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How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

The secret to perfectly decorated Christmas cookies? Royal icing. See how to glaze yours in a few simple steps.

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Don’t be intimidated by royal icing. You can get your cookies to look like they came straight from the bakery by using a simple piping and glazing technique, coupled with a bit of patience. Here’s how to do it!

What you’ll need:
  • Prepared Royal Icing
  • Baked cookies, completely cooled
  • Piping bag (multiple, if using more than one color) or squeeze bottle (multiple, if using more than one color)
  • Small offset metal spatula
How to:

1.  First, prepare your royal icing as directed here. Scoop some frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small round writing tip—this will be used for piping borders on the cookies. Thin some of the reserved royal icing with water, one teaspoon at a time, until it is the consistency of cream—this will be used for flooding and glazing the cookies later.
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2.  Once you’ve watered the reserved icing down to a creamy consistency, pour it into the squeeze bottle. how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing_02
3.  Next, set up your work space! Make sure your cookies are completely cooled before you start decorating. We used Classic Sugar Cookies, but Gingerbread Cookies are a great choice too. how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing_03
4.  Time to start decorating! The first step is to border the cookies. Do this by using the piping bag filled with icing. Squeeze the bag firmly and steadily to create your icing border, working counter-clockwise at the very edge of each cookie. Release pressure on the piping bag to cut off the flow of icing and complete the border. Allow the borders to set completely, 30 to 60 minutes, before filling in your outline (also known as flooding!). how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing_04
5.  After the borders of your cookies have set, you can start filling with glaze. To do this, carefully flood the inside of the borders with the thinned royal icing in the squeeze bottle. how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing_05
6.  Using a small metal spatula, gently smooth any air bubbles or gaps until each cookie is completely glazed. Let the cookies stand for three minutes before adding any additional decorations like sprinkles or candies. Allow them to dry completely before storing. how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing_06
Expert tips:
  • Royal icing dries quickly when exposed to air. Completely cover royal icing you aren’t using in bowls with plastic wrap while you’re decorating.
  • If you wish to color your icing before piping and flooding, note that liquid food coloring is difficult to control and may make the icing too runny. Many bakers prefer to use food-coloring paste instead!
  • Never piped a border with royal icing before? Practice the technique on waxed paper before starting on the cookies.

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