Decorating sugar cookies is more than having the right recipe.  Your icing needs to have the correct consistency.  This is what gives cookies a perfect, smooth, hard finish.

Whale Sugar Cookies on sticks

Icing that is too thick will…
-Be too difficult to work with
-Take longer to dry
-May slide off of your cookie

Icing that is too thick will…
-Dry quickly
-Dry lumpy

To avoid this I use the ‘10 second rule‘.  Upon dragging a knife through your icing you want the line to disappear by around 10 seconds.   The sooner your line disappears the thinner icing you’ll have.  I like to use this icing consistency for outlining and flooding as it is fast to work with.  When I am working with smaller detail, I will make my icing thicker.  In this case I will want the icing to come back together in 15 or maybe even 20 seconds depending on the detail I’m doing.  Furthermore, if I am doing large cookies with one colour, I will outline with a 10 second icing, and flood with a thinner (5-7 seconds) icing.


Icing consistency takes lots of practice.  I am still nowhere near perfect!!  This is the general rule I follow when I am making lots of cookies.

Upon making my icing, it always tend to be too thick.  I will add a teaspoon of water at a time to my mixer until my icing is around 10 seconds.  (A new trick I’ve learned is to use a spray bottle!) If you add too much water you can thicken the icing back up by mixing it longer or adding more icing sugar.  I definitely suggest mixing as a first step before reaching for the sugar straight away.

This is probably the most time consuming part when decorating cookies.  And I have to think if I need various thickness of icing in the same colour.  It can take a long time, it can hurt my brain and I don’t like doing it.  But! If I do it correctly the cookie decorating process is a lot faster and easier.

This may sound more complicated than it is, but the more you do it the easier it will be.  There are many AMAZING cookie gurus out there (sweetsugarbelle to name one) who explain this process in greater detail.  Sweetopia even has a video explaining it!

I hope this helps you in your cookie decorating!  Even if you’re making the most simple cookies, a smooth finish will make your cookies look that much better.

Happy decorating!

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