How to Flow Royal Icing on Cookies

A sugar cookie is a canvas. Whether it's colorful frosting, clever embellishments, or designs and decorations galore, it all starts with a base of smooth, clean, perfectly flowed royal icing — which isn't nearly as hard to accomplish as you might think. Here, SAVEUR assistant editor Marne Setton shares her simple technique for flowing perfectly: the secret is in a few drops of water.

What you need:

  • Cooked, cooled sugar cookies
  • Royal icing
  • Piping bags
  • An offset spatula

How it works:

  • Start with cooled sugar cookies. (Warm cookies aren't good for icing.)
  • Put about ⅔ of your royal icing into a bowl and add a little water to it, drop by drop, until it flows smoothly.
  • Pour your your thick and thinned royal icings into separate pastry bags.
  • Using the thick icing, outline the area on the cookie you want to fill with icing, and let it dry for 2 minutes until it's stiff like plaster.
  • Using the thinned icing, scribble within the frosting outline. Smooth the thinned icing to the icing outline using an offset spatula, adding more thinned icing if necessary.
  • While the icing is still tacky, decorate with sanding sugar, sprinkles, or candy. Or wait for the flowed icing to dry and decorate it with swirls of the thick icing.