These Christmas ornament cookies are fun to decorate and make for friends and family around the holidays. Using colorful royal icing and a chewy sugar cookie base, they taste as good as they look and are the perfect Christmas cookie.
What I love most about decorating Christmas ornament cookies is that anything goes.
They’re great to decorate with friends or family as you can let people run wild and add any colors or designs they want.
The cookies themselves are also incredibly delicious, with a subtle vanilla flavoring and a texture that is firm enough to stick together and not crumble while still being chewy and not about to break your teeth off like some decorated cookie recipes.
Pair with Christmas ornament cakes to make a holiday spread like no other.
In this Christmas ornament cookie tutorial, I’ll show you how to decorate Christmas ornament cookies, how to make the sugar cookie dough, and how to make the perfect royal icing.
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Why Use Royal Icing for Christmas Ornament Cookies?
Royal icing is one of the main types of cookie icing, and it gives the most control and detail available.
Sure, you could use something like buttercream if you just want the cookie to have some sort of icing, but making the detailed lines and having the cookie icing harden so it’s easier to transport and show off requires royal icing.
Royal icing is made with powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water, and I add vanilla extract to add some flavor.
You can also add lemon juice or other flavorings.
I follow this royal icing recipe, which uses meringue powder instead of egg whites to avoid any problems with pregnant women consuming the cookies and allowing them to be stored at room temperature.
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!
Tips for Decorating with Royal Icing
Royal icing seems to have its own language, with words like “flood,” “outline,” “peaks,” and more.
Here’s a basic rundown of decorating with royal icing.
Firstly, when you make the actual icing, you can choose between two different consistencies, ie making a thicker one for the “outline” and a thinner one for the “flood,” or making a consistency that’s somewhere in the middle to do both.
People often talk about consistencies in seconds, which is the seconds it takes for the line to disappear if you draw one in the icing with a knife.
I prefer to use one consistency, about 10-12 seconds, for both outlining and flooding.
When you outline a cookie, that literally means you draw an outline around the area you’ll want that same color.
Then, immediately after, without letting it dry, you “flood” the cookie, or fill in the rest of the icing on the base of the cookie in that section.
When you’re using icing in piping bags, you can use tips or you can use a bag without a tip that just has its tip created by the hole you cut off the end.
I like to use tipless bags for most things.
Hold the piping bag in your dominant hand and use the other hand to steady it.
You want to hold it in your fist, not so much like a pencil.
And keep the tip about an inch away from the cookie as you work your way around doing the outlining – closer than that and it can be harder, believe it or not.
How to Make the Dough for Christmas Ornament Cookies
Before you can do the icing, you of course need to make the sugar cookie dough and bake the cookies.
I use this cut-out sugar cookie recipe, which is specifically formulated to make sure that the cookies don’t spread in the oven when you bake them.
This is important to retain the shape you want.
Along the way, you’ll be asked to chill the dough a lot, which keeps the butter from melting and firms up the cookie so that they stay shaped in the oven.
Don’t skip this step, even though it takes more time, as there’s nothing worse than trying to take shortcuts and then ruining your batch of cookies anyway.
I use a hand mixer for this dough, and at the end, I dump it on onto the counter and knead it with my hands to really bring it together.
This can be a better way of finishing it off than continuing to try to mix, as at a certain point, it just needs some elbow grease in there.
To make the dough, you’ll need powdered sugar, granulated sugar, flour, butter, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, and eggs.
Other Tools You’ll Need for Baking Christmas Ornament Cookies
If you’re a new baker and want to make sure you have all of the other tools together before you start, make sure you have:
- a baking tray – this is a great one
- a silicone baking mat – I love this brand
- ornament cookie cutters – check these out
- any food coloring, gel preferred – here’s my favorite gel food coloring
- piping bags – these are the best ones
- any sprinkles or edible pearls you want (I used some silver ones like these)
- a scribe or toothpick – this helps spread the icing if you’ve messed up a bit
How to Decorate Christmas Ornament Cookies with Royal Icing
To start decorating any cookie, outline the portion of the cookie you want that color and then immediately fill it in with the same color.
For ornament cookies, this could mean you outline and flood the entire cookie with the same base color, or you could do alternating stripes or whatever other pattern you feel like.
Once that is dry, about 8 to 10 hours, you can come back to your cookie and add on any detail you want, including stripes, dots, letters, garland, or whatever else you can think of for your ornament cookies.
You can see what I did down below, using the edible silver pearls to help create a bit of a garland effect, as well as doing stripes and dots across the ornament to create a fun pattern.
Use different colors as detail, like green on red or white on green, or you can detail using the same color as the base if you want it more subtle.
The main thing here is that there are really no rules, and that’s what makes decorating Christmas ornament cookies fun.
Let your imagination run wild and see what you can come up with!
- 24 cookies using cut-out sugar cookie dough
- 1 batch of royal icing, separated in the colors you want to decorate
- Bake the Christmas ornament 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 as many colors as you want to decorate with and put into piping bags
- Outline the Christmas ornament in one color
- Immediately flood the cookie with the same color
- Wait 2 to 3 hours and add any decorations on top using other colors
- Let dry for 12 hours