Cookie Decorating Tips

Make this year’s batch of holiday baking as memorable as possible.


Sarah Sternhagen

This cookie was made with a simple sugar cookie base, red icing and minimal sprinkles. It’s that easy. If you have any extra sprinkles of any color, don’t be afraid to use them, even if they might not fit in with a winter holiday theme. Most cookies won’t hold up with tons of icing and sprinkles and won’t be that fun to eat. Keep it simple and don’t stress about making it look professional. As long as you have fun, make some cookies and don’t make a mess of the kitchen, any cookie decorating is a win.

Sarah Sternhagen , Staff Writer

Cookie decorating is a time-tested tradition during the holiday season. Whether you spend an entire weekend making dozens of batches, or you forget to make some until the morning you’re leaving for your relatives house, here are a few tips to try out this year.

First, you need the cookie. Sugar and gingerbread cookies are classics, they’re sturdy but still have a great taste. Find your favorite cookie cutters and make whatever shapes you’d like. You can go with a classic gingerbread man, or maybe you have a wreath shaped cutter you want to try. Just be careful of intricate designs because they can break easily.

Second, you need icing to hold the decorations to the cookie. Royal icing is my favorite, since it dries hard and can be spread or piped easily. You can either buy a tub of cookie icing or make your own. Look online for a good recipe if you don’t already have one and you can use food coloring to change it from plain white to any color of the rainbow.

If you want to try piping but don’t have the supplies, don’t worry. In a pinch, a Ziploc bag will work. Grab a sandwich size Ziploc bag, scoop your icing into the bag, seal it, squeeze so it feeds into one of the bottom corners, then cut the corner off and viola-instant piping bag. Make sure you keep pushing the icing into the hole and practice on a plate first to get comfortable with it. This will limit you to a simple line of icing, but you can still be creative. Pipe designs on the edges, make little stars or even try a smiley face if you feel like it.

Lastly my favorite part, the sprinkles. There’s crystal, non-apparels, holiday themed ones and even straight up candies that can be used as sprinkles. Rotary packs are the best deals. You get an assortment of different sprinkles normally centered on a theme all for a decent price. Most grocery stores will have them in their baking section. 

As for using them, crystal sprinkles are nice for coverage. Put them in a bowl and after icing your cookie, dunk it in the bowl, then pull it up and tap off extra sprinkles. Now you have a completely sprinkled cookie. For non-apparels, be careful as they crunch when you eat them, so a small scattering on the edge of the cookie is your best bet. Similarly with candies like gumdrops, marshmallows or chocolate chips, keep it sparse so the cookie isn’t a sugar bomb. Fancier sprinkles that look like holly leaves or snowflakes can be a perfect little addition to bring some holiday cheer to your cookie. Whatever you do with your cookie decorating this season, have fun and make some you’ll enjoy eating.