How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

Welcome to the first in what I plan to be a recurring “How-To” series here on Brown Eyed Baker. While recipes are all well and good, there are some techniques that are best explained in a step-by-step method, with pictures included (at least this is how I learn best). As I was decorating my Stanley Cup Playoffs cookies last week I thought that doing a tutorial on how to decorate cookies with royal icing would be a great first How-To post.

pens-cookies-all-angle

I was always very good at baking snowmen, Christmas trees, angels and the like in December, slapping on some buttercream, a few sprinkles and calling it a day. Not that it isn’t good. It is definitely good. But then royal icing came onto my radar. The possibilities seemed endless – a completely smooth finish to the cookies and intricate designs? Now THAT looked fun! I’m here to guide you on a step-by-step tutorial on how to achieve any design you want on any shape cookie. Ready? Let’s begin!


Step 1: Find a Good Sugar Cookie Recipe

This might seem obvious, but not all sugar cookie recipes stand up well to heavy-duty decorating. If you don’t already have a favorite, let me point you to mine: Dorie Greenspan’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies. They’re incredible.


Step 2: Cool Cookies Completely

Again, maybe elementary, but we’re going step-by-step here. You can’t decorate cookies that have just come out of the oven. Or even cookies that are slightly warm. They need to be completely cool before you can move on to decorating.


Step 3: The Equipment

royal-icing-equip

Now, you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment for decorating with royal icing, but investing in just a few decorating tips and couplers, some disposable pastry bags and squeeze bottles will make your cookie decorating experience exponentially more pleasant. Here is a run-down of what I typically use:

♦  12″ disposable pastry bags. So easy to just throw away when you’re done instead of washing them!

♦  Decorating tips. For outlining the cookie I use a #3 tip and anything from a #1 to #3 for intricate designs on the cookie. It’s not a bad idea to have a few of each number, as I find myself using them a lot.

♦  Couplers. These make it easy to switch the size tip you are using in the same color.

♦  Squeeze Bottles. I use these for flooding my cookies. Since the royal icing is very thin at this point, it’s a much neater alternative to a cut-open pastry bag. Plus you can put the cap on and save any extra icing for next time.

♦  Small bowls or Tupperware (to color your icing)

♦  Toothpicks.


Step 4: Prep, Prep, Prep!

royal-icing-prep

This got me the first time I decorated with royal icing, and is especially important if you are going to be using multiple colors and different tips. I flew by the seat of my pants and ended up making a huge mess, it took twice as long as it should have, and I was trying to fish used tips out of pastry bags to re-use them somewhere else. Your plan of action:

♦  Write down how many different colors you will be using and take out that many pastry bags and couplers and prepare them. Also figure out what size decorating tips you will be using and fit them to the pastry bags.

♦  If you don’t have squeeze bottles for flooding, add additional pastry bags for however many colors you will use for flooding, in additional to the bags of that color you will use for detail work (if any).

♦  Have your icing colors ready and as many small mixing bowls (Tupperware works great for this) as you have colors planned.


Step 5: Make the Royal Icing

The recipe for royal icing is very simple:

4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water

Mix all ingredients on low speed for 7-10 minutes or until the icing loses its shine. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff. At this stage you want to be able to pipe it easily:

royal-icing-recipe


Step 6: Color the Icing

Divide the icing into your containers based on how much you will need of each one. Proceed to color the icing and then cover each container with a damp paper towel. It is key when working with royal icing not to allow it to dry out.


Step 7: Outline the Cookies

You will want to outline the cookies with whatever color you will be using to fill them in with. Place some of the icing into a disposable pastry bag fitted with a #3 tip and outline the outside of the cookie. I find that keeping the tip about ½-inch above the cookie while moving it allows the icing to lay on the cookie more easily.

royal-icing-outline

You’ll want to make sure that the outline is pretty well set before moving on to flooding the cookies, but I generally find that by the time I am done outlining the first ones are already dry.


Step 8: Flood the Cookies

Take whatever color you are using to fill in the cookies and slowly start adding a few drops of water at a time, until the icing reaches an almost liquid consistency. The test here is to pick some icing up with a spoon and let it drizzle back into the bowl – the drizzle should disappear into the bowl within 10 seconds. Once you have achieved this, you are ready.

royal-icing-flooding

Either fill a squeeze bottle with the thinned icing or transfer it to a disposable pastry bag with a ¼-inch hole cut off the end.

Now squeeze in the icing to almost completely fill the inside the cookie.

Then take a toothpick and gently use it to distribute the icing to any empty spots.

royal-icing-flooding-collage-copy

Once you are done the cookies need to dry completely before moving on to any intricate piped designs. Some bakers will let them sit overnight but I generally find that a 2-3 hour rest will do the trick.

royal-icing-drying

Now use whatever colors and tips  you’d like to achieve the design you want!

royal-icing-details-collage

♦     ♦     ♦

Was this helpful? I’d love your feedback on this post since it’s the first of its kind on Brown Eyed Baker! Any questions or additional tips to share?

What do you want to learn? I’d love to hear what you would like to see featured in the How-To series. A reader has already mentioned that she’d like to see a tutorial on baking bread with yeast. What’s on your list?

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Brown Eyed Baker RSS feed to ensure you don’t miss any upcoming posts!

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469 Responses to “How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing”

  1. mom of 3 on April 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Finally! I now know how to do this correctly! I have struggled with this. thank you for your post!

    Reply

  2. Michelle Magee on April 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    This was really helpfull! I like that you included pictures so I knew what everything was supposed to look like.

    Reply

  3. Heather on April 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Can you make and store royal icing ahead of time in fridge for a cookie decorating party? Is it okay icing to use with preschoolers in squirty bottles or should I use something else??? Can you substitute egg white powder for meringue powder?

    Reply

  4. Michelle on April 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Hi Heather,

    Yes, you can store royal icing ahead of time in the refrigerator. Store it in a Tupperware-type container, with plastic wrap pressed down against the surface of the icing so that it doesn’t dry out.

    You can definitely put royal icing in squirt bottles, in fact that’s often what I use to decorate since it’s much less messy!

    And yes, you can substitute powdered egg whites for the meringue powder.

    Enjoy your decorating!

    Reply

  5. Betsy on April 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial!!!!! I have been all over the web looking at royal icing sites and yours was the first that made sense. I felt i was right in the kitchen with you!! I have one question. My daughter is getting married in the middle of June and we are making weddin cake cookies as favors at the reception. The cookies are all made and frozen. How soon can I decorate them and leave them bagged in indvidual bags before the big day? Thanks so muc!
    Betsy

    Reply

  6. Michelle on April 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Betsy,

    I’m so happy to hear that this tutorial will be of great use to you! I would say that you could decorate and bag them about 2-3 days ahead of the wedding. Congratulations to your daughter!

    Reply

  7. JenetHart on April 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Very helpful! I have done limited cookie decorating and had never heard the tip about outlining your cookies in icing before flooding them. I have always had trouble making them neat around the edges and now I know why. Thanks. Also, I would love some more instructions from you on decorating with royal icing, geared towards those of us with minimal artistic abilities.(aka tricks to make my cookies look fabulous, even though I can’t draw very well, and my letters are usually crooked).

    Reply

  8. Sharon on April 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    This was wonderful, thank you! I would never have thought to do many of these steps, such as outlining, thinning out the icing flooding, and using a toothpick. VERY helpful tips. These will go a long way for me; I am so glad you posted this. Thanks again!!

    Reply

  9. LouLou143 on May 3, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I am scared to death as a 1st time royal icing user & your wonderful step by step’s are a life saver! I printed them & the pictures & will attempt 60 wedding cake cookies for my future dgt-in-law’s bridal shower. I wish I could give you a big hug for giving me a little more confidence. Thanks so very much.

    Reply

  10. Nicole on May 10, 2010 at 10:02 am

    This is helpful!I want to make black royal icing. I will be using quite a bit of black because I am making Groom cookies and black is used for the tux. Would you suggest to start with chocolate royal icing? Just add about 1/3 cup coco powder? Let me know! Thanks!!!

    Reply

  11. Michelle on May 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    I wouldn’t add cocoa powder to your royal icing, it would affect the consistency and the way that it sets on the cookie. I have made black jersey cookies and things like that and always start with just basic royal icing and keep adding the black gel until you get the black shade you are going for. Also remember that colors will darken as the icing dries.

    Reply

  12. Marty on June 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Love your site. Helped a lot with your tips on royal icing. Thanks.

    Reply

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  17. Holly on June 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    THis was a very helpful tutorial. I now have more confidence to make favor cookies for my daughter’s 2nd birthday. One question, any tips for using two colors to flood coat? Or doing polka dots with royal icing?

    Reply

  18. Nicole on July 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I have been decorating cookies with royal icing for awhile but I always have the same issue. Dark colours, especially black, bleed into adjacent colours. I did a bus cookie outlined in black (I allowed the black to dry almost 24 hours before I added the next colors) it looked great for a few hours but by the next day it was a mess because the black ran so badly. What is the solution to this problem? Is it because of humidity? Help…

    Nicole

    Reply

  19. cheryl hampton on July 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    thank you so very much for the informative demonstration on decorating with royal icing! I have tried and tried with other instructions and these ones are by far the best. I am going to attempt some baby shower cookies for my stepdaughter’s shower and feel quite confident now in what i”m about to do. thanks again and God Bless!

    Reply

  20. cheryl on July 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    this is my second comment and am adding it because I was reading further into your site and noticed something you said about placing your cookies back in the fridge before baking. I’m like you, in that I cut my cookies a bit thicker than the 1/4 in. I’m sure I’ll get chastised for this but I do not chill my dough prior to rolling and cutting. Since they are a bit thicker they come up fine so I cut them out, place on a c. sheet and then in the fridge to chill. then onto the oven. believe it or not it saves time chilling only about 15min. I make up three or four sheets then pop them in and rotate them out of the oven for a quick process to get lots of cookies. hope this is helpful!

    Reply

  21. Tiffany on July 16, 2010 at 1:26 am

    This is such a great tutorial! Very helpful tips for the future when I decide to bake some sugar cookies of my own. Thank you!

    Reply

  22. Michelle on July 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    FABULOUS step by step directions. I followed your tips on outlining, thinnig the icing and everything in between. While my bridesmaid cookies were adorable and cute, it’ll take soem time before they are as cute as your playoff jerseys!

    Reply

  23. Adelaide on July 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for your step-by-step tutorial. While I’ve been baking for years, I’ve never tried the intricate designs that you show here,(beautifully I might add). I now have a list of items to go get and do a test run before I need to do the real thing.

    Thanks so much, your tutorial is the best I’ve found after looking for quite a while.

    Reply

  24. heni on August 8, 2010 at 12:44 am

    waow thank you so much…i love your site

    Reply

  25. Melessa on August 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Great tips! I’m so glad I stumbled across your website. In my area decorated sugar cookies start at $3 each and that adds up quickly. I want to use some edible pearls and glitter on the cookies that I will be making. At what point in the process should I add them? Should I do it right after I flood with the royal icing or wait for them to harden a bit? I’m worried that if I add them to quickly the pearls will sink. Please advise. Thanks!

    Reply

  26. vonda on August 18, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I am new to cookie decorating and making. I have never been able to bake cookies let alone decorate them. This is so helpful, i am going to start this week so i will let you know how i did, wish me luck.

    Reply

  27. Alyse on August 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much for your steo by step intructions. I decided to make football related cookies to send to my son. he recently left for college at University of Miami. I had time on my hands. Your guidance made this a fun, rewarding experience,The cookies look awesome. Go Canes.Thanks, ALyse

    Reply

  28. Amie on September 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    LOVE your site!! I am getting ready to start decorating cookies for a cheerleading competition. I just have one question how far in advance do you think I can make and store these cookies?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 13th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      Hi Amie, Thanks! These cookies can definitely be done in stages over several day. What I typically do is make the dough one day, then throw it in the fridge to chill. The next day I bake the cookies. If I have time I will outline and flood them. Then let them dry overnight and do the details on top. Once they are decorated you can store them in an airtight container or bag (just be careful stacking!) for 1-2 days. Have fun!

      Reply

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  30. Janice on September 26, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you so much for the detailed instructions on decoarting the cookies. I recently made cookies for my granddaughters birthday and school party but the cookies were rounded and uneven. I notice that the cookies I purchase and your cookies are flat. Any ideas as to why my cookies are uneven which makes it difficult to decorate them as well as takes away from the appearance?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 28th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

      Hi Janice, I have found that cookies sometimes turn out bumpy and uneven when the dough is too warm before getting it into the oven. I would try refrigerating the cookie sheets for 15-20 minutes before popping them into the oven and see if that helps!

      Reply

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  32. Johanna on September 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    thanks…

    Reply

  33. Jill Overn on October 3, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Your tutorial is absolutely FABULOUS! I am the worlds worst baker… I followed your instructions and recipes to a T and not only were me cookies edible, they were adorable and delicious too!! I have a pic of the pink & zebra cookies in this post, http://peasandthankyous.blogspot.com/2010/10/neenies-7th-birthday-pink-zebra-art.html, and I linked back to you. Thank you sooooo much for this tutorial!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 5th, 2010 at 11:09 am

      You are very welcome, Jill! Those cookies are absolutely adorable, you did fabulous work!! Love your site too!

      Reply

  34. Evelyn in Colorado Springs on October 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    This is FANTASTIC!! I have looked all over the internet to get the simplest directions to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing (since I’ve never used royal icing before), and your tutorial and photos make this seem very easy. I’m baking 150 pink ribbon cookies (6″) for my co-workers to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month.
    Thanks for your time!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 11th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      You are very welcome Evelyn! What a nice gesture to make all of those cookies! Have fun!

      Reply

  35. Megan on October 12, 2010 at 12:02 am

    This is an awesome tutorial! I definitely have to try this for the next time I make sugar cookies! Thanks!

    Reply

  36. Liz on October 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you for the great step by step instructions!!!

    Reply

  37. Zahra on October 19, 2010 at 11:10 am

    When letting the cookies sit before decorating, do we need to store it in a container or just leave it in the open?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Zahra, You can let it sit out. I always just lay them out on my dining room table. The icing keeps the cookies moist.

      Reply

  38. Alex on October 21, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks so much for posting. It is a very helpfel recipe.

    But I was wondering,

    Is there anything I can use to replace the meringue powder?

    Would cream of tartar work?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Alex, Hmm that’s a good question. The meringue powder is really essential in the icing, as it is what allows it to dry hard. I have never substituted it with anything and am not sure that cream of tartar would work in this instance. Is there a particular reason you don’t want to use meringue powder?

      Reply

  39. Liz Doherty on October 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I have been a “decorating fool” since I’ve seen your tutorial about decorating cookies with royal icing!! I do have a question though, it seems that the top layer of royal icing gets hard and almost dried out on the cookie after just a day or two.Like when you bite the cookie, it is almost like a candy coating. I did cover the cookies with plastic wrap. Any suggestions? Thank you so much.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Liz, The royal icing is actually supposed to dry rock hard. That way you can easily decorate on top of it.

      Reply

  40. Sarah @ pão e queijo on October 28, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    This is so helpful! Wonderful tutorial, thanks!

    Reply

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  42. pearse on October 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    very informative. I however do not like cookies decorated with royal icing. tried the ones from stores. Haven’t tried it home. I am wondering whether we could do the same thing with buttercream – making it thin and various consiastency? if so how do you thin buttercream for flooding? adding more liquid or melted butter?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

      Unfortunately the consistency of buttercream is totally different and doesn’t have the same properties as royal, so it would not dry smooth and hard.

      Reply

  43. Lauren on October 31, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I just made footballs using your tips, which were extremely helpful. The only trouble I had was that some of them dripped down the sides. Is this because I didn’t pipe a thick enough line in some spots?
    I also used the all-occasion sugar cookie recipe. Delicious once they’re baked. I had trouble with the dough, though. I couldn’t get the cookies off of the wax paper, even after chilling them for an extra 30 minutes. I ended up using my cookie cutters in a makeshift way, but my footballs are anything but perfect and smooth. Any tips?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2010 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Lauren, the icing running off the edge could definitely be attributed to the border not being thick enough. I usually use a #2 tip with consistent pressure to pipe the borders. Also, making sure that the borders are dry before flooding is another important step.

      Regarding the cookies sticking – if you roll out the dough between pieces of wax or parchment paper, you need to be sure to flour all of the surfaces really well.

      Reply

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  45. Kori on November 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    This was beyond helpful!! You should have seen me trying to microwave my icing to make it pourable!! Ha ha ha :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 19th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

      Yay so glad you found it helpful! Woo for cookies! :)

      Reply

  46. Dee on November 22, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Thank you for the helpful tips and demo. I am looking into picking up cookie decorating as a hobby and this was very helpful for me.

    Reply

  47. Yin on November 22, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for such detail explaination on icing decoration. I’m totally dummy in this. I will bookmark this for sure.

    Reply

  48. Georgia on November 23, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I have a problem when using sprinkles on royal icing on cookies or buttercream icing for cake. If I put the sprinkles on when the icing is damp, the sprinkles bleed into the icing. If I let it dry a bit, then the sprinkles do not stick. Do you have a solution for that?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 23rd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Georgia, What you’ll want to do is let the royal icing dry. Then, brush it very lightly with some water and then add your sprinkles. Let it dry completely, and then shake off any excess sprinkles.

      Reply

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  50. Georgia Cuevas on November 24, 2010 at 3:55 am

    Thank you, Michelle, I’ll try that. We need a hairspray for sprinkles!! hahaha

    Reply

  51. Mary on November 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for the great tutorial on royal icing. I do a lot of baking and this was one of the best set of instructions I’ve ever used! My turkey sugar cookies turned out beautifully.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 29th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

      So happy to hear that Mary! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      Reply

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  54. lynn on December 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    hi,
    i love your instruction…but mmm i’m wondering if you can make the ‘how to’ on macaroons i can’t seem to bake these babies they turned out either flat & rough or footless >_< , i've tried many many tips from the net but i simply couldn't get it right.. what went wrong? i'd really love to see the detailed step by step on this one…

    Reply

  55. Betty on December 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I was looking for a simple royal icing recipe and cookie decorating ideas to use with my 4 year old grandson. I found your website most helpful and appreciate the detailed instructions. Will be making cookies this weekend!!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      Yay! What a wonderful activity to do with your grandson! Have fun!

      Reply

  56. Maia on December 10, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Amazing instructions and pictures. Thanks so much for posting this. I made cat and dog cookies for my daughter’s birthday party favors and they turned out great–but how did you get the lettering to come out so well? Did you use a #1 tip or something even smaller? Whenever I tried to draw fine lines, the icing flow would “skip” and/or the line would be too thick (way thicker than yours, even using a #1 tip)…

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 13th, 2010 at 12:01 am

      Hi Maia, I do sometimes use a #1 tip for writing letters on cookies. Depending on how large I want them I either use a #1 or #2, but mostly #1. As for the icing skipping, this used to happen to me too. The icing needs to be just a little less stiff, so try adding a touch more water. That should help it flow nicely out of the piping bag. It can take some trial and error (and patience!) to get a feel for the consistencies, but it eventually comes. It took me awhile!

      Reply

  57. margo on December 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    great tutorial + great recipes = a really great christmas cookie baking and decorating experience for me and my family. thank you for bringing out the martha stewart that i always knew was inside me!

    Reply

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  59. Annette Galloway on January 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I have a great tip in regards to the dough…immediately after mixing the dough, divide dough into 2 pieces, roll out between wax or parchment paper to your desired cookie thickness. Put flattened dough on cookie sheets (leave paper on dough) and leave in the refrigerator 2-3 hours or overnight. Once the dough is hardened, remove paper and cut out cookies! The dough stays very cold, there is less spreading and you don’t have to try and roll hard dough!

    Reply

  60. laura on January 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Brown-eyed Baker,

    I am about to try these instructions in a few days, using them to bake cookie favors for my sister’s baby shower. They will be turtle-shaped cookies, frosted in minty-green royal icing. They are based on a design in her nursery. Anyway, I would like to add candy buttons (you know, the type that come on the rolls of paper) as decorations on the turtle shells (the turtles in her nursery are polka-dotted). Is it possible to use the royal icing to affix things to the cookies? Or, should I add a different type of icing to do the adhering on top of the royal icing?
    Thanks!
    Laura

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 10th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Laura, Royal icing is actually perfect for “gluing” things to the hardened/iced cookie. Have fun and enjoy the cookies!

      Reply

  61. laura on January 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Wow that was fast! But, do I “glue” them when the royal icing is still wet or do I follow the steps above regarding the sprinkles? Should I let the icing harden, wet it slightly and then glue them on? Thanks so much! I can’t wait to do this!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 10th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Hi again! :) You will want to let the cookies completely dry before adding any extras on, then just a small dab of royal icing and “glue” on your additions. This is different than sprinkles, and you do not need to wet the icing at all. Just make sure it is completely try, then use fresh royal icing to glue on any additions.

      Reply

  62. B's Mom on January 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    VERY helpful! My daughter got some really cool Star Wars cookie cutters for Christmas. They emboss the top of the cookie with the pattern. But she got really frustrated trying to work with the royal icing. This website helped explain what she needed to know.

    Reply

  63. Laura on January 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Awesome instructions! The pictures were super helpful. Thanks for doing this!!

    Reply

  64. Laura on January 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I tried the sugar cookie recipe and your royal icing recipe last night and both were AMAZING! I cannot thank you enough for posting both in addition to your most useful play by play on how to decorate using royal icing. Thank you!

    Reply

  65. Julie on January 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    My mother worked in a bakery through college and growing up she would make “sweet and sour” sugar cookies with royal icing for nearly every holiday and event you could imagine!

    Her trick to make the flooding part go much much faster is to thin the icing and then hold the edges of the cookie and dip the top of it into the icing, bypassing the outline piping entirely. She then runs her finger like a knife along the front to even it out and then lays them out to dry – it’s a little messier than the method above – but absolutely worth it when making them by the 100’s for large events!

    Reply

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  67. Leah on January 31, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Thank you so much!!! I was looking for some tips on this (tried doing it on my own, and due to the fact that I did not know about the flooding part…. and adding water…. well u know, they didn’t come out the way they were supposed to).
    This was really helpful and hopefully over time my cookies will come out looking like yours…. ;)

    Reply

  68. Renee on February 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks so much for this! It really helped me get over my fear of tackling “professional-looking” decorated cookies. The squeeze bottles are the BEST!

    Reply

  69. Sara on February 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I made the ducky and onesie cookies for a baby shower and they turned out awesome! The mom to be and guests thought I had purchased them from a bakery! Thank you for the help.
    I did find that for me, flooding worked best by using a baby spoon, adding icing and then pushing the icing with the back of the spoon. It was small enough to get in the corners and took less time than the toothpicks.

    Reply

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  71. Lindsay on February 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I’m making an attempt at this royal icing thing and just wondered if the icing will stay soft in the piping bags. I’d like to outline and flood the cookies today, but then do the detailed work tomorrow. Will the leftover icing in the bags be good for tomorrow, or should I plan on making a fresh batch for the detailed work? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 10th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      You can keep the icing in the piping bags, but put them tip-down in a glass with a little water in the bottom to keep it moist. If you don’t, the royal icing will dry out and then the tip will get clogged. Happy decorating! :)

      Reply

  72. cae on February 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I have used a glaze to achieve the smooth glossy cookies but yesterday was the first try for this. I don’t know what happened but it looked normal going on, but did not dry quickly and this morning are still tacky to the touch. The consistency looks different too. It almosts tastes and feels a little like marshmallow. I don’t know if has something to do with the humidity in the air as we have had a lot of rain lately or not. Any thoughts or suggestions? Hope they dry more today or I am afraid they will stick to each other when stored on top of one another. Right now, they are in the cold oven.:(

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 14th, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      Hi Cae, Hmm usually they dry completely overnight. The humidity could definitely be a factor, also could you have maybe thinned the icing too much? Those are the only reasons I can think of that it wouldn’t be dry by now.

      Reply

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  74. Rebecca on February 14, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I just wanted to say thanks for sharing these great step-by-step photos to go with the instructions. I’m a visual person and tonight was the first time I used royal icing for Valentine’s Day sugar cookies and it was so easy. I actually flavored it with a little strawberry extract and then drizzled melted chocolate on top and they tasted phenomenal in addition to giving them a little hint of pink! :)

    Reply

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  77. sweets2share / Trine on February 14, 2011 at 10:57 am

    that was helpfull information..
    I will make me some cookies to decorate this upcomming weekend.

    Thanks :)

    Reply

  78. Erin on February 15, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I have always wondered how to fill cookies like this with no lines! Thanks so much, this really helped!

    Reply

  79. Elaine on February 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I was looking for a new frosting recipe when I came upon this website and royal icing. I made my cutout recipe 2 different times before I gave it a go with this procedure. If I use this frosting on cookies for my daughter’s baby shower I’ll need to practice, practice, practice more. My outlining was uneven; but the outlining definitely shows the shape of any cutout cookie (onesie’s, ducks, buggy, etc.), which is nice. My husband is sampling as I write this. Not sure he likes the taste when compared to the buttercream I usually do. SO, THE BIG QUESTION IS DO I GO FOR THE LOOK OR THE TASTE? Outlining and filling is definitely more work than slapping on some buttercream.

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Elaine, I would say that decorating sugar cookies with royal icing definitely is not done for taste. It’s definitely not as good as buttercream, but it’s the only way to intricately decorate sugar cookies and allow them to dry completely hard.

      Reply

  80. Susan on February 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I have decorated cookies several times with royal icing and honestly never knew that there was an honest to goodness technique to make them perfect! Thank you so much for taking the time to make this step by step tutorial….you are a godsend!

    Reply

  81. Camille Young on February 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I just found this website tonight and came across your recipe. I don’t remember when I’ve seen a receipe so detailed and friendly. You seem to enjoy what you do and don’t mind sharing it with other people. Thank you so much. I will be coming back for other recipes, especially yours.

    Reply

  82. Leigh Anne on March 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Thanks so much for the detailed description! This is just what I was looking for!!!

    Reply

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  84. Anne on March 22, 2011 at 8:56 am

    So excited to do this! Thank you for the how-to!

    Reply

  85. Dotti on March 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I’m going to try decorating cookies for a baby shower this weekend. This will be my first try at this………wish me luck! :)

    Reply

  86. Jenny on March 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    This step by step instructional is amazing. I have been trying to make cookies with royal icing for years and they always turned out so messy. Thanks to this, I finally got it right. Thank you so much!!! Another tip that I learned is this: when filling the pastry bags: put the empty bag (with tip and coupler already in place) in a tall glass. Fold the top of the bag over the glass and then fill bag with icing. Once the bag is no more than half way full you can twist the top and take it out for use. This allows you to use both hands while filling the pastry bag with the royal icing. This is a great way to make a possibly messy task simple and spill proof. Once again thank you so much for taking the time to do this!!!

    Reply

  87. Madelon on April 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for making this step by step tutorial! Can’t wait to try it out!

    Reply

  88. Jasmine on April 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    i’ve always wanted to decorate cookies and yours is definitely a great help. i’ll want to try it soon. can i also ask if you have any books to recommend to me, who is a beginner in cookie and cake deco? thank you very much! (:

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 10th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Jasmine, I actually have never checked out any books on cake or cookie decorating, but I find YouTube videos super helpful!

      Reply

  89. Megan on April 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Hi!
    Thank you so much for this!!!! I am going to be making cookie bouquets for my older sisters in college for their exam week. I was wondering, do you know how ot make it so that you get the flooded look with two different colors?(this is kind of hard to describe over the computer), but like if I had a round cookie with a pink background and I wanted to put polka dots in it without them being raised above the pink icing, would I just plop them in there?

    Reply

  90. Karen on April 18, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Do you make 2 different batches of the royal icing to do one set of cookies? Meaning one batch for the flood icing and another batch for the piped decoration? I’m thinking that it sounds like if you make one batch, dividing it into piping and flooding, color it, etc, then do the flooding, by the time you are ready to do the piping wouldn’t the reserved piping icing have dried out? How do you keep that portion fresh overnight will the flood dries?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 18th, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Hi Karen, It all depends on how much I need and how many different colors. Sometimes I will make a separate batch, but if I only make one, I cover the unused icing with a damp towel (to keep the moisture in) or you can put it in the piping bags, close off the top with a rubber band, and then put them tip-down into a glass with a little water so they stay hydrated.

      Reply

  91. sarahblank on April 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I get it now!! This tutorial totally answered all my questions!!!

    Reply

  92. Heather on April 20, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Brilliant! This was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Been wondering how to do that for AGES and love the detailed instructions. Thanks!

    Reply

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  94. Terri on April 28, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Thank you so much for this information on decorating sugar cookies. My first attempt was at Christmas a year ago and it took me several recipes to get a tasty cookie. As for the icing, I have been using a recipe that calls for confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, a little milk and light karo syrup and what a mess. but it is tasty! anyway, my daughter wants me to decorate cookies for my grandsons 1st birthday this weekend to look like john deere tractors. I was wondering what the difference in your royal icing and the icing i’ve been using would be? i’m not even sure it has a name, I just remember searching until i found recipe for sugar cookie icing and found this one. the icing actually dries hard enough that i’ve been able to use other colors for decorating though they are nothing compared to yours. i really want to try yours but was just curious if you’d ever heard of or used the icing i’m referring to. thanks again for this valuable information!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 29th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Terri, I have not heard of the type of icing you described, but I can tell that the primary (and important) difference is that the royal icing recipe I use has meringue powder in it. That is the key ingredient and gives the icing it’s smooth texture and allows it to try super hard. I hope that helps; have fun decorating! :)

      Reply

      • Terri on May 2nd, 2011 at 9:41 am

        Thanks for your feedback Michelle. I completed my project over the weekend, 50 sugar cookies cut like a tractor and a red barn, and decorated. it took me forever but I did it although since it was my first time using the royal icing, i made mistakes and learned a lot! actually the icing i’ve used with the karo syrup dries hard as well but would not work for the outlining at all. the royal icing is much easier to make though. as for my other post about the outlining, for some reason in certain places the outline fell off so i went back to those places and outlined them again and had no bleeding at all. for my first attempt i thought they turned out ok. they weren’t as smooth as they should have been but i think if I keep at it I can eventually get there. This site has been a tremendous help to me. My daughter-in-law now wants some pink zebra print cookies for my grand-daughter’s 2nd birthday party coming up in a few weeks. Any suggestions? Also, do you use a stencil on your cookies to outline first or is it all freehand with you?

        Reply

        • Michelle on May 2nd, 2011 at 4:35 pm

          Hi Terri, I do everything freehand, although I do quite a bit of sketching and practicing beforehand, especially if it’s something I haven’t done before.

          Reply

  95. Christina on April 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Thank you for this! I follow you in Google Reader, but stumbled across this by searching. It’s exactly what I’m looking for. Thank you again!

    Reply

  96. Terri on April 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I outlined my cookies last night to prepare them for flooding tonight and had problems with the icing not sticking to the cookies in several places. I followed the recipe on here for the royal icing and my cookies were completely cool. does anyone have any suggestions as to how to prevent this?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 29th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Terri, The outlined icing didn’t stick to the cookies? Could you explain exactly what happened/how it looks, or include a link to a picture if possible? It will help me help you out :)

      Reply

  97. Colleen on April 30, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Michelle, did you ever think of outlining in chocolate? I am considering melting down some of those Wilton wafers (you can melt them right in the squeeze bottle) and outlining in chocolate, then flooding the cookie with royal icing after the chocolate has set. I haven’t tried this yet…what do you think? Does it sound like it would work?

    Reply

  98. Gada on May 2, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Hi, whats the diference between Royal icing and color flow icing?

    Reply

  99. Chung-Ah Rhee on May 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    These are so precious!!

    Reply

  100. Melissa on May 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I want to bookmark this page for my own reference, but being hardcore Lightning fans, I think my husband would freak out if he found a bookmarked page full of Pens cookies. :o) You did give me an awesome idea for our Eastern Conference Finals watch parties/traveling to Tampa goodies, though!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 9th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      Haha! Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m rooting for Tampa to beat Boston :)

      Reply

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