. They will still look a lot like they did when they were uncooked, but puffed up slightly and if you look you’ll see just a hint of browning around the bottom.

This is only a teeny tiny portion of my sprinkles and sugars collection. I have an entire storage bin of them!

Gather together some sprinkles and colored sugars for decorating.

Place 1 T of margarine or butter (well softened) in each of three bowls (if you want three different colors of icing).

We ALWAYS had three different colors because there were three of us. :)

Add confectioner’s sugar, milk, and flavoring.

Cut that together with a fork. You are really just mooshing it.

until it is smooth and creamy. Feel free to add another tablespoon of milk if you need to.

My mother recommends using squirt butter for this but if you don’t have that just use regular margarine like I did. Since this is a poured icing, you can melt the margarine a bit in the microwave if it is too lumpy.

Dye each bowl and stir until the colors are even.

What I do is lay out a sheet of waxed paper for everyone and put cookies on top of it.

Then I give everyone three spoons so they have one for each icing color.

Just drizzle your icing on the cookie with a spoon, spread it around and sprinkle!

I let my kids pretty much do whatever they want with their cookies. This isn’t a time to produce a “perfectly” decorated cookie, its a time to let kids do it their way and be proud of their creations! They LOVE This part!

Kinda like this. Allow cookies to sit out for an hour or two, until they are completely dried.

Then you can store them in a cookie jar or other airtight bin, stacked on top each other.

Arrange on a plate and get ready for Santa!

Now for fun, go see this video…it always makes me think of these cookies! I LOVE Veggie Tales! This video is especially funny because it is a child’s show but they inject some really cute humor in it aimed at adults (see the IRS man at the end).

Cut Out Cookies For Santa
  • ⅔ Cup shortening
  • ¾ Cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 Cups plain flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 C confectioner's sugar
  • 1 T softened butter or margarine
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla or butter flavoring
  1. Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Add egg; beat until fluffy. Stir in milk. Sift dry ingredients; stir in and blend. Divide dough in half, chill 1 hour.
  2. On floured surface, roll half of dough to ⅛ inch thick. Keep remaining dough chilled until ready to roll. Cut into shapes. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for 6-8 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from pan. Cool and decorate with cookie icing.
To make Icing
  1. In bowl, mix all ingredients together with fork. If too dry, add a little more milk. Once mixed, add a few drops of food coloring.
Mama always made three recipes of this so there would be three different colors. She prefers to use squirt margarine in place of butter for easier blending.


“Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.”

~giggle~ Submit your quote here.


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  1. BillGent says

    Those look fun.. Sure wish I had little ones around me to do that with. Even my great nieces and nephews are getting too big.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! Count your blessings today and give thanks!

  2. Teri in Hartselle AL says

    Merry Christmas!

    This is the time of year that we make resolutions. DO NOT RESOLVE TO LOSE WEIGHT. You will never achieve it reading this site and cooking these delisious dishes! You will set yourself up to fail.

    Make a easier resolution.

    Start a new tradition, do something new everyday, smile at a stranger and try to make a difference in someone elses life!

    Have a wonderful new year!

  3. says

    Hey Carmen! (Shweetpotato!) ooh that sounds like fun!!! Those reindeer made quite a mess this year with all the rain. They gobbled up most of the oats but tracked the rest all over our sidewalk! We were glad they came to visit, though!

    Bill You want some little ones? I got a few you could borrow! Lol They’d come back hyped up on butterfinger cake though, wouldn’t they?
    Hope you had a great one!!!
    We really do have a lot to be thankful for!

    Claire lol I have growled at dough before, too! Usually, its when it is too sticky to roll out. I just mix in another ¼ cup of flour and get it good and chilled and it will obey after that..if not it knows its wittle life is going to end in a trash can! Lol
    Bet yours were good though!

    Teri LOL! You made me laugh AND call my mama with your comment! Lol I love your resolutions – make a difference, smile at a stranger., Teri, you got your head on straight!

    Christie I just have to begin with how very much I love your name. It so beautiful, creative, and just brings to mind happy people who smile and love to cook and…oh are naturally beautiful and talented and can always find the lost sock………~giggle~
    It is cute. We never did reindeer food as kids either, but my kids have always loved it!!

    Memoria Yes, they end up being soft after the icing sets. But if you want a really soft, pillowy sugar cookie, I’d recommend my Mama Reed’s tea cakes.  With icing 


  4. Terri go Dawgs says

    At my childhood home in Atlanta, our family of 4 gathered around the Christmas tree on Christmas eve, a live cedar tree, oh did it smell WONDERFUL. We read the Christmas story from the bible and put out our special plates with M&M cookies and Coca-Cola….of course. I remember how exciting & magical that time was.

    I sooo hope my son and daughter will look back on our tradition of homemade cookies for Santa too. One year, my 9 yr old son was SCREAMING to see that there was even an ash boot print on the hearth. Always carrots for the reindeer, and the next morning there were leftover gnawed carrot pieces on the roof top and on the front sidewalk. ;}
    Merry Christmas ya’ll.

  5. DIANE says

    Christy, I have a question…

    first, you have inspired me… I have never made cut out cookies because they scare me. I had no idea how to get them from the table to the pan (although I did see once where you put the dough on the cookie sheet, and leave the cookies in place but move the dough!)

    Can the shortening be margarine or butter… does it have to be “crisco”….

    ty ty ty! with 5 kids out of school from 12-18 thru 1-4, I need all the ideas i can get!

  6. says

    oh my goodness my grandma and I would make these every Christmas the entire kitchen would be covered in cookies, we made batches for the church, Santa, neighbors, and all my cousins and I would be icing them. like a little Christmas sweat shop! one of my favorite memories!

  7. Michelle says

    These look great Christy! I love cut out cookies. They are definitely a holiday tradition in my house. I found that when rolling them out I like to use powdered sugar instead of flour. It makes them just a little bit sweeter, but also lighter. I love your idea for decorating them. Definitely going to give that a try this year! Thanks for all the fun recipes you provide!

  8. Joann Drye says

    Making lots of candy and cookies and then driving to south Missouri where my Granny and Grandpa lived… in a house with a pot bellied wood stove in one room for heat and no running water… but did I care? nope not one bit… and all my cousins would be there…

    I think I have to make these cookies this week!!!

    hugs jo from Sapulpa Oklahoma

  9. says

    Ok, so we weren’t rich by any means, but we had everything we ever needed… my first Christmas bike was a used 10-speed… lots of hand me down bike years in between there.

    I awoke (along with 3 older sibling brothers) to a beautiful Christmas tree… BUT with NO PRESENTS under it. What? Santa got lost? Santa not real? Nothing, except the untouched cookies.

    About lunch time (we called it dinner) was the usual affair of ham, mac’n cheese, brown rice, gravy, green bean casserole and such. At least I was smart enough to stuff myself.

    About 2pm on Christmas Day, Mom and Dad gave up on Santa. “He’s not coming!” Dad loaded all us boys up for a trip to the new house they were building to finish up the living room subflooring (free labor mind you).

    Low and behold in the middle of the living room to be, was yet another beautifully decorated Christmas tree with piles upon piles of Christmas gifts…. oh yeah, and a used 10 speed.


  10. Miss Adrienne says

    Wow, I JUST realized that these are the very same cookies we made with our mama! But we had FOUR icing colors for four kids! (No margarine in my mama’s icing, but I am definitely going to try yours.) The roll-out cookies are so simple, but in my opinion, the best. Santa used to come to our house in person on Christmas Eve (yes, really – we were the envy of the neighborhood!) and we used to each make a care package for him and his elf on the way out filled with these and many other cookies that mama made. So okay, I just found out this year that it was a man and his daughter who played Santa and elf, and they charged my mother and father $5 to come visit us on Christmas Eve and hand out gifts in person. I can’t tell you how precious those memories are for me. I would post a photo but those were the years that everything was in slides and we haven’t gotten around to converting slides to anything yet, so they are still sitting in their Kodak carousels. I am so grateful that my parents went out of their way to make Christmas special for us – though no one ever believed that Santa came to us in person, and I couldn’t prove it because of the slides! Merry Christmas everyone!

  11. lindsay mizer says

    So the wonder twins and I made these yesterday..they turned out so cute! Even when Olivia decided to put an entire bottle of sprinkles on 4 cookies! Great recipe…I especially like that they are sweet, but not too sweet tasting..some cut-outs can just be sugar overload for my taste buds. Smooches!

  12. Lori says

    As a kid, Christmas was always spent at our grandparents farm near Marysville,KS. My cousins and I would set an alarm clock for 4:00 am and get up to see what Santa had brought us. We would scoot down the stairs on our butts so we wouldn’t wake up anybody (yeah right). We had tons of fun playing with our new toys and eating our candy. One year our grandpa even got up with us–probably to put more wood in the furnace, but still he was up playing with us. We always made sure that everything was put back into place and we were back in bed by 6:30 am when grandma would get up to start Christmas dinner. I can still remember all the heavenly smells coming from her kitchen.

  13. Shari says

    I love cutout cookies! I saw a tip about cutting them out from Wilton. They said to roll out the dough and cut out the cookies directly on the cookie sheet and just peel away the excess. That way you won’t have to worry about them breaking or anything when you try to move them. I thought this was brilliant because that is always the trouble I have. Just wanted to share!

  14. Annarose says

    I have a confession to make: I don’t like homemade sugar cookies. Even when I was a little kid, I wouldn’t eat them. My brother and I loved decorating them, but we refused to eat them. My dad doesn’t like them either. At first my mom would try a different recipe every year, but eventually she just gave up! Now this is the embarrassing part… I really like rolled sugar cookies made from the Betty Crocker mix! I don’t know why, I just like the flavor so much more. Ever since I found the Betty Crocker mix, I’ve made them at Christmas time :) I had already purchased my mix when I found this recipe and didn’t want to waste it, but next year I will definitely try your cookie recipe. I did however make your cookie icing to go on mine, and wow! It is so good! Thanks to you, I’ve found that butter flavoring is really yummy (I’ll probably add it to the cookie dough next year) so I used that in my icing. It tastes so much better than other cookie icing recipes. The cookies are also really cute :) The only thing I’ll do next year is make one big bowl of the icing, then divide it into little bowls to dye because it would be less work than mixing up each little bowl individually. In any case, thanks so much, Christy!

  15. Bettie says

    I think my favorite Christmas memory as a child is… Mother would take a day off from work and get the house decorated for Christmas while we were at school. When we got home the Elvis Christmas music was playing and she would greet us at the door with a huge smile. We had very simple decorations, nothing like you see today. All old school and the best I could have ever imagined. I still have some of the ornaments and the angel that she always put on the top of the tree. We would all decorate the tree and have eggnog..which was a huge treat because it wasn’t a necessity. Also my Mother saved up for months to have a real tree. I have carried on this tradition with my children.

  16. says

    Hey, gang! I remember making sugar, cutout cookies as a kid. My Mummo used to make them with us. Hope y’all can help me. I remember her making the same kind of cookie only in chocolate. I seem to remember her using Hershey’s cocoa, but don’t remember how much or if there were other changes. Unfortunately, she passed many, many years ago and apparently never wrote her recipe down. (She did that a lot – too much in her head.) Anyone got any tips, ideas? THANKS!!!!

  17. Linda says

    My grandchildren love to come to my house and make cookies! My Mother & I used to set aside one day before Christmas to make cookies and candy. We packaged them and gave them for gifts. We also made homemade rolls (I still do) and packaged them.

  18. says

    We have not been blessed with grandchildren (yet) so we think of all the little ones at church as our “practice grandchildren”. We have a cookie party at our home each year for them. I bake lots of cut-out cookies and make up different colors of icing and set out lots of types of sprinkles. The kids have a blast decorating them – you’d be amazed at how may sprinkles can be put on one cookie! They decorate them first and set them aside to dry. We have snacks, talk about the true meaning of Christmas and the fun stuff that we get to do and play some games. My husband and I make a goodie sack for each child to take home and I wrap up each one’s cookies. We average about 8 or 10 children attending each year. We’re tired when it’s over but it’s so much fun we wouldn’t even consider not having another one. This year it’s on 17 Dec so I’m already making my plans.
    Also, a quick tip. I worked for a caterer in years past and she had us roll out the cookies between 2 sheets of parchment paper, lift off the top sheet and cut out the cookies. We then rolled up the scraps and slid the parchment onto a baking sheet. I like that way much better – I always had trouble moving my cookies to the baking sheet and keeping their shape.
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

  19. Cassie Wilkins says

    ohhhh my,, does this bring back memories! I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and we made these cookies also. When I was a teenager, it was the VietNam era and I had several cousins and penpals that I sent ‘care packages’ to and these cookies were always a part of those. I always got back such sweet letters from ‘the boys’ for that special touch of home.

  20. Fran says

    Grandma Jenkins was the cookie maker when I was a child. We got to decorate Christmas cookies & I always wanted to work on the Leaping Reindeer cookies, you know, the reindeer whose legs are outstretched like he’s flying? I still buy reindeer ornaments if they are “leaping,” Grandma also decorated little round cookies with cherry halves or walnut halves. Yummy memories. =^..^=

  21. Jean Tillotson says

    Your mom wasn’t the only one who did the rebates and got little gifts for the kids. I did that and my children enjoyed the things that they got. Some of them were really nice and they were great stocking stuffers. We also did arts and crafts before Christmas to make things for the house. Guess back then you didn’t run to the store and buy everything. I know we didn’t because we didn’t have the money, but we made memories this way.

  22. says

    Waste not, want not. Who said the leftover dough has to be thrown out or has to be in some special shape? Instead of throwing it out after the second cutout, just take the leftover dough and bake them also. I’m sure they will taste just as good as the ones that have been cut with a cookie cutter. Beside it gives us something to nibble on while the kids are decorating theirs.

  23. Patti says

    Our holiday season started with an old recording on vinyl of the Littlest Angel. It was very special. My mom use to store it way up high on a book shelf and only get it down for the holidays. Can you imagine 5 little kids sitting around the record player listening intently in the livingroom of our house?
    I make my cutouts using the Spritz recipe in the red and white check cookbook. It is a nice size dough and the almond flavoring adds a richness to the recipe. As did my grandmother I only use butter in it. My grandmother use to brag about how many pounds of butter she would use during the holidays–12 to 14 pounds. Anyone who visited her during the holidays left with her latest assortment of baked creations.

  24. Kelley Maddox says

    If you roll out your dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper, and place them in the freezer for 15 minutes, the cookies will cut out very easy. if you put the cut cookies on a cookie sheet and stick them back in the freezer for 15 minutes before they are baked, they will keep their shape better, especially if you have a detailed cookie cutter. you can re-roll the scraps of dough between the wax paper, and repeat the process until all the dough is used, and you wont get any tough cookies because you wont be rolling in any extra flour, and it never sticks to the rolling pin. I have been doing it this way for 6 years, and my cookies always look so pretty and are easy to decorate.

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  26. Vicki Crowe says

    From the time I was 2 we always lived in or near Birmingham. My favorite memories are of the downtown windows being decorated with the mechanical animals, beautiful trees, etc. my daddy holding me up where I could see. This was in the 60’s. Before all the stores moved it to the malls. My mother was into making coconut cakes with crushed peppermint on top. And she made a wonderful peanut pie.

  27. Mama Jane says

    i will always remember when the grands were little, one particular sleepover at nana’s. I make jewelry as a hobby, and they raided my bead box to make some truly original earrings.(ok, nana helped a little.) Then on to baking Christmas cookies! My youngest girl and her then-fiancee came over to help. We made some of the gaudiest cookies you could ever imagine, they almost collapsed under the weight of the frosting and sprinkles. Emma made one she christened “Todd the Angry Firefighter.” She’s in high school now and no one remembers why; we still laugh about that. Then they all got in their jammies and played “apples to apples”. My youngest is notoriously competitive, and it got to be hilarious before it was over with. I lost count of the times I heard, “gosh, Aunt Chas, we’re just little kids!” With John parked in the guest room and all the girls in the living room on various sofas, recliners, and pallets on the floor, I fell asleep to the sweet sound of whispers, giggles, and the occasional full-on belly laugh. Such precious memories, they didn’t cost a thing but are priceless to this grandmother.

  28. Hogs'n'Quiches says

    Hi, Christy!

    Thank you for the recipe! I lost mine (computer crash of 2008) and now that my son has moved out he wants the recipe. I sent him this url so now you have another fan!

    On another note…I was perusing facebook recipe pages and noticed that someone borrowed your photo above. I kept looking at it thinking “I’ve seen this before” then it hit me.

  29. Catherine says

    Gotta tell this story. My mother-in-law made these decorated cookies each year when her kids were growing up. My husband told me about how she just LOVED baking these cookies, and how he and his sisters would help, and how they all just had a wonderful time making these cookies and how he loved that tradition (funny, I only saw her once or twice making these cookies)He would just LOVE it if I could do that with our kids.
    Now, I’m a good baker….except when it comes to rolling out thin dough sugar cookies. But I wanted to make him happy, so at the next family gathering, I sidled up to mother-in-law and asked if she would give me her recipe. “Of course!” she exclaimed. “I’m so glad YOU’RE going to do them this year! I HATE doing them! I’m SO GLAD I don’t have to anymore!!”


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