I have posted many times about sugar cookies I have decorated with royal icing.  I just don’t think you can beat the gorgeous detailing and smooth finish that royal icing provides.  Though I have done my best to share all my tips and tricks in other posts, many readers have requested a “how to” post with step-by-step photos.  So for those of you who need the visual guide, let’s decorate with royal icing!

Let’s start out with a list of what you will need:
A batch of sugar cookies to decorate (this is my favorite recipe)
A batch of royal icing (you may need more than one batch, depending on how many colors you use, and how many cookies you decorated)
Icing gel colors – these are best because they create bright colors without affecting the consistency of the icing (unlike liquid food coloring)
Small airtight containers for each color of icing you plan to use
Disposable pastry bags fitted with small round tips (I like size 2 for most purposes)
Squeeze bottles (not pictured here, but these make the whole process much easier)

Once you have all your supplies together, invert the pastry bags so that they will be ready to be filled with icing.

Divide the batch of royal icing between the various airtight containers and color each as desired.

Transfer the colored icings to the prepared pastry bags.  You do not have to use all of the icing you color, only as much as you think you will need for piping.  Leave any excess in the container and cover with the airtight lid while the icing is not in use.

Pipe outlines around the edges of your cookies.  To keep your lines as smooth as possible and reduce stress on your body, do this seated at a table and keep one elbow or forearm steady against your work surface.  Keep the tip of your pastry bag very close to the cookie as you pipe, to avoid the “squiggles”.  (The more space between your tip and the cookie, the more room for the icing to move where you do not want it.)

Let the icing outlines set for at least one hour before proceeding.

With any of the piping bags that are not in use, store them upright in a drinking glass with a very small amount of water in the bottom.  This prevents the icing in the tip from hardening.

Now that the cookies have been outlined, we will make the thinned icing to flood the centers of the cookies.  To do this, use a portion of the thicker icing in its airtight container.  Add water, a very small amount at a time (maybe ½-1 tsp.), and stir well until the water is incorporated.  Continue this process, thinning the icing until you reach the desired consistency.  For the best flooding icing, you want it to run off the back of a spoon…

And be quickly reabsorbed into the icing still in the container.  I aim for the icing to disappear back into the icing below in about 5-10 seconds.

Once the icing has been appropriately thinned, let it stand for about 5-10 minutes.  This allows bubbles incorporated into the icing during the thinning process to rise to the surface.  After the bubbles have risen, give the icing one gentle stir around the surface to pop these bubbles, and transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle.

Fill the center of the outlined cookies with the thinned icing.

Use a toothpick to help the flooding icing reach the edges.

If you notice any air bubbles that have made it into the flooded icing, pop them with the tip of the toothpick.

Repeat this process until all the outlines have been filled.

Let the cookies set for several hours, until the icing has set completely.  (I like to let them set overnight.)

Once the icing has set, it will have a matte sheen and a hard surface.

Use remaining thick icing in pastry bags to pipe detailing onto the cookies.  Let this icing set at least one hour.

And you’re done!  That’s all there is to it.

I also made these little acorn cookies to go along with the maple leaves.

Package them up in little cellophane baggies, tie with ribbons, and you have some very adorable cookies for any occasion!

For all my previous entries on sugar cookies with royal icing, see these posts:
Christmas Cookies
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Valentine’s Cookies
Onesie Cookies
Andrew’s First Birthday Party
Wedding Sugar Cookies
Home, Sweet Home Cookies
Halloween Sugar Cookies

  • Hi Annie! I’m so excited that you posted this! I’m on the second day, detail day, of my snow flake cookies. As always, I’ve been loving your blog and am always excited to see your fantastic creations!
    ps: congratulations on your new home! It looks great!

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m planning my sugar making cookie activity for next weekend, and have received my meringue powder and gel from the US!

    This was a great post!

  • So excited for this post…I want to make cookies for ballet teachers for Christmas, and now I know how to make them look pretty. THANK you thank you!

  • Your decorating skills are so impressive! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  • Jen

    Thank you Annie for posting this. Now I am excited to decorate my cookies.

  • Terry

    Wow! I’ve done Christmas cookies for years, but never could get them to look so professional. Thanks for the great tutorial. Seems very doable. I’m itchin’ to give it a try this year.

  • HB

    I love detail. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

  • Karen

    Thanks for the tutorial. I want to try this. Question for you. So, if you leave the flood icing to dry overnight, do you need to make a new batch to do the piping on top? Or, if you saved the thicker royal icing in the pipe bags in the glass with water… do you refrigerate those or leave them out overnight, too?

  • Annie, can you tell me where you get your supplies? I’m in Indianapolis too and want to try my hand at royal icing next weekend. I’m also curious how you get so much baking done with a little one? My guy is about the same age as Andrew, and I can’t imagine how holiday baking is going to go.

  • Amanda Poninski

    Thank you Annie!! I am a very visual learner, so you have helped tremendously! I am confident now that I can use royal icing and have it turn out well,thanks to you :) Merry Christmas!

  • Where do you get the cellophane bags? That really adds to the presentation!

  • Annie,
    This is soooo helpful! I’m very intimidated by royal icing and this made it look so much more approachable. Thanks for the post!
    Also, I am in love with your granola recipes! I’ve been making them for the past several weeks for our breakfast parfaits and its by far the best recipe I’ve tried.

  • Jessica

    This was such a helpful post! Thanks so much! How long are the cookies good after you have wrapped in cellophane bags? In other words, how long will they taste fresh? Thanks so much!!! Love your blog!!

  • jaimeleben

    Yeah, that would have been brilliantly helpful when I started doing my cookies. Nice job!
    Question for you: Do you find using the couplers helpful enough to justify purchasing? I know they’re not terribly expensive, but I am just curious what your thoughts are.

  • Thanks so much for this!! I always see your vibrate and beautiful cookies and just can’t seem to get the same effect with buttercream :)

  • What a brilliant how-to guide! I have saved it for future use. Thank you :)

  • Thank you so much for posting this. I have been really wanting to do this for a long time, but I have been hesitant. Now that I have this post, I think it will be much easier for me to attempt it for the first time. Thanks so much!!!

  • betchacanteatjustone

    What a great tutorial, your cookies are gorgeous!

  • Kat

    Awesome job! I never really thought royal icing would be too hard, but it makes it even less intimidating to see just how easy it really is. I’ll have to try it on some Christmas cookies — my in-laws have ‘allowed’ (read: told) me to host this year’s family Christmas party, and I’m sort of nervous about the little details like this one… I’ll be practicing soon!

  • This is perfect! Icing cookies (at least neatly) has always escaped me and these look amazing! I am excited to try this out next week.

  • Great post and beautiful images! Keep up the good cookin’

  • Annie

    Hi Jaime,
    Yes, I think the couplers are really helpful – but I’ve never tried without them, so I wouldn’t know how to compare. However they are super convenient when you just want to switch out a tip on the same bag of icing (for example, I sometimes use a wider tip for outlines and a very thin one for certain detailing.)
    :) Annie

  • Annie

    These cookies keep really well for quite a long time. I have eaten them nearly two weeks after making them and they still taste great. I don’t think I’ve gone beyond that, so I don’t have a definite answer, but they keep very well.

  • Annie

    You can find them lots of places, but I usually buy mine at Joann’s in the Wilton aisle.

  • Alice

    Wow. This tutorial was awesome! I went through cooking school and never once was I taught how to work with royal icing like this. Love your blog!

  • These are always such wonderful posts, there are not enough quality posts that explain how to work this process online. These make wonderful gift basket bouquet displays.

  • I am in awe of you. You do all this, with a baby AND you are a doctor. Your blog should be published as a book!

  • HoosierMamma

    Hi Annie, I can’t wait to try this technique on our Christmas cookies this year. You would probably laugh if you saw the way my grandma & I use royal icing. We use a butter knife or a spoon and smear them with icing and it all ends up falling off onto the racks & paper. Such a mess! Also, I know you have heard this before but your site is so lovely. My mother-n-law turned me onto your site last week and I’ve been hooked. I love the detailed steps you give for the baby food. I see that many people ask you how you do it. “It” being all the hats you wear, with being a wife, mommy, doctor, baker & keeping up with your beautiful site. And you never respond. So what’s your secret Miss Annie? I think the Indianapolis Monthly or Indy Woman’s magazine should find room for you in their columns soon. Keep up the good work girl!

  • nutmegnanny

    Great tips! I have yet to decorate with royal icing but your tutorial makes it look so simple :)

  • katie

    Thank you! I tried my hand at royal icing last weekend and it was a disaster, I didn’t get any of the consistencies right. I’m going to try again this weekend and I know this will be very helpful!

  • Annie

    Thank you so much for your sweet compliments. I know, people ask me all the time how I do it and it’s a difficult question to answer – I just do it! I think anyone is capable of doing all I do. It just takes organization and good time management skills. You have to make time for the things you love, no matter how busy you might be! I hope you continue to enjoy the blog :)

  • Annie

    Hi Alisha,
    You can find the pastry bags, tips, squeeze bottles, gel coloring and meringue powder all in the Wilton aisle in craft stores (like Michael’s, Joann’s, etc.) As for baking with the little one – he’s just well behaved I guess. Our living room and kitchen are open to each other, so I can keep an eye on him, plus I have a very helpful husband. Also, Andrew loves to be in the kitchen with me while I bake so I just turn on some music and we have a little dance party. No special tricks, we just have fun!

  • Annie

    Great question, Karen. I typically try to save some of the initial piping icing for the detailing, but sometimes I end up making more. It really just depends on your needs. That is ideal, I suppose, so you don’t have to make extra or end up coloring more icing, but it is dependent on how many cookies and the type of design you are doing.

    Also, you definitely don’t want to refrigerate royal icing. It can cause it to harden, and then when it returns to room temperature, the condensation will cause it too thin out a bit and melt. Always keep it at room temperature. It can be stored in airtight containers for quite some time (weeks).

  • Nicely done.

  • themilkmanswife

    Thanks for posting this, Annie! Getting better with royal icing is something I’m working on and this is super helpful. Your cookies are always beautiful. I’m going to have to pick me up some squeeze bottles this weekend and get practicing! :)

  • Those cookies are beautiful…and so are you pictures!

  • Thanks for the tutorial!! You make it so organised, I tend to decorate in a completely haphazard manner!

  • I am SO impressed! Beautiful and it’s interesting to see what all goes on behind the scenes.

  • Great post. Thanks for all the hints. You make it looks so easy:))

  • Ariana from Chicago

    Thanks for the post! I will try my 2nd attempt at royal icing this xmas. And now that I found this pan (http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Christmas-Cookie-Shapes-Pan/dp/B001D8ZUT4), no need for the cutters or even rolling out the dough!

  • Annie

    Aw, I love rolling and cutting the dough! And I have a serious cookie cutter addiction.

  • Brooke

    Thank so much for the post, Annie! LOVE it and am going to give it a try this year…we should all report back on how ours turned out…a ‘where are they now’ post. :-)

  • sarah

    thank you, thank you, thank you-this is the best tutorial on this out there!!! as always you amaze me!!!!

  • Beautiful cookies…I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind. My decorating attempts are always interesting :)

  • wow those look amazing!!

  • Thank you for this great tutorial !!!

  • Angie

    Annie: Thanks for this tutorial! Have you ever frozen your cookies after they were iced? I am curious how they hold up.

    Thank you!

  • Loved this post! Thank you for explaining it so clearly. I love your method of flooding. And I didn’t know it’s best to set the cookies aside for an hour between outlining and flooding. Your cookies are always so beautiful.

  • Annie

    Angie, you don’t want to freeze after icing (or even refrigerate). The condensation that will collect on the cookies when they warm back up will dissolve the icing and make it into a mess, and all the hard work goes to waste.

  • Wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much!

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  • Siunna

    Thank you so very much for this 101 on Royal Icing! I discovered your blog a while ago and am totally hooked on it! Thanks so much for being so generous with your recipes and tips. It amazes me how a mom+current doctor could be such a lovely and proficient baker as well! Keep up the good work and all the best to you and your family!

  • Your cookies look SO much better than my gingerbread house decorating ever did LOL, I totally have that “6 year old” look to my icing skills right now :)
    – one thing my mom was telling me is to never use plastic wrap, plastic containers or plastic bags because the plastic will break down the royal icing, and she told me to always cover with aluminum foil in a stainless steel bowl instead – is this something that one needs to worry about? Can one even find non-plastic icing bags?

  • Annie

    Jenn, I’ve only ever used plastic containers and plastic piping bags for royal icing. It’s never been a problem. In fact, because royal icing keeps so well, I’ve kept it for over a week in a plastic container, used it later, and it’s been fine. That’s what I’ve seen on most other blogs as well. I don’t think you need to worry about it!

  • clinta1

    Wow! You have some amazing looking ideas Annie. I thought your cookies were very creative in design. What a way to augment the feeling of the Autumn season! Thanks for sharing with us!

  • magda

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! I am planing on making sugar cookies to decorate my Christmas tree this year. Ive never made sugar cookies before and your tutorial is great and really helpful! thank you so much!

  • Caroline

    This is outstanding. I’ve been looking for something like this so I can make cookies for my daughter’s birthday party. You are awesome!

  • Ashley R

    HI Annie, Thanks for the 101. However I can’t find meringue powder. Can I use Cream of Tater in it’s place?
    Thanks, Ashley

  • Annie

    Hi Ashley,
    Meringue powder can be found at craft stores such as Michael’s, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby or wherever Wilton products are sold. Cream of tartar is not an acceptable substitute. It is really a flavoring, where as the meringue powder is essential for the hard drying finish of royal icing.

  • What a great post! I followed your recipe for sugar cookies and royal icing this weekend for a baby shower. Everyone loved them. Thanks for sharing!

  • kaylee

    exactly how my mum does it at her bakery. my boyfriend says it tastes like poptart icing. :)

  • Annie

    Hi Kat,
    The dough and icing can both be made in advance. For the dough, wrap it well with plastic wrap (I’d probably also put it in a freezer bag.) Then thaw in the fridge before use. As for the icing, I’d say you can do it at least one week in advance, if not more.
    :) Annie

  • Tabitha

    I cant wait to try this, they are beautiful. I am just wondering if I am doing them as gifts how long are they going to keep like this. Do I have to wait until like the day before?

  • Annie

    Hi Tabitha,
    These cookies keep very, very well. You could probably make them up to a week in advance and as long as they are stored airtight, they should be fine. I’ve eaten them two weeks later and they have tasted great.

  • Cee Cole

    Thank you for this lesson. I have made three batches and they all came out great! I would never have had the wherewithal to try it if I had not seen your post. And I learned a lot from the replies and responses. Love your site!

  • wow! this is really helpful! although it seems to take a bit of time (to let the different layers of the icing set), it’s worth it for the look

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  • Jenn

    I’ve decorated a lot of cookies with Royal Icing, but I find that when I want to write on them with white lettering the letters seem to turn a yellowish color. Does anyone have advice for avoiding that?

  • Annie

    Hi Jenn,
    I use white royal icing all the time for detailing, but I’ve never had any problem with it yellowing. Do you add an extract for flavoring that isn’t clear? I really have no idea why that would happen and I’ve never had that issue. Sorry!

  • Heidi

    I made these cookies and they were amazing, I cant stop eating them dangit! Will be making them again for the superbowl….mmmm! Thanks for the recipe. Love the website

  • What a helpful blog on Royal Icing! Something I have yet to attempt but just might try it soon…

  • I finally got around to trying this and made some four-leaf clover cookies for St. Patrick’s Day. The main ingredients are definitely time and patience!

  • First off, I LOVE your blog. You have some incredible recipes that are simple enough for the working women! Here is my question – Can you make the royal icing using a regular hand mixer or whisk or do you have to use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment?

  • Annie

    I don’t think it’s really possible by hand. I mean, anything is possible, but it would be unbelievably difficult. A hand mixer might be able to handle it, but I’m not sure.

  • Anna

    Love the tutorial. Thanks. I made the sugar cookies gluten-free from your recipe and they turned out well. I have a question: I colored my royal icing and was set to outline with a #2 tip from wilton and the first one was fine, but then the icing got stuck in the tip and came out in a big blob. I went right from cookie #1 to cookie #2, so there wasn’t a long time in between. Has this ever happened to you? Either way, any ideas so I don’t get a jam in my tip. I am not sure if I made the icing too thin for the outlining, but I don’t see why that would cause a jam. How much thinner is the icing for the filling in part than the outlining part? Any advice would be great.

  • Annie

    Anna, it sounds like the icing maybe just wasn’t evenly mixed so some parts were thicker than others, creating blobs. I don’t really ever have that problem but if you do, you can use a toothpick to unclog the tip.

  • Hey Annie – I’m trying these out this weekend. How long do the finished cookies last? I know you’ve shipped them before, so I’m guessing a week or so? Thanks!

  • Cindy

    Hi Annie,
    My daughter and I are planning on making IU cookies for her grad party in 2 weeks. How soon can we make them and what is the best way to store them until the day of. We are going to put them out on the dessert table in celophane bags so people have the option to eat them or take them home. Would it be best to put them in the bags right away?

  • Annie

    Hi Cindy,
    I usually make mine up to a week in advance of when they are needed, and they keep very well. Any air-tight container will do but if I’m packaging them individually, I tend to just put them straight into the baggies with ribbon and then they are good to go!

  • Annie

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond sooner. Yes, they last at least a week or more.

  • Joan

    Dear Annie: I love the cookies but wanted to ask you about the flavor. I have a friend that makes beautiful cookies and the cookies themselves taste great but I always find that her frosting is very hard and crisp to bite into. Is that the nature of all royal frosting? I know I have had some other cookies from a local bakery that the royal frosting is crisp on the top but softer underneath. Does that make sense? Just wondering what your opinion is. And, LOVE your website!

  • Annie

    For a icing to be as perfect for decorating as royal icing is, there is inevitably a compromise in taste/texture. No, it isn’t soft at all – if it were, the intricate details could never hold up. I actually think it doesn’t have much of a taste at all and the cookie really shines through.

  • Sally

    One of your steps is to prop the piping bags w/ icing in a glass with a bit of water at the bottom. Do we leave them this way until the next day when we are ready to pipe the details on the cookies or will it dry out by then?

  • Annie

    Yes, the point of the water is to prevent the icing in the tips from drying out and hardening.

  • Great post, currently making my royal icing and sugar cookies with kindergartner for a class party:) Thanks for sharing!

  • Kim

    How did you get the sugar lines on the pumpkins? Is there a special applicator tip or tool for that?

    Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us! You are truly amazing.

  • Annie

    I piped on icing as normal and then sprinkled sugar over the top.

  • gourmetgadgetgal

    This is very helpful – I didn’t know you could not put the icing in the fridge. We started two years ago making a gingerbread house (which we have to start the week of Thanksgiving) and this will help advance the design quite a bit!

  • Rachel M.

    Just wanted to thank you for a great tutorial! “Learn how to decorate with royal icing” was one of my 2011 goals (inspired by you). Just made my first batch today and they turned out great!!

  • Hillary

    Hi Annie,

    I only give credit when credit is due and it is due. I have looked over you’re whole Valentine’s Day section and you are so creative! Everything is absolutely adorable and I am going to copy you!!! haha! Great job!!!

  • Cate

    Thank you for this tutorial! I just decorated my first batch of sugar cookies with royal frosting and found your tips and directions very helpful! I’ll be making more this weekend as I have a lot of leftover icing and no more cookies to frost! :(

  • Sharon See

    I have been asked to make 240 heart cookies with royal icing for an overseas wedding. One white the other lime green. Im putting 2 cookies in each cello bag. Will they be fresh if I make them 3/4 weeks beforehand? Any ideas how best to carry them?


  • Annie

    You’ll have to do a test run and see. I think 3-4 weeks is really pushing it. I normally do mine 1 week in advance. I have no idea about transporting them that distance. Good luck!

  • Jennifer

    Hi! I’m completely addicted to your blog! I’m throwing my son’s first birthday party in May and we’re doing a Dr. Seuss theme. I’ve done a test run with your sugar cookie recipe and royal icing. The only problem I’m having is getting the piping to line up nicely without leaving the little tip that pops up at the end. Any advice on how to get it to stay down? Thanks!

  • Annie

    Jennifer, I still have trouble with that point at the edge of piping to this day :) I think it has the most to do with the consistency of your icing from the get-go. If you have the point, it’s probably a tad too stiff. But, if you end up having it anyway, you can use a small paintbrush dipped very lightly in water to smooth it down. You have to do it fairly quickly after piping though, before the design sets.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll try thinning it out a little next time :)

  • Katie

    Have you ever tried putting any flavored extracts in your Royal Icing? I tried Royal Icing decorating for the first time this weekend (thanks for the tutorial! I think it will take me a while to be as good as you, though!). The cookies tasted fine, but I’m thinking if I put almond extract or something into the icing, it might taste even yummier, but just wondering if this was something you’ve ever done or know if it will work?

  • Annie

    No, I haven’t tried it myself but a couple of my friends have done it with success.

  • Terri

    My royal icing looks good, but dried to a mat finish! Any suggestions to make it more shiny??? Thanks!!

  • Annie

    It is supposed to have a matte finish.

  • Hi, Annie!
    I’ve made a goal this year to really improve my cookie decorating techniques, and before my next attempt I was thinking of buying some better tools. I’m definitely going to buy some squeeze bottles, but I’m torn when it comes to the pastry bags. Up until now I’ve used ziploc bags, but I feel guilty because I try not to use/throw away too much plastic. Here it says that you use disposable bags – do you just throw them away at the end and buy more, or can you rinse those out and reuse them despite their name? If you do just get rid of them at the end, is there a reason you don’t use reusable ones (as in, do you find them to be more difficult to use/a hassle, or something along those lines)?
    I’d appreciate any suggestions you could offer. Your tutorials and posts are always so helpful!

  • Annie

    Jess, I feel you on the waste of the disposable bags. I have not yet tried rinsing them out and reusing them but I think I am going to because I go through an awful lot of them when I do a batch with several colors. They actually are recyclable, but it’s one of the weird numbers that nowhere near me takes for recycling. I do use a mechanical bag when doing things like cupcakes, etc. to cut down on waste but for royal icing I just find disposable to be the best option. I wouldn’t use ziploc bags because they are too flimsy and I don’t have as much control due to their shape.

  • Jane

    I have had the white royal icing turn a little yellow or grayish. I’ve found that if I add white food coloring, it’s bright white. I buy the AmeriColor Bright White and add 1tbsp. and minus 1tbsp. of the water.

  • Traci Howard

    Good evening! I have read and made sugar cookies this weekend, and suffice to say, I was well pleased! However, in reading and rereading the tutorial, I can’t find where the lesson is on adding dots and creating hearts during the flooding stage. Thank you for ALL you do!

  • Annie

    That’s a different post. Just search “how to marble royal icing”. I hope that helps!

  • Erin Day

    Looks amazing! I want to try but, potentially dumb question. Meringue powder is made from egg whites, but it’s not raw eggs, right? I’m a bit paranoid about salmonella, which is why I have never made royal icing!!

  • Annie

    It’s totally safe.

  • Ellen

    So by airtight, do you mean the kind of containers with sides that lock? Like yours? Or would any plastic container that seals do?

  • Annie

    I would think most plastic containers would be considered airtight.

  • Ellen

    Most, yes! I like to be sure, dried royal icing doesn’t sound fun to work with.

  • Angela

    Hey Annie! I love the look of these cookies! They are perfect for fall and I wanted to do some for my baby shower this weekend. I tried to make them last night along with some onesie shaped cookies but they end up spreading during baking and getting kind of “puffy”. I tried to roll the dough out thin but maybe it wasnt thin enough. How do you keep the shape of your cookies while not making them so thin? Do I have to make the dough homemade? I used Pillsbury dough. Thanks very much for the tips! I never knew how to decorate sugar cookies to make the icing look smooth and now I know the “flood” technique! :)

  • Annie

    The dough you use is what will determine whether the cookies bake up puffy or not. I always make my cookies using my favorite sugar cookie recipe because they don’t spread or puff up at all.

  • Kristin

    Thank you Annie! I have finally mastered sugar cookie cut-outs and royal icing. I have some beautiful Christmas trees and snowflakes.

  • Sarahannerw

    this may sound like a silly question (and I apologize, but this will be my first crack at royal icing!) – when you let the first layer of icing set, before you put the details on with the second layer, is it okay to leave them out on a cooling rack overnight? or should you put them in a plastic container (single layer, not stacked of course)? I am just concerned about them drying out.

  • Sarahannerw

    this may sound like a silly question (and I apologize, but this will be my first crack at royal icing!) – when you let the first layer of icing set, before you put the details on with the second layer, is it okay to leave them out on a cooling rack overnight? or should you put them in a plastic container (single layer, not stacked of course)? I am just concerned about them drying out.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, you need to leave them out otherwise that nice smooth finish will be ruined. They will not dry out.

  • annieseats

    Yes, you need to leave them out otherwise that nice smooth finish will be ruined. They will not dry out.

  • Karla Fesler

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I’ve wanted to try sugar cookies w/royal icing for a few years. I made my first batch today & they turned out pretty nice (for my first go). I know they would have never looked this good w/o the help of your tutorial! Amazing!! So detailed!! Thanks again! :)

  • Karla Fesler

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! I’ve wanted to try sugar cookies w/royal icing for a few years. I made my first batch today & they turned out pretty nice for my first go. I know they would have never looked this good w/o the help of your tutorial! Amazing!! So detailed!! Thanks again! :)

  • Do you have a method of transferring the icing to the squeeze bottles without making a total mess?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t find it all that difficult if I just pour slowly but one thing that sometimes helps is to use a square or rectangular container to do the thinning, so I can use the corner of the container as a sort of spout when I’m pouring the icing into the bottle. You could also use a funnel but I probably wouldn’t go that far.

  • What a great tutorial. Your cookies are beautiful. After the holidays I need to work on perfecting my cookie decorating and flooding skills.

  • Hailey

    Hi Annie,
    Thank you for the fantastic tutorial. I know you can freeze sugar cookies to keep them fresh. But I was wondering if you can freeze sugar cookies with the royal icing on them? Or can I just keep them on the counter? I will be making them five days in advance.

  • Anonymous

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks.

  • Phernie

    I actually have a favorite (famous – hah) recipe that I use, and I got so upset a couple of days ago because my cookies totally went berserk – as in spread all over the pan and wouldn’t come off with a clean bottom. I think my baking powder was bad. Once I got some new (and prayed hard for a better result), my new batches were beautiful. Now to make something with all of the cookie “crumbs” from the other batches…

  • Kim_bushue

    Thank you soo much for taking the time to share.great work!

  • Acflint5329

    That was so great! Thank you :D I have been prating piping with royal icing for days and wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. I’m excited to try again today . Thank you

  • cookies

    Hi thank you for your tutorial. I made the royal icing and when i went to thin it out it came out with small tints of white. I cant seem to get the small flakes of white out. Any suggestions? thank you!

  • annieseats

    Do you mean you had colored the icing and there were white patches? The color needed to be more evenly mixed in. Or were there just differences in consistencies? Either way, sounds like it just needed to be mixed longer/more thoroughly.

  • Lea

    annie, is the icing thats on the outside different from the frosting thats in the middle? cause the outside icing looks thicker then the inner frosting.

  • annieseats

    If you read through the post, it has detailed instructions and step by step photos that show the types of icing, how to get them, etc.

  • UGH!

    Thanks for this info! I made cookies the other day (came out perfect!) and waited a full 24 hours to let them dry before putting them into ziploc bags (dont need them til the weekend). Woke up this morning and the bag stuck to and peeled off the icing in spots! Its not warm where I live right now, nor all that humid. Any ideas what I did wrong here? How do you suggest I store them until the weekend? Devastated as you know how long these suckers take to make! Thank You!

  • annieseats

    I think the environment/humidity probably had something to do with it, unfortunately. They were stored at room temperature, correct? I generally store them that way (in large Ziplocs, in a single layer) and don’t usually have that problem. I don’t think it’s anything specific that you did. How frustrating!

  • Melody Garrison

    These are fabulous! You are very talented. I read that you are mom and graduated from medical school. How do you find the time to make all these wonderful recipes.

  • Egsteele

    Great information — my frosting looked very “matte” when it dries – did I do something wrong? Is it supposed to have a little sheen to it?

  • annieseats

    No, it should dry matte.

  • I just made my first sugar cookies with royal icing this last weekend – I followed your tutorial and they turned out wonderfully! Thank you! I’m now going to attempt to make palm tree cookies for my son’s 2nd birthday party favors. Oh! and I’ll also be serving your hummingbird cupcakes w/the dried pineapples for that tropical-inspired party too :-)

  • CarmenN

    Just concluded our daughter’s 2nd “Elmo-themed” birthday party and it was a success! Thank you for your tutorial. I am never successful the first time around when it comes to _______ (insert cooking or baking activity)….. But my “Letter and Number of the Day” sugar cookies inspired by your post were a hit! I am not into sweets, but I loved these cookies! Thank you so much!

  • Betsy

    I had the same problem..my wedding dresses looked like little maternity tops..sooo.after another go at at it..I discovered that if I left out the baking powder and baking soda, the cookies came out flat and perfect!!

  • carlynbri

    Just wanted to say thanks for this! I usually revisit this post (and the sugar cookie post) every Christmas, but I just finished some fabulous cookies for my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party tomorrow. Your icing and cookie recipes are much simpler and tastier than the cookie/royal icing recipe in my fancy cookie book from the store…! Questions though…does your kitchen look like it exploded when you’re all finished…? Like mine..? I’ve got bowls and spoons and icing tips overflowing every countertop and sink in the place. Haha!

  • annieseats

    Haha! Mine used to be that way but now that I’ve decorated soooo many cookies, I’ve got it down to a much neater, streamlined process. It definitely took a while to get there though!

  • Mara

    Hello Annie, I am Mara and I coordinate a blog in Spain where we share many American recipes, ideas, and from other countries as well with Christian values. I used some of the pictures of this entry putting the link to your blog, plus in Pinterest so people can come to your blog. If you rather me not doing this, let me know and I will take your pic from our site. Now, I wonder if I shouldn´t have done this before puttings it … let me know. It was published today, October 13th so let me know. Out blog is: http://dulcefragancia-mujer.blogspot.com Thanks!!!

  • annieseats

    That’s fine, thanks for checking :)

  • After pipping and filling the area with the icing, should you just leave it sit in room temp over nite or should you put the both sets of icing in the fridge? I love how your halloween cookies came out and i can not wait to try them myself :)

  • annieseats

    Leave it at room temp. Do not refrigerate cookies with royal icing. Enjoy!

  • Going to attempt to try this royal icing technique to make Mickey Mouse cookie favors for my son’s upcoming 2nd birthday! Thanks for the detailed tutorial.


  • I LOVE the fall colors! Could you tell me what colors dye you used?

  • annieseats

    I made these cookies quite a long time ago now so I honestly don’t remember what specific colors I used. You can buy gel colors in many different shades and just blend them until you get the color you are going for. Have fun!

  • julie


    Thanks for giving me the tools to reinvigorate a favorite Christmas tradition! Check it out here:http://andersonthreeleggeddog.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-just-got-little-sweeter.html

  • annieseats

    So cute! I love it. Your cookies look great.

  • Erin

    I had a very successful first time experience with your method and recipe! Have you ever tried using clear imitation vanilla instead of water, and if so what were the results?

  • annieseats

    I haven’t but I know some people who do like to add it to their icing. However, you should definitely only add a small amount for flavoring. You couldn’t really use it instead of water, because that would be a huge amount of vanilla and that is essentially just alcohol. The icing would have a different texture as a result, not to mention the taste would be too strong. But, feel free to add a bit for the sake of flavoring. Glad your first experience went well!

  • Erin

    Very true…thanks again!!!

  • Mairgl

    I am making cookie favors for my future daughter-in-laws bridal shower. I have a few questions: 1. Do you leave the cookies to dry overnight uncovered? 2. How long will the royal iced cookies stay fresh in the cellophane bags? 3. Do you refrigerate or leave at room temperature? Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page, it covers all of these topics. Thanks!

  • Mairgl

    Thank you very much! I used your recipe Annie and the cookies turned out great!

  • michele

    when you add water to thin out for flooding do you need to add more color? or will the color stay the same as the piping? Also, can you buy the gel coloring in black? thanks in advance!

  • annieseats

    No, no need to adjust the color while thinning. The water will not affect the color. And yes, it is available in black. Happy decorating!

  • Lueme

    thank you! Thank you! Thank you for sharing and teaching!

  • Amy

    Annie! Your blog posts on royal icing (and your bloody cookies) inspired me to re-launch my blog! Thank you, thank you. :) <3 I've linked back to you from the newest post – in three different places. Thanks again! http://www.amystreats.com/blog/halloween-cookies-with-royal-icing

  • Annie

    So awesome! Nice work!