How to Decorate Sugar Cookies Like a Pro

Have you ever wished that you could create cookies that were (almost) too beautiful to eat? In this how-to guide, we're going to break down the basics of how to decorate sugar cookies like a true professional. You'll be learning:

  • Smart tips for simplifying the decorating process
  • Common words and terms used in the world of decorated desserts
  • How to personalize cookies for a special occasion or everyday fun

When you picture an artist's canvas, cookies might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But there's no question that these tasty treats can be a work of art - especially when they've been decorated by a professional.

Most of us have seen incredible examples of decorated sugar cookies, from the dessert table at a special event to the windows of your local bakery. In the last several years, the idea of creating highly detailed and creative cookies has also gone viral online - a search for "inspiration for decorated cookies" brings up hundreds of stunning sweets.

At Color My Cookie, we love creating cookies just as much as we enjoy eating them. That's why we crafted one-of-a-kind cookie kits, serving up all of the fun parts of decorating cutout cookies and none of the hassle. And now, we've baked up a useful guide that explains how to decorate cookies and achieve deliciously adorable fancy baking results.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies Like a Professional

You might think that the best tips for decorating cookies are going to zero in on icing, piping, and adding final touches. But actually, cookie experts know that your ingredients and supplies matter just as much as your technique.

So first, we're going to talk about what you need for cookie decorating - and why you don't need to spend time searching for the "best sugar cookie recipes." Then, we'll dive right into important prep steps and tips for decorating.

Sugar Cookies

We don't have to tell you that not all cookies are created equally. After all, that's why so many beginning bakers invest so much time and effort into trying to find the best recipe for sugar cookies and decorating. Choosing the right kind of cookie will make all the difference in your decorating experience.

Sugar cookies are usually the first choice for dessert decorators searching for the perfect cookie - mainly because they serve as a solid canvas and can hold their shape even after baking. This makes it easy to use cookie cutters and create cutout shapes (in addition to the traditional round or square cookies) and add another fun element.

When you're searching for the best kind of sugar cookies for decorating, look for shortbread-style cookies rather than soft, chewy ones. You need the cookie to be strong enough to stand up to decorating, but they should also taste great. Shortbread sugar cookies have the ideal texture, and when baked properly, they hold their shape very well and offer a delightfully sweet and buttery flavor.

Color My Cookie uses our signature sugar shortbread cookie recipe for all of our collections, so you'll be working with the best possible base. Our recipe is one that's been a bakery favorite for more than a decade, and now, it's earning fans as the star ingredient of Color My Cookie collections. So, you can skip the hassle of trying countless recipes to try to find the right one - just let us do the mixing and baking for you!

Royal Icing

The type of icing you see on professionally decorated sugar cookies isn't the same frosting you would find on a cake. Instead, it's a special type called "royal icing."

When you look up how to make royal icing, recipes can make it seem deceivingly simple. Generally, a royal icing recipe is made by combining a careful ratio of powdered sugar and meringue powder, plus some vanilla or almond extract. The powdered sugar acts as the base, and the meringue powder holds it all together and adds a lovely shine. Water is used to adjust the icing to a consistency of toothpaste. the consistency of the icing. Finally, food coloring is mixed with white icing to customize the colors.

With just four ingredients, how hard could it be? Well, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to go wrong when making royal white or colored icing. From correctly sifting the sugar to avoid lumps to figuring out the perfect amount of water to add, many details can trip up even an experienced decorator. Even the type of food coloring you choose can affect the recipe.

Color My Cookie makes the royal icing for each of our collections, including crafting wonderful colors that complement the theme of your cookies. So, you don't have to deal with buying the ingredients, mixing up the icing, or separating it into several batches (one batch for each color). You can also be confident that it will be just the right consistency for decorating with ease.

How to Prepare Piping Bags

One of our best cookie decorating tips is to have all of your icing made before you start decorating. So, if you're working with a kit in our collection, you can check that off your list right away.

If you go the route of making your own cookies with piping icing, use a tall drinking glass for each piping bag. Stand the bag up inside the glass and open the top so you can easily put the icing inside. You don't need to worry about adding metal tips to the piping bag for flooding the cookie. Purchase tipless piping bags like these from Truly Mad Plastics and simply snip off a very small corner of the bag (about 1/8 inch).

How to Decorate Cookies

The opportunity to be creative is one of the best parts in the basics of cookie decorating. So, you should feel free to have fun with the process - here are a few tips that can make it easier to enjoy along the way:

  • When you're icing color, start by creating the base outline of a section of color on the cookie with piping, then flood it.
  • Give the icing time to dry before layering additional decorations on top of the base layer (unless you're using a wet-on-wet technique). With Color My Cookie, your cookies are pre-iced so you can get straight to the fun of decorating without waiting on dry time! Plus, you can enjoy painting cookies with small details and a fun, intricate design.
  • Sprinkles, candies and similar edible décor should be added when the icing is wet so that it "sticks" to the surface. With Color My Cookie, you can even stick your sprinkles to a painted cookie – no icing necessary!

Cookie Decorating Glossary

  • Cookie painting: Using edible cookie paints and a small paintbrush to decorate
  • Flooding: Using a slightly thinner, runnier flood consistency icing to cover and fill large sections
  • Piping: Using royal icing (with a thicker consistency for piping borders) to create clean lines, outlines and details

Get Personalized & Custom Cookie Designs

In addition to our themed collections, Color My Cookie also offers custom cookies for decorating, giving you an array of options to start your adventures as a pastry artist. Host a cookie decorating party, add a fun activity to a special event, or give the gift of fun and creativity. With our personalized cookie designs, your imagination can run wild!

Decorate & Paint Cookies with Color My Cookie

Learn how to paint cookies and decorate them like a pro with Color My Cookie, the newest way to make sweet creations at home. Every Color My Cookie collection includes a personalized video tutorial from a master decorator, plus all the supplies you need to start decorating right away: cookies, white icing, decorations, edible paints, and more.

Check out our huge selection of themed cookie decorating collections and order your favorites now!