Welcome to my beginners guide to Christmas Sugar Cookies! In this blog I am going to be taking you through the sugar cookie basics starting at the perfect sugar cookie recipe to making and decorating with royal icing. I am so excited to share this recipe with you all, these cookies taste so nostalgic to the holiday season and have such a tender, not crunchy, texture. Along with the full recipe and instructions I’ll also be sharing all of the products I use to get the job done. Let’s get into it!
Royal Icing Consistencies
The two most important consistencies you need to know about when it comes to Royal Icing is; outlining & flooding consistencies. They’re both pretty self explanatory but as I remember when I started my decorated sugar cookie journey I understand how many questions reel through your mind. That’s what I’m here for 🙂 I want to help you all have as much fun and confidence in the kitchen as possible. So with out further or do let’s get into it!
- Outlining Consistency – The outlining consistency is the same consistency you’re left with when you’ve finished mixing the royal icing. It should be thick but not too thick that you’ll have hand cramps trying to pipe it. To test if your consistency is good to go or not, hold up your paddle after mixing over your bowl. The icing should very slowly ribbon in the bowl. If it’s too runny and falls very vast, try adding some more confectioner’s sugar to thicken it.
- Once you’re confident in your royal icing consistency, the outlining icing is used as…you guessed – outlining our cookies! Use this icing to pipe the perimeter of our cookies so that we’re able to fill our cookies with thinner icing later and our outline will act as walls to keep the icing perfectly inside and on top of our cookies. Otherwise we have a soupy mess with icing overflowing over the sides of our cookies. It’s best to let the outlined icing sit for a few minutes before flooding our cookies.
- Flood Consistency – Flood icing is made by adding just a few very small drops of water to our outlining consistency icing. A little bit of water goes a long way so you only need to add a small amount to start…I’m talking less than 1/8 tsp. just a few drops. You can always add more if needed. Flood icing should be thinner than the outline but not too thin that it’s almost watery. To test the consistency, after you’ve added a little bit of water, hold the spoon up over the bowl. The icing should ribbon in the bowl and you should be able to see the ribbons in the bowl for a few seconds before they disappear. If the ribbons disappear immediately then the icing is too thin and you should add a little bit of confectioner’s sugar to thicken it a bit. If this icing is too thin it can cause it to overflow over our outline.
- When making royal icing colors, depending on how much you need of each color, place a few scoops of icing in a separate bowl, then add in your food dye. Once you’ve reached the perfect shade, take a small scoop of this colored icing out and place it into a piping bag. This will be our colored outline. With the remaining colored icing, add a few drops of water and mix until smooth. Place this into a piping bag and this will be our colored flood icing.
Best Brand Of Food Dye
Day in and day out I will recommend Americolor Food Gel. This brand of food gel yields the most vivid, beautiful colors for our tasty Christmas desserts. This food dye works incredible for dough, frosting, icing, batter, and so much more. To find them on Amazon, click here.
What Kind Of Piping Bags Should I Use For Royal Icing?
I recommend using tipless piping bags for decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. These are piping bags that don’t require a metal tip, a thin and easy to handle, and always allow you the option to use metal tips if you ever want to. They’re a versatile and helpful option. To find the ones I use on Amazon, click here.
How Far In Advance Can You Make Decorated Sugar Cookies?
Now that you’ve made such beautiful creations, you’re probably wondering, “How long are sugar cookies with royal icing good for?” Easy! Decorated Sugar Cookies can stay good for up to 1 to 2 weeks when stored in a sealed container. You must be sure that your royal icing has set before storing them stacked. It will take overnight for your decorated cookies at room temperature, not sealed, to set properly.
Decorated Sugar Cookies can last 2-3 weeks sealed in the fridge and up to 3-5 months sealed in the freezer. It is important to note that although they may last this log in the fridge or freezer the overall quality may decrease a bit as time goes on.
Do You Chill Sugar Cookies Before Baking?
Chilling our sugar cookie dough before cutting them out and baking them in the oven is an extremely important step in the recipe that should never be skipped. Chilling the dough ensures that it will be easier to handle and decreases the chance of the shape getting messed up from dealing with warm dough. It also ensures that while our christmas sugar cookies bake, they keep their shape perfectly and do not spread.
How To Roll Out Sugar Cookie Dough Evenly?
I use a rolling pin with guided rings on each side that help me get an even roll every time across the whole surface. This not only helps me to get every cookie the same thickness but without it I’d risk my cookies baking at different times due to the thickness varying. To find the rolling pin I use on Amazon, click here.
Whether you’re baking these as Christmas cookies or viewing this guide in the middle of summer to create a beach themed cookie set, I hope that these tips help guide and inspire you. Never limit your creativity especially when it comes to decorating sugar cookies. GO throw some sprinkles on them, add a chocolate drizzle on top of the finished product, add your favorite extract for a different flavor – go crazy and just do what makes you happy.