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!

Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies What You Need to Start Decorating Cookies | The Bearfoot Baker


***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.

hand mixer and KitchenAid Mixer

  • 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 used 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. Here’s a little information for ya.

Introducing The New and Amazing Precision Rolling Pin | The Bearfoot Baker

  • 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.

rollin pin for cookie decorating

  •  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 who knows way more than I do. Let’s say you 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.

basic cookie decorating tools

  • 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.
Baking Sheets:

half baking sheets

  • 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:

food mats for sugar cookie dough

  • 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 further. 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:

Silpat and parchment paper

  • 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.
Cooling Racks:

  • 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:

piping bags for royal icing

  • 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:

basic cookie decorating supplies, decorating 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:

couplers and cookie 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:
  • 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.

New Sugar Cookie Recipe Ebook! Perfect Cookies Every Time

Food-Gel Colors:

food gel colors

  • 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:

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:

boo boo stick, turkey lacer, toothpick

  • 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:

Decorating Sugar Cookies The Bearfoot Basics | The Bearfoot Baker

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 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!

Bear hugs,