Introduction: 3D Holiday Cookies

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Martha…

Use this simple technique to create 3D cookies that 'stand up' to even the Grinchiest of holiday guests! In this instructable I show you how to make 3D holiday cookies that are sure to bring smiles to faces of all ages.

Let's get baking!

Step 1: Supplies

gingerbread cookie dough
royal icing
cookie sandwich filling

  • unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • vegetable shortening
  • icing sugar
  • vanilla extract

rolling pin
metal cookie cutter that has an even bottom* (I chose to use this Swedish Dala horse cutter)
two 12-14" long 1/4" square wooden dowels
icing piping bags (large ziploc bags also work)
baking sheets
electric mixer

*It's important that it's either a metal cookie cutter that can be flipped over or a perfectly symmetrical plastic one (like a Christmas tree) because you need to create two opposing cookie sides in order to make 3D ones. We'll be using Oreo-style filling to sandwich them together and they'll have enough depth to stand up on their own!

Step 2: Roll the Dough

If you followed my Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe to make your cookie dough, follow all the rolling instructions below. If you used your own recipe, only follow the rolling parts.


Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before you start rolling it out. If the dough starts to crack when you roll it, it needs to sit a bit longer.

My favorite way to get cutout cookie dough rolled to a consistent thickness, so that each cookie bakes evenly, is to place a 1/4" square wooden dowel on each side of the dough. When you've rolled the dough out (flipping and re-flouring a couple of times) so that it's about 1/2" thick, place the dowels close to either side of the narrow width of the dough so that they sit under the rolling pin. As you roll the dough thinner, the rolling pin will eventually land on the dowels, creating a perfect 1/4" dough thickness.

Step 3: Cut Out Your Cookie Pairs

Using your metal cutter, cut one cookie with the cutter right side up. Then flip the cutter over and cut another cookie with the other cutter side. Press down gently on this side as the top side will be sharp-ish.

Repeat this until you've used all your dough.

If you need to clean up any of the edges of the cookies cut with the wrong side of the cutter, use a pairing knife to gently cut away any excess/weird dough bits.

Step 4: Fill the Baking Sheets + Bake

Gently transfer the cookies to either non-stick baking sheets or regular ones lined with parchment paper.

Mirror the cookie pairs so that you can make sure the shapes haven't shifted and that they are still lining up with each other.

For even baking, place the cookies for 5 minutes on the top rack, and then 5 minutes on the bottom.

Step 5: Cool It Down

After removing the cookie from the oven, let them sit for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to cooling racks.

Step 6: Icing Icing Baby

While the cookies are baking and cooling, make the icing and filling. For a good royal icing recipe, visit my Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe instructable.

Here's the recipe for the cookie sandwich filling:

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 113 grams), at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, blend the butter and shortening together. Add the vanilla and the first 1/2 cup of icing sugar. Mix. Keep adding icing sugar and mixing until you have a smooth, yet stiff filling.

Place the filling in a large piping bag, roll the top and tape it. Cut the tip of the bag so that you have a 3/16" hole (approx.).

Step 7: Ice the Cookies

Once cooled, lay out the cookies in matching pairs.

Use a little squiggle of the outline royal icing to 'glue' the cookies to your work surface. This will make icing them a billion times easier. (Don't worry, they will come off easily when it's time.)

Now ice them! Try and make your icing patterns a mirror image on each cookie of a pair so they look the same from either side once they're standing up.

*I used images of Dala horses I found online as inspiration for my pattern. Google image is your inspiration friend!

Let icing set for at least 1 hour before you start making them into 3D cookies.

Step 8: Building the 3D Cookies

Ice the underside (non-iced side) of one cookie in a pair with the cookie sandwich filling. If you're doing an animal or something with legs like mine, only put the filling on the body and head, so the legs will look like legs.

NOTE: Be careful of the decorated sides of your cookies!! The icing gets brittle and will break off if it gets squished or pressed too hard.

Press the backside of the second cookie on top of the filling, taking care to line up the top and bottom cookies so that from the side they look like one object.

Place the now 3D cookie upright and gently squeeze the top half of the cookie so that the bottoms flair out just a little. This will give them extra stability.

Repeat the above for all your cookie pairs.

Step 9: Serve & Spread Joy!

The effect of these cookies is so fun and sure to bring smiles to the faces of your friends and family.

If you try your own versions, please post pictures in the comments section below. I'd love to see them!

Happy holidays everyone!

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