This Is the Easiest Way to Decorate Royal Icing Cookies

The secret to adorable decorations is at the craft store. Learn how to decorate cookies with rubber stamps and a bit of food coloring.

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Cutout cookies are a must for the Christmas season, especially with so many tasty recipe options out there. The real fun of these cookies, of course, is the opportunity to be creative with decorations. There are lots of methods out there including marbling with royal icing, but this novel technique is one of our Test Kitchen’s new favorites: stamping.

How to Use Stamps to Decorate Cookies

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That’s right! You can use this crafting tool to create detailed and festive designs on cookies. This method is super easy—just two steps—and is fun for kids and adults alike.

To stamp designs onto your cookies, you’ll need just a few extra supplies. First and foremost, you’ll want to buy a few new stamps (don’t use stamps that you’ve previously used with traditional ink). We used wintry stamps here for the holiday season, but you can use this technique for any occasion with any rubber or foam stamp. You’ll also want to purchase gel food coloring and food-safe ink-free stamp pads—you could also use an unused kitchen sponge.

Step 1: Creating a Base with Royal Icing

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The first step to creating stamped cookies is to lay a foundation for your stamped design. Royal icing is the perfect base layer for this, and is easy to make at home—just check out our step-by-step guide.

Once you’ve stirred up a batch of icing, simply frost each cookie. You can do this with the piping and flooding method. Use a pastry bag and pipe an outline on your cookie, then fill with a slightly thinner icing. You can also dip your cookies into a thin royal icing as well—you can learn how to do that right here.

Whatever technique you prefer, be sure to let the icing dry completely before moving onto the next step. A few hours is OK, but overnight is better. If you’re decorating with children, it’s a good idea to frost the cookies the day before, that way you can just focus on the exciting part.

Step 2: Stamping Designs

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To create your own ink for stamping, mix together a few drops of gel food dye with a few drops of water. Go easy with the water—you don’t want to dilute the color, you just want it to be a suitable consistency for inking a stamp. Then add this mix to the clean stamp pad or sponge.

From there, ink up your stamp. If you’d like, give it a test run on a paper towel (or spare cookie). When you’re ready, move onto your cookies coated in dry royal icing. Press firmly and rock the stamp back and forth just a bit so it makes contact with the frosting.

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When you lift up the stamp, you should have a crisp stamped design. You can add more stamps or different colors—just repeat until you have the effect you want. Let the food ink dry between colors so nothing runs.

The finished cookies are charming and wonderfully detailed—all without using dozens of piping bags and kinds of sprinkles. These are the cookies that will be in high demand at the cookie exchange!

Try Stamping with Our Favorite Cutout Recipes
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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.