Watercolor sugar cookies are an easy way to make airbrushed quality sugar cookies at home. They require minimal decorating tools and you do not need to be an expert decorator to make them! Also, this technique is extremely forgiving, making it nearly impossible to mess up.
I like to use the watercolor method for holiday cookies such as Easter eggs and fall leaves. Think about it…have you ever seen perfectly drawn details on a dyed Easter egg? Of course not! Dying eggs at home typically results in multicolored blends like you see with this watercolor method. Not pristine zig zag lines. This method also makes natural elements, like fall leaves, look more authentic.
However, this decorating method can make any sugar cookie beautiful. It works for Valentine hearts, shamrocks, and even Christmas ornaments! Don’t have an occasion to bake for? Make circle shapes and jazz them up watercolor style! Feeling extra fancy? Use some gold luster dust to paint on some glittery goodness! You can even get the kids involved with this method. Some watercolor unicorn cookies sound like a magical treat!
The beauty of this method is its simplicity. However, there are a few optional tools that make decorating and clean up easier.
- Decorating brushes allow you to create precise brush strokes for a more structured look. However, this method can be used with paper towels instead! They will just create a more speckled look. I used paper towels in all of the pictures in this post for reference.
- You can use piping bags to flood your cookies, but I use squeeze bottles every time. They are reusable, dishwasher safe, and less messy! I tend to be a messy decorator, so these are a must for me.
- Gel food coloring. Do not use regular food coloring for this method. Because they are liquid, they will make your cookies soggy and the colors will be extremely diluted.
- Kitchen gloves are helpful if you are messy like me… No matter how many precautions I take, I still manage to get food coloring all over my hands!
How to Make Watercolor Sugar Cookies
First, start with a sugar cookie recipe and a batch of royal icing. I recommend my no chill sugar cookies and easy royal icing. Both are simple, quick recipes that I use every time I make sugar cookies!
Once your cookies have cooled, flood them with a layer of white royal icing. Let this layer dry until completely hardened. I usually let them dry overnight to ensure I won’t mess up the icing.
Next, mix together the colors you want to use. I use a toothpick to put a dab of coloring into a small bowl. Then, add in a drop of extract or water into the bowl and mix together. You do not want it to be a watery mixture. Your coloring should be thick and bold.
Finally, use paper towels to dab on the colors you would like to use on your cookie. Use one paper towel per color to prevent mixing the colors. I tend to stick to no more than two colors per cookie, but play around with it and find what you like!
Watercolor sugar cookies are a simple way to create beautiful cookies with an airbrushed look without the tools or years of practice. Have fun with it and get creative!
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