How to Decorate Christmas Sugar Cookies

You've got the basic recipe. Now learn all the different ways you can decorate those holiday sugar cookies like a pro.


Up next in Christmas Recipes (16 videos)

Try some new holiday food this season with the Christmas recipes in this Howcast video series.

You Will Need

  • Specialty decorating items
  • Sugar cookie dough
  • Cookie cutters
  • Cookie sheets
  • Currants
  • chopped nuts
  • or assorted candy
  • Eggs
  • Food-coloring liquid and food-coloring gel or paste
  • A pastry brush or small artist’s brush
  • Hard candies
  • A plastic bag
  • A rolling pin
  • Plastic squeeze bottles
  • Royal icing
  • A butter knife
  • Rolled fondant
  • Waxed paper
  • Cookie tins
  • A straw
  • A toothpick


  1. Step 1

    Get supplies

    Go to a baking-supply or craft store, or shop online for specialty cookie-decorating items.

  2. Step 2

    Jazz them up

    There are tons of ways to decorate your cookies before baking. After you've rolled out the dough and cut the cookies into shapes, press currants, nuts, or candy into them. Or brush them lightly with egg white and dust with colored sanding sugar or sprinkles.

  3. Dragees, those tiny gold and silver balls that adorn fancy cookies and cakes, are edible. But because they contain real metal, eating them is not advisable.

  4. Step 3

    Glaze them

    To add colorful shine, glaze cookies before baking by whisking a few drops of liquid food coloring into an egg yolk and spreading it on with a pastry brush or small artist’s brush.

  5. If you want to hang cookies on your Christmas tree, use a straw to make holes in the tops before baking.

  6. Step 4

    Create stained glass

    For a stained-glass effect, put hard candies into a plastic bag, crush them with a rolling pin, and then sprinkle them onto unbaked cookies. The candies will melt to look like beautiful stained-glass windows.

  7. Do a test cookie to make sure the candy doesn’t start to burn before the cookie is fully baked. If that happens, add the candy after the cookies are half-baked.

  8. Step 5

    Ice them

    For already-baked cookies, try frosting them. Whip up some royal icing, divide it into separate batches, and tint with food-coloring gel or paste. Put the icing in plastic squeeze bottles, pipe it around the outline of each cookie, squeeze some in the center, and spread it evenly over the top with a butter knife or a brush.

  9. For a marbled effect, spread a light coating of white icing on the cookies. Then pipe on stripes of colored icing and swirl them with a toothpick.

  10. Step 6

    Make them glitter

    Frosted cookies can be decorated even more by sprinkling them with edible glitter or luster dust.

  11. Step 7

    Make rolled fondant

    Make or buy rolled fondant. Add food-coloring gel or paste to different batches, roll them out, and use your cookie cutters to make pieces that are identical to your cookies. Brush the bottoms with a tiny bit of water and press them onto the cookies.

  12. Step 8

    Store properly

    Store your cookies in airtight containers, in single layers separated by waxed paper.

  13. More than 55 million American households bake holiday cookies.