Feb 13


How to Prevent Air Bubbles in Royal Icing

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I was going to just wish you a Happy Valentine’s but thought I’d turn this post into something helpful for you too.

You may have noticed the air bubbles in these cookie pics already.

My Sweetopia fairy cookies were a bit rushed… Because I was hurrying I ended up making a few blunders.  Check out the air bubbles in the icing above and below.

So, here’s how not to get these air bubbles in your icing when you’re decorating cookies.


How to Prevent Air Bubbles in Royal Icing

1.  When you’re making your royal icing, mix it on a very low speed so less air gets incorporated into it.

2.  Leave the icing sitting for a while until the air bubbles rise to the surface, where you can pop them by gently ‘stirring’ just a little before you add the icing to the piping bags.

3.  To ‘stir’ your icing use a rubber spatula or offset spatula and slowly smooth the icing or paddle the icing gently left to right.  Another way of explaining it; write the letter S over and over in your icing using the flat part of your spatula.

4.  When you’ve put your icing into your piping bag, massage the royal icing a bit before you twist the top end of the piping bag closed.  Press the icing in the bag upwards, starting from the tip and working your way up, pushing out the air bubbles as you go.   Then push it back down towards the piping tip.

5.  After you’ve finished applying the icing to the cookie, shake it gently left to right.

6.  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.  (As in pictures above).

7.  If your cookies isn’t too breakable, gently lift and tap it on your work surface.  This may help pop existing air bubbles you haven’t noticed.


I tried filling in the hole, crater, or indentation; whatever you call what was left behind, but even just a few minutes after the icing had been piped, it was already too dry for the patching not to be noticeable.


And just in case you’d like to see a basic step by step of how I decorated these cookies:


Visual Step by Step – How Cookies Were Decorated

1.  Ice the base of each cookie with white royal icing and let dry for 24 hours.  Oops, didn’t get a pic of that!

2.  Outline the shape using a Kopykake projector.  (Or freehand if you’re that talented!)  Let dry for 24 hours to be safe (To prevent bleeding; especially if you’re decorating in a humid environment).

3.  Flood or fill in lines with desired icing colors.  Let dry for 24 hours so facial features don’t bleed.

4.  Add facial features.



Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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  1. Christina
    February 16, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    even WITH air bubbles they look so cute and scrumptious! :o)

  2. February 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Love … Love… Love Your site! Great illustration work too!

  3. February 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Candice, Christina and Heather!

    Candice, you can project any image you like; from paper, stickers, whatever! The only problem I run into is if the image is on thick paper. I then photocopy it onto thinner paper or onto a transparency. It certainly helps me!

  4. February 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy that I have found your blog! I adore cookies iced with royal icing. They are my one sweet, that I want to learn to perfect. This was such a wonderful help! Looking forward to following more of your posts.

  5. Nancy
    February 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian,
    I’m not sure if you’ve already amended your post to include Julia’s insight, but I have a theory based on what I’ve noticed about my cookies. Okay, here it goes:

    I’ve noticed that it tends to happen when my flood icing is applied thickly. I think that when the moisture evaporates from the icing, the crust that forms cannot hold its own weight and therefore it implodes upon itself, forming the crater. It doesn’t really happen with stiffer icing because there isn’t as much moisture to evaporate. I once ordered a bunch of pre-made royal icing eyes and many of them were hollow on the inside.

    It happens more in small spaces because there is nowhere for the icing to spread out and become a thinner layer.

    I tested this theory with my Christmas cookies by applying a thinner layer in my small spaces and it seemed to work. I didn’t get any holes.

    Does any of that make sense? Just trying to help solve the mystery 🙂

    btw, your Valentine cookies are adorable!

  6. February 27, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    i’m not having air bubble problems but the sunken craters in my smaller areas are driving me nuts (more nuts)! i have been on a mission to find a solution but so far not much luck. i have tried thick flood and thin flood, both are getting sinkholes. getting a thinner application of icing has produced the best results but is still not working real well consistently. i am doing a lot of leaf and petal designs and am slowly losing my mind to cratering problems, lol.

  7. February 27, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It is frustrating isn’t it Diane! I’m still on a mission myself… If you have any new breakthroughs would love if you would come back and let us know!

  8. vanessa
    March 24, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much! Your work is wonderful…how do you keep cookies tasting fresh after leaving them out for so long? I have produced beautiful cookies that taste a little bit stale (I live in Costa Rica so I have a very humid environment)
    Is there a secret?

  9. March 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Vanessa, it could depend on a few things; The amount of butter in the recipe you’re using (or basically the recipe), how soon you put the first layer of icing on… Maybe try another recipe? If you’re using my sugar cookie recipe, let me know and we’ll try and pinpoint the problem!

  10. April 9, 2010 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Super helpful! I’ve been having an issue with air bubbles and I thought all I had to do was let my icing settle….patience 🙂 I will try these tips out for sure!

    Your cookies are stunning! So much detail and I’m so inspired 🙂

  11. Dani1101
    May 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    HI Marian – I love the antonia74 recipe for royal icing and it is the recipe I have been using lately. However, I find that there are a lot of air bubbles in my piping. Am I not taking the air bubbles out enough when I put the icing in the piping bag and press it upward and then down into the bag again? it is really a problem for me and any further suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

  12. marian
    May 20, 2010 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Hi Dani1101,
    You could try paddling it slowly and lightly with a plastic spatula before you even put it in the piping bag. (Basically pressing and smoothing the icing in a figure 8 pattern).
    Other than that I’ve mentioned all I know so far in this post, Part 2 of the ‘air bubbles post’ and in my cookie decorating tutorial. (i.e. mixing on lowest speed, letting the icing sit for a bit so the air bubbles rise to the top and then filling the piping bags etc.)
    If I do come up with more suggestions I’ll definitely post them on Sweetopia.
    Hope that helps!

  13. Mal
    May 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    U are so talented:) great job u done with those cookies.I love the projector idea..can u share which one are u working with.i have done some research and cant seem to make up my mind.Thank u:)

  14. marian
    May 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much Mal! My Kopykake tutorial is coming soon!

  15. Christine
    June 3, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for your useful and informative posting. I am much interested to start with cookies decoration.

    For drying the cookies after applying royal icing, should i just left it to dry in the air or can i put inside a covered container ?


  16. marian
    June 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Christine,
    Definitely in a covered container. Royal icing dries out very quickly.
    Happy decorating!

  17. Christine
    June 4, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your reply. Nice weekend !

  18. June 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I am having issues with the royal icing absorbing grease from the sugar cookies which leaves the base colors blotchy. If you wait a few days, this usually takes care of itself, but there are times when it doesn’t incorporate fully. Does anyone have a solution to this? It happens mainly if I frost the cookies but it does happen occasionally when I flood. I have switched food colors to Americolors (which are the best, by the way!), tried thinner and thicker consistencies and nothing works. Please help!!

    • marian
      June 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Marti,
      Quick question first, you say it happens mainly if you ‘frost the cookies but it does happen occasionally when I flood’; I just need to clarify what you mean when you say ‘frost the cookies’. Do you mean frost with buttercream icing? (I’m guessing not, as you’re asking about royal icing, but I’m not sure if you mean spread the R.I. on with a knife when you say frost, or if you mean it’s a buttercream icing or just plain frosting).

      I have never encountered this problem using the sugar cookie and royal icing recipe which I use. If you’d like to try them out here they are:

      Sugar Cookie Recipe

      Royal Icing Recipe

  19. diana keller
    February 13, 2011 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    OMG Marion! I can’t wait to purchase a Kopy Kake projector. That is absolutely precious! You do such amazing work. I just hope someday I can be half as talented as you..Happy V day!

  20. Lorele
    March 15, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for all the informations on decorating cookies. I’m retiring in 2 months and I’d like to make cookies for my grandchildren. love your site

  21. Kate Norton
    March 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian. I am so happy to find out about your site and joyfully read all your posts. You are so creative. I too have a terrible time with air bubbles in my icing but it only seems to happen when I add the “eyes”. I have always waited 24 hours between flooding but it consistently happens. I start by piping a white dot and while it is wet I add the black. Am I doing this wrongly? I noticed for your nutcracker doll you have used 3 colours for the eyes but there did not appear to be any holes or craters in the icing. Kate

    • marian
      March 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      HI Kate, thanks so much! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site! That’s why I do it. =)
      I haven’t completely figured out the air bubble thing yet. It might be an issue of surface tension in small flooded areas – that’s where I still tend to get craters. The nutcracker’s eyes were not enclosed by anything (I didn’t pipe an outline and fill in); I just made an icing dot and kept adding more colors to it to build it up. That’s seems to be exactly what you’re doing though! Hmmm. I wonder if you tried making the icing a bit thicker?? I’m sorry I don’t have the answer… I still don’t know 100%. I’ll definitely post more as I learn about it though!

  22. alesha
    April 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    you should make a book!!!

  23. Rachel
    May 2, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Yesterday at a cake guild meeting I attended, one of the ladies who teaches and has decades of experience demonstrated flood-work to us. She had some really good tips about avoiding bubbles, and it made me think of this post of yours which I remember reading ages ago, so I thought I’d come back and tell you what she said in case it helps.

    1) use an icing plug instead of putting the icing directly into the bag, so you can massage it while in the plug (but not yet in the bag). Massaging helps get rid of air bubbles.
    2) When thinning out your icing for flooding, instead of using water, use whipped egg white. She said she used water for years, then one day tried whipped egg white and was amazed at the difference. She said there were not as many air bubbles while drying, or underneath once dried.
    3) She uses a lamp or hair-dryer to dry the top surface so a skin forms as quickly as possible to prevent any unbroken air bubbles surfacing, they’ll be trapped underneath the hardened skin. She warned about holding the heat source too close though or the egg-white solution will rise like a meringue.
    4) Bury the tip while flooding, this will hopefully pop any bubbles.

    I learn a lot from your blog, so I hope some of that is interesting/helpful to you :o)

  24. marian
    May 2, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rachel,
    THANK YOU so much for thinking of me and for sharing your information! I sincerely appreciate the time you took to get back to the post and write it all out!
    The issue can be a frustrating one, and every little tidbit helps!

    I wish you all the best in your sugarcrafting and hope to see you around the blog in the future as well. 🙂

  25. Marli Campos(Brazil)
    August 13, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    This is not a cookie, is a work of art. Congratulations!

  26. tintin carpio
    October 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    hi dear! i would just like to ask, normally, how big is your cookie size when you make all these designs? thanx in advance…. cheers!

  27. Carola
    November 27, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Querida Marian,
    Te escribo desde Chile, gracias a la tecnología y al traductor de Google Chrome, es que puedo aprender todos tus maravillosos Tips que nos entregas en tu página, estoy fascinada con todo lo que nos entregas, en base a tus experiencias en decoración de galletas. Es maravilloso conocer a personas como tú que de forma desinteresada comparte los dones y talentos que Dios te ha dado…
    Ayer descubrí tu página y me he pasado leyendo todo lo que he podido para aprender de ti. Te cuento que soy principiante en esto de las galletas, pero me encanta la cocina y mi desafío para esta navidad es preparar galletas con tu glaseado, espero que me queden buenas :D.
    GRACIAS MARIAN!!! que Dios te Bendiga y prospere todo lo que hagas, te envío un abrazo desde CHILE.


  28. russ
    December 5, 2011 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Hi marian. Your blog is indeed a wonderful site for a new baker like me. Ive been baking cookies for a while and im getting problems with my royal icing. It tends to have a lot of holes in my cookie when it dries. Can you pls share me some tips on how to avoid this problem? thanks

  29. December 5, 2011 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    @ russ: I know how frustrating that can be! We’re still working on figuring it out – check this post out here:



  30. marian
    January 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    @ tintin carpio: Oops, sorry I missed your question! It’s hard to say, cookie size… they always vary. xo

  31. January 21, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    These fairy cookies are adorable! Your cookies are always amazing! Thanks for all the bubble tips!

    February 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Marian even with the air bubbles that I didnt notice until you pointed out, she is still the cutest sweetopia fairy. I love her. You should make her your watermark stamp for your picutres. Would go perfect with your theme of Sweetopia. If she is copywrited or trademarked,you know that PSA Stamps lets you make your own personalized circle stamp with an image you created for the center of the cirlce. Would make for a cute watermark over your picute work. I just figured out what those lil signatures were from my web person Kari that people put over their work,picutes and party themes. a watermark. Would have never known if I hadnt asked her what that thingy was when I sent her some pics of others work with different”thingys” over them…watermark she said not thingy. Anyway she is adorable. I must have missed these from your pics as I never have seen them until today. Thanks for the tutorial and what size tip did you use for her outline? I am having the darndest time with my icing even spreading with a number 1. must be doing somthing wrong even though everything else with the frosting seems to be fine. Maybe a little less water??? Best,Stacey

  33. Becca
    March 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    How long would you usually have to wait for the air bubbles to rise to the surface?

  34. marian
    March 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Hi @ Becca: About 10-15 mins.

  35. Sandy Bangle
    January 11, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I am so thrilled to have discovered your website. I am brand new to cookie decorating. I wish I could take a week long class from you over spring break in March!

    I am planning to make cookies for my Granddaughters graduation in May. I will be transporting them from KS to MN.

    Do you prefer royal icing over corn syrup icing?

    I really like the shine and flavor of the syrup icing but it does not ever seem to fully dry.

    Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into sharing your amazing talent!

  36. marian
    January 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    That’s wonderful, @ Sandy Bangle! I do prefer royal icing without corn syrup, yes. It does add a bit of shine, but I sacrifice that little bit of shine for an icing that dries well. (and is a tiny little less work to make hahaha).

  37. sarah
    January 13, 2013 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    so beautiful 🙂

  38. Jan
    January 25, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marian, love your work, just wondering if you would mind if I use your picture of the valentine girl with the arrow, I have done it in food colour writers and would like to put it on my Facebook page? I would naturally give credit back to you.

    Kind regards

  39. Tila
    October 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I love your website!

    For the craters or “air bubbles” in little areas – I really think it is a surface tension thing and I found a solution on another blog. Put the cookie to dry in a slightly warmed oven for just a few minutes (5-10 min). Like at 100 degrees. I did a side by side comparison and the no oven one was full of craters in my small dots and the oven one was perfect. Same premise as using the heat gun. I get the blotching problem too and scoured the internet. Drying in oven helps prevent this too and gives it shine 🙂

  40. November 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

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  41. Maria Luiza Gomes
    March 19, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Hello, I love your work. Could you tell me how to use this copikake projector? I’m from Brazil and have never seen this product to sell here. For I buy at Amazon.com leaves werent expensive because of taxes. Thank you.

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