9 Cookie Decorating Essentials

If you're planning to gift some holiday cookies to family and friends, but don't have any prior experience with the decorating techniques, then we're here to help. Check out this Buzzle article for information about some must-have cookie decorating supplies for beginners.
Cookie decorating essentials
Handy Tip!
Those intimidated by a piping bag can use a regular medical syringe (without the needle of course!) to pipe designs on the cookies.

Whether it's Christmas season, Halloween, 4th of July, or that your family and friends are simply waiting for a batch of exquisite cookies, there's simply no need to have an excuse to whip up a fresh batch of homemade cookies. Well, if you've been baking cookies for a while now but haven't paid much attention to decorating them, it's time you venture out on a new artistic journey. Decorating cookies transforms their appearance completely, and glamorizes them beyond belief.

Then again, the way you decorate your cookies will make all the difference. However, before you head on to decorating them, you need to ensure you have all the supplies you need. Once you begin decorating, there won't be time to go looking for anything, and missing supplies will only result in frustration. Hence, let's take a look at the basic cookie decorating tools you need to have before you begin embellishing your decadent delights.

Basic Cookie Decorating Supplies for Beginners

Piping Bags

piping bags

You need piping bags to pipe royal icing onto the cookies. Purchase piping bags with couplers which allow you to use a variety of tips on the same bag. Always make sure the tip of your piping bag is sealed, or else the icing will dry. You can use a cap or toothpick to seal the opening. Disposable piping bags are great, because they eliminate the need to wash and store. Next, you need to consider the tips. Tips have been designed for different purposes, some meant for fine lines and writing, while others result in lovely rose, star, stripes, and other frosting designs. Depending on your preference choose the tips. Tip #2 or #3 are ideally suitable for outlining and filling. You can also use squeeze bottles to fill your cookies with icing; however, you need to prepare large quantities of icing to fill these bottles, so unless you're preparing a large batch of cookies, stick to piping bags.

Handy Tip!
Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle if you're giving an outline to the cookie. Moreover, always stop applying pressure before lifting your piping bag.

Food Coloring

food coloring

We're all familiar with the liquid and concentrated food coloring pastes available in the baking aisles; however, these days, you get soft gel pastes, which are wonderful because they're tasteless and do not impart that metallic flavor to the cookies. Purchase a set of colors to dole a batch of colorful cookies this holiday season. Even if you're opting for white cookies this year, it's important to add white coloring, or else you'll have a dull white look, which can be quite unappealing. You will also need a brush set, with which you can mix and apply the food coloring. Then again, food coloring sprays are also available that give an airbrush effect to your cookies.

Handy Tip
Preferably use paste or gel food colorings because liquid food coloring thins the icing. Moreover, always add food coloring a little at a time. Mix well before adding another drop into the icing.

Decorating Pens

decorating pens

Food icing pens are available today, which are easy-to-hold squeeze tubes. These pens are useful for beginners, who've had no practice with piping bags. Moreover, they're also great for kids. Decorating pens are tubes that come with pre-filled colored icing, that is waiting to be squeezed out onto your cookie. These decorating pens need to be softened by placing them in hot water, so as to soften the icing inside. Refillable silicone decorating pens are also available which need to be filled with your homemade icing. Some even come in the form of syringes. Then, there are food markers that enable you to write and draw on the cookies with edible ink, just as you would do with a regular marker. These markers come in different colors, and are great for creating funky cookies with funny notes written on them.

Handy Tip
Use these pens to create intricate designs on your cookies. How about writing personalized messages for loved ones on cookies using these remarkable pens?!



Once you pipe royal icing onto the cookie, a toothpick can be used to smear the icing evenly around. Sometimes after icing the cookie, you find small air bubbles trapped in it. Use a toothpick to carefully burst those tiny air bubbles. Never wait for the bubbles to pop on their own, because when they do, they will leave unsightly holes in your precious icing. You can also use these simple little sticks to swirl around cool patterns in the glaze icing you've applied to your cookies. You'll also find plastic 'Boo Boo sticks' in the baking section, which can also be used instead of toothpicks.

Handy Tip
Use toothpicks to create marbled designs in wet icing, to give the cookies a lovely marbled effect. However, make sure you wipe the toothpick clean after every stroke.

Parchment Paper

parchment paper

Parchment paper forms the base of your workstation. It's the best base because it's very forgiving and can be discarded once you are done, thereby, cleaning up the mess you made in a matter of seconds. It's always best to line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and then begin decorating your cookies. Moreover, cut out parchment paper into half and use it as the base when you tap off excess sanding sugar. Once you've dusted your cookie, gently lift the paper and transfer the sugar back into the sugar bowl. Isn't it convenient?

Handy Tip
Use parchment paper to practice piping. Only when you've gotten accustomed to the pressure and piping technique should you go for the cookie.

Holiday Sprinkles and Decorative Sugars

holiday sprinkles

There are so many kinds of sprinkles available today, right from the basic colorful and chocolate sprinkles to the fancy holiday sprinkles like candy cane sprinkles, holy mix sprinkles, etc. Baking aisles offer a wide range of sprinkles to choose from. It's always good to keep holiday sprinkles in hand; they jazz up all cookies, irrespective of the occasion. Then there are the sugar pearls that also come in a plethora of colors from shiny silver and gold, to pink, green, and so on. These sprinkles stick to wet icing and frosting very easily and also give your cookies a professional look. You also get assortment packs that contain a mix of different sprinkles, so if you're confused about which ones to get, purchase the set. You can use a modeling tweezer to place individual pieces of decorative sugar in place.

Handy Tip
If you don't know how to make royal icing, simply dip your cookies into molten chocolate and sprinkle some decorative sugars for fancy cookies.

Sanding Sugar

sanding sugar

This is the cheapest and most convenient way to glamorize cookies. Sanding sugar not only hides imperfections if any, but is also the easiest way to dole out festive-looking cookies in no time. Available in a variety of colors, this decorative item gives that 'oomph' factor to cookies. You can either cover the entire top surface of the cookie with these colored sugar crystals or use it to jazz up certain parts of the cookie. Sprinkle this sugar on wet icing, and your cookie with sanding sugar is ready. If you can't seem to find sanding sugar, then prepare some of your own at home. Just take a bag of clear sparkling sugar, some food coloring, and a little cornstarch to create your very own colored sanding sugar.

Handy Tip
Shake off the excess sugar by lifting the cookie and gently tapping it on the parchment paper. The excess will fall off, leaving you with beautifully decorated cookies.

Drying Rack

drying rack

Your decorative items of edible art need to dry and set. Even the slightest disturbance can cause glaze icing to bleed. So, it's important to place them on a drying rack to dry thoroughly. Use the cooling rack you used to cool the cookies on. If you've placed parchment paper as the base for the cookies, then gently lift the parchment paper-laden cookies onto the rack. Many work on their cookies while they're resting on the cooling rack itself. You could do the same if you're comfortable with it. Cookies may require to be dried for a period of more than 12 hours depending on the type of icing used. So, if you're baking a large batch of cookies, make sure you have enough cooling racks. Store the cookies only after they've dried thoroughly.

Handy Tip
You can also use cookie sheets instead of cooling racks to dry the icing.

Spatula and Brush

brush and spatula

You need an offset spatula to spread soft cookie frosting onto the cookies. You can also pipe the frosting on, but some people prefer to spread it on with a spatula. Moreover, even if you're using glaze or royal icing, you can spread the icing using this spatula. These spatulas are handy especially when you're icing larger cookies. You can also use a silicone brush or regular nylon brush to spread the icing. The nylon one isn't preferred because of the strands it may leave behind.

Handy Tip
Mini offset spatulas with stainless steel blades and wooden handles are preferred because they're easy to use.

Besides the above-mentioned tools, you also need paper towels to clean tips, the work surface, and every possible thing you can imagine. Start off with these basic cookie decorating tools and then increase your list once your repertoire expands. Above all, keep practicing, because this is what will help you dole out impressive cookies for family and friends. All the best!
Published: December 16, 2013
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