It’s been a blur of flour, butter, and chocolate around here lately, and honestly, you’d think I’d be sick of it. But I’m not.
For the last month, I’ve been embracing holiday baking with arms wide open – and have the freezer full of cookies to prove it. There were the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, yes. Then the crumbly brown butter cookies. Next, Earl Grey.
I made biscotti, four kinds of slice-and-bakes and, on a whim, triangle-shaped brown butter shortbread.
Right now, even as I type this, my sore throat aching and six blankets on top of me (thank you, winter), I’m dreaming of no-bake butter balls and peppermint marshmallows, and deciding I’ll have time to make those, too.
Priorities, you know?
There’s something wonderful, food-wise, about this time of year.
As the holidays approach, even non-cooks, the ones who say they aren’t very interested in the kitchen, have been known to pull out a sheet pan and frost some sugary Christmas trees or snowman cookies.
It’s just what you do during the holidays.
What I’m baking next is a dessert inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s original recipe – a new take on traditional cut-outs.
Combining the fudgy texture and deep taste of a brownie with a classic sugar cookie cut-out, these treats will bring so much chocolaty happiness to your winter baking.
They taste great either plain or decorated with royal icing. And these treats would work especially well, I think, with a double dose of cocoa when covered with a fudge frosting.
Use them and decorate them however your holiday heart wishes!
The Best Brownie Cut-Out Cookies
- Total Time: 59 minute
- Yield: 25-30 cookies 1x
These soft chocolate cookies taste like brownies, and are the perfect holiday update to your usual sugar cut-outs!
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling (300 grams)
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (65 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2.5 grams)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (1 cup or 227 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.85 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (4.2 grams)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Mix until a dough forms, but don’t overmix.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Press gently into a flat disc shape. Cover the disc in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- When ready to roll and cut, preheat the oven to 350°F. Take out the chilled dough from the refrigerator.
- Dust a clean countertop or table with flour. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and place on the prepared surface. Roll it from 1/8-inch thickness to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into your desired shapes. Transfer the cookies to sheet pans lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, being sure to leave about 1/2 inch between each cookie.
- Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. The edges will be slightly firm, and the center slightly soft and puffed. Remove from the oven. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes of the baking sheet before carefully transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate and serve!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 6-8 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Desserts
Keywords: chocolate, Christmas, roll-outs, cut-outs, cookies, brownies, royal icing
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Whisk the Dry Ingredients
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set aside.
Step 2 – Cream
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla.
Step 3 – Add the Dry Mixture
Gradually add the dry mixture until a soft, uniform dough forms. Don’t overmix.
Step 4 – Chill
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Press gently into a flat disc shape.
Cover the disc in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for about one hour.
Step 5 – Roll and Cut
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator. Allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
Dust a clean countertop or table with flour. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and roll it on the prepared surface, using more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll it to about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick, depending on your own preferences.
Cut into your desired shapes (snowflakes are perfect!), brushing off any extra deposits of flour from the top. If there is still some flour, no worries! It will disappear when baked.
But I actually like a bit of flour on them, to make them look even more like snow-dusted delights!
Step 6 – Bake
Place cut shapes on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. The edges will be firm, and the center slightly soft and puffed.
Step 7 – Cool and Decorate
Remove from the oven. Let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes of the baking sheet before carefully transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Decorate however you wish!
To learn how to use royal icing for decorating, like in these photos, follow our tutorial to get our recipe, royal icing guidelines, and some fun decorating ideas.
A New Kind of Dessert for the Holidays
While I package up these fudgy, sugary chocolate snowflakes in square, red tins – a gift for my coworkers – it’s with the knowledge that I am not alone.
I know there are kitchens throughout Chicagoland, throughout the country, throughout the world, serving as backdrops for powdered sugar and creamed butter activities. And I’ll admit that’s part of why I like it.
There’s a unity, a sense of us all being in this together.
This time of year, we’re all part of a large community that watches the same White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life on television, that checks off names on the same kinds of gift lists, that travels to see people we love, wherever they may be.
I like to think that at Christmastime especially, we reflect a little better on the essence of something we all desire and for which we were made:
Share the holiday spirit with me – post your favorite feel-good holiday treats in the comment section below.
And if cookies are your thing, check out some of these tasty recipes:
Don’t forget to Pin It!
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published December 18th, 2008 by Shanna Mallon. Revised and updated November 8th, 2018, with additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.
53 thoughts on “Add Chocolaty Magic to Your Holiday Baking with Brownie Roll-Out Cookies”
i like how nicely your cookies rolled… my wooden pin works horribly…. always sticks to it… even if i flour it or pam it 🙁 boo. by the way. i think your pictures have improved tremendously! such an incredible artsy feel lately 🙂 love yah!
Use two sheets of parchment paper! Don’t spray or use flour! Makes the dough last longer too! Doesn’t end up with the last cookies tasting super floury at all!
i hope you spend today getting better and indulging in horrible daytime television, catching up on reading and maybe just nibbling on all the good baked stuff you’ve been creating lately. you are so cute with your effusive enthusiasm for baking and while my energy levels in the kitchen has been waning, you’re still moving along despite your sore throat! so inspiring.
get well soon!
This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it.
I was wondering if you had this in grams?
I will convert it myself but I know it may not always be accurate.
Thanks for your message, Welsh. The recipe card has been updated with measurements in grams. Enjoy!
LOVED those cookies. made them too… enough batter to feed an army though!
Rae: I used to have the same problem with my wooden pin, but I think I’ve found the solution: flour the heck out of it, the counter, the dough. Really makes a difference. BTW: thanks about my pictures. I’m trying! 🙂
Lan: Aw, you’re so nice. I took your advice, watching TV and lolling around. We lost power mid-day, so I took a lovely nap on the sofa. Feeling much better now!
Amy: LOL—thankfully I wrapped them up right away in tins… otherwise I’d have been eating a LOT!
Hiya! I absolutely love these! I’ll be making them this weekend with my kids but I’m curious could I use splenda in place of the sugar? My stepmom is diabetic and I would love to include a sugar free addition to our holiday cookie layout.
You sure can! You can use an equal amount of Splenda for the granulated sugar. The final taste/texture may alter slightly, but they’ll still be delicious. Just be sure to thoroughly chill the dough before you roll it. I’d also suggest chilling the dough on the baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes after you cut them in your preferred shapes BEFORE you start baking them. This is just to ensure that they’ll keep their shapes.
OH MY GOSH! I am so excited to taste these. Keep them on lock-down so no one throws them away while we are not in the office. I will pick them up tomorrow, for sure!! 🙂
LOL, Carrie! I locked it all up, so we’re safe!
I often roll out gingerbread cookies between two sheets of wax paper. No cleaning up and no sticking. Try that.
WOW!!! Those are the most beautiful cookies I have ever seen!! Such a talented baker!
Can you use box brownie mix to make these? I know it would have to be adapted to be thicker but what are your thoughts?
Hi, Sondra! Thanks for your question!
I would not suggest using a boxed brownie mix. This recipe is a sugar cookie base, rather than a traditional brownie. The batter of the brownie mix would have to be drastically adapted to be durable enough like a sugar cookie to roll out, cut, and have the pieces hold their shape. And after these changes, it most likely wouldn’t bake properly, or have the correct texture.
If you would still like to use a brownie mix, I would suggest making the mix as is, spreading it thinly in a rectangular pan or 1/4-sheet pan, bake it, and then cut out the desired shapes using cookie cutters once it is completely cool.
Let me know what you decide to do! 🙂
I just made these tonight and they are phenomenal. I may have eaten so many straight off the cooling rack that I’ll need to make a second batch tomorrow so we have enough to gift. ???? Thank you for a great recipe! Can’t wait to see how mine look after decorating!!
Hi, Dawn! You aren’t the only one who needs to make another batch due to, ahem, lack of discipline….
Once they are baked and decorated, how long do they stay good for?
Hi I stumbled across ur recipe want sugar cookie brownie cutouts However I don’t have unsweetened cocoa powder so I’m going to use dry brownie mix instead only I’m going to cut down the sugar to half cup and flour to 1 and a half cups and add gradually if need more but going to follow ur recipe other wise so I will let u know how they turn out
can I leave these in the freezer for a while? will they lose any flavor/texture points?
Hey, Brooke! You certainly can freeze them without sacrificing flavor or texture! You have two options for freezing:
First option: Freeze the cookie dough. Shape the dough in a flat, round disc, wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, and place in a freezer-friendly airtight container or bag. When ready to bake, allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before continuing on with rolling, shaping, and baking.
Second option: Freeze the final, baked products. Place the cookies in a freezer-friendly airtight container or bag in flat layers with parchment paper in between each layer.
Never seen a brownie cookie, especially one that’s a rollout. My family is completely obsessed with brownies so I know which cookies I am making this holiday season!
These look delicious! Thank you for sharing!
These cookies are a new favorite in our household!! My husband is not a chocolate lover, yet he is obsessed with these! Thanks so much for the recipe.
These cookies were a HUGE hit with my family and co-workers. I made mini mittens and Christmas trees and they were a perfect two bite (or one!) treat. I can’t wait to make these again!
These are seriously so delicious!! And they came out perfect – didn’t spread at all. Best chocolate cookie recipe! Thank you!!
These cookies taste AMAZING! But no matter how much I chill them before I cut them and again before I bake them, they always spread a little. And ideas on how to combat this? Thanks!
You might try raising the temperature another 25 degrees. My theory is that in a hotter oven, the exterior will set quickly, preventing the cookies from spreading. But you might have to shorten the baking time. (Have you tested your oven temperature? Maybe it’s a little low.)
Wow! These are fabulous. I love how soft they are. The dough is a little hard to work with because it’s so sticky, but resist the temptation to add more flour. You won’t be sorry. I made dark chocolate ganache-filled sandwich cookies out of these and they were devoured. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe.
Yum, your sandwich cookie version sounds delicious! Glad you enjoyed these Kasha, and thanks for the review!
Thank you for the recipe! How long can the cookies actually be kept?
Hi, Anni! I don’t like to keep cookies for any more than one week at room temperature or in the fridge. If you want to store them long-term, you can transfer them to an airtight container or bag in your fridge for about 3 months.
This might have already been asked and answered. How long will they keep in the fridge? Do I have to put them into the freezer right away if I’m not going to use it till the weekend?
Hi, Kathleen! Typically, I don’t like to store cookies for any more than one week at room temperature or in the fridge. You’ll find that the texture/flavor becomes lackluster around/after that time! So if you know in advance that you will not be serving them for a few days later, I would most definitely recommend storing them in an airtight container or bag in the freezer. That way, you can ensure they are at their freshest when you are ready to serve them.
Made this recipe last year and loved it! Getting ready to make more for this year. Can I leave out the cocoa to make a vanilla cookie?
I would not suggest removing the cocoa powder in this recipe, as it may alter the taste/texture. We DO have an amazing sugar cookie recipe that is the perfect vanilla counterpart to this chocolate recipe. It is ideal for cut-out cookies, and I’ve used it dozens of times!
Can any one tell me why my Cookie batter is not turning to dough …. it looks more like a chocolate mousse
Can I make the dough the night before? Does it matter how long it chills?
The night before is totally fine! You can make the dough a few days (I would say no more than three) in advance, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, in your refrigerator before you decide to bake.
Thank you Nikki for this recipe. I wanted to make 1 practice batch on the weekend before I made them for the whole family for Christmas day lunch. I’m now on my 4th batch as I’m gifting them to neighbor’s and colleges. Been keeping with the chocolate theme and using white choc decorations instead of icing.
I decided to make these for my family instead of traditional sugar cookies and they came out great! I cut the recipe in half which was really easy to do. I decorated them with mint flavored icing which reminded me of a peppermint mocha from Starbucks. I would not recommend these for cookies larger than 3 inches because they are pretty soft.
These were wonderful!!
These look amazing. I’ll be making them to use as an accent for another baking treat for St.Patrick’s Day. I’m going to be adding a mint emulsion instead of vanilla for an extra special taste.
Whoa, we LOVE that idea for Saint Patrick’s Day! Looking forward to hearing how they turn out.
I’ve been searching for a chocolate cut out cookie for a while now because my daughters aren’t huge on regular sugar cookies. I want to have them help me decorate for Easter. Do these taste chocolatey/sweet enough with the unsweetened cocoa? Also are they harder or soft? Trying to think of the best thing to have them help me decorate them. Frosting maybe?
These look great! Can I use salted butter and omit the salt?
Hi, what about the eggs? How can I replace them or can I just leave them out? They would have to be vegan.
Hi Sari, We haven’t tested a vegan version of this recipe, but the dough would not hold together or have the right consistency for rolling if you just skip the eggs. You could try aquafaba or 2 flax eggs (ground flax rehydrated in water) as a replacement. I’ve also seen similar cookie recipes that use silken tofu as a replacement for the eggs. Please let us know how it turns out if you give one of these vegan alternatives a try!
These are so freaking delicious! I make them several times a year and everyone raves about them. These truly are brownies in cookie form!
I had high hopes to use this as an alternative for gingerbread. Unfortunately the taste wasn’t there for me, certainly don’t remind me of a brownie.
Can these be made with vegan butter?
While we have not tested this recipe using vegan butter, you can certainly try! We think it should turn out well, as long as you use the same quantity of a stick version of vegan butter, and not the soft spread. Be mindful of chill times, as vegan butter can potentially be softer than regular dairy butter. If the dough seems too soft to roll out, continue chilling it in the refrigerator to stiffen the dough.
Let us know if you try it!