All the Gear to Start Baking and Decorating Sugar Cookies
Intricately-decorated sugar cookies are having a moment. The sweet treats are popping up all over social media, their mesmerizing videos enticing us to decorate our own. And royal icing on sugar cookies is a great way to customize a party or seasonal celebration! I make them for my own kids' birthday parties and as many holidays as often I can. But getting into this craft can be daunting.
A sugar cookie connoisseur myself, I've joined up with baking pro Jenny McCormick of Dearheart Confections to present our favorite tools of the trade. Here's what we think you need to get started.
Once you have the baking and decorating gear, you'll need recipes. I experimented with various recipes found online (like this one from Food Network star Alton Brown) until I got the taste I wanted. When it comes to the actual decorating, practice makes perfect. But if you want a fun, visual way to learn how to work with royal icing, you can purchase and download the online workshop Alison's Cookie Party ($30). Now let's get prepping!
Let's start with the big one. If you're making large batches of cookies, a mixer will be will most welcome for both the cookies and frosting. And if you really want to up your game, get the best mixer on the market.
It's pricey, but a KitchenAid mixer will basically last forever. Bonus: it comes in many (46!) decor-friendly colors. The best model for a newbie is the Artisan stand mixer.
You'll need measuring cups for the baking part of this cookie endeavor, and if you don't already have some, we love this stylish set from Target's Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collaboration. The set includes 4 stainless steel measuring cups (and don't worry, they're dishwasher safe).
You've got to roll out that sugar cookie dough with something, it might has well be a quality rolling pin! This 18" marble rolling pin is pretty and effective. Plus, it comes with a wood base so you have somewhere to park it when not in use. It's available in black, green, or white marble.
Cookie cutters are the key to personalizing an event or holiday with delicious custom cookies. Ann Clark makes some mighty fine cookie cutters, check out all the many shapes available. For instance, this Llama/Alpaca set is just adorable. Ann Clark sells just about every theme and shape you can think of, from baby shower onesies to feathers to turkeys.
For evenly-baked cookies you'll need a quality baking sheet. You can't get much better than these layered All-Clad sheets!
An aluminum core sits between brushed stainless steel, so you'll get evenly-distributed heat throughout the layers for perfect cookies. They feature angled edges for easy oven transfer, and All-Clad is made in the U.S.A. What's not to love? Available in 10" x 14" and 14" x 17" sizes.
Bake cookies on these parchment sheets for an easy, non-stick experience. When the cookies are done, they'll slide right off. And to make things even easier, these 12" by 16" sheets are pre-cut.
Just pull one out and set it on your cookie sheet. You can also use them as a decorating backdrop. This set from Reynolds Kitchens includes 22 pre-cut sheets of natural parchment paper.
If you're like us, you make a large batch of cookies. That means you can't be spreading them all over the place to cool, there's just no room! Cooling racks solve that issue.
They allow you to make the most of your space because you can stack racks of cookies in one spot. The Wilton 3-tier racks fold up for easy storage and feature non-stick coating.
Gel Icing Colors
The key to getting vibrant icing is gel colors. This AmeriColor set includes 8 common hues, so it's perfect for beginners. Red Red, Deep Pink, Violet, Sky Blue, Lemon Yellow, Leaf Green, Orange, and Chocolate Brown Soft Gel Paste Colors are included in the box.
Squeeze a few drops of your desired color from the flip-top lid and mix into your royal icing. Each bottle contains just .75 oz of gel color, but a little goes a long way!
Once you've mixed your various icing colors, you'll need to transfer them into squeeze bottles for decorating. You can use pastry bags to ice, but we find squeeze bottles to be easier.
Any squeeze bottles will do, but if you want to get fancier, use bottles that accommodate different sized decorating tips, like these. This kit includes 5 bottles, plus 8 tips and a spatula.
Edible Color Markers
For tiny details (like eyelashes, for instance) it's nice to have edible ink pens on hand. These are so fun! This Wilton set of 5 (black, brown, red, green, and blue) is perfect. The extra fine marker tips are perfect for drawing things that icing can't.
Decorating Tool Caddy
Store all your decorating tools in this handy caddy. From recipes, to decorating tips, to food coloring, put it away in this storage container. You don't want rogue pieces floating around your kitchen!
Wilton's Decorator Preferred caddy includes removable trays and compartments of various sizes.