These cactus cookies are great for a Wild West birthday party or any other Western themed event where you could use some beautiful cactus plants with budding flowers on top. The cookies themselves are made with a no-spread sugar cookie dough and vanilla flavored royal icing.
Cactus cookies are just one way to say “welcome to the Wild West!” for your next event.
I love cactus cookies as they’re super easy to decorate even if you’re new to using royal icing, but they turn out beautifully and look sophisticated.
The flowers on top are optional, though I add them for an extra touch.
In this cactus cookie tutorial, I’ll show you how to make cactus cookies with royal icing, as well as how to decorate cactus cookies with royal icing.
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These cactus cookies are…
- easy to design even if you’re a beginner
- fun for Wild West themed events
- not crumbly, with a firm but soft bite
Must-Have Baking Tools (seriously)
- Silicone baking mats – I use this brand and my cookies slide right off without burning!
- a cookie scoop – get this one. It makes the perfect rounded cookies every time!
- silicone spatula – try this set. It’s the best way to get the most out of your dough and batters
- rolling pin guides – I use this one. Genius way to roll your dough out evenly!
Ingredients and Tools You’ll Need to Make Cactus Cookies
To make cactus cookies, you’ll need to make sure you have all of the ingredients for the royal icing as well as the no-spread cookie dough.
You can find more information about the exact measurements in my posts on the cut-out sugar cookie dough and my best ever royal icing recipe, but the basics are that you’ll need meringue powder, water, vanilla extract and powdered sugar for the royal icing and for the dough, you’ll need flour, powdered sugar, butter, salt, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and baking powder.
Other tools you’ll need include:
- scribe or toothpick for moving around the icing if you make a mistake – this is a great scribe
- piping bags (or you can use sandwich bags if you don’t have piping bags) – I use this brand and love them
- green food coloring – always use gel food coloring instead of liquid for royal icing
- pink food coloring
- a leaf tip – here’s one
- cactus cookie cutter – I like this one
Tips for Making Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Dough and Royal Icing
I’ve included links to both the cut-out sugar cookie dough recipe and the royal icing recipe in the recipe card below, and you can check out those specific posts for even more instructions, but I wanted to make sure to point out a few things.
Firstly, for the dough, follow the recipe exactly throughout, including the chilling times, as this is what is going to help keep your dough together and not create globs of messy cookies.
You want clean and crisp edges, and making sure you’re chilling your dough at various points will make sure that it turns out nicely.
Another thing to note is that you should only bake them until the edges go slightly golden.
You don’t want to see completely brown edges before taking them out, as the cookies will continue to harden when taken out of the oven and yours will be too hard if they are overbaked before they’re even taken out.
For making the royal icing, I use meringue powder instead of egg whites as I find it easier to work with and its safe for pregnant women.
You’ll want to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the powdered sugar is being incorporated.
Basic Royal Icing Tips
Royal icing can be new to the home baker, as many people prefer to stick with basics like buttercream, but royal icing is actually easy to use and dries smooth and shiny, which makes for great looking cookies.
When you’re using royal icing, you’ll want to use piping bags or sandwich bags with the corner cut off, as this is how you get the icing on the cookie – it’s far too runny to do any other way.
Start by outlining the cookie, and then fill it in.
You can layer on top of royal icing to add detailing, you just need to make sure it hardens enough first – I like to leave an hour in between adding more detail on top.
When you’re doing the piping, remember to hold the piping bag about an inch away from the cookie and let the icing drop onto the cookie (guided, of course) rather than keeping the tip right next to the cookie. Believe it or not, this gives you more control and makes for a smoother outline.
Can You Freeze Cactus Cookies?
Storage is on the mind for many people when making cookies.
Maybe you’re making them far in advance and you want to make sure you can store them up until your event.
Maybe you just don’t want to eat them all at once (though you have my permission).
You shouldn’t freeze the completed cookies with royal icing as the royal icing can go a bit weird, but you can freeze the actual cookies themselves once they’re baked and then royal ice at a later date.
The best part, though, is that you don’t even have to worry about storing the cookies because using meringue powder for the royal icing means you can simply store them in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of weeks in advance.
If you need to refresh them closer to the event date, put a piece of bread in the container – weird, but it works!
Must-Have Decorating Tools
- Piping bags – I use and love these ones
- Gel food coloring – much better than liquid food coloring
- Meringue powder – I use this kind for my royal icing
- Scribe – for awesome detail and clean up
How to Decorate Cactus Cookies with Royal Icing
Decorating cactus cookies is really super easy.
First, outline the cookie with green icing.
Then, immediately flood the cookie with green icing.
Give the cookie a little bit of a shake to get the icing to settle, and let dry for about an hour.
Then, make little marks on the cookie with more green icing, spread out all over the cookie to be the cactus spikes.
Finally, using a leaf tip and stiffer icing in a pink color (this icing is so stiff that it doesn’t register on the “seconds” measuring scale as it will just keep its shape!) and pipe three small flowers on each cactus branch.
There you have it, cactus cookies to make you feel like you’re wandering in the desert!
Decorated Cactus Cookies
These decorated cactus cookies are made with royal icing and sugar cookie dough, perfect for a Wild West themed party.
- 24 cookies using cut-out sugar cookie dough
- 1 batch of royal icing, separated in the colors you want to decorate
- Bake the cactus cookies using the sugar cut-out cookie recipe
- Make a batch of royal icing using the royal icing recipe
Separate out the royal icing into green, white, and pink put into piping bags
- Outline the cactus in green
- Immediately flood the cookie with the same color
- Wait 2 to 3 hours and then add the cactus spikes with dashed white lines all over the cactus
- Using a flower tip, use stiff royal icing to pipe a tiny pink flower on each branch of the cactus
- Let dry for 12 hours
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