festive holiday recipe #16: painted sugar cookies

painted sugar cookies

If any of you subscribe to Bon Appetit, you for sure saw these gorgeous painted sugar cookies on the cover and immediately thought to yourself “I MUST DO THIS.” And then, if you’re smart and self-aware, you probably thought to yourself “ok no, just kidding, where the hell am I going to find luster powder, and my painting skills are not up to par for this challenge.”

I did not think those last two things, and jumped into this anyway. And then about 2 cookies in, I was like “man, my painting skills…” But I pressed on. I’m glad I did. They’re great for gifting — how many people can say they received hand-painted sugar cookies for the holidays? Even if they do look a little derpy…that’s a pretty personal touch, if you ask me.

This would be a really fun project for kids, if you can gather the materials and your kids are at an age where they can keep the “paint” ON the cookies. The cookies are still entirely edible when painted, so don’t be weirded out. These do take some time, but they’re actually really fun and provide a different twist on the whole royal icing thing.

I got my luster powder from NY Cake, but you likely can find it if you’ve got a solid baking supply store near you. Bon Appetit’s instructions say you can use lemon extract to make the paint, but I also used lemon juice when I ran out of extract, and that worked just fine too.

snowflake cookie-

Royal Icing
recipe from Annie’s Eats

4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 TB meringue powder (I use Wilton…pretty easy to find at your local craft store’s baking aisle)
5 TB cold water (plus more for thinning icing)


  1. Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 5 minutes).  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.
  3. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir each addition until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (If you aren’t sure whether your icing is too thick or thin, test out a small amount.  If you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again – you do not want to be struggling with icing that is too thick so don’t be afraid to add a little more water when necessary. If the icing gets too thin, you can add more powdered sugar.)
  4. Take a look at Annie’s tutorial on how to decorate with royal icing, and Bon Appetit’s tutorial on how to paint the cookies.

painted sugar cookies



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