Cookie Decorating Tools, Techniques and Tips


Cookies can be beautiful works of art put on display on a buffet table during the holidays or for special occasions, and decorating cookies can be fun, and much simpler than it looks. There are lots of tips, tools and techniques to make this an enjoyable experience instead of a chore, and some spectacular recipes and designs to choose from.


Cookie cutters

You can cut cookies in a huge variety of shapes and images for decorating! Here are some popular cutters available:

Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set #2308-1132 Fred & Friends Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters Wilton Holiday Grippy Cookie Cutters, Set of 4 Wilton 2304-1050 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set Wilton Snowflake Comfort Grip Cookie CutterAteco 5357 11 Piece Plain Round Cutter SetWilton Mini Cookie Cutter set of 12Wilton Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutter Set

Click here for more cookie cutters.

Baking sheets

I’ve tried so many different kinds of baking sheets, and Nordic Ware are the best I’ve come across. Food doesn’t stick, they have superior heat conductivity, and they clean up like a dream, no matter what you use them for. You can even get them with a lid now, which can be handy. When baking cookies, I usually fill up the biggest sized cookie sheet, then fill a second sheet while the first batch cooks. Or if you prefer, in a convection oven you can fill three standard size sheets and bake them all at once. I just find it a bit easier getting one sheet at a time onto a cooling rack without worrying about any of the cookies over baking.

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet with LidNordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Large Classic Cookie SheetNordic Ware Natural Aluminum NonStick Commercial Big SheetNordic Ware the Big Cookie Baking Set 10 Piece Set

Click here for more cookie sheets.

Cooling racks

Stacking cooling racks are perfect when counterspace is an issue, and are really handy when you’re baking large batches of cookies. I like big cooling racks, and if the cookies are quite thin, then cross-wires are nice too so they don’t poke through the gaps and break. Some tiered racks, like the second one pictured below, also have front supports so they work well for multiple pies too.

Wilton 2105-459 Excelle Elite 3-Tier Cooling Rack, 15 7-8 inch X 9 7-8 inchNifty Non-Stick 3-Tier Cooling RackWilton Nonstick Cooling Rack Grid, 14.5 by 20-Inch

Click here for more cookie racks.

Cookie spatula

Whether you prefer a small cookie spatula or a big one, its best to get one with a firm, sharp edge. I often use a sharp edged  brownie or lasagna spatula so I can remove two cookies at a time.

Dexter-Russell Walnut Mini Turner, Stainless Steel, 2 by-2.5-InchAnne Marie's 18-8 Stainless Steel Brownie SpatulaOXO SteeL Lasagna Turner

Squeeze bottles

Some people prefer the old method of piping bags, but many are converting to squeeze bottles. If you want to try squeeze bottles, use the ones with frosting tips. A good tip for filling:  mix your separate colored frosting batches in ziplock baggies, then snip a corner of the baggie and squeeze the frosting out to fill the bottle.

Fox Run Set of 3 Icing BottlesThe Pampered Chef Decorator Bottle Set #1585Kuhn Rikon Deco Squirt Bottle, Round, Red

Piping bags and tips

Wilton 2104-1358 Disposable 12-inch Decorating Bags, 24 PackWilton 418-1700 Round Star Icing Tip Set, SmallWilton 411-1989 Coupler Set, Set of 4

Ateco 14-Piece Cake Decorating SetWilton 2104-0240 Master Decorating Tip SetAteco 55-Piece Stainless Steel Decorating Tube Set with Hinged Storage BoxWilton 909-192 Decorating Tip Poster

Click here for more decorating tips

Wilton Piping Demonstration Video

Food coloring

There is a great selection of colors available in food coloring, and mixing your own can result in an amazing selection

AmeriColor Student Soft Gel Paste Food Color 12 Pack Kit


Wilton Set of 8 Icing ColorsAmeriColor Amerimist Metallic & Pearl Sheen Airbrush .65 Ounce Set of 12

If food coloring is of concern to you, you might want to try substituting part of the liquid in your icing with the following for natural coloring (don’t worry about the taste – you won’t notice it). Just simmer the fruit or vegetables in a small quantity of water and let the colored water concentrate (or boil down bottled juice), then substitute for as much of the liquid in your icing recipe as you want depending on depth of color.

  • Red/pink – pomegranate
  • Green – spinach
  • Pink – beet, cranberry
  • Orange/yellow – golden beet
  • Orange – carrot
  • Blue/purple – blueberry, blackberry
  • Purple – grape
  • Brown – steeped coffee, cocoa or tea

Click here for more food coloring.

Stencilling With Airbrush

Cookies look professionally made when stencilled with an airbrush. It seems like it would be a lot more difficult than it is – see video below.

Master Pro Airbrush Cake Decorating Set with 12 AmeriMist Airbrush Cake color set that are FDA approved

Designer Stencils C096 Valentine Cupcake Cookie Stencils, Beige Semi-Transparent

Designer Stencils C787 Faberge Easter Egg Stencils, Beige Semi-Transparent

Click here for more cookie decorating stencils.

Airbrushing Video Demonstration

Candy sprinkles and edible accents

Wilton Sugar Pearls, White, 5 OzWilton Sweetheart 6-Cell Valentine Sprinkles MixWilton 710-039 Sparkling 5Wilton Candy Eyeballs,0.88 oz,Count of 56India Tree Candied Violet Petals, 0.5 OunceLavender Sanding Sugar, 1 lb.Wilton White Sparkling Sugar, Net Wt. 8 oz.

Click here for more cookie sprinkles and edible accents

Icing Tips and Tricks

  • Whether you use royal icing or a simple milk and powdered sugar icing, make a thicker batch for the borders of the cookies, and fill in with thinner flood icing which will spread smoother.
  • Practice with squeeze bottles and piping bags to see what works best for you, by laying a template under wax paper and tracing the outlines, then filling. Extra practice will make your work easier for you in the long run.
  • If using bottles, squeeze them to create suction to pull the icing in.
  • Icing can be kept for several days in the refrigerator if you need time to decorate over a few days, but allow icing to come to room temperature before using.
  • Make your cookies one day, then decorate them the next day.
  • Raspberry-Sherbet-Cookie-Platter-largeIf you prefer to spread your work out over several days for each of the following steps:
    • make cookie dough
    • bake cookies, storing in an airtight container after cooling
    • make icing and color individual batches, then refrigerate
    • apply base color and any sugaring or candy sprinkles to some or all cookies (can split this over a few days)
    • apply decorative accents with colored icing matching the base color
  • If adding color on top of color, let the base color dry a bit before continuing.
  • When piping on dots, make a little C motion when lifting the applicator instead of lifting straight out. This will smooth the icing instead of leaving the Hershey’s kiss look.
  • When sugaring cookies (also known as flocking or sanding), remember that sugar adheres to wet frosting so don’t wait too long to do this step.
  • If you want some areas left in plain icing rather than sugared, ice those areas first and allow to dry, then proceed to ice the areas you want sugared. This works for outlines you want sugared as well, simply allow the base to dry before outlining and sugaring.
  • Bumble Bee and Ladybird Cake DecorationsSugar over parchment or wax paper so you can funnel the overspilled sugar back into your bowl.
  • Candy sprinkles should be applied to wet icing.
  • When applying edible accents, use frosting that matches the base color as glue – apply a small dab to the back of the accent, then press onto the cookie and allow to dry.
  • Tweezers are helpful when applying accents.
  • Allow iced cookies 24 hours to dry.



Border Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or any flavored extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons milk or water
  • Food coloring, optional

Flood Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or any flavored extract
  • 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons milk or water
  • Food coloring, optional

Royal Icing

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder 

Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment. In the bowl, combine sugar and meringue powder. For a border or detail consistency, mix on low speed, adding a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency for flooding, separate some of the icing and add more water. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Ombre-Candy-Dipped-Cookies-largeBasic Rolled-Out Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Wilton Official Sugar Cookie Recipe


If you need some inspiration, either for cookie recipes or decorating techniques, here are some great books to get your creative juices flowing – 1001 Cookie Recipes is my favorite!

1001 Cookie Recipes - The Ultimate A-To-Z Collection of Bars, Drops, Crescents, Snaps, Squares, Biscuits, and Everything...50 Deliciously Decorative Cookies - Easy-to-Make Cookie Creations Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies (Baker's FG) Squires Kitchen's Guide to Making More Iced Flowers - Decorative piped flowers for cakes, cookies and desserts Decorating Cookies - 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations & EverydayValentine Delights A Collection of Valentine Recipes (Cookbook Delights Holiday)Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (Facsimile Edition) (Betty Crocker Cooking)Cookie Love - 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

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