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. Kimmie
    February 13, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful Sweetopia cookies as per usual! Happy Valentines Day!

  2. February 14, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    Totally love them they’re oh sooo cute! Thanks for always sharing such yummy looking and useful info!

  3. February 14, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    OmiGod…this is so so so awesomely cute….

    Que Magnifigue este…bravo!!!!

  4. linda
    February 14, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    happy v.day sweetopia!
    your cookies are just beautiful & this tutorial so very helpful…enjoy the day!!

  5. February 14, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Thank u so much Marian. Your tutorial is great and your cookies are always beautiful. Happy valentine’s day

  6. February 14, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Great post & beautifully decorated cookies – I love seeing the step by step and wonderful photography!

  7. February 14, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    This is a question I asked myself when I made Valentines Day cookies just the other day. Thanks for the great tips!

  8. February 14, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    These are the cutest Valentine’s Day cookies I’ve seen. Simply adorable and perfectly decorated! You, my dear are a wonderful cookie artist! I love the outlined look. Simply perfect!

  9. Rowaida Flayhan
    February 14, 2010 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    WOW! beautiful amazing cookies. Happy Valentine’s day for you and your family.

  10. February 14, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    You always have the cutest cookies!
    Thanks for the tips!

  11. February 14, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Stunning. Absolutely amazing. Just amazing. You are Amazing!! Just gorgeous. I cant say it enough.. you make it look so easy!! Wow. Just wow!! I love love love these!!! Man I need to get that Kopy thingy. Can you be my culinary hero please? Thank you.


  12. Rossana
    February 14, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for your tips, I always wondered why these tiny bubbles were showing up on my cookies. Thanks! Your cookies look so cute as usual.
    Happy Valentines for you and all!

  13. February 14, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Those cookies are absolutely incredible. You are amazingly talented!!!

  14. February 14, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    So cute I can’t take it! Happy V-Day!

  15. February 14, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    You, my dear, are a genius! I just called my husband over to the computer…”See, see! THIS is why I want a KopyKake projector!!!” Not that I could replicate those…I think you have a special talent that even a projector cannot help me with. I still want one. 😉

    Going to try your tips on bubbles…making cookies today. 🙂

    Happy *heart* day! ♥

  16. February 14, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    You guys are so sweet! I appreciate all of your comments! ♥

    Amanda and Bridget – I’d say you are in the culinary hero/genius category!

    Happy Valentines again!

  17. February 14, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Marian – you never cease to amaze me!!! This is soooo freaking adorable. Using a projector to get the stencil is such a genius idea – definitely don’t think I could freehand this. I am definitely going to need to try to ice my own cookies very soon!!

  18. Noelle
    February 14, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Interesting post, and a subject matter close to my heart, no pun intended! I worked briefly in a bakery, as a second job for fun, to learn from an expert how to make cookies like this. While I had a blast and learned a lot, neither of us could ever solve the issue of holes in hands and feet. And one of the keys that we noticed is that is occurs in small spaces. I’ve never had a hole open up in a big area. I’m sure there’s some kind of chemistry-related answer behind it, but who knows?

    My mentor finally decided that it helped to use a hand mixer on the royal icing that was being used in the small space. She would whip it for 5-10 minutes and use it immediately. She swore that it cuts down on the holes but I could never really tell a difference.

    I recently tried a royal icing recipe out of one of the Cookie Craft books and it used lemon juice for the flavoring. I did not get any bubbles like these when I used it. It had a really nice flavor too, but I noticed that it separates much more quickly than traditional royal icing. I wonder if there’s something with the lemon juice that reduced the incidence of bubbles? Anyone else have a similar experience with that recipe?

  19. February 14, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Your cookies are beautiful!

    I know you freely admit to using a projector to help with your outlines… But but the Talent is ALL YOU!

    Thank you for your Beautiful blog and for sharing all of your wonderfully helpful tips!

    Wishing you happiness and Continued success!

  20. Ellen
    February 14, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Those cookies are adorable! Thanks for the tips on air bubbles, I was actually just thinking about that after I made my own cookies for Valentine’s Day. 🙂

  21. February 14, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    #8. Use Photoshop to edit out the bubbles in your photo…LOL! just kidding – your cookies are adorable. Even with the Kopycake, you still require an incredibly steady hand and mucho talent (and lots and lots and lots of patience – and probably some calming music…). I hope whomever you gave those little pieces of art to appreciated them. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

  22. February 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    My goodness, these are so adorable!! Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

  23. February 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Sandy; I’m sure you’ll have fun decorating when you start!

    Noelle, thank you for your input! I had been wondering the same thing myself about why it happens in small areas! I’m not a scientist (imagine – a cookie scientist lol!), but knew there must be some physics/chemistry reason behind it.

    I’ll have to try the tip your mentor passed on to you (whip 5-10 minutes then use immediately). Interesting about the Cookie Craft recipe too… do you think besides the acidity it might have something to do with the amount of liquid?

    Yesterday I emailed Julia Usher, author of Cookie Swap, and asked her the question about ‘craters’. I had mentioned I thought it was air bubbles, but wasn’t 100% sure. I also asked why she thought they happened in small spaces. She emailed her reply today and I’m going to include it in an ammendment to this post. (Fairly soon I hope)
    Noelle, would you mind if I also include your comment in the post please?

    Thanks Janet, Ellen, Kristen and Sarah for your comments too!

    Kristen; LOL #8 was brilliant! 😉

  24. February 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow, those are amazing!!! So beautiful!!!! Incredible job!

  25. February 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Adorably amazing, as usual! 🙂 Happy Valentine’s day!!!

  26. February 14, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Marian is the best! Just as Bridget said, I too took the laptop over to my husband to see the KopyKake work you did. “See Honey, this is why I wanted to get mine.” To which he replied, “Yeah, but your cookies don’t look quite that good.” Hahaha. Maybe I need more than a projector!

    One thing I do know, thanks to you I have perfect icing. 🙂


  27. Deemarie
    February 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Happy Valentines Day! Beautiful cookies and great tips.

  28. February 14, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    LOL Michelle your cookies are awesome! I just went and took a gander through your gallery… I especially love the Christmas Balls you did -the ones with the red marbling through them! My DH tells me what he thinks all the time – these Valentine ones today he called simple but nice, he liked the Olympic ones.. I forget which ones he just said, “Not my favorite.” Men hey!

    Thanks for the comments guys! Happy Valentine evening everyone!

  29. February 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    gorgeous as always-where was this image from? a sticker???

  30. February 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Danielle! These are an artist’s Valentine illustration of my Sweetopia fairy.

  31. Missy
    February 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Your cookies are beautiful! I have a question, perhaps a silly one – since it takes approx. 24 hrs for the icing to dry at each stage, and most of your designs require multiple stages, what do you do to keep the cookies fresh so they still taste as delicious as they look?

  32. Sharlaine
    February 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Marian, as usual your cookies are fabulous and the detail, specifically the accuracy of the lines is one to admire, I am always awaiting new information from you and your tutorials are always an asset!

  33. February 14, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Missy; Not a silly question at all. The first layer of icing acts as a sort of sealant to keep freshness in. Even the ones that aren’t completely covered on the first layer (Olympic Mascot cookies for example), seem to be fine though. I’m a little biased of course, but try it and see what you think! (A good recipe helps too of course; I’ve shared my sugar cookie recipe in the tutorial section).

    Thanks so much Sharlaine!

  34. February 14, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    you totally rock! I love your step-by-step pics and your designs are so cool! I wonder if I can use my classroom overhead projector to “copy” images for cookies? hee hee.

  35. Rebekah
    February 14, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing all your wonderful learning tools. I was wondering what size & brand of piping tip you used to do these cookies. Thanks!

  36. February 15, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Your cookies look amazing! Really. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  37. Pehrnilla from Sweden
    February 15, 2010 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Your outlines are always perfect. I´m so impressed.
    And your design are as cute as ever. Love it love it love it.

  38. February 15, 2010 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    LOL Cakebrain I had thought about that too!

    Rebekah; I used a #3 to do the white flooding (larger surface area) and a #2 to do all the rest (outlines and filling in). I have 3 brands of tips; Wilton, Ateco and PME.

    Recently I’ve started to favour the PME brand. They seem to be better quality and I like how they’re a bit longer than the other brands. I don’t know if I’m imagining it yet, but I like how the icing flows from them.

    I have this box set from Amazon, but if you don’t want this many I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. I bought the box set because I’ll be delving into cake decorating a bit more this year. It has some ’round’ tips and other shapes too.

    This one has a few less tips as well but I also like it because it has a #0 and #1.5 tip in it… great if you want to do small details. (The bigger set has them too).

    Hope that helps!

    Stesha and Pehrnilla, thank you for your lovely comments!

  39. February 15, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    So beautiful !!! the more beatuful i never seen for valentine day on the web !!!

  40. February 15, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Your cookies are adorable! I want one of those projectors!

  41. April
    February 15, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    These are just absolutely adorable!

  42. February 15, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    These are BY FAR the cutest cookies I’ve ever seen!!!

  43. February 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I smiled when I read Bridget’s comment above (comment #15). I did the very SAME thing with my husband (showed him another cookie post on this blog and said I really wanted the projector) just this very weekend. lol Gorgeous photos! Amazinging yummy looking cookies! Thanks SO much for sharing these tips! I had this bubbles issue last night with some cookies and I corrected all the holes and now they do look “fixed”. I appreciate these tips! Thank you!

  44. Olivia
    February 16, 2010 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    these cookies are so pretty and festive! So I was curious about something. I noticed in the steps of decorating, there were a few steps that required letting cookies dry for 24hrs. Well do the cookies stay fresh after being unsealed for several days? I always wonder how this works when I’m decorating. Thanks!!!

    • February 16, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

      Olivia, thanks! The first layer of icing acts as a sort of sealant to keep freshness in. Even the ones that aren’t completely covered on the first layer (Olympic Mascot cookies in another post for example), seem to be fine though. I’m a little biased of course, but try it and see what you think! (A good recipe helps too of course; I’ve shared my sugar cookie recipe in the tutorial section).

  45. February 16, 2010 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    This is fascinating! You make it look so easy. I have too much of a shaky hand to attempt to try this. Very well done!

  46. February 16, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks Liz! I have to tell you, I really do have a shaky hand (and I don’t even drink coffee!). I always sit and rest my arm on the edge of the table to help steady it.

  47. Noelle
    February 16, 2010 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    @ Marian:
    Of course Marain! Anything to further the cookie cause. This one has been bugging me for years, so any answer would be appreciated. It is such a shame to see such detailed cookies like the ones above ruined by the pesky holes.

  48. Noelle
    February 16, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Marian – please forgive my typing dyslexia with your name above. I had a choice of typing or calculus class in high school – I guess you know which one I took now…

  49. Candice
    February 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    These are so sweet! I love them and many others on this blog. You make such cute cookies. With the Kopykake projector, can you project anything (pictures, stickers, papers, ribbon, etc) or just images off of slides? How does it work? Looks like a good investment!!

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