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Guide to Decorating Cookies

Plain sugar cookie with piles of colorful decorating sprinkles
So you're hosting a cookie exchange, or maybe you’re taking cookies to a holiday open house. No matter the occasion, you want those cookies to look extra special, right? Then you'll love our quick tips on how to decorate cookies like a pro—no matter your skill level.  
From decorating cookies with sprinkles to rolling cookies in fancy sugar, here are some of the best techniques for adding a little extra sparkle to your holiday cookies, and they don’t take a ton of time. We’ve even suggested unique cookie recipes for each technique to get you started. Ready, set, let’s decorate!

Roll Cookies in Fancy Sugar

For this technique, you’ll want to decorate your cookies before baking. We recommend using decorative sugar (also known as colored sanding sugar), Turbinado sugar (coarse golden sugar) or pearl sugar (coarse clear sugar). It all sounds super fancy but it’s really very easy! 

Place the sugar in a small bowl. Shape the cookie dough into balls per recipe directions. Roll the balls in the sugar, place them on a cookie sheet and bake as directed. 

Tips 

  • If cookies need to be flattened before baking, use the bottom of a drinking glass, a fork or your thumb.
  • You can also try adding sprinkles to your cookies before baking, but depending on the recipe, they may melt in the oven. Try it out with one cookie before committing to an entire batch.

Try it! 

Give this fancy sugar technique a try with these three cookie recipes.

Add Sprinkles After Baking

Decorating cookies with sprinkles is one of the easiest ways to add a pop of color and amp up the fun, plus a great way to get the kiddos involved. There are two methods you can use to get your sprinkles to stick to your baked cookies: frosting and egg wash. Whichever method you use, make sure your cookies have cooled completely before following the steps below. 

Frosting Method

You can use either homemade or store-bought frosting for this method. Just make sure the frosting is soft but not too runny—sprinkles will not stick to dry, stiff frosting. Top your cooled cookies with frosting. Before it sets, simply drop on your sprinkles of choice.

Egg Wash Method

Make an egg wash—add pasteurized egg whites and a splash of water to a small bowl and mix with a fork until combined. Brush the tops of the cooled cookies with the egg wash and immediately add sprinkles. 

Tip

To add additional features, you can sprinkle on fancy sugars or press in chocolate or another type of candy.

Try it!

Test out both methods with these sprinkle-topped cookie recipes.

Sprinkle on the Magic! 
Sprinkle on the Magic! 
Deck your cookies with a sprinkle of holiday cheer! From a smidge of silver stars to a pinch of peppermint sugar, you can transform the simplest sugar cookie, cupcake, cake or sweet treat into a holiday work of art. Let’s decorate! 

Drizzle Cookies With Chocolate

When learning how to decorate cookies like a pro, ooey, gooey and melty chocolate is a delicious way to go! 

To melt most types of chocolate, cook uncovered in a microwavable dish, in a saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir the chocolate once every minute, just until melted, being careful not to let the chocolate get too hot—it’s easy to burn. Fill a piping bag with the melted chocolate. 

Make sure your cookies are cooled completely. Using quick but controlled movements, drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Let the cookies stand for about two hours or until the chocolate is set.

Tips

  • Be careful not to let the chocolate get too hot, it’s easy to burn.
  • For additional decoration, sprinkle chopped nuts over the wet chocolate. 

Try it!

Try out this melty method with these delicious cookie recipes.

Add Sprinkles to Chocolate-Dipped Cookies

Why stop at just sprinkles OR chocolate when decorating cookies? Take your holiday treats to the next level with this stylish yet simple technique. 

Start with completely cooled cookies, bars or graham crackers. Prepare a small bowl of melted chocolate or almond bark—cook uncovered in a microwavable dish, in a saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring once every minute until melted. 

Dip the edge of the cookie into the melted chocolate, then lay the dipped cookie on waxed paper. Immediately add decorative sprinkles or chopped peppermint candies on top of the melted chocolate. Let cookies stand for about 2 hours or until chocolate is set.

Tip

Be careful not to let the chocolate get too hot, it’s easy to burn.

Try it! 

Bring this cookie decorating tip to life! These recipes are not only fun but fantastic for the holidays—they even make great gifts. 

Add Extra Sparkle to Glazed Cookies

Add color and elegance to your holiday cookies with a beautiful, shiny and hard glaze made from simple ingredients, like sugar and water. This is a great cookie decorating technique for beginners because it makes your cookies look elegant without a ton of effort.

Start with flat cookies, such as cutouts, that have cooled completely.  Outline your cookie with the glaze then flood the surface. This will prevent the glaze from oozing off the edges and making a sticky mess. Then drop edible glitter, sprinkles, coarse sugar or chopped nuts into the wet glaze before it sets. Let the glaze dry thoroughly before storing the cookies.

Tip

If you’d like to add more design elements to your cookies, wait for the glaze to set and then pipe on your favorite frosting. Add your sprinkles and sparkles immediately after, before the frosting sets, and make sure to tap off any excess.

Try it!

Try this technique with these sweet star and snowflake cookie recipes. 

Roll Sandwich Cookies in Sprinkles

When it comes to decorating cookies with sprinkles, it doesn’t get much easier or more fun than this! Sandwich cookies are already super kid friendly, but when you add in this rolling technique, the fun and flavor factor definitely goes up a couple of notches. 

Start with your favorite sandwich cookie recipe. While the filling is still wet, roll the edges of the cookies in a bowl of sprinkles, chopped nuts or shredded coconut.

Tip

For extra flavor, you can also roll your sandwich cookies in chopped nuts or shredded coconut.

Try it!

Get rolling with these fun and festive cookie recipes.

Bake the Season Bright
Bake the Season Bright
Sign up for our email to receive a unique cookie recipe from November 26th – December 19th! Every day will be a chance to whip up something wonderful and celebrate the joy of the season.