Cookie Decorating Tips and Tricks

Decorating sugar cookies is a ton of fun when you have ample time and the right equipment. Give yourself at least 1-2 hours to decorate sugar cookies as they do require you to be patient.

Tips and Tricks for Decorating Sugar Cookies

How to outline a sugar cookie

  • When you outline your sugar cookies, you should use a thick icing so the icing doesn’t fall off the side of the cookie.
  • Flood the cookie with a thinner icing. Use a tiny bit of water to thin out the icing for flooding sugar cookies.
  • For outlining a sugar cookie the best technique is by touching your cookie with the icing, let it flow, then lift the icing so it floats onto the cookie. This gives the cookies beautiful esthetic lines.

What tip do you use to outline cookies?

Use tip #2 to outline cookies.

How to Make Beautiful Christmas Cookies

How to add sprinkles to sugar cookies

Sprinkles can be added at a couple different points.

  1. Add sprinkles right when the cookies come out of the oven. The warmth of the cookies melt the sprinkles a little bit so they stick to the cookie. Do not press the sprinkles into the cookie, as this will put a dent in the cookie.
  2. Add sprinkles right after flooding your cookie. The sprinkles will adhere to the icing as it dries.
  3. Add sprinkles after putting your designs on the cookie. The sprinkles will adhere to the design above the flooded cookie

Do sprinkles melt in the oven

Yes. Sprinkles melt in the oven. Add your sprinkles after your sugar cookies come out of the oven so they only melt enough to adhere to the cookie.

cookie decorating tips and tricks

How long should you wait before flooding cookies

  • wait a minimum of 20 minutes after your cookie has come out of the oven.
  • cookies need to be fully cooling before flooding, or the icing will melt and go over the sides of the sugar cookie
Cookie Decorating Tips and Tricks

How long should you wait after flooding cookies to put more icing on

  • wait minimum 4 hours after flooding your cookies to put more icing on.
  • ideally wait overnight for your flooded cookie to dry
  • Colors can bleed if you don’t wait long enough for the flooded color to dry

How much food coloring do you put in sugar cookies

Food coloring is completely dependent on your personal preference. Add 1-2 drops if you want a lighter color for your sugar cookies icing. Add more as needed, but only add 1-2 drops of food coloring at a time to adjust the coloring of the icing as needed.

Why you should use your cookie cutters upside down

Turning your cookie cutters upside down gives you a whole new perspective and now you can use it for a completely different purpose.

Turning a gingerbread man upside down will give you a shape of a reindeer

Turning a snowman upside down will give you the shape of an angel.

How to write on sugar cookies

  • use piping tip #1 or #2 and use icing to write on sugar cookies
  • use an edible marker to draw and write on your sugar cookies. Edible markers come in a huge variety of colors, not just black marker.

How to stamp sugar cookies

Have your sugar cookies baked, flooded, and dried before stamping your sugar cookies.

  1. Place a sponge or stamp pad in a small shallow bowl. If you don’t have one, just make sure to put a very small amount of dye in your bowl
  2. Use gel food coloring and a tiny bit of water and emulsify them together. Mix together until you get a nice consistency.
  3. Obtain your clean stamp and gently dip your stamp into the food coloring.
  4. Blog excess food coloring onto a paper towel.
  5. Stamp your cookie gently, so you get a nice clean stamp and will not damage your flooded icing.
  6. Let it dry and store in an airtight container.

How to Make Beautiful Christmas Cookies

Making beautiful Christmas cookies starts with baking your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

How to Make Beautiful Christmas Cookies

Sugar cookies can be decorated many ways to create beautiful Christmas cookies for your friends and family.

Sugar cookies will stay good for up to 2 weeks at room temperature, or you can freeze them for up to 1 month.

This makes giving sugar cookies as gifts very easy! They store for a long time, and they are a sentimental, thoughtful, and homemade Christmas gift you can easily make.

Baking sugar cookies is easy and not time consuming. However, decorating sugar cookies is very time consuming depending on how detailed you want your cookies.

An easy cookie decorating idea for your sugar cookies, is flooding your sugar cookies and then putting a few sprinkles on top for an added shimmer. Learn how to flood your sugar cookies and add sprinkles to the top of them with our step by step guide.

easy cookie decorating ideas

Once your sugar cookies are baked and cooled, you can make royal icing for piping onto your sugar cookies.

First, make your icing and then use a bit of water to thin out the icing for flooding. Flood your cookies with the background color you want to show. Using a lighter color for your icing is desired because then the background color is less likely to bleed into the top colors you add.

Let the cookie dry overnight or for a couple of hours until it’s dry to the touch.

Mix your icing again and color it with a few drops of liquid food coloring. You’ll have to separate the icing into different bowls to color them accordingly.

Add a bit of icing sugar to the bowls if the icing is too thin to pipe. You want the icing to flow, but not be too thin or it will spread all over your cookie. Try to make it a “toffee” consistency.

Sugar Cookie Designs for Christmas

To make beautiful Christmas cookies, here are a few designs you can try out:

how to make beautiful Christmas cookies

How to make a snowflake on a Christmas cookie

To make this snowflake cookie, start the top design by making the lines crisscross. Then add the diagonal lines. Snowflakes need a lot of room for the branches, so try to make the lines as big as possible.

Add in the tiny branches, starting at the end of the line. Add them alternately so you’ll be sure you can get the matching branch in without touching the sides of the other large lines.

Top your snowflake cookie with a few clear sprinkles for a shiny effect.

how to make beautiful Christmas cookies

How to make a rose on a Christmas Cookie

To make the cookie on the bottom of the above photo, we’ll make the snowflake the same way. This time, we’ll get a new piping bag with the star tip to make a little rose for the cookie.

Start the rose by squeezing the piping bag a little bit for the center of the rose. Stream the icing out of the bag and turn the bag to make a complete circle around the rose. Finish it off by gently pushing the icing into the rose and then remove the piping bag.

How to make a Christmas Ornament on a Christmas Cookie

Pipe the icing using grey, white, or black icing for the Christmas ornament.

Pipe a small circle at the edge of the cookie. This will be the hook of the Christmas ornament.

Pipe a rectangle underneath the circle having it touch the circle. This is the metal part of the Christmas ornament. Pipe a couple of lines vertically in the rectangle.

Pipe a large circle edging it as close to the edge of the flooded icing as possible. This will be the Christmas ornament.

Pipe a couple of lines in the center of the bulb for a bit of decoration. Make the lines from point to point on the ornament. This will create a weaving effect, making the ornament look 3D. Add a couple of sprinkles in the center of the ornament for more of a color pop.

5 Ways to Decorate a Candy Cane Cookie

  1. Pipe small rectangles so it alternates the coloring of the flooded icing.
  2. Pipe small lines so it alternates the coloring of the flooded icing.
  3. Pipe small lines and add tiny branches to the lines. Add sprinkles.
  4. Pipe small dots making it polka dotted. Add sprinkles.

How to Make Heart Shaped Shortbread Cookies

To make heart shaped shortbread cookies, first make your shortbread cookie dough and get ready to roll it out.

Grab your favorite heart shaped cookie cutters.

Wilton’s heart shaped cookie cutter is a decent size, giving you a 3 ” heart shaped biscuit.

Should you chill shortbread dough before baking?

Typically it’s best to place shortbread cookie dough in the fridge for 30 min before rolling it out. The fridge solidifies the ingredients together so it makes it much easier to roll out the dough this way.

How to Make Heart Shaped Shortbread Cookies

  1. Roll out your shortbread cookie dough until it’s about 1/4″ in thickness.
  2. Place your favorite heart shaped cookie cutter on your dough so it has good margins around the cookie cutter.
  3. Gently press the cookie cutter into the dough until it’s full cut through and you feel the resistance of the table.
  4. Remove the heart shaped cookie cutter from the shortbread dough vertically.
  5. Continue cutting your cookie dough until all the cookie dough has been cut.
  6. Transfer the shortbread cookie dough to a baking pan.
  7. Using a fork, gently poke holes in the shortbread dough.
  8. Reroll the dough and use your cookie cutters to cut more cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies for the required time.
  10. Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack.
  11. Cookies are best within 2-3 weeks after baking and should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Why do you poke holes in shortbread?

You need to poke holes in shortbread dough prior to baking to let the steam out of the cookies while it bakes. This makes the cookies bake evenly, without letting it brown on the edges.

What happens if you put too much butter in shortbread?

If you put too much butter in your shortbread, the butter will seep out of the cookie and spread the cookie dough out all over the baking pan in the oven. They will be very difficult to get off of the pan.

Why do my shortbread cookies fall apart?

Shortbread cookies will fall apart if their isn’t enough fat to keep them together, or if the dough is too warm. If your dough is a bit crumbly only, you may just need to chill the dough for 30 min before rolling it out. Be patient when working with shortbread dough, as it does take a little bit to roll it out evenly. Alternatively, you can add 1 tbsp more butter at a time to your dough to have it come together to roll out.

How to Make Heart Shaped Shortbread Cookies
Heart Shaped Shortbread Cookies

Wilton’s heart cookie cutter can also be used as a love heart cookie cutter for valentines day.

You can decorate your love heart cookies many ways by adding royal icing to the top of them.

love heart cookie cutter

Heart Shaped Cookie Decorating Ideas

There are countless ways to decorate heart shaped cookies!

Use your imagination to come up with color combinations and use your piping tips to try out different shapes on your cookies.

how to decorate Heart Shaped Cookies

If you don’t want to commit to piping on your cookie, you can always try piping first on parchment paper.

Heart Shaped Cookie Decorating Ideas

Beginners can learn step by step on how to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing if this is your first time using it.

Royal icing is preferred when decorating cookies because they will dry fully and become stackable.

If you decide to use buttercream icing place the cookies side by side so they will not smudge your freshly piped buttercream icing.

You can decorate heart shaped cookies with almost any cookie recipe.

heart shaped cookies decorating ideas

We recommend using sugar cookies to decorate on because they cut easily with cookie cutters, and usually turn out well.

After your cookies have been cookie cut by your favorite heart shaped cookie cutter, bake them for the required time according to your recipe. Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.

Once your cookies are fully cooled, you can flood them with royal icing.

At this point you can add a few sprinkles all over the heart shaped cookie and you can be finished decorating it.

Or if you want more decorations, let the cookies fully dry overnight or about 8 hours.

Separate your icings and colors and you’re ready to pipe more decorations on them.

You can put a rose or flower off to the side of the heart cookie. Add a couple of leaves to the flower. Then you’re ready to pipe writing onto your heart shaped cookie to personize it or give it a theme.

heart shaped cookies decorating ideas

For this heart shaped decorated cookie, we had the idea of putting some ruffled edging around the cookie.

We love the contrasting color combination. Add your personized message of theme of your cookies to the center of the heart shaped cookie.

heart shaped cookies decorating ideas

For this cookie, we used only white icing, and put a writing on the center of the cookie, as well as a bit of decoration on the edge of the heart cookie.

heart shaped cookies decorating ideas

Heart shaped cookies can be decorated with a few sprinkles. You can use melted chocolate as the ”glue” to hold the sprinkles onto the cookie.

Another option is to use sprinkles on top of cookies right after they come out of the oven. You can do this with sugar cookies or shortbread cookies.

For macarons, you can put a couple of sprinkles on the cookie as soon as you’ve piped the batter and are letting them dry before placing them in the oven to bake.

Don’t overdo it though, only put a couple of sprinkles on macarons. As well, only put small, tiny sprinkles on macarons, as the bigger ones will ruin the macaron when it bakes.

how to decorate heart shaped cookies with sprinkles

You can pipe melted chocolate and caramel sauce in the corner of a heart shaped cookie as a intricate decoration. You can add a couple of sprinkles as well if desired.

how to decorate heart shaped cookies with chocolate and caramel

How to Bake Perfect Sugar Cookies

Jump to Recipe

Baking perfect sugar cookies is something that takes awhile to perfect. The key to baking perfect sugar cookies is:

  • rolling out your dough with no imperfections or cracks
  • chilling your dough – this will make it very easy to use cookie cutters, so your dough will keep it’s shape
  • baking your cookies until they just start turning light brown on the very edges. Do not overbake or they will be too brown and taste overdone
  • cooling your cookies fully before decorating
how to bake perfect sugar cookies
how to bake perfect sugar cookies

What is the difference between royal icing and regular icing?

Royal icing uses egg whites and icing sugar. This creates a stiff icing. You can thin it out a little using a tiny bit of water. After you have colored your icings, you can flood your cookies using the thin icing. Next, you can decorate your cookies once your flooded icing is dry. Use your stiffer icing and create designs on your cookies. Royal icing is different than regular icing in that it will set and become dry. This makes your cookies stackable, and will not be smudged once they are dry. Regular icing is usually buttercream icing. It is made using butter/shortening, vanilla, milk, and icing sugar. It has a bit of a different makeup, so it tastes a bit sweeter than royal icing. Regular icing is different than royal icing in that it will not dry. It remains a wet icing. But, it’s very easy to decorate using piping tips and will create beautiful designs. It’s a sweeter icing that some people prefer over royal icing.

chewy sugar cookies with frosting

How do you make cookies with royal icing?

Make cookies with royal icing by first preparing your cookies. You’ll want to bake sugar cookies, as they are able to be decorated easily, and you can cut them into different shapes. Let the cookies cool ~20 min. Floor your cookies first, then let them dry for a few hours, or overnight. Then continue decorating your cookies using different colored icing. Once your cookies are fully decorated, let them dry for a couple of hours. Then you can stack them nicely in an airtight container. They will stay good for about 5 days at room temperature, or up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

how to decorate sugar cookies with sprinkles

How do you get good at decorating cookies?

You get good at decorating cookies by practicing your piping skills. Once you’ve made royal icing and have mastered how to flood your cookie, start experimenting with different piping tips. Watch videos to perfect your technique. Try making a goal for yourself to master 1 tip for every batch of cookies. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!

how to flood sugar cookies

How do you decorate cookies after baking?

Decorate cookies after baking by letting them cool to room temperature. Prepare your icing during this time by making either buttercream icing, or royal icing. Color your icing using gel coloring or liquid food coloring. Once your cookies are cooled, you can start decorating them. If you’re using buttercream icing, you’re ready to start piping your designs onto your cookie. Add your sprinkles/adornments at the end of decorating. If you’re using royal icing, flood your cookie first, add any adornments/sprinkles then let it dry. Finish decorating your cookie using different colors and designs. Let them fully dry before stacking them together. Store in an airtight container. Buttercream iced cookies should be eaten within a few days. Royal iced cookies can be stored for up to 5 days at room temperature.

sugar cookies that hold their shape

What is the easiest way to decorate cookies?

The easiest way to decorate cookies is by putting sprinkles on the cookies right after they come out of the oven. As the cookies cool, the sprinkles will adhere to the cookie. Alternatively, you can flood your cookie with royal icing, then add sprinkles right after you’ve flooded it. Let the cookie dry and they’re ready to be packed away for safe keeping.

How do you ice sugar cookies for beginners?

We recommend making buttercream icing for beginners. Icing sugar cookies as a beginner is a steep learning curve. If you get frustrated, you can easily use a knife to put the icing on the cookie. Start by learning how to use piping tips by watching videos. Try out 2-3 tips to see if you can improve your skills. Once you get better at piping buttercream, you can learn how to decorate cookies using royal icing. It will be another learning curve when you use royal icing. From learning how thin to make your icing for flooding, to having colors blend together if they’re piped too quickly, you’ll take awhile to feel comfortable decorating sugar cookies.

How to Bake Perfect Sugar Cookies

Step by step guide how to bake perfect sugar cookies
Prep Time3 hours 30 minutes
Active Time36 minutes
Total Time4 hours 6 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookies
Yield: 30 cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar granulated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Cream butter and sugar together using a stand mixer on high speed for a couple of minutes until fluffy.
  • Add the egg to your mixture and cream together for 30 seconds. Add vanilla and mix again until fully combined. Scrape the slides of the bowl using a spatula to have the mixture fully homogenized.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.
  • Slowly add your dry ingredient bowl to your creamed mixture. Have your mixer on low speed when you're combining them together.
  • Check your dough to see how it feels. If it's sticking to your hands add a bit more flour to the dough – 1 tbsp.
  • Separate your dough in half. Roll out your dough by flouring the surface of a silicone mat. Flour your rolling pin lightly. Place your dough on top of the floured silicone mat and roll it to 1/4" thickness. Make sure there are no imperfections on the top of your dough. Roll it out so it looks even, with no cracks through it. Repeat with the other dough half.
  • Place plastic wrap on top of the dough and put in the fridge for 1-2 hours. You can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days before baking.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and use cookie cutters to cut the dough into cookies. Once you've used your dough to create your first batch of cookies, reroll the dough out to use up the remaining dough to make more cookies. Place the cookies on an aluminum baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. No greasing needed.
  • Bake cookies for 11-12 min at 350°F. Your cookies will be finished baking when the edges start turning light brown. Do not overbake. The whole cookie will turn brown if they are overdone. Let the cookies cool for a few min on the baking sheet. Then transfer the cookies to finish cooling on a wire rack ~20 min.
  • Decorate your cookies using royal icing or buttercream icing.

16 High Tea Cookies to Bake for Afternoon Tea

High tea cookies are small, with a hint of citrus, herb, spiced or buttery flavors.

High tea cookies are light, crumbly, and melt in your mouth when you eat them alongside your hot tea.

how to serve afternoon tea

What high tea cookies can you make for afternoon tea

  • macadamia nut white chocolate chip cookies
  • lemon shortbread
  • plain shortbread
  • lavender shortbread
  • earl grey shortbread
  • chai shortbread
  • cranberry orange almond shortbread
  • chocolate dipped shortbread
  • orange slice tea cookies
  • macarons
  • raspberry almond thumbprint cookies
  • sugar cookies
  • madeleines
  • oatmeal raisin cookies
  • peanut butter cookies
  • matcha cookies

How many different types of cookies should you bake for high tea

You only need 1-2 different types of cookies for high tea.

Depending on how many how many desserts your preparing, you can easily go with just 1 type of cookie.

Usually there is an array of desserts including 4-5 different types of desserts included in afternoon tea.

Cookies are only 1 of the desserts that you could serve for afternoon tea.

What other sweets are served with afternoon tea

Some other sweets that are served with afternoon tea are breads, muffins, crumpets, scones, pastries, bars, and cakes.

high tea cookies to bake for afternoon tea

Where are high tea cookies placed on the serving platter

High tea cookies are placed on the top tier of a 3 tier serving platter. They are included in the sweets part of the high tea. The sweets portion of high tea is usually eaten last in high tea.

What should you wear when going for high tea

High tea in North America is semi-formal. Wear something nice, but not overdone. Consider wearing a long casual dress, dress pants, blouse, heels, boots, flats, or sandles.

How to host a high tea party

  1. Set a date and send out your invites.
  2. Gather china plates, tea cups, saucers, tea pots (several depending on number of teas you plan on serving), linen – tablecloth and napkins, serving platters – 3 tiers.
  3. Decide on your menu.
  4. Bake cookies, scones, breads, crumpets, cakes, etc. the day before your party.
  5. Set your tables with tablecloths, napkins, side plates, salt and pepper shakers.
  6. Create your sandwiches as close to the serving time as possible. Place in the refrigerator with cling wrap over them until you’re ready to serve them.
  7. Boil the kettle or hot water right before your guests come over.
  8. Place cream and sugar out for your guests.
  9. Place all of the sandwiches on the bottom tier of your serving platter. Next, place breads, crumpets and scones on the second tier. Put your tea time sweets on the top tier.
  10. Make tea for your guests.
  11. Enjoy!

High tea cookies are a delight for your guests.

They should be made a bit on the smaller side so they are bite sized.

You don’t want to bake too big of cookies, otherwise they won’t fit on your platter.

Typically high tea cookies are small enough just to have a taste.

You don’t want your guests becoming too full on anything because there is an array of baked goods to eat.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles

Sugar cookies can be decorated with sprinkles a few different ways:

  1. Flood the sugar cookie with royal icing.
  2. Add sprinkles to the center, or in another area of the cookie. Use only a pinch of sprinkles at a time, and move your fingers together to slowly drop the sprinkles into place
  1. Flood the sugar cookie with royal icing. Let it dry.
  2. Add more royal icing/decorations as needed.
  3. Add sprinkles to the portion you want the sprinkles to be. Make sure to add them before the royal icing dries.
how to decorate sugar cookies with sprinkles

How do you get sprinkles to stick to icing?

To get sprinkles to stick to royal icing or buttercream, add them immediately after piping your icing when it’s still wet. Add sprinkles to your icing before it dries. The icing acts like a glue for the sprinkles to stick to.

How do you make royal icing using eggs for sugar cookies?

  1. Mix 3 pasteurized egg whites/6 tablespoons in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed.
  2. Add 1 cup of icing sugar to the stand mixer at a time until you’ve reached a total of 4 cups of icing sugar.
  3. Mix for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Separate the icing and add colors as needed. Add a tiny bit of water to the bowls that you want to use to flood the sugar cookie to thin out the icing.
  5. Pipe royal icing onto sugar cookies.

How to Store Royal Icing?

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

What is the best sugar cookie size?

It’s best to have a mixture of sugar cookie sizes when serving them to guests. Be sure to cook similar sugar cookie sizes together so smaller cookies do not over-bake in the oven. Try to have anywhere from a 1″ sugar cookie to a 4″ sugar cookie for a big variety of sizes.

How do you stack cookies with icing?

Let all of your cookies dry before stacking cookies. Royal icing takes a couple of hours to dry. Once royal icing is dry, you can stack as many cookies as you like. Buttercream cookies cannot be stacked. The icing doesn’t harden like royal icing does.

Can you leave sugar cookies out overnight?

You can, but they will stale quicker. It’s best to let them cool in about ~20 minutes, then store them in an airtight container. They will last up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Do you decorate cookies before or after baking?

Always decorate cookies after baking. This is because icing, sprinkles, and other decorations will melt in the oven.

Do you let cookies cool before decorating?

Yes. Let your cookies cool for about 20 minutes before decorating. Icing will melt off of your cookie if you do not let your cookies cool fully before decorating.

How long do decorated sugar cookies last?

Decorated sugar cookies last 2 weeks at room temperature in an airtight container. Decorated sugar cookies will last up to 6 months in the freezer in an airtight container.