Learn how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing with my easy tutorial that everyone can do! We include everything you need to make decorating icing and all tools needed to decorate the sugar cookies.
You will need a batch of sugar cookies and royal icing for this tutorial.
Royal iced sugar cookies are fun, unique and impressive. You can make them as simple or as detailed as you want. And the choice of shapes, colors and designs is endless. We share tips and techniques for how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing.
This tutorial is great for beginners! We have zero artistic abilities and we love making these cookies. If we can do it, you can do it! With a little prep work, you will be on your way to baking and decorating beautiful cookies.
Supplies for sugar cookies with royal icing
First, gather your supplies:
- One batch of sugar cookies – make sure they are completely cooled
- One batch of royal icing
- Icing gel colors – we have the Americolor student kit
- Small airtight containers for each of the icing colors
- Reusable or Disposable pastry bags
- Tips (#2 and #3 are my favorite for piping border icing)
- Squeeze bottles (not required but may make it easier to flood cookies with frosting)
We usually make these over the course of a few days. You can definitely make them in one day, but we do not like to rush the process. On day one, we bake the cookies and store them in an airtight container. Day two, we decorate. And on day three, we package them.
Cookie decorating icing
Add Food Coloring to Icing: After you have prepared a batch of royal icing with the desired consistency, color your icing with gel coloring. Gel food coloring helps create the best consistency and color. You can purchase gel food coloring on Amazon or most craft stores.
For the cookies, we like to use a softer, pastel color. Add a small amount of gel coloring a little at a time until you reach the desired color.
how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing
- Pipe the Frosting onto the edges of the cookies: Using a pastry bag, pipe a border around the edge of the cookies. Let stand a few minutes to let icing set. When you are not using the pastry bag filled with icing, let it stand in small amount of water so that the tips don’t harden. I use a pastry bag holder with small bowls of water underneath to rest the tips in.
- Royal Icing for Flooding the Cookies: After piping the edge of the cookies, mix a small amount of water (a few drops at a time) into the remaining icing to achieve a smoother consistency. The icing should drip of the spoon easily when lifted and should disappear back into the bowl of remaining icing within 10 seconds. Keep adding small amounts of water until the desired consistency is reached. If you get to the point where you think the icing is too thin, just mix in a small amount of powdered sugar to thicken it. Let the icing stand a few minutes to let any air bubbles settle to the surface. Gently stir the icing to pop any bubbles that form.
- Flood the Cookies: Using a spoon, carefully flood the area to fill the cookie within the border. If the icing does not spread to the edges completely on its own, use a toothpick to help smooth it into the edges. Pop any air bubbles that form on the cookies with a toothpick and they will disappear. (You can also fill squeeze bottles with the icing or use a pastry bag to flood the cookies. I prefer the spoon method but do whatever works for you.)
- Let the Cookies Harden: Allow the cookies to set for at least 12 hours uncovered to allow the icing to harden completely. Once they dry, you can add more detail with additional piping, as desired.
Tips for decorating sugar cookies
- Use fresh meringue powder: We have used several varieties of meringue powder. Most brands work well. You can purchase meringue powder at most craft stores, Walmart or Amazon.
- It usually takes one or two batches before you get a feel for what the consistency should be and the best way to flood the cookies.
- Always keep your icing covered and your pastry bag tips sitting in water. It helps to prevent the icing from drying out.
- Have a plan. The cookies take a little time and it helps to be prepared. Plan when you are going to bake them, frost them and serve them. Also, decide what shapes and colors you are going to use, and what details you will include.
How to store royal icing
Royal icing will keep for quite some time. Store it in a sealed container, otherwise it will dry out. Store it at room temperature or in the refrigerator and then mix again just prior to using.
These cookies will last for up to two weeks stored in an airtight container. We like to package the cookies up individually in small cookie bags. Once packaged, you can ship them in a sturdy box. Everyone loves these cookies because they are delicious and gorgeous.
We know that decorating cookies might look intimidating. But trust me when I say that if we can do it, you can do it! Just go for it and make some delicious and beautiful cookies.