Learning to Decorate Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I've been in awe for some time of the ability of the decorators who create the beautiful cookies with royal icing. Blogger Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350 is one of those awesome cookie decorators, and my sister Helen is another one. This weekend I visited my sister at her home in Texas, and she gave me a hands-on cookie decorating lesson. Since it was my first time to work with the techniques of outlining and flooding the icing, it took a little practice to get the hang of it, but I got a batch of cookies decorated.

The cookie recipe we used is the one that Bridget recommends for basic decorated cookies, and it is a very tasty sugar cookie recipe.

Vanilla - Almond Sugar Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup vanilla sugar (sugar that has been stored with a vanilla bean)
2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract, mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This will be a crumbly dough and must be kneaded together after it is poured out on the floured rolling surface. Roll the dough from 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick, then cut out into shapes. Place cookies onto prepared pan and place pan in freezer for 5 minutes before baking. Bake in preheated oven for 10 -12 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Royal Icing

4 tablespoons meringue powder
scant 1/2 cup water
1 pound powdered sugar (MUST be sifted)
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
a few drops of almond extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the meringue powder and water, beat with the paddle attachment until foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low until combined. Add the corn syrup and almond extract and beat on medium/high to high for about 5 minutes or until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. Icing can be used in this form for outlining or for projects such as gingerbread houses. To use for cookie icing for "flooding," thin with 1 teaspoon water at a time until the consistency of syrup.

Bridget has many tips on working with Royal Icing here. Icing can be tinted with your favorite food colorings as desired.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface from 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick.

Cut out as desired and bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

After cookies have completely cooled, use a #2 or #3 tip to outline the desired shapes on the cookies with Royal Icing.

Using thinned royal icing, flood the outlines. Plastic squeeze bottles work very well for flooding.

While icing is wet, additional colors can be added to flood icing for contrast.

Allow iced cookies to dry overnight before stacking.

One additional note I wanted to make about these sugar cookies is that the taste improves overnight. If you eat them when they are hot right out of the oven, you might think these cookies are nothing special, but just give them a little time to cool and develop their flavor, and they will be perfect, trust me!


  1. I've always admired this great form of creativity too! Your cookies turned out cute-have fun:@)

  2. You did great, Anita! I love the look with Royal Icing and have tried it. It sure turns out pretty.

  3. These are beautiful and look so yummy too! Thanks for the recipes!

  4. You did such a great job! I wish I had my own cookie decorating teacher! Lucky! Great job!

  5. I'm stopping by to say "hi neighbor!" Thanks for the virtual cookie treat... and I'm on a diet too!

  6. Hi,

    Just visiting via StitchinByTheLake. Reading your lovely food filled blog while I'm waiting for my dinner to be delivered.(I'm so not a cook or baker). Everything looks so yummy. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  7. These look yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipes - I think I'm hungry now! ~Jeanne

  8. Wow - so gorgeous! I know they must be delicious but they're almost too pretty to eat! blessings, marlene

  9. The cookies look so delicious and beautiful. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us.
    I'm visiting from Portugal,

  10. These look too good to eat! Great tutorial for making them--thanks!

  11. They look awesome! I bet you had fun!

  12. I've never tried to decorate with royal icing. My family has always used buttercream icing even on cookies, and I had no idea that apparently that is not the norm until someone commented about my choice of icing on my old blog.

    Royal icing is certainly prettier for decorating cookies, so thanks for sharing both the recipe and the process of actually decorating with it. I don't make decorated sugar cookies that often (I like them too much!) but maybe someday I'll give this icing a try.

  13. Hi! Marlene from Stitchin By the Lake sent me. Little did I know I'd gain six pounds reading one blog entry! Seriously, your cookies are stunning! I've pretty much given up on cookie decoration, but the scarf in your next entry is something I'm definetly going to try, especially since it's 25 right now.

    Have a wonderful day, I'll come back to see what other wonderful things you're doing.

    God bless you!

  14. What LOVELY cookies!! I'm sure they are as delicious as they are cute ;) Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Brenda @ ChattingOverChocolate.blogspot.com

  15. These cookies look so good! Just saw it over at Miz Helen's Country Cottage link party! I'd love for you to link up on my very first link party this weekend! I just opened it early if you want to take a peek at it and link up :) I'd love to have you share a recipe with my readers http://thebestblogrecipes.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-weekend-re-treat-1.html

    Shauna {The Best Blog Recipes}

  16. This recipe is exactly what I was looking for...with a spreadable frosting. Thanks for sharing. I just found you from The Best Blog Recipes link up.
    Have a great day.

  17. Hi Anita,
    I just love your cookies, they are so pretty. Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for sharing your tasty recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  18. Love these!
    Following you on GFC and Pinterest --from "Weekend Potluck"!

  19. Thank you so much for linking up at The Weekend re-Treat! I can't wait to make these :)

    Shauna {The Best Blog Recipes}

  20. I've always looked at those cookies as something impossible for me to do. Thanks for a great tutorial and for me giving me an "I CAN" attitude. They are just gorgeous and you must have been sooo excited!

  21. P.S. - thanks soooooo much for linking these up at Weekend Potluck too.

  22. Thank you so much for linking this recipe up at Recipe Sharing Monday! The new link party is up and I'd love to see you back. Have a great week. :)