Decorative sugar cookies make a festive addition to just about any party, but piping intricate details on royally iced cookies can prove to be quite time-consuming! If you want to pain-free, quick method for decorating sugar cookies, try painting them instead. Painted Cookies are simple, easy, and the creative possibilities are endless!
Here, you’ll find a quick and easy method for painting your own sugar cookies, one simple recipe that can be applied to any food coloring under the rainbow, plus our best tips for avoiding hiccups along the way!
PAINTING COOKIES MAKES DECORATING SUGAR COOKIES EASY
Let’s face it, royal icing isn’t necessarily the least complicated way to ice a cookie, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful ways to do it. By the time you’ve got your dough rolled out, cookies cut, baked in the oven, icing made, icing piped…icing dried…you very well may be ready for an end in sight, and Painted Cookies are the answer!
No matter how easy those Tasty videos make it look, detailed work with royal icing is a time consuming and meticulous job, but I am happy to report — there is an easy way out. I came across the decorative cookie method of painting on royal icing in one of my favorite baking books, The Art of the Cookie. Within the pages of this book were these rustic, yet elegant little Christmas trees that looked as though they had been brushed with watercolors. They were rustic and beautiful all at the same time.
You can make Painted Cookies as simple or as intricate as you’d like. The hand-painted sugar cookies shown here are most definitely on the simple side.
MATERIALS FOR PAINTED COOKIES
For painting on royal icing, generally speaking, you’ll need a batch of Royally Iced Sugar Cookies, food-safe paint brushes, gel food coloring (found at specialty craft stores), and water. For these Christmas trees I used cocoa powder for the trunk, but you could also use brown gel food coloring if desired.
You can find food-safe paint brushes in a set or sold singularly at specialty craft stores, and of course, online.
MAKE THE PAINT USING GEL FOOD COLORING
To make “paint” for Painted Cookies, you simply add a splash of water to gel food coloring and mix until combined. To be more exact, that is:
1/2 tsp gel food coloring + 1 tsp water
For this Christmas tree design in particular, I used a 1/2 teaspoon of Wilton’s Juniper Green Gel Food Coloring mixed with 1 teaspoon of water for the Christmas tree branches; and for the trunk, 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder, mixed with just over 1 tablespoon of water.
HOW TO PAINT YOUR OWN SUGAR COOKIES
1. Make sure the royal icing is completely set and dried before you begin. It is best to let the cookies set out overnight after icing, and paint them the next day.
2. When your royal icing cookies are set and ready to be painted, prepare your workstation by laying a large sheet of wax paper on the counter, and placing the cookies upon it. Have ready your cookie paint and brushes.
3. Before making brush strokes on the royal icing cookies, dip the brush into the food coloring mixture and press the brush against the sides of the bowl to rid of any excess liquid. If this precaution is not made, your paint may run and spread across the cookie.
4. Paint your cookies!
Hand Painted Cookies may be the easy way out when it comes to decorating, but I can’t imagine we’ll hear any complaints on the matter. It’s quick, it’s easy…it’s stunning. Please, enjoy!
If you’re looking for more festive cookies to give as gifts this year or just another excuse to get into the kitchen and get to baking, here are a few more cookie recipes that absolute must-tries: Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, gluten-free Easy Coconut Macaroons, flavorful Almond Biscotti, and the best-ever Ginger Molasses Cookies!
5 MORE FROSTED DESSERTS YOU’LL LOVE
- Royally Iced Sugar Cookies are beautiful and perfect for gifting as they can be stacked and easily transported. This recipe makes easy work of making royal icing, along with detailed tips for icing your cookies.
- Egg Hunt Blondies are an adorable Easter dessert featuring a homemade buttercream frosting made to look like Easter grass and M&M candies made to look like eggs for an egg hunt!
- Homemade Brownies with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing and Fresh Berries features a light-as-air, whipped strawberry cream cheese frosting, topped with an assortment of beautiful berries. This dessert makes a seriously impressive presentation!
- Christmas Sugar Cookies with Sugar Cookie Icing are as beautiful as they are tasty! Simple, homemade sugar cookies with an easy buttercream frosting for cookies. Plus, how to ice tree and wreath cookies to look like grass.
- Halloween Sugar Cookies will show the secret to making your cookies look as though they are suspended in air! Yes, hanging sugar cookies is a real thing, and they’re easier to make than you think! This can be applied to bats and ghosts for Halloween, as well as ornament, shaped sugar cookies with Christmas.
A simple recipe for painting on royally iced sugar cookies.
- 1 batch Royally Iced Sugar Cookies, set and dried
- 1/2 teaspoon gel food coloring
- 1 teaspoon water
- 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon water
In a small bowl mix together the gel food coloring and water until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.
In a small bowl mix together the cocoa powder and water until mixture is smooth.
Prepare your workstation by laying a large sheet of wax paper on the counter, and placing the cookies upon it. Have ready your cookie paint and brushes.
Before making brush strokes on the cookies, dip the brush into the food coloring mixture and press the brush against the sides of the bowl to rid of any excess liquid.
Gently make brush strokes on the cookies as desired. Set aside until completely dry, 4-5 hours.
Make sure the royal icing is completely set and dried before you begin. It is best to let the cookies set out overnight after icing, and paint them the next day.
Allow 4-5 hours for the paint to dry completely.
Makes enough to paint 3 dozen cookies.