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Don’t Be a Pinterest Fail: A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Cookies

Don’t Be a Pinterest Fail: A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Cookies

Words Erin Zimmer

Gingerbread, shortbread, molasses, chocolate chip, pfeffernüsse—it’s cookie season, y’all!

Let’s not forget the classic sugar cookie. They’re the perfect blank canvas for decorating with festive frostings, sprinkles, crushed peppermint, you name it. Even if you don’t have Martha-level decorating skills, here are some tips to help your cookies look their best—and totally impress your friends at all those holiday parties.

Start with a Basic Cookie Recipe

No need to get fancy here. The cookie itself can be simple to let the decorations shine. Try our butter cookie recipe. This is a crowd-pleaser-cookie (hello three sticks of butter!) and makes for a great cookie base for decorations.

cookie press

Make Fun Shapes with a Cookie Press

If you’re shaping holiday cookies with a cookie press, you can use the below butter cookie or another favorite spritz cookie recipe. Spritz cookies are basically just buttery, simple cookies that hold their shape well when they go through a cookie press. The name comes from the German word spritzen, or “squirt,” because the soft dough squirts through the press. Here are a couple cookie press pro-tips: use a cold, ungreased cookie sheet (if it’s warm, it’ll cause the cookies to spread and lose their shape). The dough should be at room temperature and soft so it can easily “squirt” through the press.

Go Natural with Frosting Dyes

Instead of using artificial food coloring, use beet juice to mix up a red dye, turmeric powder for a yellow dye, and matcha powder for green. From there, you can blend other colors: mix the turmeric with matcha to make blue, or the turmeric and beet to make orange. Start with a simple buttercream frosting and add as much of the dyeing agent as you need to get the color you want.

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Sprinkles Hide Mistakes!

Everything’s more fun when sprinkles are involved. Plus, they’ll help you hide any frosting blemishes or browned cookie edges. They also add a festive punch of color to otherwise neutral-colored butter cookies!

Let It Snow

This dusting wand is amazing to have on hand when decorating, especially for tree-shaped or snowflake-shaped cookies. It adds a little flurry of snow to each cookie (and, once again, covers up any decorating mishaps). This duster is also really satisfying to use—it’s kind of like shaking a snow globe except sugar falls on delicious cookies.

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Sandwich Cookies Are Fun and Easy
Because the only thing better than one cookie is two! Make a sandwich cookie by piping frosting between two cookies. Roll the frosted sides in sprinkles or crushed peppermint. Bam. You’ll get invited back to every holiday party when you show up with these! (9)

Invest in a Decorating Bottle

Go beyond the typical knife-slathering frosting technique and invest in a decorating bottle. It’s seriously easy to use and it’s small so it won’t take up much drawer space. All you have to do is load the bottle with frosting and start squeezing to your heart’s content. The six different stainless steel tips make it easy to experiment with different frosting designs and shapes. This little tool makes your cookies go from amateur hour to professional-looking.

By Erin Zimmer

Erin Zimmer is a freelance writer and photo stylist for OXO. The former managing editor of James Beard award-winning food website Serious Eats, Erin is based in New Orleans, where she loves adventures in her canoe, evenings on the porch, and long bayou walks with her dog Lillie.

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