Beginners Guide to Cookie Decorating
Christmas is a time for family, friends and baking cookies for everyone you know. We all have our favorite cookie recipes that have been passed down by families and friends. I know you have found amazing recipes on Pinterest. Decorating sugar cookies is a little more complicated than baking up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Don’t get me wrong, chocolate chip cookies are delicious but, aren’t as pretty as decorated sugar cookies. When I began making cookies, I searched the web high and low looking for some kind of beginner guide to cookie decorating, but I never found one.
I wanted to make a guide for those looking for tips and tricks that will help take some of the mystery out of making cookies. I have gathered several posts that I’ve made over the last two years and put them all in one place for you. This list will show you everything from how to roll out sugar cookie dough to how to fix mistakes when decorating cookies. I hope you find something that will help answer your questions.
Beginners Guide to Cookie Decorating
(may contain affiliate links)
- Sugar Cookie Recipe
- Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
- Add a Little Drama to Your Cookies– Here’s another great cookie recipe from Sugarbaker’s Cookie Cutter Cookbook.
- Chocolate Roll-Out Cookies Recipe
Royal Icing Recipes
Let’s Learn a Little Bit About Butter:
Roll, Roll, Roll that Dough…
- How to Roll Out Sugar Cookie Dough- Video
- Introducing The New and Amazing Precision Rolling Pin– I don’t think anyone expects a new baker to buy this rolling pin the first time they make cookies, but I’ve got one and I love it. If you become a die-hard baker like me, I wanted you to know what I use to make my cookies.
Tips to Help You With Your Sugar Cookie Dough
- Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies
- Cookie cutters- Some of our favorite tools are cookie cutters and you can get them almost anywhere these days. My suggestion is to look around online and see how people get creative with shapes. Take these turkey cookies for example. You can use a pineapple cookie-cutter, ornament cookie cutter, Santa cookie cutter, or even a dress cookie cutter and turn it into turkey cookies. So when you shop, be creative!
- The Cookie Network How to Outline and Flood Cookies with Royal Icing
- Learn How to Fix a Mistake on a Cookie
Fun Decorating Supplies:
I hope my little beginner’s guide to cookie decorating will help you get comfortable decorating cookies. My blog is full of information and I’m updating it every day. If you’ve got questions please ask because I’ll point you in the right cookie direction!
Excellent post for anyone new to cookie decorating and even some great tips for those who have been doing it for awhile!
Thanks Paula! You are always so sweet! I hope you have a Merry Christmas.
Lisa how do we keep the cookies shiny? They get dull once they are dried.
The best way to get a good shine on your cookies is to place them in front of a fan when they are drying. The fast you place them there the better.
Also, don’t over mix your royal icing. You can beat the shine right out of it. Try these tips and let me know if it helps! 😉
This was awesome!!! THANK YOU!!! I’ve been doing this steady for about a year and there were a few “genious” tips in here!!! Like how to get the icing into the bottles! I was bent on just being able to pour it from my bowl – hahahahah what a MESS!!!! I even tried using a funnel…….it worked but was as slow as a snail!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!
Hahahaha! I hope you have “mess free” decorating from now on Lorraine! I hope you find some tips that help.
I did the same exact thing. I tried pouring the royal icing through a funnel. LOL Needless to say, I was standing there for quite some time while I waited for the bottle to fill up.
Lisa thank you for the great tip!
Your so cute Janice! Now you’ll have more time to decorate!
This is fantastic and you are AMAZING! I know so many people (including me) that want a guide like this. Thank you so much! : )
You are welcome Heather! Let me know if you even need anything or have questions. If I don’t know the answers, I will find someone who does. 😉
Lisa, this is such an invaluable resource for newbies and rusty oldies. Thank you soooooo much! This post will now have a prominent place on my iPad main screen as a go to resource!
Awe! Thanks Anita! I hope it helps people to have fun when decorating! 😉
Wow, super helpful & useful!!! Thank you so, so, much!
You are welcome Tesei!
What a wonderful reference guide. Thanks a million!
Lisa this is so great. I definitely need to work on my cookie decorating so I will be sure to go through your entire tutorial. Great post for the holiday season. I will work on these this weekend.
I follow all of your tips! Love Love that you have condensed them into one blog. This will definitely be on my Favorites Bar forever!
This is getting pinned, saved, etc. You have convinced me to give cookie decorating a ‘real’ try in the near future!
HOLY SMOKES~!~ You are Amazing! Thank you so much for compiling this!! Fabulous!!
Such a convenient round-up, Lisa! I’m definitely going to remember this to refer cookie newbies to when they have questions.
The 2 tips of yours that I use EVERY time are drying my baking sheets & cutters and your icing recipe. I’ve tried so many icing recipes and yours is the only one that works for me. Any addition of corn syrup causes the icing to dry slower than glaciers melt on the north pole and it eventually falls off the cookie in one piece. So odd. Now I won’t even try another recipe, why mess with perfection?
Thank you Lisa, you’ve definitely been a big influence on my cookie decorating.
P.S. Have you ever added HOT water to your meringue powder? Well I did and it instantly turned the icing to glue. We’re talking seconds after adding it to the sugar. I should have tested it but I was in a hurry. I love lessons like this because now I know I’ll never do that again. Ever.
what kind of recipe is this, tell me about why you are using hot water with ice? Essay Help Reviews
NikkiK is referring to the royal icing recipe. It is best if you add cold water when making it. 😉
I have never used hot water and now thanks to your tip I won’t ever try it! LOL
I stumbled upon your site a week ago and thought, “WOW!”. I LOVE your site. I recently purchased the book The complete Guide to cookie decorating which I thought was very helpful. However I love how you explain things. You make it easy to understand and I love your cookie decorations. I also love how you use the same cookie cutter for different things, ex: ladybug into the hippos face. Now I feel like I need to step into the kitchen and start baking!
I am so glad you found my blog and some things that inspired you! I hope you do step into the kitchen and start baking. If you ever need help, feel free to email me at email@example.com
Thank you for sharing this with all of us. As a decorator I love how pretty and bright this decorated cookies looked but I dread doing them especially at work when i have to do 100 cookies of the same one. I do have a question, what type of food coloring do you use? Gel, or powdered. I have been doing the gel but for some reason the red color always turned brownish color after a day. Again thank you for the helpful tips and trick.
Thank you Christine. I use food gel colors only. I like AmeriColor and Wilton.
I have two tips for you on the red. 1. Don’t use as much gel color and make the icing the night before you use it. The color will deepen as it ages. 2. Try Wilton No-Taste Red.
Hope this helps.
I really appreciate this page. I’ve been doing cakes and drop cookies for a while, but I’m a beginner with cut-out cookies. Your method of rolling and cutting is SOO much easier than the way I’ve been doing it.
I adore your beginners guides. They are so inspiring. I wanna do the same right now!
Do you only use Royal Icing? I just prefer the taste of butter cream of cream cheese frosting even though the cookies look a lot more polished using royal icing or color flow.
I mostly use royal icing. I do love the taste of butter cream and cream cheese frosting but, for decorated sugar cookies, I use royal icing. 😉
I’ve been looking for you for a long time! So thankful you did this! Can you tell me if you’ve done a tute on how to make small bird transfers? i want to make my friend a batch of chocolate caramels for Christmas with her fishing resort’s cardinal emblem on top of the chocolates. Any tips? Thanks!!!
Hi Tiff! I am so glad you are here! I did a tutorial for royal icing birds here: http://thebearfootbaker.com/2015/08/blue-bird-royal-icing-transfers/. I hope that is what you are looking for! 🙂
Wow – what a plethora of knowledge! I need to improve my skills – they have come a long way, but they need to come a lot further!
You can do it Jacqueline! Grab a decorating bag and get started! 😉
Thanks so much for this information. Now I know how to start out. Thanks again.
You are welcome Jean. Let me know if you have any questions!
WOW!! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this all together… I’m raising my 2 toddler granddaughters so this has made all the difference in the world to our first attempt at Christmas cookies. I wouldn’t have had time to find all of this info individually… Thanks again!
You are welcome Julie. Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂
I love this decorating guide! I’m very new to cookie decorating and I have found loads of useful information and tips. Thanks so much 🙂
Anytime Gemma! Let me know if you have any questions! I am here to help!
Hi, I just came across this amazing resource! I am an experienced cake baker with less experience with cookies. I’m excited to get started with this guide! I’m wondering how far in advance you can make the cookies? How long will they hold up and how do you store them?
The great thing about sugar cookies is they stay fresh a really long time if you place them in an airtight container once you’ve decorated them and let them dry completely. They will last about 4 weeks but I don’t usually let them sit around that long. I like to make mine and give them way within three days so the person receiving them doesn’t have to eat them right away.
I usually bake the cookies and make the icing the night before I want to decorate. Then I get up early the next day and decorate allowing time for each layer to dry. I live in a humid climate so sometimes I have to wait 8 hours before adding additional colors of icing to prevent them from bleeding together. Also, if you dry the icing with a fan it will help the icing dry with a shine instead of looking dull and flat.
Once the cookies are completely dry, I place them in treat bags and use my heat sealer to seal them. Like I said before, the cookies will stay fresh for up to 4 weeks but I give them away as soon as possible.
Hope this helps!
I am very thank full for your time and effort to offer us those remarkable tips and lessons.
Your very welcome Latifa! Let me know if you ever need help! 😉
This is fantastic!!!! Thank you so much. I learned so much! Can’t wait to start creating. Can you post some videos on coastal cookie decorating?
Hi Marsha! Welcome to the wonderful world of cookies! I will work on some costal cookies but now sure when that will be. Anything specific you want to see?
Can you tell me where to find those bottles or what they are called? Thanks for sharing!
You can find a link on my shop page: http://thebearfootbaker.com/shop/
Or here is the Amazon (affiliate) link: http://amzn.to/28Py1eL
Hope this helps,
WOW! I need that. Because, my daughter birthday coming next june.
Thanks for sharing.
Very nice post Lisa because u have given the clear picture on cookies decorating for beginners
How do you prevent royal icing from bleeding into another color?
Many thanks for sharing this very diverse opinion post where each expert has no doubt shared his best knowledge on the topic. Have more success in your journey.
LOVED YOUR WEBSITE! Thanks for all the wonderful tips and videos! Just baked your sugar cookie recipe and used cookie cutters for the 1st time. My sis and I made some for Pharmacy Week for work!!!
Love the whole thing, Thanks for sharing your skills so freely! New to decorating and having a blast.
I was wondering which icing bottles you use? We have never decorated cookies like this and my daughters would like to try this year..Thanks!
Here is a link to the cute little bottles that got me into the wonderful world of cookie decorating!
If you ever want to know what kind of tools I use you can click the ‘Shop’ link at the top of my page. I try to keep it up to date to make it easier for you all to find things.
I really love your cookies a lot.
My royal icing always dries in a matte finish. Is there anyway to help it stay glossy?
You can totally make your royal icing dry shiny! Once you decorate your cookies, place them in front of a fan. This is something Sweet Sugarbelle taught us years ago. The fan will dry the top layer quickly and make the icing nice and shiny!
Here’s Sugarbelle’s tutorial about it:
Have fun baking!
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I love all your tips. Thank you so much. I am a new cookie starter. I do have a question. Why turkey laces. I have not come across you using them I am very curious. Where can I also find a template for the little carrots. I think they are the cutes things. Thank you again for your tips. You are very helpful
Hi! I am an experienced Baker and candy maker and have been following you for about a year now. I have never attempted sugar cookies or royal icing. I have been going through your beginners guide and soaking up as much knowledge as possible. I am interested in making “poision apple” cookies for Halloween. (See pic from angelica made me) I was wandering if I should start with premade royal icing, as finding the right consistency of home made can be tricky? Or should I go homemade? Also I was wandering if I could make the “poison” part of the face as a template so I have something to trace and use it as transfer? Would that work being that it’s so big? And would I’ve able to attach the transfer while the flooded apple is still wet, or is there a way to attach to the dry flooded cookie? Any info you can give me would be helpful. I appriciate what you do and thank you.
Great blog of recipe.