How to Decorate Cookies

Cookies with colored icing, candies, and sprinkles are not only a fun way to add dimension and appeal to your cookies, but the process is also creative and fun.


1. Learn tips and tricks for the best outcome.

2. Learn how to make and color royal icing.

3. Learn how to make sugar cookies and gingerbread men.

Tips for the Best Outcome:

1. Always plan ahead. Make sure you have all of your ingredients and utensils ready and sufficient time to prepare your icings and decorate your cookies.

2. Thoroughly mix your colors. This will ensure that your icing colors do not bleed.

3. Avoid over-mixing your icing. If the icing is mixed for too long, then it will crumble easily on the cookie and leave you with a mess rather than a display of your kitchen creativity.

4. Make sure your icing is the right consistency. A way to test this is to spread a butter knife across the top of your icing and count to ten. If the icing gets smooth and shiny anywhere between five and ten seconds, then it is ready. If it takes longer, then it is too thick, but you can slowly add water to reach the right consistency. If it gets shiny and smooth too fast, then the icing is too runny, but you can slowly add more powdered sugar to combat this problem. Icing that is too runny will be hard to handle and will make for imprecise decoration.

5. Make fresh piping bags each time you decorate cookies.

6. Plan your designs ahead of time so you can prepare the piping bags and the proper colors.

7. Minimize exposure to humidity. All forms of humidity can lead to your icing bleeding (colors running). This includes air conditioning, humid outdoor heat, and warm kitchen heat.

8. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Decorate with Royal Icing:

Royal icing is a hard white icing that is great for creating intricate designs, is easy to make, and can be tinted with any color imaginable.


  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 3 ounces egg whites

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Whip the egg whites and vanilla until frothy.

2. While the mixer is on a low speed, slowly pour in the sugar until it is well-incorporated and the batter is shiny.

3. Whip on high for 5 - 7 minutes until the icing forms stiff peaks.

4. Add desired food coloring and incorporate thoroughly.

Note on Royal Icing: Royal Icing is great to use for flat designs, it can be marbled and shaped using a variety of piping bags.

Decorating Cookies with Kids:

Decorating cookies with children can be a fun bonding experience and a great way to help children explore their artistic creativity. Allow them to help with every step of the process so they feel more involved as if it were their personal project. Little children can drop the food coloring into the icing, and older kids may be able to whip it themselves (with supervision!). Allow them to choose their cookie cutter shapes and press a few cookies themselves. They will watch "their" cookies throughout the baking process and be proud of their end product. Kids may make a mess in the kitchen, but if you make the time more about play and creativity than perfection, everyone will have a good time.

Gingerbread Men:

Gingerbread men are a favorite with children because of their human shaped bodies and the story that goes along with them. Find candies to make buttons for the gingerbread men's clothing and eyes for the face. Of course, it is possible make them look adorable and camera ready without the help of children. Either way, they are always a fun holiday treat.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • ½ cup granulated white sugar

  • ²?? cup molasses (prevent molasses from sticking to the measuring cup by first greasing with a pad of butter)


1. Wisk together all of your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and spices) in a large mixing bowl.

2. In another large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses and mix until well incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture and beat until combined.

3. Divide the dough into two equal sections and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until dough is firm.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°.

5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough until it is about ¼ inch thick. Use a gingerbread cookie cutter to press out each cookie. Lay cookies on the parchment paper lined cookie sheets. If the dough is soft, put the cookie sheet back in the fridge (or freezer) for 10 minutes before baking.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online How to Bake Cookies course?

7. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. They are done when they are firm and the edges just begin to brown.

8. Optional: press raisins or candies directly into the dough while it is still warm. Icing can also be used to hold candies down later. Allow cookies to cool completely before using any icing on them.

Sugar Cookies:

Sugar cookies are another favorite for cookie decorating. They are versatile in that they have mild flavor, light color, and can be easily cut into a variety of shapes.


  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a large mixing bowl, whip butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla.

2. In another mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder).

3. Add dry ingredients to the beaten butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir until well incorporated and smooth.

4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, place in a mixing bowl, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°.

6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface ¼ - ½ inch thick and cut cookie shapes with cookie cutter. Use any shapes you like.

8. Place cookies one inch apart on the greased parchment paper

9. Bake for 6 - 8 minutes.

10. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Candies for Decoration:

Choose candies that go with the colors you chose. The best candies do not have writing (at least on one side). Be creative. Adding candies to your cookies is mostly about having fun, so choose what you like.


A cookie decorating party can be a fun way to get together, generally around the holidays or the colder part of the year. They are great for kids, adults, or families. Set up a large table with plenty of piping bags of icing and bowls of candies so there is plenty to go around. Make some hot chocolate and turn on some music. You can even use the cookies and snacks. Simple. Easy. Fun.

Sandwich Cookies and Cookie Cakes

Sandwich cookies and cookie cakes are great for parties. The grandeur of a huge cookie decorated as a cake is sure to please the children in your audience and may fill the adults with pleasant memories from their own childhoods. The delectable sweet and creamy sandwiches look pleasing and taste even better.


1. Learn the techniques for making sandwich cookies.

2. Learn the techniques for making cookie cake.

Sandwich Cookies:

Making sandwich cookies is a fun way to jazz up your cookies. Some people love the boxed oatmeal sandwich cookies, but they are nothing compared to the homemade version. These delicious sandwiches are no more difficult than baking a batch of your favorite oatmeal cookies and filling them with a generous spread of cream cheese filling. The technique remains the same for each flavor combination and each variety looks no less inviting than the last. Everyone has their own way of enjoying a creamy sandwich cookie; some people pull them apart to lick out the sweet frosting in the middle, and others attempt to take bites of equal proportions of cookie and cream. However you like to eat them, these little sandwiches will be a treat.


American sandwich cookies are much less complicated than their French cousins, the macarons (discussed in a section all its own). The technique lies on choosing the right combination of filling and cookie. When spreading the filling, always make sure that the cookie has cooled completely before doing so. Lightly place the top cookie on the filling and press ever so slightly, just so the filling sticks to both top and bottom. Allow filling and cookies to set before serving or transporting.


As we discussed in the section on glazes and frostings, frosting is a great filling for a sandwich cookie. Cream cheese frosting, for instance, goes well with red velvet cookies, oatmeal cookies, and spice cookies. Frosting is also a good choice because it sticks well to both the top and bottom cookies, but frosting is not the only choice when it comes to sandwich cookie fillings. Some people prefer the fruity flavor and gel-like texture of jam or jelly. This is a good filling for sugar cookies, lemon cookies, and shortbread cookies. Another summer favorite is the ice cream sandwich cookie. These must be served immediately after making, as they have a tendency to melt and make a huge mess if they do so.

Red Velvet Cream:

Red velvet sandwich cookies are sure to impress with their vibrant red and white colors. These can be served at just about any event in which you want to add a little splash of color to the serving table.


  • 1 ¹?? cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons of buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring

  • Frosting: Make one full batch of cream cheese frosting from the glazes and frostings section.


1. Whisk or sift together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

2. Beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy. This should take about three minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Slowly beat in the buttermilk, vanilla, and red food coloring.

3. Once the wet mixture is fully incorporated, add the dry ingredient mixture and mix thoroughly.

4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 375°.

6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7. Drop cookies onto the parchment paper with an ice cream scoop, or roll into 2 inch balls.

8. Cook for 9 - 11 minutes until the cookies are ready. They will be light and airy, almost cake-like.

9. Allow to cool completely.

10. While cookies are cooling, make your cream cheese frosting.

11. When cookies are completely cool and frosting is ready, spread the frosting on half of the cookies and top each sandwich with another cookie.

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies:

Another favorite, as mentioned before, is the oatmeal sandwich cookie. They bring back fond memories of childhood for many people. These sandwich cookies, when made at home, tend to pleasantly surprise and delight your guests.


  • ¾ cup white sugar

  • ¾ cup butter, softened

  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 ¾ cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. Mix until fluffy. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in raisins and oats.

4. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and drop cookies using a heaping teaspoon.

5. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown.

6. Allow to cool.

7. While the cookies are cooling, make vanilla frosting and set aside.

8. When the cookies are completely cool, assemble them by spreading icing on half of the cookies and topping each sandwich with another cookie.

Cookie Cake:

Cookie cake is another childhood favorite for many people. Some people see a cookie cake and think that it is a difficult task or something only fit for the special ovens at a bakery, but that could not be farther from the truth. Cookie cakes are almost the exact same recipes as regular cookies, but rather than cooking separately, they are spread over a pizza pan and baked as one.


The overwhelmingly most popular type of cookie cake is the chocolate chip cookie, but you can conceivably use whichever traditional cookie recipe you prefer. Simply bake it following the same technique to achieve the cookie cake you desire. Even if you use the traditional chocolate chip variety, you can always add nuts, extra vanilla, or dried fruits to the batter to add dimension and complexity.


Prepare your batter, it is best to use a recipe specifically for cookie cake, and spread onto 14 inch pizza pan lined with parchment paper. Bake between 350° and 375°, depending upon the recipe, for about 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are golden and the middle is beginning to set. Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When the cookie is cooled, you can decorate it with frosting, sprinkles, nuts, chocolate shavings, powdered sugar, or candies to complete the look.


Sandwich cookies are cream-filled treats, while cookie cakes are large and impressive. Either one is a great choice for a child's birthday or a pot luck dinner party.