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Our Hassle-Free Method for Decorating Sugar Cookies

Created October 23, 2019
how to decorate sugar cookies
Learn how to decorate cookies like a pro without the hassle of buying extra tools and equipment. It’s not cheating if it works.

How to Decorate Cookies Like a Pro

Your kitchen already has enough stuff in it—why add to that list a bunch of fancy baking and pastry tools that are just going to take up space? If you think you need pricey tools to make picture-worthy cookies, think again. You have everything you need for cookie decorating right in your own kitchen, and with a few short-cuts, you’ll be well on your way to professional-looking decorated sugar cookies. After you’ve mastered this cookie decorating hack, we’ve got lots of doable, easy decorated Christmas cookie ideas, from Christmas tree cookies to Santa himself. Plus, we’re sharing all the best sugar cookie icing and frosting recipes so you can show up with the prettiest cookies at the cookie exchange.

Tools You’ll Need to Decorate Cookies

You don’t need expensive pastry bags or a variety of cake decorating tips to create beautiful cookie masterpieces. All you need are a few items you probably already have in your kitchen:

  • Cookie cutters: Not only will you need cookie cutters to cut your Christmas cookie dough, but they can also be helpful in the icing process
  • Zip-top freezer bags: Freezer bags are perfect for piping icing onto baked treats. Thick enough to withstand the icing-bag squeeze, freezer bag corners are firm enough to stay put while you pipe frosting. So, you can decorate cookies quickly without worrying about your bag wimping out and turning your frosting designs to mush.
  • Toothpicks: Make a mistake and want to start over? Toothpicks are handy at lifting unwanted frosting from you Christmas cookies. Or you could just eat the offending cookie too. We aren’t here to tell you what to do.

How to use Freezer Bags to Decorate Cookies

First, gather your cookies, frostings and freezer bags.

Open the Bag, Fill with Frosting

spooning frosting into a ziploc bag

Flip the freezer bag inside-out over your hand. Fill the inside of the bag with frosting, spooning it straight into the bottom of the bag.

Squeeze Out Air

smoothing out ziploc bag with frosting in it

Pull the bottom of the bag up over your hand. Zip the top of the bag closed, pressing out all the air that you can.

Zip the Top and Twist to Secure

Twist the bag at the top, where the icing ends and empty bag begins. This will keep the icing from moving all over the bag as you decorate.

Secure and Snip

attached twist tie to ziploc bag with frosting

You don’t need fancy tips to make fancy cookies. Rather than relying on the shape of a cake decorator’s tip to create a unique-looking stream of frosting, you can cut the design yourself right out of the freezer bag.

Here’s a quick demo for four simple frosting ideas you can do. Just grab a pair of sharp scissors and follow the red guides on the images below:

How to Easily Decorate Sugar Cookies


Cutting a long, diagonal slit at the tip of the bag will give you a nice, flat tip that’s perfect for piping a thick, straight line.


Three little triangle-shaped snips at the tip of your bag will create a cute spaghetti-like drizzle of icing that’s perfect for creating pretty petals, daisies, or poinsettias.


Slice a very thin strip just to the side of the bag’s seam and you’ll be able to pipe leaves and other simple motifs.


A quick snip from the tip of the freezer bag makes a nice icing writer. Lend a personalized flair with this tip, adding your favorite names and words to everything from birthday cakes to Christmas cookies.

A Few Easy Christmas Cookie Decoration Ideas

Cookie cutters are the easiest way to create cookies that look like your favorite Christmas icons. However, there are easy ways to turn drop cookies or any other circular cookie into a festive work of art. Here are some ideas:

Christmas Tree Cookies

christmas tree cookie

Using the leaf tip method, create evergreen branches by piping each branch at a time, then decorate with small sprinkles to represent ornaments.

Snowflake Cookies

snowflake cookie

Snowflake shapes are easily created with the writer tip method, then decorated in sparkly sprinkles. There’s no wrong way to pipe your frosting—your design can be as unique as snowflakes are themselves!

Snowman Cookies

snowman cookie

A happy snowman starts with a plainly frosted cookie. Use red sprinkles to create a snuggly hat and chocolate chips to create the mouth and eyes. An orange gumdrop cut into a carrot-shape creates a perfectly pointy nose.

Candy Cane Cookies

candy cane cookie

Candy canes are nothing but an upside-down “J.” Line a few red candies along a piped J-shape and you’re got yourself a candy cane on your cookie. Bonus points if you’re using mint-flavored frosting.

Santa Claus Cookies

santa claus cookie

Here comes Santa Claus, and he looks delicious! Use a smear of white frosting for a beard, the flat piping method for the red hat and a dollop of white frosting on the top of Santa’s cap. Two mini candies can be used for eyes, and Santa’s ready to go.

Wreath Cookies

wreath cookie

Wreaths are circular. So are cookies. Lucky us! Border a white-frosted cookie in green with the flat tip method. Decorate your delicious wreath with sprinkles, candies or anything else you please.

How to Make Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Our Best Buttercream Frosting

If you feel like going the extra mile and making your own frosting as opposed to going the store-bought route, this easy vanilla buttercream frosting is what you’re looking for. Made from soft butter and lots and lots of powdered sugar, you can easily change the thickness and color of this versatile frosting.

How to Make Easy Cookie Icing

Easy Cookie Icing

Easy Cookie Icing
Maybe you’re not interested in delicate decorating, but you don’t want your sugar cookies running around naked, either. This easy cookie icing is a fast and painless way to flood a cookie so it’s ready for sprinkles, candies or to be eaten as-is.

Still Need Dough? Try our 3-in-1 Cookie Recipe

Three-in-One Holiday Cookie Dough

Three-in-One Holiday Cookie Dough
Whether you’re making batches of cookies for your neighborhood or hosting the coolest cookie decorating party on the block, this 3-in-1 cookie dough is a total time-saver. The dough starts as a deliciously simple sugar cookie but divide it up and add a few simple additions and you’ll have luscious chocolate and spicy gingerbread cookies to decorate too.

How to Color Frosting


Learn to make any frosting color under the sun with our handy frosting color guide.