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Decorating Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing


Remember these cookies?  I’ve had lots of people asking how to make them since Dominic’s birthday party, so I thought I’d share my recipe and decorating tips.

I’ve always been hesitant to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing.  It looked so hard.  Once I took the plunge and tried it, I realized it was actually pretty easy.  All you need is a reasonably steady hand and a bit of time.

The Best Recipes

My sugar cookie recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I love that there’s no cream of tartar (which always seems to be sold out at the grocery store), you don’t have to leave it in the fridge overnight, and it rolls out like a dream.

The royal icing recipe is the simplest version I’ve found.  It uses only three ingredients: egg whites, lemon juice, and icing sugar.  You can find the recipe and directions at The Pioneer Woman.

The rest is easy.

How to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing

Let’s get decorating!

Start by colouring your icing your desired shade.  Gel colours are better, but the regular kind will work too.  Outline your cookies and let dry for a few minutes.  Use the smallest round piping tip you have.  I used Wilton number 2.  I found that by the time I was done outlining, the cookies I started on were ready.

Thin out the rest of your icing with a small about of water.  I went a little too thin with this batch, but the train cookies above were just right.  Fill your piping bag with the runny icing and flood most of your cookie.  Don’t fill it entirely–it will be too much.  Spread out the icing with a toothpick or spaghetti noodle.  Let the cookies dry overnight.  I found they were dry after about 8 hours, so you could start in the morning and finish your decorating after supper.

Once the cookies are dry, you can pipe on any details you like.

Any baking mysteries you need solved?  Let me know in the comments!  I love taking readers suggestions.


Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!