What better way to celebrate holidays than making a plateful of decorated sugar cookies. Our family loves decorating cookies. We make them for every holiday—we even use little-known holidays like Lei Day and the Ides of March as excuses to decorate cookies. While I’m not an expert, I have picked up a few tricks to share with you.
First, you need a good, solid, no-spread sugar cookie recipe. My favorite is a vanilla sugar cookie from Georganne at Lila Loa. She has so many other fantastic recipes as well, including a chocolate roll-out cookie that is so yummy. We usually roll out, cut, and bake our cookies the night before our decorating day. There are just too many dishes when I put baking and decorating together on the same day.
We’ve used different icings and glazes, but have been the most successful with this royal icing recipe from Callie at Sweet Sugarbelle. Royal icing dries to create a hard, smooth surface, making it easy to layer colors and textures. If you’re serious about cookie decorating, Callie has so many tips including coloring icing, using the right consistency, and even a basic list of supplies you need to get started.
I find that coloring icing always takes me a long time, so I like to take care of that while my kids are in bed and I don’t have the extra “help!” Then I put the icing into plastic squeeze bottles that I found at Walmart. They are easier for my young children to use than piping bags and are easy to clean. While ardent cookie decorators stick with piping bags so they can use multiple icing tips, I have found that our little family really doesn’t need all of the variations. Squeeze bottle work great for us.
On decorating day, we set up a decorating station with icing bottles, sprinkles, and parchment paper work surfaces. I thought my 5-year-old could handle decorating on a wire cooling rack, but kids (as well as adults) make messes! Trust me on the parchment paper!
Royal icing is so fun to use. The consistency of it allows you to “flood” the surface of the cookie. It’s thick enough to create outlines, but thin enough to even out and create a smooth layer. To create dimension, flood sections that don’t touch, let them dry, and then fill the remaining sections. You can see this technique in the orange pumpkin. To create smooth look, flood your cookie with one color and add in other colors while the icing is still wet. You can see this in the haunted house’s windows.
Once the cookies are decorated, we set up a drying station away from the decorating station, so wet icing doesn’t get bumped. When I’m in a hurry to dry them, I’ll even put decorated cookies in my dehydrator for 15 minutes to speed up the process.
That’s all there is to it! These cookies are so fun and festive, and the recipes I use create absolutely delicious cookies as well. Round up the kids and make some tonight!