Sep 20


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.


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!



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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  1. Elizabeth Calise
    February 6, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I love to bake. My specialty is cookies. I am new at designing with royal icing, but I practice at it. In the meantime I use fondant for my cookies. I still like that polished look of royal icing. I recently made Valentine cookie bouquets and tried to sell them at the local farmers market for $18.00. I could not sell them. I think I was too early for Valentines day. People were asking me if I would be back the following week. Did I charge too much? Was I too early for Valentines day?

    Sad baker, Liz

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