Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies
People often ask me what supplies they need to start decorating cookies. The truth is, you really don’t need that much. Yes, you need a mixer and a rolling pin. You’ll also need piping bags, baking sheets, and cookie cutters. There are a few other things, but decorating cookies doesn’t have to break your budget. Today I’ll share a few things that I think you need to start making beautiful cookies. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll order some cookies from your cookie shop!
***This post has been updated on November 10, 2019.***
As you begin decorating, you may want to invest in more supplies and that’s great. Here’s the ones I think you’ll need to get you started on your cookie decorating adventure. You don’t have to purchase them online. You can find them at Wal-Mart, craft stores, or baking supply stores. The good news is you probably already have several things you need on hand that’ll help you get started.
Let’s take a look at what you need.
Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies:
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Let’s Talk Mixers:
You don’t have to have the most expensive mixer on the market to make decorated sugar cookies. I used my little hand mixer for years before I invested in a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. In my opinion, a Kitchenaid is a great addition to a home kitchen. Either way, you need a mixer to make life easier when you’re making cookie dough and royal icing.
- Can you mix a batch of cookie dough without a mixer? I honestly don’t think I could make that happen. So the first thing I’m going to suggest is you should have a mixer.
- When I first started making sugar cookies I use the white hand mixer in the image above and it worked!
- After a few years of baking my sweet husband bought me a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and mixing the cookie dough became easier. It doesn’t matter what kind of mixer you have, but it’ll probably make baking a little sweeter.
- If you want to know How to Make Royal Icing with a Hand Mixer check out my post.
Let’s Roll with a Few Rolling Pins:
Hopefully, you have a rolling pin, but if not it’s not the end of the world. Heres a little information for ya.
- I’ve had a few rolling pins on my cookie journey and now I use the Precision Rolling Pin from The Cookie Countess.
- I love the way it’s made because the ends help you roll out perfect cookie dough every time. There’s no need for spacer bands or sticks for rolling the dough. The Precision Rolling Pin does all that for you.
- I made a tutorial and video showing how it works and here it is Introducing The New and Amazing Precision Rolling Pin.
- I didn’t own this rolling pin for the first several years I baked cookies. Now it’s one of my favorite cookie tools. I don’t expect you to run out and buy one today, but I wanted to share the rolling pin I use with you. In case you love decorating cookies you may want to purchase one in the future.
- As you can see I’m definitely a baker with all these rolling pins ready to help me bake up something delicious. Let’s talk about them for a minute.
- The first and last two rolling pins in the photo are pretty much the same. They’re the types of rolling pins my grandmothers had and used all the time. I like them quite a bit because of the handles allow me to roll out things until the cows come home!
- The second and third rolling pins are really fun rolling pins, but I have a hard time using them on my cookie dough. I’m not the most consistent roller when I have to determine how much pressure I’m adding the rolling pin to make the dough roll out nice and smooth. I like the rolling pins, but not my favorite for making cookies.
- The fourth and fifth are really cool because they’re the same width from one end to the other. The white one is for fondant, but who says you can’t use it on good old cookie dough? Let me be clear about something before I get fussed at by someone out there that knows way more than I do. Let’s say your making sugar cookies and a little bit of oil somehow gets into your royal icing. Oh no! Your icing is going to dry with wet-looking spots on it. YUCK! You worked so hard on decorating that cookie and now look at it! UGH! Sometimes baking ingredients don’t play well together and it can really mess up all the work you’ve put into decorating pretty things.
If you use the fondant rolling pin to roll-out cookie dough be sure to clean it with hot soapy water so no oil will roll on your fondant by mistake.
- I used the J.K. Adams Dowel Rolling Pin for years. There are a lot of rolling pins for sale, but I liked this one because it’s the same width from one end to the other. That makes it great for adding spacers so you can roll your cookie dough flat. It’ll be a nice thickness all the way across the dough.
- Since I’m not the best at rolling cookie dough out smoothly, I need rolling pin spacers for help. All you’ve gotta do is slip them on the end of your rolling pin and roll your dough. It’ll help make your dough nice and even so your cookies will bake evenly.
- When you’re done, take off the spacers, wash them, and wipe down the rolling pin with a damp cloth and you’re ready for your next batch.
- What are you going to place your cookies on while they bake? You guessed it. Baking sheets! Believe it or not, all baking sheets aren’t created equal so I did a tutorial on them a while back and I’d like to share it with you. You can find it here Cookie Sheets – What you need to know.
Flexible Plastic Cutting Boards:
- Sometimes we do things in life that turn out right and make things a lot better. Well, these Flexible Plastic Cutting Board Mats were a great discovery. I wanted something to use where I could roll out my cookie dough and easily place it in the freezer for a few minutes so the dough would firm up.
- Silpats and other wiggly things didn’t work for me. One day I was walking through a store and saw a flexible mat and an idea hit me. Watch the video in this Just Flip That Sugar Cookie Dough tutorial and you’ll see why I love the mats so much.
- Just freeze the dough for a few minutes before cutting out the cookie shapes and you don’t have to worry about making a fingerprint or misshaping the cookie dough as you place it on the baking sheet. After the shape is cut, pick it up. Since the dough is cold, you can move it around without misshaping it.
- Here’s another little tip for ya, I place the cookie dough in the oven when it’s cold because it helps prevent the cookies from spreading when they bake.
If you’re looking for a great tool to help you roll out your cookie dough, look no farther. You can buy three Mainstays Color Flexible Cutting Mats a Walmart for $6.99. I think it’s a great deal.
Parchment Paper and Silpats:
- When you bake cookies do you place them directly on your baking sheet? If you bake your cookies on parchment paper or a Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat it’ll be easier to move the cookies to a cooling rack once they’ve cooled off a little. It also makes clean up easier and helps protect your baking sheets from discoloration.
- Once the cookies have cooled off a little they’ll let go of the parchment and the Silpats with ease so it makes it easy to place them on a cooling rack. A Silpat costs more than parchment paper and I wanted to let you know about them.
- I didn’t take a picture of a spatula or an oven mitt but those things are pretty good tools to have when you bake. I just thought I’d mention them.
- After you bake your cookies and they’ve cooled on the parchment paper or Silpat you can transfer them to a cooling rack. You can find a single cooling rack for under $5 and most of the time you can find a set of three for about $10.
- Before you begin decorating your cookies be patient and let the cookies cool completely before you start. Warm cookies and royal icing don’t play well together. The icing will melt and it won’t be pretty. So bake the cookies and remove them from the oven, wait a few minutes for them to cool and then move them to the cooling rack to cool completely.
- Placing decorated cookies on a cooling rack helps you move the cookies from one place to another without messing up the icing. Be careful because they’ll slide and we all know that’s not a good thing.
Piping Bags, Decorating Bottle, and Tipless Decorating Bags:
- When I was a kid the only thing I remember seeing people decorating with was piping bags. It looked fun, but for little kid hands, it was hard to squeeze because a small hand didn’t fit all the way around the piping bag. Boy how times have changed! We now have fun piping bags, decorating bottles, and tipless decorating bags. I suggest you pick one to start decorating with and then play around and see what works best for you. I’ve used all three and still use all three depending on the design I want to make.
Tips or No Tips:
- Tips or No Tips might be a strange question because now you don’t necessarily need decorating tips. You may prefer using them and that’s great, but now that there’s decorating bottles and tipless bags you may not use them when you’re first starting out.
- Some of the decorating bottles include tips when you purchase them and they work great for outlining and flooding.
- If you use the tipless decorating bags all you have to do is cut a small piece off of the end of the bag and begin decorating.
Again this is one of those things you need to decide what you want to use to decorate and go for it! You’ve got this!!! Piece of cake, or is that a piece of cookie?
Couplers and Bag Ties:
- A coupler is a neat little invention for piping icing because it allows you to change the decorating tip without having to change bags. Neat huh?
- All you’ve gotta do is cut the end off of a piping bag, slip the base of the coupler (slide the narrow end in first) into the bag and push it down until a small amount of the coupler is sticking out of the bag.
- Place your decorating tip onto the end of the coupler.
- Then, place the ring over the decorating tip and onto the coupler and screw it in place. It’ll lock your tip in place so you can begin decorating.
- Bag ties hold the end of the bag together so all of your icing doesn’t ooze out the end or if you’re using royal icing, the bag ties will prevent air from drying the icing or making it crust over. The ties will keep it nice and fresh and make the bag easier to hold since the icing stays in one place and isn’t trying to escape out of the top of the bag.
Keep in mind if you’re using tipless decorating bags or bottles you may not need tips and couplers, but the bag ties help with all the decorating bags.
- Food gel is definitely needed when you decorate sugar cookies. I’m not talking about the liquid food coloring you buy at the grocery store. Food gel is a bit thicker and won’t thin your icing as much as the liquid food colors.
- You’ve probably heard that royal icing consistency is key to making pretty cookies. That’s very true because if your icing is too thin it could run off the edge of the cookie and it could cause it to dry in an uneven wavy unattractive layer so I recommend you try and use the food gel colors.
You can find many different brands like The Cookie Countess, Wilton, Americolor and many more.
Measuring Cups and Spoons:
- You probably already have measuring cups and spoons. That’s because you’ll need them to make the sugar cookie and the royal icing recipes. Baking is a science so you really need to be careful when measuring. A little too much water in your royal icing recipe can really affect the final product. If you add too much flour to your cookie dough won’t turn out as well as you’d like.
- If you’re looking for a quick tip on how I make my royal icing here is my Royal Icing Quick Tip.
- I also use a food scale to measure things like my powdered sugar when making royal icing. The scale is consistent and it has helped me a lot with my baking. If I use a measuring cup to scoop flour, I may press really hard and pack the flower into the cup. Instead of getting one cup of flour, I could get a cup and a half! Way too much flour. The scale is another tool I don’t think I can live without.
Turkey Lacers, Toothpicks, and Boo Boo Sticks:
- One other thing that helps cookie decorators is probably one of the most simple things you can think of. A toothpick. Or a turkey lacer. Or a boob boo stick.
- These tools have a pointy end and they do miracles with moving your royal icing into place. They’re also great for popping unwanted air bubbles that make craters in your finished cookies.
- While your royal icing is wet, use one of these tools to push the icing into place. Then, use it to pop the bubbles.
- Next, place the cookie in front of a fan so the icing will dry with a nice shine. If you let it dry in the air it’ll have a matte finish.
Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies- Let’s Use Some Sprinkles, Jimmies and Royal Icing Transfers:
When it’s time to decorate your sugar cookies you may want to add a few fun things like sprinkles & Jimmies, candy eyes, and royal icing transfers to add a little character to the cookies. What you add is totally up to you, but I want to share my royal icing transfers and free templates with you. You can even make your own DIY Sprinkles in Custom Colors so they’ll match the color and design of your cookies perfectly.
I think that about covers the basic cookie decorating supplies you need to get started. If you are looking for more tips and tricks you should check out my Beginners Guide to Cookie Decorating. You’ll find a lot of tips, tricks, tutorials and videos that will help you learn how to make cookies like a pro!
It’s comforting to know that you really don’t have a “magic wand” up your sleeve! With lots and lots of practice, some day my cookies might look almost as nice as yours. 🙂
(by the way…WHAT are you doing up and blogging at 6:00 in the morning….on a SATURDAY..?)
No magic wand Janis but I wish we had one to help with the dishes! LOL
PS-I have been up since 1am this morning working on posts and playing on Pinterest! Sometimes you need a Pinterest fix at the oddest hours! LOL
Great list! I’m looking for some oven kits/pot holders that go up on the forearm and will really protect me. Any suggestions?
I bet you can find them at a restaurant supply store. Here is a pair that is 24″ long: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/san-jamar-824tm-24-terry-oven-mitts-pair/167824TM.html
I might have to get a pair of those myself! LOL
I LOVE following you on every possible social media and email. Thank you so much for offering all of your expertise! I have a new obsession with cookie decorating and have learned about 90% from you!!
I have two questions:
1) I once saw some tip “covers” so the icing that I have already bagged doesn’t dry out so quickly in the tips. Are you familiar with those and do you know where to find them? And
2) How do you handle how hard it is on your neck and back after icing 5 dozen cookies in the course of a day or two. I just did my first “biggish” amount for a Christmas party and I was shocked how sore and stiff I was. I think I need to get back to lifting weights!
Thank you again!! Cindy
I am so glad you are getting as cookie obsessed as the rest of us! 😉
I have seen the tip covers and you can find them at Wal-Mart, Michael’s and other craft and baking stores. I have not tired them because I use a damp towel to keep the tips from clogging. I will try to add a photo of what I use soon, but until then here is a link to Sweet Sugar Belle’s post on how to use popsicle holders for her bags: http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/03/inexpensive-icing-holders/
As far as you neck, back and wrist pain goes I honestly don’t know what to tell ya. I don’t feel it much anymore because I think my body goes numb as soon as my hand touches the decorating bag! LOL Just kidding! I try to stretch and get up and move around if I am working on a lot of cookies. Any kind of movement and stretches seems to help.
Let me know if you ever have any questions! I am here to help.
Cookie decorating is THE WAY to get your artist on without a huge material or time investment. I grew up with a cake decorating mom. She taught me the basics and I took classes but if you boo boo a cake you have an ugly cake. If you boo boo a cookie.. you eat it and do the next one. And cookies are made for sharing…unlike cakes which go to one receiver at a time.
I love you Gwenn! I don’t think anyone could have said that better! Cookies RULE!
Hi Carolyn and welcome to the “Wonderful World of Cookie Decorating!”
My advice it to keep it simple the first time and allow yourself plenty of time to bake, decorate, and time for drying the cookies. I personally like to get all the cookies baked and the icing made and colored the night before I decorate. That way in the morning, you can have fun decorating without the stress of all the prep work.
Also make sure you have your package supplies ready so you don’t have to run to the store at the last minute.
You may want to practice your cookie design in advance so you will know if you have bleeding issues and how long it will take you to decorate and dry the cookies. Other than that, have fun! Enjoy the process and your FIRST ORDER! I am so excited for you!
Let me know if you have any other questions,
I’m at a lose as to how to ensure the black edible pearls do not bleed into the whites of my RI eyes. I thought of waiting later to put them into the whites so the RI dries a bit, but then I worry that the icing will crack. What is the correct way to make eyes that won’t end up looking like they’re black bloodshot?
I use the 4mm black Pearl dragees by Alan Tetreault from Global Sugar Art. Here is the link: http://www.globalsugarart.com/black-pearl-dragees-4mm-ounces-by-chef-alan-tetreault-p-29375.html
A few tips that will help prevent bleeding is to use thicker icing (at least 15 second icing) to help prevent bleeding. The more water in the icing the more chance of bleeding.
Second, place the cookies in front of a fan as soon as you add the pearl dragees. Helping the icing crust faster with a fan will also help.
You can also use candy eyes like I made here http://thebearfootbaker.com/2014/08/candy-eyes/. The longer you let them dry, the less chance of bleeding when you add them to the cookies.
Hope this helps,
I’m a beginner and want to thank you for all your tips really looking forward to decorating holiday cookies with outlining and flooding.
I usually bake 70 to 100 dozen cookies of spritz, oatmeal etc. Now it’s time to be creative. Thank you again for your info.
Good Morning Lisa, I am a novice at cooking decorating but my first question is are the decorated cookies using Royal icing edible or is the dried frosting too hard to be enjoyable? I feel that for the time involved people just enjoy looking at them. Is there a drying fan made just for use with cookies? Enough for now, I don’t want to drive you nuts. Thanks for any help. I am a 76 year old lady who likes a challenge.
The icing does dry a little hard but it’s not too hard to eat. Royal icing acts differently in different climates so my icing dries with a hard surface and it softer the closer it gets to the cookies. It may react differently in your climate depending on the humidity.
I use a regular fan to dry the icing. I bought it just for cookies and clean it often do it doesn’t blow dust. Please don’t ever feel like your driving me nuts because I am here to help! Let me know if you have other questions.
Thank you for this, Lisa! I went a little crazy when I started his cookie obsession a few months ago. I literally bought every design of cookie cutter from Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michaels & The then Connection! Seriously! I believe I’m a title off my rocker.
Would you believe that cannot find the cookie mats nor can I find the rolling pin spacers?!?! Sold out, every time I go! I shop a lot (like, wayyyyy too much) on Amazon, but goodness they are expensive! Hubby has “grounded” me from buying anything else cookie related for the time being, BECAUSE I had to buy a cabinet to put my cookie stuff in. I know, I know, ridiculous! But, I ant help it! I just get this urge to buy everything that has to do with cookies! ANDDDD I also have to drive 50 miles, one way, to get to any craft store! Who, in their right (or wrong I my case) drives 100 miles round trip for cookie cutters?!?! *hangs head in shame*…sigh….
Where else can I find these mats? And the rings for my (tiny, shameful, itty bitty) rolling pin?
I have a dreadful time rolling out my dough to the right depth. I’ve been using shish kabob sticks, taped to my counter with duct tape ( haha) as a guide. I wish they were a little bigger, but that’ll have to do for now.
Anywho, hanks for all your wonderful posts, tips, videos, tutorial, etc…..between you, Karen & Pam, I’m baking up a storm! You 3 are awesome and my complete inspiration! 🙂
Excuse my typos. My phone can’t keep up with my fingers! I meant to say “The Cookie Connection “. Is there no edit buttons? 😉
It’s so nice to meet you! After reading your comment I don’t think you’ve read the post on how I got started decorating cookies. I think it will make you feel better. You can find it here: http://thebearfootbaker.com/2012/11/the-santa-cookie-that-started-it-all/
I have a link to the mats so you can buy them online but Wal-Mart seems to be having issues. Have you looked in your local Wal-Mart? They are called Flexible Cutting Mats and are found with the cutting boards. I also have a shop page (click the tab at the top of my page) and you can find links to most of the things I use on the blog.
As far as the rolling pin rings, you can use square dowels to get the height your looking for. Check out Home Depot or a craft store. They have different thicknesses and if you can’t find the thinkness your looking for, you can glue two together to make your own height.
Please don’t feel bad driving over 100 miles to look for cookie supplies. I do it all the time! 🙂
Arggghhhhh!!! THE KITCHEN CONNECTION!!! The typos in my post are awful!!! See what happens when I talk about cookies????? I get overly excited!!!
Please add meringue powder and cream of tartar to this list!
Although I have a full time job already, in the past couple of months I have gotten interested in making cookies as I need a creative outlet for balance. Thank you for all of your information. You are so generous to share all of this. I have been learning a lot.
In this section, you discuss food colors and mention a bunch of different brands. Is there a brand you prefer? Thank you.
I love Americolor and The Cookie Countess Gel Colors. They are both great products.
I also like Wilton but you have to use a toothpick to remove it from the container. It’s okay but I prefer adding a drop or two from the Americolor and The Cookie Countess bottles.