You know those smooth, flawlessly iced sugar cookies you see in bakeries? You can make them yourself! The key is using the right type of royal icing at the right consistency. It all starts with flooding, or creating a base of royal icing for your cookies.
Learn how to flood cookies with royal icing to create perfectly sweet treats!
What you need
- Shaped sugar cookies
- Royal icing in piping and consistencies
- Small round piping tip
- Piping bags
- Cookie icing bottle (optional)
- Toothpick or cocktail stick
First, make two consistencies of royal icing: one in piping consistency and one in flooding consistency. The two consistencies should be the same color.
In the photo above, you can see two dollops of icing. The one on the left is the piping consistency: it’s a slightly thick royal icing that will hold its shape and corral the fooding icing. On the right is the flooding icing, which is a softer, almost honey-like consistency. This icing flows nicely, but should be stopped by the outlining icing.
Some bakers like to use what’s called 15-second consistency icing for both outlining and flooding. As you gain more experience, you can try that option. When you’re just getting started, though, it’s best to have two different icings.
Place the piping consistency icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip.
Always look inside the piping tip to see if it has a seam on the side. Seams in the tip can cause a crooked flow.
Carefully pipe an outline within the shape of your sugar cookie: Touch some royal icing down onto the cookie slowly lift so that the royal icing the flows out as you pipe is suspended above the cookie before it rests onto the cookie. This ensures better control and more fluid lines.
If you’re going for a seamless look between the outline and the flooding icing, move quickly! If you want a more visible outline, wait up to 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on humidity) for the outline to set slightly.
To flood the cookie, we like to use a cookie icing bottle, which is simply a food-safe plastic bottle with a thin pointed nozzle. Of course, you can use a piping bag without a tip or with a slightly larger round tip.
Fill your bottle or piping bag with with the flood-consistency icing. Carefully pipe the icing onto the cookie filling in the outline roughly.
Using a toothpick or cocktail stick and swirl-like motions, gently yet quickly move the flooding icing over the entire cookie, reach out to the piped outlines.
With flood icing, you can get air bubble threatening to ruin your hard work. Try dropping the cookie from a few inches or smacking the cookie down on a level surface. This helps any trapped air bubbles rise to the top, where you can pop them with a toothpick.
Some air bubbles hide halfway between the cookie and the icing surface. Look for slightly darker splotches in your icing. Poke the darker icing with a toothpick to pop them.
Before you even think of adding more details, leave your cookies to fully set for at least 20 hours.
If you catch the cookie bug it won’t be surprising to find yourself practically living in your kitchen covered with powdered sugar. Opening your talents up to the realm of cookie decorating is fantastic. It’s pretty scary, but with a little patience and practice you’ll be piping like a pro in no time!
What’s you favorite way to decorate cookies?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and was updated in February 2018.