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Could we find a cookie press that consistently produced beautiful cookies?
Cookie presses are handheld gadgets that portion soft cookie doughs into a variety of shapes, from hearts and flowers to snowmen and turkeys. These cookies are typically called “spritz” cookies, from the German word spritzen, meaning “to squirt.” While you can use a pastry bag to pipe and shape dough, presses offer a variety of shapes and make it easier to create identical cookies.
Each press has a tube that holds the dough, with a perforated shaping disk at one end and a handle at the other. After loading the dough, you place the cookie press base on a baking or cookie sheet, squeeze the handle, and out pops a picture-perfect, oven-ready dough design—if the press works well.
The OXO Good Grips Cookie Press with Disk Storage Case won our last testing, but over time it turned out to be unreliable. (We stock the test kitchen with our winning products, so we can monitor performance over months and years and update our reviews accordingly). In the case of our winning cookie press, we noticed that the ratcheting mechanism eventually jammed and the handle could snap off. We demoted it and named a new winner—which was later discontinued—so we decided to retest these gadgets, excluding our previous winner because of its performance issues. We rounded up four presses priced from $25.99 to $42.00 and started spritzing.
After pressing more than 1,400 cookies, we found that three qualities mattered most in a cookie press: consistency of shaping, durability, and—most important—the appearance of the cookies. Most performed well in two of those areas, but the real challenge was finding a press that did well in all three.
The cookies’ visual appeal was paramount. The presses came with anywhere from 12 to 20 shaping disks in different forms, from hearts and Christmas trees to camels and butterflies. Most of the presses gave us nice crisp designs, but we demoted one that fell short; its hearts looked more like lily pads, and its flowers were sometimes asymmetrical. The best presses created attractive, well-defined cookies in a variety of shapes.
Consistency of portioning and shaping was also crucial. We wanted a press that could easily punch out row after row of identical cookies without jamming. We found in past testings that cold dough can be hard for presses to push out and that warm dough can be too soft and clingy, which can gum up the machines and make for misshapen cookies.
To determine how finicky the presses were with doughs of different temperatures, we tested each with both 65- and 75-degree dough, representing the low and high ends of the range of average room temperature. Two models had infrequent, minor consistency issues—an occasional jam or incomplete shape—but were generally consistent. Two cookie presses had more serious issues, however. One press sometimes produced beautiful shapes but other times spat out half-formed cookies, and it really struggled with warmer dough. Another struggled regardless of the dough’s temperature; it couldn’t extrude its pumpkins, and its snowmen were beheaded.
Finally, we spritzed dozens and dozens of cookies to see which presses would last through holiday baking extravaganzas for years to come. Only one failed: Its handle stopped working over time. The rest kept performing as they did when they were new.
In the end, only one cookie press, the Marcato Biscuit Maker ($42.00), passed all our tests. It consistently produced precisely shaped cookies with ease. However, it did have a few minor drawbacks. The press had a toggle that allowed us to choose between two cookie sizes, but we sometimes inadvertently switched the toggle while using the press, resulting in cookies that suddenly changed size. Another drawback: We had to insert disks with a certain side facing down, so we sometimes needed to refer to the instructions to jog our memories. Lastly, the plunger rod needed to face a certain way during operation (so that the ratcheting mechanism was properly aligned), giving us one more thing to remember. In short, there’s a learning curve for our winning press, but the process felt easy after pressing a few dozen cookies.
We tested four cookie presses priced from $25.99 to $42.00. First we selected a heart-shaped disk and flower-shaped disk for each model and pressed five dozen cookies using each. We then tested the presses’ performance and durability by pressing a dozen cookies using each of its disks and baked each dozen to compare the results. We tested the presses’ functionality with dough at different temperatures, using each to press cookies from both 65-degree and 75-degree dough, and we washed each press and any used disks according to manufacturers’ instructions after every use. Prices shown are what we paid online. Results were averaged, and the cookie presses appear in order of preference.
Visual Appeal: Presses rated higher if they produced cookies with distinct, identifiable shapes.
Consistency: We gave higher marks to presses that could produce multiple cookies in a row without jamming, with each cookie emerging properly shaped, and that operated well using a range of dough temperatures.
Ease of Use: Presses rated higher if they were comfortable to use, if we could easily attach disks and load dough, and if cleanup was easy.
Durability: High-ranking cookie presses could withstand prolonged use without sacrificing performance quality.
Note: America's Test Kitchen continuously updates our equipment reviews and taste tests. The written content below is the most up-to-date information available and may not match what appears in the video segment.
This cookie press produced well-defined cookies with ease, and it produced mostly uniform designs even when the dough was warmed to 75 degrees. A toggle that lets you switch from smaller to larger cookies sometimes got in the way; we accidentally knocked it from time to time, making our cookies suddenly change size. This machine’s many moving parts do require a small learning curve, but the payoff—visually appealing cookies with minimal fuss—and the press’s excellent durability are worth it.
We liked using this press, and it gave us dozens of cookies without fuss. However, when we compared all the cookie presses’ heart-shaped cookies, this press came in last—the misshapen hearts looked more like lily pads, and they weren’t uniform in appearance. This press also had exposed, jagged teeth on the plunger rod, making it slightly harder to clean.
This cookie press gave us the best-looking shapes in the lineup—gorgeous hearts and beautifully detailed flower shapes. However, when it came time to test all 12 disks that came with this product, we found some serious flaws. It often struggled to get dough out; we had a lot of false starts. This press also couldn’t consistently produce intact designs, so we often got partially formed shapes. The press didn’t handle softer 75-degree dough well, and it was heavier than we preferred—operating it felt like work. Overall, this press was so inconsistent that we found it too frustrating to use—pretty cookies or not.
We were initially impressed with this model because it performed well in early tests, squeezing out nice-looking, uniform cookies with ease—though we did notice that the flower-shaped cookies looked frail and broke easily. However, the bigger issue was that while testing each of the disks, we had trouble pushing dough out because the handle stopped working well. It became difficult to fully retract, requiring a lot more strength than it did when we first used it. Because it wasn’t durable enough to withstand our testing, this press fell to the bottom of our list.