Sugar cookies are delicious to eat and the perfect base for decorating. It can be challenging to decorate sugar cookies in a way that looks bakery-level good, though. Cookies can be edible works of art, and this blog will provide you with some easy tips for how you can decorate sugar cookies like the professionals do. There’s no need to go out and get all this fancy equipment in order to make beautiful cookies. Here, we’ll go over some simple tips that can have you decorating cookies like a professional with some practice. Let’s get started!
#1. Let Your Dough Chill Before Baking
Before we get to the decorating part, you need good, firm cookies that hold their shape. After finding your perfect sugar cookie recipe, stick it in the fridge for about half an hour. When your dough is chilled as you roll it out, this keeps the butter from melting, which prevents the issue of your cookies spreading and losing their shape in the oven.
#2. Roll The Dough Out To Even Thickness
You don’t want sloping cookies or cookies that have uneven thicknesses because they won’t bake the same and they will be harder to decorate. You generally want to roll your dough out to either ¼ of an inch or ⅜ of an inch. Many rolling pins have measuring capabilities to assist you in this, but if all else fails, you can always use a ruler.
#3. Prepare Your Icing Before You Start Decorating
Before you begin the decorating process, you want to ensure that all of your icing is prepped beforehand. That way, you don’t need to pause to make more icing and potentially mess with your desired designs. If you want a more forgiving icing that is thicker, buttercream is great. If you want to decorate sugar cookies like the pros do with fancy designs and all, finding a good royal icing recipe is a must.
If you want to use royal icing, you can go about this in several ways. You can make a thicker batch for piping consistency so that you can make more defined details and a thinner batch that is good for flooding your cookie (covering it with icing smoothly). Or, you can make a batch that’s right in the middle. If you are new to this, it will likely be easier for you to have a thicker batch and a thinner batch.
You can use a ziplock bag and cut out the corners to pipe your icing, but if you want some more precision, you can get a kit of piping bags and decorating tips.
#4. Use Gel Food Coloring
Liquid food coloring can mess with the consistency of your icing, causing it to not set how you wanted it to. Instead, use gel food coloring that can still give you vibrant colors, but that won’t mess with your end results.
#5. Outline Your Design
Now that your cookies have cooled and your icing is ready, it’s time to decorate sugar cookies! Use your thicker royal icing to outline your design. This way, you’ll be able to fill (or ‘flood’) your cookie with icing without needing to worry about it spilling over the edges. Squeeze your bag gently and pull it up off the cookie about an inch. When you reach corners or angles, dip the tip of your piping bag closer to the cookie’s surface and then bring it back up once you’ve passed the corner or angle.
#6. Flood The Cookie
If you want to decorate sugar cookies with a smooth, professional-like surface, flood the cookie with your thinner icing after you’ve outlined it. You don’t want to start and stop as you do this, as this can cause your cookie to not have a smooth surface of icing. If you have any air bubbles, you can use a toothpick to pop them before the icing starts to harden.
#7. Use Icing On Wet Icing For Defined Designs That Are Level
Do you want to decorate sugar cookies with different designs but want it to look like the icing is all one smooth surface? This is called the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique. While your initial layer of icing is still wet, use your piping bag to lay other designs down. This will result in designs that are defined, but level.
#8. For Details That Stand Out, Take It Slower
If you want to decorate sugar cookies with more defined details that stick out above the base layer of icing, let the first layer dry before you add more details. When you let the icing dry at least partially before adding more, this creates more dimension.
#9. Remember To Have Fun
They’re just cookies, after all! If your attempt to decorate sugar cookies like a pro don’t turn out, they’ll still taste good. Just eat up and try again later.
If you would like to learn more about how to decorate sugar cookies like a pro, including other methods such as with sprinkles or other types of icing, Kitchen Kneads is offering a hands-on cookie decorating class on September 17th, 2022. Get your ticket today!