Easy Cookie Icing

Yield: enough icing for 1 batch of cut out cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 1 day 20 minutes

This Easy Cookie Icing is foolproof! Beautiful cookies without special ingredients, equipment, or raw eggs and can be customized for any holiday or decor. Step-by-step video tutorial below.

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet without tasting cloying or artificial.
Texture: Once the icing is completely set it hardens enough to not smudge, but not too much that it ruins the texture of the cookie.
Ease: Well, easy ๐Ÿ˜‰
Appearance: So pretty and your decorating options are really limitless.
Pros: Easy and fun way to decorate any cut-out cookie.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Absolutely!

Seriously the EASIEST way to decorate beautiful cookies. It's FOOLPROOF. No weird ingredients or equipment or anything.

Since I love to bake and have made a career out of it, many people also assume that means I love to decorate. I actually learned a fair amount about cake, cookie, and pastry decorating in culinary school but I have a big secret…

How to easily decorate beautiful cookies - no royal icing!

I actually hate decorating. Hate might be too strong a word but seriously, I usually find it extremely tedious, boring, and pointless. It’s just going to get eaten and there’s nothing worse than people NOT eating something because it’s too pretty!! I guess I’m practical in that way.

Lately, however, some of my favorite bloggers and Instagrammers have convinced me that sometimes making something beautiful is worth the extra time and effort. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to find a way to make it easier, though.

How to easily decorate beautiful cookies - no royal icing!

And that’s how I came to this method for Easy Cookie Icing. Royal icing may be beautiful, but it’s a huge pain and doesn’t even particularly taste good. Blah. This easy cookie icing takes the same basic approach as royal icing, where you make a thick border icing and then a thinner flood batch to completely decorate the surface of your cookies.

You can use any colors (I prefer Wilton gel food coloring) to decorate and either squeeze bottles or pastry bags fitted with small plain tips. That’s all you really need!

Tessa's Christmas Cookies Ebook

This cookie decorating method actually comes straight out of my latest eBook, Tessa’s Christmas Cookies. It’s one of the few simple and easy methods I share for making and gifting beautiful holiday cookies. All the cookies you see throughout this post are included among the recipes in the book (easy cut-out sugar cookies, red velvet cookies, and gingerbread cookies). AND if you buy before November 28th you’ll receive an early bird price!! Woohoo for holiday savings.


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How to make
Easy Cookie Icing

Recipe By Tessa Arias, Handle the Heat
Yield: enough icing for 1 batch of cut out cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 day 20 minutes

The iced cookies will need to dry for 24 hours before they can be safely moved or packaged.

Ingredients

For the border icing:

1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water or milk
Food coloring, if desired

For the flood icing:

1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water or milk
Food coloring, if desired

Directions

For the border icing:

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should be very thick but still pourable.

Transfer the border icing to a squeeze bottle using a funnel. You can also scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Before you begin icing any cookies, take a few moments to practice on a piece of parchment paper to get the feel of the icing.

Holding the bottle or bag tip directly over one corner of a cookie, begin tracing an outline of the cookie, squeezing gently and using both hands if needed to maintain consistent pressure. I prefer to allow a little slack in my icing line as I go. If you mess up, simply wipe the icing off and start again. Allow the icing to dry slightly before continuing with the flood icing.

For the flood icing:

In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should still be pretty thick, but will drizzle more freely than the border icing. If needed, add additional water or milk to loosen until the consistency is pourable. Pour the flood icing into a squeeze bottle or into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip.

Prepare as many batches and colors of flood icing as you need to decorate your cookies.

Begin filling the interior of the border drawn on each cookie with the flood icing, being careful not to add too much that it overflows the border icing. Use either the nose of the bottle or a small toothpick to push the icing evenly over the cookie and up against the corners.

Leave the iced cookie to dry for 24 hours. The cookies are dry when the surface is completely smooth, dry, and resists smudging when touched. Store the dried cookies between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

About Tessa...

Tessa is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. She's on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically DELICIOUS place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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7 Responses to “Easy Cookie Icing”

  1. #
    Payton — November 29, 2015 at 1:05 am

    I love Christmas cookies! It just makes Christmas, well, Christmas!
    I’m in the middle of editing the photos of mine.
    Yours look amazing!

  2. #
    Kiki — January 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Tessa! This is absolutely wonderful! But I am wondering… while I wait for my cookies to dry is it okay to just leave them out the way they are? Will the cookies get too hard or dry over that 24 hour period? Anyway, thanks for the great tips!

  3. #
    kxy — November 9, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Hi Tessa, I would like to ask if doing the icing on cookies whereby we need to let it dry about 24 hrs, will the cookie turn soft ?

  4. #
    Vickie — December 4, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I’m w/ you about decorating! Tedious and boring. But I might give it a try this year. I was wondering though does this icing dry shiny? If not, should I just add a few drops of corn syrup to the icing or completely replace the milk w/ corn syrup? Btw, I really enjoy this site and all the recipes and tips you share. Very nicely done! Thanks.

  5. #
    Vickie — December 4, 2016 at 11:49 am

    I just thought of another question,…..once the cookies are decorated and completely dry, do you think they could be frozen that way until you need them? I’d be making quite a few and being able to freeze them saves a lot of last minute work. Thanks again

  6. #
    Tay — December 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    This frosting looks pretty and is easy to work with but the taste is just not there for me. it’s just not a good flavor and i will never use it again on my cookies.

  7. #
    Lisa — April 14, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Tessa, where can I find a “snowflake” cookie cutter. I want to make those with my grand children this year?
    And, I see for this icing with the cookies you use food coloring, but for the different colored icing for decorating cupcakes with flowers, what do you use for coloring your icing? I read where using liquid food colors thins your icing too much and changes the taste. Can you advise me?

    Love this site! Am planning and plotting a way to spend more time with my grandchildren. They love to decorate cookies and I want to introduce them to decorating cupcakes too. Am ordering things online to make it all easier. Any tips you ca share to help make this easier, what all I really need and how to cut costs, by not buying something I really don’t need?

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