Whether you're making homemade sugar cookies or gingerbread cookies for Christmas or are decorating cookies for your kid's birthday party, try our easy tips for making beautifully decorated homemade cookies. We've included tips for which tools to have on hand, as well as our best techniques for how to color icing, how to create piping designs, how to melt chocolate and how to paint cookies. Get baking with our how to decorate cookies techniques!
For easy decorating, you’ll want to have on hand regular or disposable pastry bags and tips, white and dark chocolate and a variety of cookie cutters, colored sugars and food coloring.
Sources for cookie-decorating items include Kitchen Krafts (kitchenkrafts.com, 800-776-0575), which has a wide array of cookie cutters, edible glitters, cookie stencils, dragees and sanding sugars. Similar items, as well as toasted coconut and cookie molds, stamps and cutters, can be found in The Baker’s Catalogue of King Arthur Flour (bakerscatalogue.com, 800-827-6836).
Place small quantities of icing in several small bowls. Add a little food coloring to each one and mix well. You will obtain the most vivid colors if you use paste food colors, which are available at craft stores and cake-decorating shops. If you’re concerned about synthetic food dyes, natural colorants can deliver an attractive look using concentrated vegetable pigments. To make frosting look festive, we recommend the natural food dyes from King Arthur Flour (kingarthurflour.com). For naturally colored sprinkles, we like the “Nature’s Colors” pastel shades from India Tree. Find this brand at cheftools.com.
Thin your icing with a few drops of water if it seems too stiff. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a fine writing tip or into a paper piping cone. (To make a paper piping cone, cut a piece of parchment or wax paper into a 15x12x8-inch triangle. Starting at the short corner, wrap the triangle up along the long side to make a tight cone. Fold the tip into the cone to secure it. Spoon icing into cone, close the top of the cone and fold edges over to seal. Cut a small opening in the tip.) To outline a cookie for accent, pipe a continuous line or a series of connected dots around it.
Melted dark and white chocolate drizzled on top of cookies is a special treat. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on High for 1 minute. Stir well, then continue microwaving on High in 30-second bursts until two-thirds of the chocolate has melted, stirring well after each burst. Remove the bowl and continue stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Cool for 5 minutes at room temperature. Use a pastry bag fitted with a fine writing tip to pipe the melted chocolate or dip tines of a fork in chocolate and drizzle.
Paint cookies with one icing color. While they are still wet, use a paper piping cone or plastic condiment bottle to drop a contrasting color onto the cookies. Draw the tip of a toothpick through both colors, creating a swirled effect.
Cut a small hole for hanging with the tip of a paring knife before baking.