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Thursday, November 26, 2015

3D Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies (now with printable template)

Yay I'm a reindeer cookie!

I'm so excited that this actually worked!

I saw a beautiful photo a while ago of little reindeer cookies that stood up and were put together with 2 cookie cutter designs for the body and legs.  After some fiddling I was able to draw some templates and cut them on card stock to trace around on some gingerbread dough.  I ambitiously went for a third design for some antlers as well as the body and legs.

The cookie recipe is derived from this great post at

I halved the recipe and forgot to halve the spices so I ended up with some very gingery cookies.

My first attempt was a bit unimpressive but it actually worked!  The shapes fit together and stood up.

I learned a few things from these first ones:
  • My cookie recipe was good - no baking power or soda, cold dough, and short fast baking time.  The cookies did not expand and looked pretty much like they did when I cut them out.
  • Sharp corners burn!  His poor little tail!  All of my shapes needed to be rounded or thickened so they baked evenly.  
  • If your locking shapes are slightly off, you can gently cut them with a serrated knife when they are hot from the oven.  
  • If the shapes are too small, there will be weak points where they will be more likely to break.  One set of antlers didn't make it!
  • Cutting cookie shapes by hand with a knife and a template is boring and horrible.

 So... how to make your own custom cookie cutter?  I could probably order one and later I found a few very cute etsy shops that will 3D print cookie cutter designs for you.  But I wanted to make these now!  First I tried using the metal from a soda can, which proved too weak and brittle.  When you bend it at a 90 degree angle, the metal cracks.

Then I found an old cookie tin with thicker more bendable metal in the back of our pantry.  It was a beast to take apart but with some pliers and our kitchen sheers I was able to get some 3/4 inch wide strips of metal (aluminum maybe?) out of it.  With my new designs, I traced my 3 templates onto cardboard and used the pliers to bend the metal into shape.

Card stock and cardboard templates.  Looking so good!
Home made cookie cutters.  I'm freaking out, man!

It took a lot of patience and cursing to get the metal shapes right.  But finally, they came out and they actually look like the design.  I did not roll the tops of the metal down to make a hand-friendly cutter, so to actually use these, I pushed them down with a square of cardboard.  Otherwise, I would have some adorable shapes poked into my hands.  

I cut enough shapes for 5-6 cookies and "decorated" them.  Honestly they looked a lot more classy before I trashed them up but they taste great and I had so much fun digging through my decorations.  I opted not to attach all the pieces to form the deer, so they're just standing up on their own with the interlocking pieces.

Seriously my decorating is awful.  Observe these pictures at your own risk:

You can see the gingery pain in their little mini chocolate chip eyes.  Kill meeeeee!  So many possibilities for different shapes with this idea... maybe some dinosaurs next???

Here's a little template on graph paper.  Each little square is 1/4 of an inch.  If I can figure out how I might make a printable thingy but I'm not sure how to do it.

1/4 inch graph paper (each square is 1/4 inch)

Happy Thanksgiving!

EDIT: Here's a link to a googledrive document that has a printable template in two sizes.  I used the smaller size for my cookies.  This is meant to be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper and there is a scale for inches at the top.


  1. thank you, they are darling and just what I needed!

    1. Good luck with them! They can be a little tricky but you can do it!

  2. Got em to work! Love them , so cute, just charmed by the whole four legged and antler thing. I don't even want to decorate them, rustic fabulousness...