Tips on Preventing Cookie Spreading
Be careful not to mix the butter and sugar too long (Usually the first step of making the dough; called creaming). Overmixing the butter and sugar will cause too much air to be incorporated. I usually mix mine just until the ingredients come together.
Whichever recipe you’re using, don’t use baking powder in the dough. I used to take it out only for more detailed cookies, now I omit it all the time.
Thinner cookies means less time to bake and less time to spread. ¼” thick cookies work better than ¾” cookies.
Try to minimize the amount of times you reroll the batter. Each time the batter is rerolled, the cookies tend to spread more.
Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat rather than greasing your pan with any type of oil/fat. Cookies seem to spread/slide more when resting on a greasy surface.
I always roll out my dough to 1/4 inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment then stick in the refrigerator for 30 min to an hour, cut out the shapes (Usually best to use the stamp when the dough is between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit; the warmer the dough is, the better the impression.), place on a silpat/parchment-paper lined half sheet pan, stick it in the freezer while the oven preheats (about 15 min) and bake. I have not had any spreading issues since I used this method.
Other important tips:
Please make sure to use real butter in your recipes as the batter is less sticky and it spreads less. Make sure to avoid store bought cookie dough unless you’re sure it’s made from real butter – it’s typically made with cheap vegetable oil/margarine which makes the batter too sticky and it spreads too easily. Other butter-substitutes, like coconut oil, tend to have the same issues.
For one piece cookie cutters: roll out the dough to ¼” or 6mm with cheater strips or a specialized rolling pin for the best imprint/stamping results. If the dough is too sticky, please be sure to chill the dough before cutting (Reduces stickiness) and spread a generous amount of flour on top of the batter and, if needed, rub flour into the cutters edges. Getting the dough thin enough is very important, too. If the dough is too thick, it will tend to fill voids in the cutter and lift with the cutter. Lifting the cutter from the side which lifts the cookie less usually is easier and better. If it still gets stuck, a tapered knife or similar can help remove dough from the stamp.
For two piece cookie cutters with a separate cutter and stamp: Please make sure to use the stamp before using the cutter for best results.
White Sugar Cookie Ingredients (A little sweeter but spreads more and the batter is a little more tricky to work with.):
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ cups sifted flour
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.
A good recipe for cookie cutter stamps (Spreads less and batter is less sticky; ideal for one piece cookie cutters and detailed cookies.)
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (makes the flavor outstanding)
2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour
Mix sugar, the egg and butter and beat until the ingredients just come together (Add the baking powder now if you want, but I highly recommend leaving it out for detailed cookies). Add the vanilla and almond extract. Turn to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling. Divide the dough into 2 parts and place onto a baking sheet at 1/4” thick and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and wait until dough is about 55-65 degrees and using the cookie cutter stamp, press in the stamps and then cut out using the cutters. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and place into the freezer (Helps minimize cookie spreading). Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Heat the oven to 350. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges.