So you want to start decorating cookies?! That’s exciting! And probably slightly overwhelming. But no worries, I got you! And the best news is that you don’t need much at all to get started! In fact, that is always what I recommend to beginners! You can start with hardly any investment in cookie decorating supplies. Once you know you love it and want to grow your skills, then you can invest in more tools to create even more amazing designs. Which is why I’m going to break this guide down into exactly what you need to start and then products, supplies and tools you’ll want to consider as your skills grow. One steps at a time, right? Let’s jump in!
What Do I Need To STart Decorating Cookies?
To get started decorating sugar cookies, you don’t need much in regards to supplies! If you end up loving it, there are MANY tools and supplies that will help make decorating easier and faster. But we’ll get to those later…let’s focus on what you need to get started.
First things first, you’ll need a cookie recipe you love, right? There’s a million out there and you can and should try different recipes to find what you love best. Some take longer to make, some cost more to make, some are obviously tastier than others, there’s a lot of variables. You need to find, or make, the recipe you love best. If you don’t already have one, you can find out go-to vanilla sugar cookie recipe HERE. We only use no-chill recipes because it saves so much time but still gives us perfect cookies. But also know, there is a whole collection of flavored recipes you can always use too, and find them all HERE. Salted caramel? Chocolate mint? Lemon? Knock yourself out…the hardest part is picking your fave.
Next, you need to nail down your royal icing recipe. Again, there are a million recipes out there, but this doesn’t need to be overly complicated. THIS post shared the exact recipe we use every day and the method to make it. Making royal icing is very simple, but it must be done correctly to get the results you want. Cookie decorating is WAY more fun when you have a reliable royal icing recipe that gives you consistent results every time.
At this stage, a rolling pin that does the measuring for you is the best tool to buy. You’ll use it forever, and it’s so helpful right from the start to make sure your cookies are all the same thickness and perfectly level. THIS is the rolling pin we use every day and it arguably the most popular among cookies for good reason.
You may already have cookie sheets and can give those a try! However, you should know that your cookie sheets can make a world of difference in your cookies. The good news is that once you buy them, they should last for years, even if you use them every day, like us! Pro tip: Only use your cookie sheets for baking cookies! My family knows not to even look at my cookie sheets if they are making tator tots or something else! THESE are very popular among cookiers and are great quality at a great price!
- Naturals commercial bakeware is made of pure aluminum which will never rust for a lifetime of durability. For sweet or savory baking; from cookies to sheet pan dinners, this is the pan you’ll reach for.
If you don’t already have a stand mixer, you should seriously consider investing in one. I realize this is not cheap, but they are worth ten times their price for easy they make your life when baking. If you want a reliable mixer that will last for decades, KitchenAid is the best place to start. THIS mixer is perfect for cookie decorating and will support you for years. You can always upgrade to an even bigger mixer down the road if you’d like. But this one marries beauty, reliability and quality as a beginner baker.
These few things are really all you need to bake perfect cutout cookies, which will be your beautiful canvases!
Cookie Decorating Supplies
Good news, this list is short too! You’ll need decorating bags and once again, there are a million options. For cookie decorating, thinner bags are best for better control and feel. Reserve the thicker plastic bags for things like buttercream. THESE are the decorating bags we use every single day and love. Seriously, we don’t use anything else, and we’ve never had one burst. And the best part is that they come with 2 little clips to secure your bags, and a scribe! A scribe is really the only other essential tool you need to start cookie decorating!
We, as well as most other cookiers use tipless bags, which gives great versatility and makes clean-up a breeze. However, if you want to use decorating tips, you still can, with these same bags. But obviously you’ll need decorating tips and couplers forholding the tips in place. My advice is to learn with tipless bags from the start. That said, you will need tips and couplers for more intricate designs and florals later on. You don’t need to worry about that at this point.
I do encourage you to start this journey using a high-quality meringue powder for your royal icing. The meringue powder you use can make or break your icing results and flavor. In fact, you can see how the two most popular meringue powders matched up against each other in THIS post. This will show you what a difference the right meringue powder makes in cookie decorating. For this reason, we only use Genie’s Dream meringue powder.
You will also want to start using gel food coloring to achieve the beautiful results you want in your cookies. We use ChefMaster for all of our decorating and love the colors we easily achieve. We literally buy THIS gel set on repeat and can create basically any color we need. They do also have additional sets with other shades and hues if you prefer not to mix your own colors. I will say, many cookiers use AmeriColor gel food coloring, which you may like as well. We’ve tried many AmeriColor colors but haven’t been able to justify the higher price.
- QUALITY YOU CAN SEE: Our high quality liqua-gel food colorings are true-to-shade and add vibrant, fade-resistant color to your desserts without altering the taste, texture or consistency of the final product.
At this point, you really have everything you need to not only get started, but to create beautiful cookies! It’s pretty amazing how little you need to start, especially if you already have a mixer and cookie sheets! Let’s continue on this journey to see what you may want to consider next if you love cookie decorating.
Next Level Cookie Decorating Supplies
Ready to up your cookie game with fun and effective tools to take your cookies to the next level? This is where things get REALLY fun!
Edible markers have come a long way and are a life saver in so many ways! We commonly use them to sketch out designs directly on our cookie to aid in decorating. And of course, you can use them to add lettering and details on top of your royal icing too! There are many brands out there, which vary in quality, thickness and darkness of the marker. While we have many different kinds in our collection, THESE are a great starter set which give you dual tips for each color.
Cookie Stencil supplies
Stenciling is a great next step in your decorating journey because it’s another low-cost investment that can be a complete game changer for your designs. I have a couple great tutorials which go more in-depth on exactly how to use stencils, which you can find HERE and HERE. It’s very commonly used for making paint-your-own cookies and for airbushing designs as well.
While you can buy a simple stencil holder, THIS is the stencil holder we use and love. It has some features that the simple holders don’t have which make it worth every penny. If you want the best stencil holder that will last for years, without needing to upgrade, this is the one.
Cookie Decorating Projector
Now we’re pulling out the big guns! This is usually the first ‘big’ investment cookiers decide to make pretty early in their journey. A projector is what allows cookiers to easily add complex designs, wording and fonts to their designs. You didn’t really think everyone was free handing it all, right? I did! 🤪 A projector is a complete game changer when it comes to the designs you can make and definitely worth the investment if you’re going to continue decorating cookies. I have a whole post which goes more in-depth, HERE. But for the purpose of this post, HERE is the projector we use and love. This is also the most common projector used among cookiers. It’s completely wireless, super easy to use and will meet your needs for years to come.
You will need a stand for your projector and you have a couple great options! If you want a simple, starter stand just for your projector, you can’t go wrong with THIS one. We have it, love it, it does the job. However, we are also commonly filming tutorials or decorating videos and actually need a second stand as well! If you need a second stand, I highly recommend THIS one. It’s not cheap, but you can do much more with it, it’s super high-quality, sturdy and will last for years. So, you’ve got options, it just depends on what you want and need.
Dehydrator for Cookie Decorating
I know what you’re thinking…bestie, I’m not trying to dry out my cookies. Bestie, I know! Fortunately, a dehydrator does not affect your cookies at all, but it greatly improves your royal icing and saves you a ton of time! You can see THIS post for all the details on exactly how and why you want to use a dehydrator for cookie decorating. It’ll answer all your questions and show you exactly the difference it will make in your cookie game. Every single cookie we decorate goes in our dehydrator and I would never decorate cookies without it! We have two dehydrators for decorating, but THIS is the newer model that we use and recommend to other cookiers. It’s a minimal investment for the time savings and difference it makes.
Airbrush for Cookie Decorating
An airbush is another tool that can really help take your designs to the next level. Some cookiers use their airbrush a lot. To be completely honest with you, we don’t use ours very often. Now it does allow us to create designs and effects that we wouldn’t be able to make without it, so it’s worth having. But for me, I use my projector FAR more often than my airbrush. If you’re trying to decide whether to invest in a projector or an airbrush, a projector should win every time. That said, maybe you’re one who would use your airbrush with every set! It’s definitely a great tool to have in your cookie decorating arsenal, but you’ll have to decide where it is in your list of priorities. THIS is an airbrush we have and is common among cookiers!
- Contains Everything You Need: Our kit contains everything you need to start creating edible masterpieces using your own personal touch! Kit includes a professional precision airbrush, air compressor with 3 air flow settings, 12 eye-catching vibrant U.S. Cake Supply airbrush food colors, detailed user guide manual with airbrushing tips and design techniques.
Here is another investment that some cookiers make earlier on in their journey and some never make! It really depends on the kind of design you want to make. For us, photo cookies have been really popular and so investing in a home edible printing setup was a no-brainer. And for under $200, you can have the printer, ink and icing sheets to be able to print hundreds of edible images. It paid for itself in no time and opens up a world of designs. I have a few tutorials for making different style photo cookies, but THIS one walks through the exact products we use and how we print our edible images. Bestie, if you are going to be using edible images for your cookies on any kind of regular basis, you will save yourself a boatload by printing them at home.
Happy Supply Shopping!
I hope this post all about cookie decorating supplies has been helpful for you to decide what you actually need and what you can skip. It’s tempting to want all the tools and products from the start, but I suggest growing your skills and investing in supplies accordingly. As you develop your decorating style, you’ll have a better idea of which investments are worth it for you.
And of course, there will always be smaller investments in cookie cutters, stencils and other consumables. But these are the items that really help you grow in your skills and take your cookies to the professional level.
Also know that I’m always happy to talk cookies so you if ever have a question about a product recommendation, feel free to connect with me!
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