Sep 20

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How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing – Top 10 Tips

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I’ve had many questions regarding decorated cookies since I began 7-ish years ago, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite decorating tips I’ve learned over time.  By no means am I an expert, but I hope you find my top 10 suggestions helpful.

decorated owl cookies

There are so many ways of decorating cookies; you can cover them with fondant, rainbow sprinkles, delicious melted chocolate… I could go on, but one of my favorite ways is to flood a cookie with royal icing (flood icing).  To basically cover the cookie with a smooth, glossy, sugary coating; piped in such a way that your icing becomes a design – instant sugar art!  My tips today refer to decorating cookies with flood icing.

I’ve got an in-depth tutorial here, which goes over how to flood in detail.

 

How to Flood Cookies with Royal Icing – Top 10 Tips

1.     Use a good icing recipe.  See here for one of my two faves from cake central user Antonia74.  Another favourite is from Peggy Porschen’s book Pretty Party Cakes, but won’t post it here due to copyright infringements.

2.     One of the most important things I’ve learned about cookie decorating is that if your icing isn’t at the correct consistency or thickness, the experience can be very frustrating.  The trick I use to make sure my icing is just right is called the “10 second rule“.

Drag a butter knife through the surface of your royal icing and count to 10.  If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds, then your icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer than approximately 10 seconds, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.  If your icing surface smoothes over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.  Mix your icing longer or slowly add more sifted icing sugar to thicken.

piping tips

3.     For tip sizes, my favorite tip is #2; it’s great for outlining and filling in.  For larger cookies use tip #3 or #4 and for smaller cookies use tip #1.

piping bag with royal icing

4.     Seal the top end of your piping bag closed with an elastic band for less mess.

5.     Practice piping on your work surface or parchment paper before you begin your cookies, so that your hand gets the feel of it.  I usually find I need a few minutes of playing around before my piping improves.  Decorate your least favorite cookies or extra cookies first; that way if you make a mistake it won’t matter as much!

piping royal icing

 6.     When you’re outlining the cookie, about a centimeter in begin lifting the piping bag away from the cookie, so that the icing just falls onto the surface.  You’ll be able to control your piping easier that way.

7.     If your hand is shaky, rest your arm on the edge of your work surface while decorating.

Decorated cookied before and after shaking

 8.     After you’ve finished applying the icing to the cookie, shake it gently to help settle the bumps if there are any.

decorated autumn cookies

9.     If you notice any small air bubbles, pop them with a toothpick or pin right away.  If you don’t, the air bubble usually pops on it’s own and leaves a hole in your icing. (See acorn which squirrel is holding in the image above).

10.     Let your cookies dry for at least 24 hours before you package them.  They won’t get stale as the icing acts as a sealant for freshness.

decorated autumn cookies in bags

These are just a few of my favorite tips which would have helped alleviate some frustration had I known them when I first began decorating cookies.  If  you have any tips which you’d like to share you’re welcome to leave a comment below.

Happy cookie decorating!

xo,

Marian

p.s. In case you missed it, f you’d like a tutorial on how to make the owl cookies, you can find it here.

orange green ribbon

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402 Comments

  1. BettyAnn
    March 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
    327

    Hi Marian! I usually let my no decorated cookies dry for a day before I decorate them. Have you decorated the same day as you bake? I don’t have time to let them dry out, do you think this will affect anything?

  2. Dania
    March 26, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink
    328

    I have a question idk it’s posted here somewhere, 1st I love your site and it’s been very helpful for me I start cookies decoration just couple of month ago and your tips, recipe and tutorials they’re been vey helpful thanks…Now my question is how can I give a pearl color to the icing?

    • Annonymous
      April 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
      329

      Dania, You can buy pearl powder at Michaels. They also have a pearl “spray paint” that you can spray on cookies etc. I have used it on cupcakes for a wedding and they turned out beautifully.

    • Dania
      April 21, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink
      330

      Thanks!!!!

  3. Cheryl Hancock
    April 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
    331

    Can you please give me a tip -when making small dots on cookies-they always seem to get little points on the dots or tips-is my icing too thick?

    • Elena
      May 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
      332

      You have to push slightly in before you remove the piping bag, that way it won’t let a tip.

  4. Ellon St. Croix
    October 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
    333

    Love your site! Do you thin your royal out at all after making the outline? Or do you switch tips? It seems like it would take a long time to fill in the outline with the small tip. Thanks!

  5. Cakes
    October 15, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink
    334

    I have been frosting both Shortbread and Sugar Cookies using Royal Icing and noticed after they are dried, the cookie starts to soften beginning at the sides. Can you tell me why this happens and how to correct this problem . Thank you

    • Caroline
      November 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
      335

      I have the same question and don’t know why.

    • Melissa
      November 21, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink
      336

      The cookies are soft because of the water in your icing. You can try to dry them in a dehydrator, so the water doesn’t soak into the cookie while sitting out to dry. My guess is you are in an area with high humidity? If so the longer the cookie sits to dry the more the water transfers to the cookie and not the air.
      Another thing would be to use less icing… try a smaller tip to outline and flood with just enough to cover nicely. This way you lessen the amount of liquid soaking into the cookie and and lessen drying time, again to improve texture.

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